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2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 3

THREE teams remain undefeated after Round 3 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as Frankston Blues (4-0), Knox Raiders (3-0) and Eltham Wildcats (3-0) stand tall amongst the rest of the competition.

Geelong Supercats (92) def. Waverley Falcons (49)

Geelong Supercats have dominated Waverley Falcons by 43 points in a one-sided affair to open the round. The home team raced out to a 10-point lead at quarter time, and then closed down the opposition’s scoring, capped off with a 29-8 third quarter. A 20-14 final term saw the Supercats finish full of steam as well, winning 92-49. Steph Blicavs dominated with 26 points – four of five from long-range – four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Aimie Clydesdale hit five of 10 from three-point range to finish with 21 points, as well as four rebounds and four assists, while Sarah Elsworthy (17 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Rebekah O’Donnell (11 points, seven rebounds) also stood tall. Renae Mokrzycki (13 points, three rebounds and two assists), Meg Crupi (12 points) and Nyakoang Lok (11 points, five rebounds and two steals) were the double-figure points scorers for the Falcons in the heavy loss.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Launceston Tornadoes (84)

The battle of the undefeated sides lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues triumphing over Launceston Tornadoes by just six points in a thrilling contest. It was a tale of two halves as the home team raced away to pile on 52 points to 38 in the opening half and lead by 14. Launceston hit back in the second half, but could only claw back eight of those 14 points, to go down 90-84. Despite Tessa Lavey having an uncharacteristically poor day shooting (two of 15 from the field and none of nine from long-range for seven points), the dual sport star had 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals to still contribute to the team’s success. Darcee Garbin (23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (20 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) picked up the slack, while Taylah Giliam (16 points, three rebounds) and Samara Hill (12 points, two assists) also stood tall. For the Tornadoes, it was the triple threat that did all the damage to try and keep the side in it, as Keely Froling (30 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) and Kelsey Griffin (14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up double-doubles, and Mariah Payne finished with 28 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Knox Raiders (111) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (38)

The bloodbath of the round well and truly went to Knox Raiders, who showed no mercy in a dominating 73-point shellacking of Albury-Wodonga Bandits. The Raiders never looked like losing with a 67-21 opening half, and then kept the Bandits to as low as seven points in the final term, running out 111-38 victors. Marianna Tolo had a night out with 25 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, while Klara Wischer also picked up a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kara Tessari (18 points, four assists and three rebounds), Kiera Rowe (17 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Leah Santomaggio (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) were others who hit double-figure points for the Raiders. Emma Mahady knocked down 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals in a lone-hand for the Bandits, scoring more than half of the team’s points.

Ballarat Rush (67) def. by Bendigo Braves (74)

Bendigo Braves have come away with an important win on the road against Ballarat Rush, facing a 13-point half-time deficit but turning it around with a dominant second half. The Braves trailed 46-33 at the main break, but then kept the Rush to just 21 points after that, whilst they piled on 41 to secure the narrow seven-point win, 74-67. Tess Madgen led the way, picking up an almost triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kate Oliver (18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Cassidy McLean (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Piper Dunlop (eight points, seven rebounds and two assists) all shone in the win. For the Rush, Alicia Froling was unstoppable off the boards with 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with 14 points, two assists and two blocks, while Kasey Burton (15 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (15 points, five rebounds and three steals) also contributed strongly.

Diamond Valley Eagles (48) def. by Melbourne Tigers (93)

Diamond Valley Eagles’ winless start to the season continued, going down to Melbourne Tigers by 45 points, while the Tigers strung together back-to-back wins. Melbourne won every quarter, getting out to a 25-point lead at half-time to all but seal the deal, then won the second half by 20 points as well to run out 93-48 winners. Isabella Brancatisano (23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists) and Zitina Aokuso (10 points, 13 rebounds and two assists) both racked up double-doubles, as Monique Conti came close to a remarkable quadruple-double of 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and seven steals as a clear best on court. Gemma Simon helped out with 19 points in the Tigers’ win. For the Eagles, Sophie Burrows scored a team-high 12 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Olivia Bontempelli (10 points five rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (10 points, three rebounds) also reached double-figure points.

Eltham Wildcats (87) def. Nunawading Spectres (74)

Eltham Wildcats remained undefeated from three games with a solid 13-point victory over Nunawading Spectres at home. The Wildcats raced out to a 14-point lead at half-time, and built it up to as much as 20 points by the final break, before the Spectres fought it out in the final term to cut the deficit back, but fell short of victory as the home team triumphed, 87-74. Lily Scanlon (24 points, six rebounds and two assists) scored the most points, but Anneli Maley‘s unbelievable season off the boards continued with 19 rebounds – 13 defensive – to go with 15 points. Tess Heal (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals), Rebecca Pizzey (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Shelby Britten (10 points, seven assists, two rebounds and two steals) also hit double-figure points in the win. Penina Davidson was a standout for the Spectres in defeat, picking up 20 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists, while Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine assists and two rebounds) and Rachel Brewster (16 points, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks).

Kilsyth Cobras (75) def. Hobart Chargers (73)

Hobart Chargers fell short of their first victory against Kilsyth Cobras, following a spirited four-quarter effort. The Cobras led by four points at the first break, with the teams tied by half-time. Another strong term from Kilsyth saw them extend the lead out to four again, before the Chargers hit back in the fourth, to even hit the front with 2:24 on the clock, but the Cobras managed to steady and take home the win, 75-73. Lauren Scherf (12 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) and Abigail Curtin (14 points, seven rebounds) were influential, as Briahna Whatman (nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists) came close to a double-double, and Nikita Young (13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) was also handy. Madeleine Garrick was the star for the Chargers, not far off a triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Tayla Roberts (13 points, nine rebounds) and Kylie McCauley (13 points, nine rebounds and five assists), Sharna Roberts (11 points, five rebounds) and Ellie Collins (10 points, eight rebounds) did all the scoring in a losing team.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (45) def. by Ringwood Hawks (89)

A four-quarter performance capped off by a rampant final term put an exclamation mark on the Ringwood Hawks’ victory against Mt Gambier Pioneers. In the Pioneers first game in South Australia this year, they were up against some stiff opposition and the Hawks came to play, leading by 17 points at the final break. No one would have seen the last quarter coming, as Ringwood piled on 35 points to eight in a one-way domination to blow out the final margin to 44 points, 89-45. Funda Nakkasoglu hit a match-high 26 points, as well as five rebounds and three assists, while Marena Whittle (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks) and Demi Skinner (18 points, nine rebounds) were also impressive. For the Pioneers, Hannah Young was the standout thanks to 11 points and nine rebounds, while Shakera Reilly (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Jasmin Howe (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) were others who stood out for the losers.

Bendigo Braves (84) def. Dandenong Rangers (56)

After a win on the road against Ballarat Rush, Bendigo Braves made it back-to-back victories in Round 3 thanks to a 28-point triumph over Dandenong Rangers. The Braves won all four quarters, scoring at least 17 points in every quarter, and keeping the Rangers to 15 or less in three of the four terms to win, 84-56. Madgen feasted on the Rangers with an almost triple-double effort of 43 points – including seven of 13 from long-range – nine rebounds and eight assists, while Oliver (18 points, 14 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Abigail Wehrung (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) was also impressive across the night. For the Rangers, Dallas Loughbridge scored 17 points, five steals and three assists, stepping up with Emilee Harmon (15 points, seven rebounds) and Tenaya Sooalo (14 points, three steals and two rebounds) also having a helping hand despite the loss.

Waverley Falcons (93) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (64)

Another team that made it back-to-back wins for Round 3, whilst also sentencing a league battler to yet another loss were Waverley Falcons, who took care of Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 29 points. The Falcons dominated the first half to race out to a 24-point lead at the main break, though credit to the Bandits who hit back in the third term to cut it to 15 points at the last change and give themselves a sniff. The Falcons quickly got back on top with a 24-10 final quarter and ran out 93-64 winners. Anna Bandilovska (29 points, two rebounds) was the highest points scorer, though Mokrzycki racked up 28 points, 17 rebounds and Kelly Bowen had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in double-double efforts. Mahady was again the key scorer with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists, though she had some support in this match thanks to Charlotte Beavan‘s 16 points and three rebounds – with five of nine triples – and Brodie-Paige Theodore‘s 12 points – nine from the free-throw line – four rebounds and two assists.

Melbourne Tigers (109) def. Hobart Chargers (87)

Melbourne Tigers made it three consecutive wins, and handed Hobart Chargers an 0-4 start to the season with a 22-point victory at home. The Tigers were surprisingly sluggish to start the match and conceded 34 points in the first term to trail by 12 at quarter time, but then stepped up to completely dominate the game and score 87-53 and run out 109-87 winners. Conti had another massive performance of 40 points – eight of 12 from long-range – seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Brancatisano (23 points – five of 11 from long-range – four rebounds and four assists) and Aokuso (19 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and two blocks in a triple-double effort) all dominated. Collins stepped up with 25 points, six rebounds and three assists in the loss, while Garrick (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals), Tayla Roberts (15 points, six rebounds) and Thompson (13 points, three rebounds) were also lively.

Sandringham Sabres (67) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (100)

Closing out the weekend was Launceston Tornadoes bouncing back from their first loss of the season against Frankston Blues, to easily win 100-67 against Sandringham Sabres. The Tornadoes won every quarter by at least eight points in a dominant effort to secure the 33-point victory. Froling had an unbelievable performance of 37 points, 13 rebounds and four steals, one of three players to reach double-doubles, as Griffin (20 points, 12 rebounds three assists and two steals) and Payne (20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) achieved the feat, while Teyla Evans managed the 13 points and four rebounds. Playing their first game of the round, the Sabres’ Amy O’Neill finished with a team-high 20 points, as well as eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. She was complemented by Jenna O’Hea (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Cassandra Hill (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 3

ONCE again Frankston Blues play host in our National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s match of the round, coming up against an equally stacked side in Launceston Tornadoes, whilst in the men’s we take a look at the Melbourne Tigers playing host to the Hobart Chargers, with both sides sitting at 1-1 heading into Round 3.

WOMEN’S:

Both Frankston Blues and Launceston Tornadoes are undefeated playing in a combined five games in the women’s competition this season. The Blues are sitting pretty at the top of the table with three wins from three games, while the Tornadoes have not dropped a fixture in their opening two matches. Darcee Garbin is leading the league in total points, with the 26-year-old forward putting up 27.7 points, 2.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game, shooting at 51.7 per cent from the field. Add to the fact she has hit the 30-point mark twice – in the wins over Nunawading Spectres and Dandenong Rangers – Garbin has proven to be a lethal threat all over the court.

Despite Garbin’s obvious shooting threat, the most balanced player on the side may well be another WNBL talent in Tessa Lavey, who is not that far off a whopping triple-double average. Pulling in 18.3 points, 8.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game, Lavey has not wasted any time acclimatising from the AFL Women’s to the basketball court. As the leader of the back court, Lavey is able to transition the ball forward to set up Garbin, and on both occasions has at least eight assists and at least seven rebounds from her first three games. She did have six turnovers last match, so it might be an area she looks to improve, but overall, she is hard to stop. Three other Blues to keep an eye on include Taylah Giliam (12.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists), and rising talents Saraid Taylor and Ella Batish who both average 6.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Perhaps the only player in better shooting form than Garbin is the far and away leader, Keely Froling. The WNBL sharp shooter has been unstoppable this season, dropping a whopping 35 points per game at 62.5 per cent efficiency from the field. What makes her even more damaging is her ability to live off the boards, with 20.5 per game, and then setting up five baskets per match through assists. She has only played the two games to Garbin’s three, but in those two games has put up 42 and 28 points, and also 22 and 19 rebounds respectively. Add in the three and four steals, and Froling can do it all. She did produce seven turnovers to her two from the first match, so again will be an area she looks to sharpen up.

More dangerously is the fact Launceston will unleash WNBL legend, Kelsey Griffin who will join her UC Capitals teammate in Froling at the Tornadoes. Griffin will suit up for the match, and whilst she has not played yet this season, considering what she does at the elite level, expect her numbers to be similar to Froling depending on her minutes. Mariah Payne is benefiting from the talent around her, quietly achieving with 19 points, eight rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while D’Asia Chambers is another one to watch with eight points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists per match in the back court. This game is set to be a massive one with serious elite WNBL talents going head-to-head in what promises to be a must-watch contest.

In other matches, the Tornadoes front up against Sandringham Sabres in a second away fixture, with fellow Tasmanian side Hobart Chargers searching for their first win against both Kilsyth Cobras and Melbourne Tigers. The Tigers play another struggling side in the Diamond Valley Eagles (0-3), while Albury-Wodonga Bandits double-up against Knox Raiders and Waverley Falcons. The Falcons also face the winless Geelong Supercats on Friday night, whilst in other matches, Ballarat Rush play host to Bendigo Braves, Eltham Wildcats take on Nunawading Spectres, Mt Gambier Pioneers tackle Ringwood Hawks, and the Braves face Dandenong Rangers.

FIXTURES:

Geelong Supercats (0-2) vs. Waverley Falcons (1-1)
Frankston Blues (3-0) vs. Launceston Tornadoes (2-0)
Knox Raiders (2-0) vs. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-2)
Ballarat Rush (2-1) vs. Bendigo Braves (1-1)
Diamond Valley Eagles (0-3) vs. Melbourne Tigers (1-1)
Eltham Wildcats (2-0) vs. Nunawading Spectres (1-1)
Kilsyth Cobras (1-1) vs. Hobart Chargers (0-2)
Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-2) vs. Ringwood Hawks (1-1)
Bendigo Braves (1-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (1-1)
Waverley Falcons (1-1) vs. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-2)
Melbourne Tigers (1-1) vs. Hobart Chargers (0-2)
Sandringham Sabres (2-1) vs. Launceston Tornadoes (2-0)

MEN’S:

Our men’s match of the round is between Melbourne Tigers and Hobart Chargers in what promises to be a beauty of a contest. The Tigers sit at 1-1 from two games despite featuring in the top four for points, assists and blocks, whilst the Chargers have an equally red-hot shooter on their hands, and also have won just the one game from two matches.

This week the shooting contest will be between Tigers’ Felix von Hofe (30.5 points per game) and Chargers’ Jonathan Mines (28.0). Von Hofe is also averaging the five rebounds per game, but is best known as that pinpoint shooter who can be ever damaging from the back court. Putting up 28 and 33 points per game in his first two matches, von Hofe is one the Chargers must look to contain. Similarly, Mines is averaging the three rebounds and a block, steal and assist per match, putting up 31 and 25 points in his two matches thus far.

Both players have support around them, with Keenan Willie among the top playmakers in the competition. Willie is averaging a healthy 6.0 assists – ranking fourth overall – with his 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, shooting at 53.85 per cent from the field for the Tigers. Similarly, Dogukan Elyazar (14 points, four rebounds) and Lachlan Anthony (8.0 points, 1.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds) are others who have contributed for the home side.

For the Chargers, Koen Sapwell (18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists) has backed up Mines effectively, while Jack Stanwix (11 points, five assists) has been a contributing factor in scoring, though he has only played the one game against the Ballarat Miners. The Tigers will be favourites at home in this one, but the match could go either way.

In other matches, the Tigers also travel to face Diamond Valley Eagles, whilst the Chargers lock horns with Kilsyth Cobras in another 1-1 clash. Opening the round the Geelong Supercats host Waverley Falcons, before the Falcons play host to Albury-Wodonga Bandits later on the weekend. The Bandits previously take on Knox Raiders to search for their first win, whilst Dandenong Rangers will look for the same result against Bendigo Braves, who take on not only the Rangers, but the Miners as well. North West Tasmania do the double against Frankston Blues and Sandringham Sabres, whilst two teams with opposite formlines coming into the round in Nunawading Spectres and Eltham Wildcats do battle, as Mt Gambier Pioneers also host Ringwood Hawks.

FIXTURES:

Geelong Supercats (2-0) vs. Waverley Falcons (1-1)
Frankston Blues (2-1) vs. North West Tasmania (1-1)
Knox Raiders (1-1) vs. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-2)
Ballarat Miners (2-1) vs. Bendigo Braves (1-1)
Diamond Valley Eagles (2-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (1-1)
Eltham Wildcats (0-2) vs. Nunawading Spectres (2-0)
Kilsyth Cobras (1-1) vs. Hobart Chargers (1-1)
Mt Gambier Pioneers (1-1) vs. Ringwood Hawks (1-1)
Bendigo Braves (1-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (0-2)
Waverley Falcons (1-1) vs. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-2)
Melbourne Tigers (1-1) vs. Hobart Chargers (1-1)
Sandringham Sabres (1-2) vs. North West Tasmania (1-1)

Picture credit: Daniel Papak

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 2

ROUND 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL) South tips off from tomorrow night, with our two feature games being the Frankston Blues up against Dandenong Ranges on Saturday (women’s) and Nunawading Specres locking horns with Sandringham Sabres on Sunday (men’s).

WOMEN’S:

An early clash between two local rivals sees Frankston Blues up against Dandenong Rangers at Frankston Basketball Stadium from 5:30pm on Saturday evening. At the start of the round both these teams come in undefeated, though a Friday night clash with Bendigo Braves could change that for the Blues, in one of four all-undefeated clashes. The Blues are fresh off a hard-fought win over Nunawading Spectres by 12 points, whilst the Rangers got away with a 14-point victory over Diamond Valley Eagles on the road in Round 1.

In the Blues’ win, WNBL duo Darcee Garbin and Tessa Lavey caused all sorts of headaches for the Spectres, combining for 53 of the teams’ 90 points on the night. Garbin had a match-high 30 points, shooting 11 of 16 from the field, but crucially a whopping six of eight from long-range. She also picked up six rebounds and thee assists for her troubles. Lavey, coming off an AFLW season with Richmond, did not miss a beat with 23 points – three of eight from three-point range – seven rebounds and nine assists, not too far off an almost triple-double let alone a double-double.

Taylah Gilliam (11 points, two rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (eight points, six rebounds) also proved capable of causing trouble for the opposition. Statistically the Blues dominated the assist tally with 21-10, as most of the other stats were fairly even, though hitting more than half of their long-range attempts was crucial, as the Spectres only managed three of 20 compared to the Blues’ 18 of 35.

The Rangers always looked in control against the Eagles at Community Bank Stadium, as Emilee Harmon picked up a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds, as well as two steals. Able to crash the boards, Harmon teamed up well with rising star talent Gemma Potter. The youngster racked up a double-double herself of 14 points and 13 rebounds, as well as five assists, three steals and two blocks in the win. Tenaya Sooalo (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Kodie Myszka (seven points, four rebounds and two steals) were others who stood out.

The Rangers led the way in rebounds with a plus-seven in that statistical area, something they will be keen to apply here again. They were not a huge three-point shooting outfit, though made the most of it with six of 17 makes. They need to improve their work from the charity stripe, finishing Round 1 with a 50 per cent efficiency, but the visitors still got away with the win. It will be a focus if they are to take down the Blues on their home court.

The other two undefeated clashes see Knox Raiders hosting Kilsyth Cobras, and Launceston Tornadoes up against Ballarat Rush. After each team played the one game in Round 1, a number of sides will double up, with the Rush also taking on Hobart Chargers in a weekend down in Tasmania, while the Diamond Valley Eagles will hope to pick up their first win against either Eltham Wildcats or Waverley Falcons on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Sandringham Sabres have two chances to pick up another win after going 1-0 in Round 1, taking on Mt Gambier Pioneers and then travelling to take on Nunawading Spectres. In the other two matches, Albury Wodonga Bandits host Melbourne Tigers, and Ringwood Hawks face Geelong Supercats in two battles between sides yet to taste victory this season.

FIXTURES:

Bendigo Braves (1-0) vs. Frankston Blues (1-0)
Hobart Chargers (0-1) vs. Ballarat Rush (1-0)
Frankston Blues (1-0) vs. Dandenong Rangers (1-0)
Knox Raiders (1-0) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (1-0)
Sandringham Sabres (1-0) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-1)
Eltham Wildcats (1-0) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-1)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (0-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (0-1)
Ringwood Hawks (0-1) vs. Geelong Supercats (0-1)
Launceston Tornadoes (1-0) vs. Ballarat Rush (1-0)
Nunawading Spectres (0-1) vs. Sandringham Sabres (1-0)
Waverley Falcons (0-1) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-1)

MEN’S:

There are plenty of blockbuster fixtures to pick from when it comes to match of the round, but this week we take a look at the Sunday head-to-head between Nunawading Spectres and Sandringham Sabres who both won their first round encounters. The Sabres opened the NBL1 competition with a thrilling three-point win over Melbourne Tigers on the road, while the Spectres got up by 11 points over Frankston Blues in a similar tough challenge heading down to bayside.

The Sabres did the bulk of their good work early against the Tigers at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre, as the visitors piled on 50 points to 38 in the opening half, before the Tigers roared to life, scoring 56 to 47. No doubt while the 97-94 victory was a relief, the Sabres will want more of the first half, and less of the second half in the Round 2 clash with the Spectres. The Sabres dominated the rebounds with 51-38 in that game, but struggled with transition, picking up eight assists – though in a low assist game of 10-8 – and only had two steals to the Tigers’ 10. They made it count from the field however, shooting 47.2 per cent, including 43.8 per cent from long-range, and only missing one of 16 free throws.

The points were shared around in an even spread as Kuany Kuany (20 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Nicholas Gabsch (18 points, eight rebounds and two assists) both came close to a double-double. Tom O’Brien was handy with 17 points – including seven of eight from the field – also picking up two rebounds and two assists. Kobe Davies was the other player to reach double-figure points, knocking down three of five from long-range to finish with 13 points and three rebounds.

By comparison the Spectres held firm across four quarters against the Blues to come from three points down at quarter time to lead by two at half-time, then run away with an 11-point lead by the final buzzer. The full scores and individual statistics are still unavailable at this stage, but Dain Swetalla was well on his way to a double-double alongside partner-in-crime Simon Conn. The pair will make life difficult for the opposition teams this year, while Costas Hronopoulos and Tom Wright are among the other Spectres to keep an eye on.

The Spectres should be a strong rebounding team, and will look to get plenty of points in the paint, backing themselves to nail the free-throw opportunities. They can move the ball in transition, with their stars able to stuff the stats sheet on their day, and Nunawading has enough depth to share the load, particularly in front of a home crowd.

Casting the eye across other fixtures, the Sabres have an earlier home fixture against Mt Gambier Pioneers, meaning the Spectres will come in the fresher side. Diamond Valley Eagles also do the double after winning their Round 1 match, coming up against two Round 1 losers in Eltham Wildcats and Waverley Falcons. After a thrilling one-point win in Round 1, Kilsyth Cobras travel to Knox Raiders, while the winless pairing of Frankston Blues – who take on Bendigo Braves tomorrow night – and Dandenong Rangers looms as a must-watch.

Ballarat Miners head to the Apple Isle to face Hobart Chargers tomorrow night, before a big clash with North West Tasmania on Saturday. The Melbourne Tigers make the trek to the border to take on Albury Wodonga Bandits, while in the final game, Ringwood Hawks host Geelong Supercats in another all-undefeated clash on Saturday.

FIXTURES:

Bendigo Braves (1-0) vs. Frankston Blues (0-1)
Hobart Chargers (0-1) vs. Ballarat Miners (1-0)
North West Tasmania (1-0) vs. Ballarat Miners (1-0)
Frankston Blues (0-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (0-1)
Knox Raiders (0-1) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (1-0)
Sandringham Sabres (1-0) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-1)
Eltham Wildcats (0-1) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (1-0)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (0-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (0-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-0) vs. Geelong Supercats (1-0)
Nunawading Spectres (1-0) vs. Sandringham Sabres (1-0)
Waverley Falcons (0-1) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (1-0)

Picture credit: Frankston Blues

2021 NBL1 South Womens: Round 1 wrap – Cobras produce venomous late blow

THERE were a few tight contests amongst a number of one-sided wins as the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South tipped off over the weekend and we run through the women’s division and how the teams fared.

Melbourne Tigers (62) def. by Sandringham Sabres (87)

A second quarter domination from the Sabres was the key to victory against Melbourne Tigers, winning the term by 19 points (25-6), following on from the dominant 25-15 opening term to open up a 50-21 half-time lead. Whilst the Tigers made good inroads in the second half to break even and reduce the deficit by four points, the damage was done during the 87-62 loss. Jenna O’Hea (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Rachel Jarry (22 points, five rebounds and two assists) were sensational for the winners, whilst Amy O’Neill was also handy with seven points and eight rebounds. For the Tigers, Geraldine McCorkell (15 points, four rebounds) and Zitina Aokuso (14 points, five rebounds) stood out, with the latter teaming up well with fellow WNBL talent, and AFLW star Monique Conti (seven points, six rebounds and two steals).

Hobart Chargers (61) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (91)

In the all-Tasmanian battle, Launceston Tornadoes proved far too good for Hobart Chargers despite a dismal third term. The Tornadoes raced out to a 54-26 half-time lead in a one-sided contest, before the Chargers hit back with a 24-9 third quarter, That gave them a sniff at the final break to get to within 13 points of the Tornadoes, but it would be Launceston that would finish the stronger of the sides, powering away with a 28-11 final term and securing a massive 30-point win. Keely Froling was absolutely unstoppable for the Tornadoes, knocking down 42 points at 59.3 per cent from the field, and notching up 22 rebounds – 15 defensive – five assists, three steals and a block in a huge effort. Mariah Payne (16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals) also picked up a double-double, while Teyla Evans (11 points and three rebounds) and D’Asia Chambers (seven points, four rebounds and five assists) were handy. Madeleine Garrick (26 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and Tayla Roberts (18 points, four rebounds) were the two best for the Chargers.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Nunawading Spectres (78)

A strong second term was the difference for Frankston Blues in posting an impressive 12-point win over Nunawading Spectres. The Blues won the second quarter 24-15, gaining the nine-point separation they needed to go on with it, and secure the 90-78 victory. It was a tight game all match, but Darcee Garbin was the key, knocking down 30 points – at 68.6 per cent, as well as six of eight from long-range, and picking up six rebounds and three assists in the process. She teamed up well with fellow WNBL talent Tessa Lavey who returned from the AFLW to pick up 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists having barely missed a beat. Taylah Gillam (11 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Ella Batish (eight points, six rebounds) were the other two to stand out for the home side. Four players hit double-figure points for Nunawading, with Izzy Wright (23 points, four rebounds) the main destroyer, while Penina Davidson (15 points, seven rebounds), Louise Brown (11 points, seven rebounds), Rachel Brewster (13 points, six rebounds) and Rachel Antoniadou (12 points, five rebounds and six assists) all shared it around to no avail.

Knox Raiders (79) def. Geelong Supercats (72)

Knox Raiders have held strong in the second half to bounce back from a second term that swung in the Geelong Supercats favour, to record a narrow seven-point win. The Raiders raced out of the blocks to lead by nine points at the first break, only for the Supercats to cut the deficit to four by half-time. To the Raiders’ credit they stood up in the second half to hold off the visitors and record a 79-72 victory. Leah Santomaggio (22 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Marianna Tolo (20 points, five rebounds and two assists) both had their say on the contest, as Klara Wischer (10 points, 11 rebounds) picked up a double-double and Eliza West (14 points, five rebounds and three assists) was also busy. Sarah Elsworthy topped the Supercats’ scoring charts with 16, as well as picking up eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Stephanie Blicavs (14 points, nine rebounds) and Aimee Clydesdale (15 points, six rebounds and two assists) both stood up in the game, but while the Supercats were strong off the boards (48-40), they struggled in transition (assists 22-13 in Knox’s favour).

Diamond Valley Eagles (65) def. by Dandenong Ranges (79)

Dandenong Ranges have secured an on-the-road win after a momentum-swinging contest against Diamond Valley Eagles. The Rangers took a strong half-time lead of 12 points, but the Eagles would not lie down easily, taking control in the third to cut the deficit to seven by the final break. Sensing the momentum changing, the Rangers got it back on their terms to win the quarter 23-16 and secure the victory, 79-65. Emilee Harmon (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Gemma Potter (14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks) were sensational for the winners, as Tenaya Sooalo (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) also had a day out. Olivia Bontempelli (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (11 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were the two players to hit double-figure points for the Eagles in the loss.

Eltham Wildcats (82) def. Ringwood Hawks (51)

Eltham Wildcats put Ringwood Hawks to the sword after quarter time to run away with an easy 31-point win. The Wildcats burst out of the blocks in the second quarter after the sides were level at the first break, to win the term 23-8. They then went on with it in the next two quarters, winning them 18-11 and 22-13 respectively to secure the 82-51 victory. Anneli Maley brought her own backboard with her, picking up an unheard of 26 points and 26 rebounds – 18 defensive – on her way to best on court honours. Erin Riley (22 points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Lily Scanlon (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) were also sensational on the scoring front, whilst Rebecca Pizzey helped out with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. Funda Nakkasoglu topscored for the Hawks with 13 points and five rebounds, while Hope Terdich (10 points, four rebounds) and Demi Skinner (10 points) both notched up double-figure points.

Kilsyth Cobras (84) def. Waverley Falcons (74)

Kilsyth Cobras have fired late to win in a stunning overtime game against Waverley Falcons. The Cobras trailed by eight points at quarter time, put together a mammoth second term of 29-12 to hit the front by nine, only to see that lead evaporated due to the Falcons’ 23-7 third term. Trailing by seven points at the final break, the Cobras levelled the scores with a 20-13 final term, forcing overtime which they got up in, 16-6 for an overall 84-74 victory. Carly Turner knocked down 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks in a complete game for the Cobras, teaming up well with Lauren Scherf (14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks). Tia Hay (17 points, four steals) and Briahna Whatman (13 points, six assists) was also impressive in the victory. For the falcons, Aneta Bandilovska top-scored with 21 points, as well as three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Renae Mokrzycki picked up a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Nyakoang Lok (13 points, four rebounds) and Jackie Vanderzaag (nine points, seven rebounds and five assists) were also busy.

Albury Wodonga Bandits (61) def. by Ballarat Rush (93)

In arguably the performance of the weekend Ballarat Rush won all four quarters convincingly to defeat Albury Wodonga Bandits by 32 points. The Rush won the quarters by seven, six, 11 and eight points in a comprehensive four-quarter effort to take care of the Bandits on the road, 93-61. Kasey Burton topscored for the Rush with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Claire Constable (18 points including four of nine from long-range, two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (13 points, two rebounds) were also consistent. Millie Cracknell (10 points) also reached double-figure points, while Alicia Froling was busy across the court with nine points, six rebounds and three assists. For the Bandits, they only had two assists for the entire game – both off the hand of Casey Ardern (two points, two rebounds and one steal), with Emma Mahady a lone hand on the scoring front with 26 points, three rebounds and a steal. The next highest scorer was Brodie-Paige Theodore with nine points and four rebounds in less than 17 minutes.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (54) def. by Bendigo Braves (60)

A strong first half has helped set up a win for Bendigo Braves in a low-scoring contest against Mt Gambier Pioneers. After the NBL1 South competition did not go ahead last season, the Pioneers had to wait an extra year for their debut in the league, and they took it right up to the Braves. The visitors got away to a good start with a three-point lead at quarter time and eight by the main break. The Pioneers fought back to cut the deficit to four at the final change, but the Braves steadied to solidify the win, 60-54. Kate Oliver (17 points, seven rebounds) and Tess Madgen (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) both did the bulk of the damage for the winners, whilst Cassidy McLean (seven points, five rebounds and two steals), Piper Dunlop (seven points, four rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (six points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks) were all impressive. Shakera Reilly managed the 16 pints and two rebounds in defeat, while Jasmin Howe also notched up double-figure points with 14 herself. Hannah Young (nine points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Sherrie Calleia (four points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the other Pioneers who contributed across the court.

Southside hand Townsville third loss, Fire’s Nicholson leaves with nose injury

GOOD things eventually come to an end and in this instance, it was the Townsville Fire’s three-game winning streak at the mercy of the Southside Flyers, going down to the heavy-handed championship favourites 70-94, while being substantially undermanned.

A scrappy start from both sides led to a low scoring opening few minutes, but two quick fouls for Megan McKay earned her a quick spot on the bench for the rest of the first quarter. The Flyers started to connect on some of their shots as the first quarter rolled on, while Townsville struggled to pick up steam, trailing 4-16 after six minutes of play thanks to nine quick points from Liz Cambage. Not only did Southside’s superior opening period see them gain an 11-point lead, but also a hard blow to Lauren Nicholson’s nose resulting in the Fire losing a star point-guard for the rest of the game.

An And-One from Bec Cole to commence things in the second provided more encouraging signs for Cheryl Chambers and her players, however three straight successful trips up the floor for the Fire was the response Shannon Seebohm wanted to see following quarter time.

Townsville fended off more Southside success leading into the main break trailing only by eight points and winning the quarter 25-22. Down 34-42, the Fire were feeding off of Shyla Heal’s 15 points and three rebounds at this stage, while Nadeen Payne was doing her best to back Heal up with seven points and four boards. Alternatively, Cambage had herself 17 points in 16 first-half minutes next to Cole, who sat on 10 points and five assists at the mid-way point.

Losing Heal for a chunk of the third due to an elbow to the chest, the Fire did a good job of weathering the Flyers’ storm. But a triple from Jenna O’Hea midway through the third quarter signified the gradual expansion of her side’s lead in the second half putting Southside up by 16 with a quarter left to play in Saturday’s opener.

A relatively uneventful final quarter ensued as Southside started to push their advantage towards the 20-point mark and Townsville struggled to cope while running on limited players. As both sides introduced their secondary units in the dying moments of the contest, Southside routinely concluded matters by running out 24-point winners and ending Townsville’s three-game winning streak.

Shooting over 50 per cent throughout all four quarters, Southside was hard to stop from knocking down their shots, particularly down low (48 points in the paint) and from the free-throw-line (14 from 17). The Flyers also held onto the ball well, only turning over the ball eight times the whole game.

Cambage maintained her reputation as a prolific post presence, contributing 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while going 75 per cent from the field. Meanwhile, Cole was the next best thing with her 19 points and eight assists. Leilani Mitchell was not a massive presence on the scoreboard, but she certainly facilitated the ball at a high rate finishing with nine assists under her belt.

Heal had another impressive outing racking up a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, a major talking point for Townsville’s disappointing outcome. But more impressively, were the combined efforts of two of the WNBL’s best auxiliary players. Firstly, 15 points in 26 minutes off the bench for Stephanie Reid provided merit for a top performance from the losing side, whereas Courtney Woods accumulated a modest 11 points in her efforts yesterday afternoon.

Both teams hit the hardwood again in 24 hours, as Southside looks to knock the Adelaide Lightning out of the top four with a second triumph in as many days. While, the Fire look to re-establish themselves as a favourable finals nominee against a Sydney Uni Flames unit that is hungry to climb the standings.

Lightning hit back with statement win

Pic: WNBL

IMPROVING their record to four wins and one loss, the Adelaide Lighting have reiterated the fact that they are a formidable side, after extinguishing the Sydney Uni Flames 75-53, following a one-sided second half and a 30-point masterclass from early MVP-candidate Stephanie Talbot.

Transition points and a quick start from Sydney saw them run the floor well and capitalise on fast break offence early on, but the Lightning had other ideas for how the opening term would end, following a 7-0 run four minutes in for Adelaide. Riding off on their scoring run and four lead changes in the first quarter, Adelaide held a commanding 20 to 12 lead, with Talbot a large presence early having seven points and four rebounds after 10 minutes.

After an extended quarter-time break due to technical difficulties at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, both teams lost momentum on the scoreboard. Neither side got off a field goal for two and a half minutes, until this trend was upended following a beautiful backdoor cut from Sydney’s Lauren Mansfield.

Baskets became more frequent from both sides prior to half-time and the Flames made some significant headway in the half’s few remaining minutes after two buckets each from Funda Nakkasoglu and Nat Burton, cutting the deficit to only six points at the main break, 32-26.

It was the Talbot show in the opening 20 minutes, with the 26-year-old putting up 15 points during that time and seven rebounds to add to that. While Adelaide had few players with big scoring totals, the Flames had low scoring numbers across multiple individuals with all of their starters converting on shots. The former Opal in Burton led the way with eight points while Alison Schwagmeyer proved her mettle on the glass with seven rebounds in the initial two quarters.

A tit-for-tat beginning was the best way to describe the early moments of the second half, as both sides remained level six minutes into the third phase. However, four pivotal scores from Abigail Wehrung, Talbot who had two of those, and Marena Whittle gave the Lightning a nine-point buffer at what seemed like a turning point in a clash that had little room for errors. A beautiful drive and dish from Ally Wilson to Ella Batish and a fast-break layup by Talbot capped off a 13-0 run for Chris Lucas’ roster and put control of the game firmly in their possession before three-quarter-time, leading 53-41.

Adelaide ballooned their lead out to 25 points long into the middle stages of the final stanza scoring 17 of the first 19 points, as the Flames had no answer for their opponents late in the game. The Lightning’s bench completed the emphatic final period, culminating in a dominant 22-point blowout, reaffirming Adelaide as a serious contender among the League’s ranks.

With the Lightning holding the Flames to 27 per cent shooting efficiency they were able to provide themselves ample opportunity to pull away later in the game given that they converted their shots, which they did by shooting 42 per cent. A plus-11 in assists and a plus-12 in fast break points was a product of the way  coach Lucas’ side worked as a cohesive unit pushing the ball up the other end of the court after Sydney Uni’s missed shots.

Another standout performance from likely MVP candidate Talbot rattled another opponent’s roster, with the small forward racking up 30 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, while being fouled a game-high five times. Wehrung was the only other Lightning individual with double-digit totals, finishing with 11 points by way of three triples. Chelsea Brook contributed eight points and five rebounds, while Batish tallied seven of her own.

Scoring just 53 total game points, Adelaide’s shooting success was few and far between, with Burton being the only player to accumulate over 10 points – she finished with 14 points and a pair of rebounds. Meanwhile, Anneli Maley (seven points and eight rebounds) and Mansfield (seven points and four assists) had quiet nights respectively as neither of them were able to make a substantial imprint on the game.

Sydney Uni and Adelaide return later today to face another two teams who are completing back-to-back fixtures. The Lightning have their work cut out for them if they are to try and slow down the Southside Flyers, who just recently beat the Townsville Fire in convincing style. This brings us to the Flames’ opponents later today, looking to regain lost ground in the standings against the Fire in Round Three’s final game.

Caps keep the good times rolling, extend winning streak to seven

Pic: WNBL

THE longest winning streak of WNBL20 this season continues for the University of Canberra Capitals, as the two-time defending champions extended their litany of victories to seven straight, flattening the Bendigo Spirit in last night’s closer 51-87, rounding off the third of three one-sided contests over the first half of the weekend.

A close contest for the majority of the first period, it seemed as though both sides would be within a possession of each other at the first intermission. However, seven-straight points in the last 60 seconds of the term for the Capitals saw the reigning champions lead 20-12 after 10 minutes, highlighted by a buzzer beating corner three from Brittany Smart.

It seemed early on that the only visible scorer on Tracy York’s side was Tessa Lavey early in the second, who had eight points midway through the period. But numerous participants for the Capitals were finding looks of their own. Starting the second quarter on a 12-4 run, Canberra’s starting five and the extra boost given by former Sydney Uni Flame Tahlia Tupaea, quickly lathered on the points against the Spirit prior to half-time.

Outscoring Bendigo 22-9 in the second period, the Capitals were able to produce two-times the amount of points as their opponents in the first half, leading 42-21 at the midway point. However, given their history against lower-ranked sides Paul Goriss reiterated the notion of playing hard for all four quarters to his side at the main break.

With all five of Canberra starters manufacturing valuable contributions in the first half, it was evident that the Capitals were seeking a team-based win, which was pointed out by their eight assists through two quarters.

Canberra’s lone problem was clearly slowing down Australian Opal in Lavey, who had 13 points in all 20 minutes of the opening half, the only multiple field goal scorer for the Spirit prior to the third quarter, as the side failed to efficiently convert on their scoring attempts only shooting 17 per cent.

The Spirit kicked off the second half with a fast-paced brand of basketball, scoring three of the first four buckets for both teams, but that would be the extent of the good news following this. After making an adjustment on the defensive end, the Capitals turned the momentum in their favour once again and this time for good.

Earning themselves a 33-point buffer at the end of the third term, 37-70, the third game of yesterday’s triple-header looked like it was going finish in familiar fashion to the previous two meetings – a blowout.

This fate for the two sides came to fruition as Canberra completed the four-quarter sweep in Townsville and ultimately the 37-point landslide victory, earning their seventh straight win in the process and putting themselves a game ahead of the Southside Flyers on the WNBL ladder.

Shots just did not fall for the Spirit, who now fall to a winless record of zero wins and eight losses at the middle point of the season. Making 17 shots from 63 attempts (26 per cent) and giving up 36 points in the paint, Bendigo really disadvantaged themselves when it came to Canberra’s depth and team chemistry. Whereas the Capitals made a sizeable 44 per cent rate of their shots along with 22 assists in what was a complete team-effort.

Not a single Capitals player scored more than 15 points, highlighting just how distributed the scoring load was for UC. Leading the side, however, was Marianna Tolo with her 14 points and six rebounds, while Maddison Rocci backed up her captain with 12 points and three assists. Keely Froling and Tupaea each finished their nights with 10 points. For the Spirit, only Lavey was able to crack a double-digit scoring total, but severely slowed her level of production in the second half where she accounted for only four of her 17 points.

The Caps line up again on Tuesday against the Melbourne Boomers in a much-anticipated top-four matchup that will see a semi-final rematch of last season. On the other hand, Bendigo will face off with fellow bottom of the ladder side the Perth Lynx, perhaps the Spirit’s most likely chance at gaining their first win of the season.

2020 WNBL Round 1 weekday preview: Mackay and Townsville hubs tip-off as all eight teams commence

IN 2020 the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is a little different compared to usual, with the rounds stretching over more days with extra games. At Draft Central, we will preview the weekday games, followed by the weekend games separately to ensure the permutations in the second half of the round are as accurate as possible.

We tip-off Round 1 with all eight sides competing in the North Queensland hubs, starting in Mackay on Wednesday, and then heading to Townsville on Thursday in what should be a blockbuster opening round of action.

* Game times are local/AEDT

ADELAIDE LIGHTING vs. UC CAPITALS
Wednesday, November 11, 5/6pm (Mackay)

Opening the new season is 2019/20 finalists, Adelaide Lightning going up against reigning premiers, UC Capitals. The Capitals will be keen to retain their title in the 2020 shortened season despite losing a couple of key imports over the off-season. In the absence of volume shooter and league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final Series MVP Olivia Epoupa, the Capitals will have a slightly different starting five heading into the season.

The quartet of Australians crucial to the success fo the Capitals all re-signed with co-captains Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo, and rising stars Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all rejoining the side. Sydney Uni Flames’ Tahlia Tupaea was tipped to be the fifth member of the starting side for coach Paul Gorriss. Along with Tupaea, the Capitals have also brought in former Lightning talents Hannah Kaser and Ashley Taia to add some spice to the mix, as well as up and coming youngster Jade Melbourne.

While the Capitals largely have a known list, the Lightning will be vastly different to the team that fronted up last season. Chelsea Brook, Steph Talbot are the only two expected starters who got on court last season, with Jasmin Fejo predicted to play a key role in 2020. With veteran Lauren Nicholson heading north to Townsville and captain Nicole Seekamp retiring, the Lightning have brought in key player Marena Whittle, and had added talented college graduate Alana Smith but unfortunately injury has ruled her out for the year. Others who have joined returning back to the country include Taylor Ortlepp, Ella Batish and Carlie Smith, as well as WNBL talents Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni Flames), Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Abbey Wehrung (Bendigo Spirit).

The UC Capitals will head in as favourites for the clash coming in as reigning premiers and with more stability in their line-up, but the Lightning will be an exciting team to see how they gel.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Wednesday, November 11, 7/8pm (Mackay)

Two sides that will be keen to build on their 2019/20 season will be Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire who missed out on the post-season finals. The Fire will be no stranger to the weather conditions in the far north, but find themselves the visiting team in this encounter with the Lynx. The Fire have made a number of changes to invigorate their lineup with both young stars and experienced heads joining the team. The Lynx will also look largely different after some off-season changes, including assistant coach Ryan Petrik stepping up to replace outgoing head coach Andy Stewart.

The biggest intrigue of the match will be the changing of colours of Nadeen Payne and Darcee Garbin who effectively were involved in a trade with the players switching allegiances. Payne went from Perth to Townsville, whilst Garbin joined the Lynx from the Fire. Young gun Shyla Heal was the huge signing of the off-season for the Fire, with up-and-comers Megan McKay, Lara McSpadden and Courtney Woods all strengthening the outfit. Steph Reid crossed from Southside Flyers for more court time and enjoyed a strong QSL season, whilst Lauren Nicholson’s arrival from the Lightning added that experience needed at the Fire around the young talent.

The Lynx did not waste any time by announcing veteran and former Lynx star Sami Whitcomb back for the season, but unfortunately she was mutually released for family reasons. The re-signing of Katie Ebzery was as important as any, whilst Garbin was a welcome inclusion. The omissions are going to hurt, with not only Payne going, but Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer heading to Sydney Uni, and Marena Whittle joining Adelaide Lightning. Perth also brought in some local players with Kayla Steindl, Ashleigh Isenbarger and Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard all joining the fray, while Jessie Edwards signed on from the Lightning among a number of other re-signings.

It seems the two sides are at the opposite ends of the off-season success with Townsville bringing in a host of big guns, whilst Perth has lost a number of key players making it tough for the Lynx. With the home state advantage, expect the Fire to start off strongly here.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, November 12, 6/7pm (Townsville)

Tipping off Thursday nights’s action in Townsville, two sides that will believe they can go deep in the finals series go head-to-head. The Melbourne Boomers have kept a relatively strong line-up together, whilst Sydney Uni Flames have bolstered their hopes of pushing into the finals series. Given the losses the Lightning have had, the Flames are a huge chance to force their way into the top four, and alongside Townsville are the other side likely to crack into the finals.

The Boomers announced signing Tess Madgen from Townsville and quickly tied up Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor within the first month of the re-signing period. Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster all followed, with Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich and Rachel Antoniadou stepping up from NBL1 level. Possibly the most underrated signing of the period came in late October with the announcement that Tall Black, Ashleigh Karaitiana would join the side after a big QSL season and she will only strengthen that outfit. The three losses were Monique Conti to the Flyers, Paige Price to Bendigo and Chelsea D’Angelo out with an Achilles injury, but the Boomers are still a formidable unit.

The Flames will be an incredibly different outfit in 2020, possibly four of the starting five coming from other sides. June 24 marked a big day for the Flames, announcing he recruitment of Anneli Maley from Southside Flyers, and even bigger the coup of Lauren Mansfield from Perth Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer followed Mansfield to the Flames, while Kiera Rowe joined Maley in crossing from Southside. The inclusions replaced the likes of Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden who all departed, whilst Turkish-Australian national Funda Nakkasoglu was allowed to sign having dual citizenship being born in Melbourne. Natalie Burton also returned to her home country and will slot straight into the four spot with Lauren Scherf the other key starter for the Flames. Carly Boag (Finland) also returned home to Australia from Europe and will add to the strength of the side.

Melbourne Boomers have the known form and will be favourites in this game, but the Flames have a lot of unknown about them. That can work in their favour once they gel, and could be a dangerous team this season.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Thursday, November 12, 8/9pm (Townsville)

The final game of the first half of the round might be the most anticipated. Not necessarily due to the result, but more so to see the much anticipated starting five of the Southside Flyers. Last year’s runners-up have got enough Opals to open a jewellery shop, and they are favourites for the overall title. Some have suggested it could be the greatest line-up ever assembled, which could well be true which only adds to the pressure and intrigue. Bendigo Spirit will have the toughest assignment up first, with a much more inexperienced lineup compared to the Flyers.

The Spirit lost American Rebecca Tobin who chose to head to Romania, as well as Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide) and Shyla Heal (Townsville) who will all be big losses. They have signed up college returnee Georgia Pineau who should help provide some extra young talent to the team, as well as Amelia Todhunter and Piper Dunlop out of the NBL1 competition. Dunlop is a rising star and one to watch, whilst Mary Goulding has returned from Sweden, and Jennie Rintala crossed over from the Lightning. Paige Price adds some great young talent to the Spirit taking over from Heal, while the re-signings of Alicia Froling, Cassidy McLean and Tessa Lavey were crucial, with the latter also testing herself at AFL Women’s, but will be present in the hub.

Southside Flyers on the other hand went from strength to strength over the off-season. Losing crucial import Mercedes Russell to Turkey due to the no-imports rule, they set about re-signing everybody else. Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale and Rebecca Pizzey all signed on in between a host of incredible signings. Steph Blicavs crossed from Adelaide, Rachel Jarry stepped up from NBL1, and Monique Conti came over from cross-town rivals the Boomers. But by far the biggest both physically and metaphorically was Liz Campage with the WNBA champion the biggest signing of the off-season and turning the Flyers into the standout team. The Flyers did lose a few, with Steph Reid going to Townsville, Louella Tomlinson heading to Adelaide and Kiera Rowe going to Sydney Uni, but the inclusions far outweigh the omissions.

It is hard to look past Southside in any game this season just about, and when they are coming up against an inexperienced Bendigo lineup, the Flyers are comfortably the favourites in this one.

Picture: WNBL

WNBL20 Team Preview – Adelaide Lightning

IN the final of Draft Central’s WNBL20 team previews in lieu of the opening tipoff, we look at one of the two teams set to kick off the campaign tonight in the Adelaide Lightning, as Chris Lucas’ side will look to make the top-four for the third time in as many years, despite losing their marquee signing in Alanna Smith a few weeks ago due to injury.

Despite Smith’s unfortunate absence, the Lightning still maintains an arsenal of weapons at their disposal, none more so than their appointed Captain for the next six weeks Stephanie Talbot. Concluding her 2019/20 season, the nine-year-veteran cemented herself as one of the competition’s premiere players after averaging 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists throughout 21 games. These numbers would lay the foundation for a list of accolades, as Talbot received an All-WNBL Second Team nomination and a selection to next year’s Australian Opals squad, further establishing her with the reputation to lead Adelaide into WNBL20.

Aiding Talbot in the team’s frontcourt are two very dynamic forwards in Chelsea Brook, a rising star amongst WNBL bigs, and 32-year-old Louella Tomlinson, who has seen it all experience-wise and provides a facilitative defensive role. Perceived as the embodiment of the South Australian basketball system, Brook has been representing her home state with an abundance of gusto, earning bulk minutes and producing more solid numbers each season. Tomlinson, who considers herself an efficient passer and defensive presence will look for a more stable role under Lucas’ rotation, as the 2012 champion has had a hectic career in terms of location with her past clubs. Backing up these two is WNBL debutant Ella Batish, who came out with an impressive 2019 NBL1 season with the Sandringham Sabres, averaging 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds. Despite missing out on this year’s NBL1 campaign with the Frankston Blues, Batish remains excited for the upcoming six weeks hoping to make a difference on the boards and bolster the Lightning’s defensive prowess.

Smith’s injury announcement was not the only loss for Adelaide during the pre-season, as NBL1 Central superstar Jasmin Fejo also announced she would be watching the season from home due to the birth of her first child, and as a result it provides a chance for other guards to put their skills on display. One to keep an eye on is Alex Wilson, who is hot off the heels of a tremendous season with the Sydney Uni Flames, averaging 10.8 points, five assists and almost four rebounds a game. A product of Adelaide’s Eastern Mavericks NBL1 side, Wilson will be excited to don her home-city colours once again after almost a decade away in both Townsville and Sydney.

A more refined player in her own right, Marena Whittle has crossed over from the Western Australia border to provide her versatility to the Lightning. Known for her utility-based skillset and leadership qualities, Whittle has long held the tag of a “Sixth Man”, and the 26-year-old is keen to shake this notion. Averaging over 10 points per game last season, as well as 4.8 rebounds and an assist, it can be widely agreed upon that Whittle is ready for a more major role in the roster.

Rounding out the Lightning’s 10-player squad are guards Abbey Wehrung, who made the trip west from Bendigo and 3X3 national team member Carlie Smith, while Lucas has injected some NCAA talent into the line-up as well, with Boston College graduate Taylor Ortlepp and Oregon Duck Morgan Yaeger. Brooke Basham and Aimee Brett finalise the team as the two Development Players for the season.

2020 WNBL season preview – Part 2: Finalists to line up for another crack at title

IN the second part of our two-part Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season preview, we look at the four finalists from last year and where they stand. Expect them all to be there at the pointy end, getting stronger over the journey and making it a highly competitive season in 2020.

Southside Flyers

Without a doubt the premiership favourites and team to beat in the WNBL 2020 season. The Southside flyers have not only been able to retain key players, but added some elite talents with a starting five that could well be an international line-up. Over the off-season, they lost Mercedes Russell under the import rule, and then the experienced Louella Tomlinson to Adelaide Lightning. Steph Reid headed to Townsville Fire and both Anneli Maley and Kiera Rowe headed to Sydney Uni Flames.

Whilst those players provided great depth to the club, the Flyers brought in the biggest off-season coup of the lot, signing WNBA talent Liz Cambage to the roster. With Cambage an upgrade on an already elite Russell at the five, then adding in Stephanie Blicavs to join her sister at the club, as well as young gun Monique Conti, the Flyers were literally flying through the off-season. Aside from the inclusions, the Flyers re-signed almost their entire list, with Jenna O’Hea, Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole, Aimie Clydesdale and Leilani Mitchell among the key signings.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

On paper there is littler doubt this team could win it, littered with a ridiculous amount of Opals. Their talent is unmatched and they deserve favouritism.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

The only reason they might not is due to gelling reasons with such star power across the court. It is hard to imagine them struggling, and they will get to the finals alone on talent, but they will have a lot of top stars fighting for minutes which will be the envy of the competition.

CHANGES:

INS: Liz Cambage (International), Stephanie Blicavs (Adelaide), Monique Conti (Melbourne), Rachel Jarry (NBL1)
OUTS: Anneli Maley, Kiera Rowe (Sydney Uni), Steph Reid (Townsville), Louella Tomlinson (Adelaide), Mercedes Russell (International)
RE-SIGNINGS: Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale, Leilani Mitchell, Rebecca Pizzey, Taylah Gilliam, Saraid Taylor, Amy O’Neill

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Bec Cole
Leilani Mitchell
Jenna O’Hea
Sara Blicavs
Liz Cambage

>> Southside Flyers team preview

PREDICTION: 1st-2nd

The Southside Flyers are the team to beat in season 2020, with talent across the entire court. Not only is their starting five ridiculously strong, but even their bench is clearly a class above any others. They are the standout team and it would take a brave person to back against them this season.

UC Capitals

The reigning back-to-back premiers were quick on the trigger to announce a host of re-signings at the start of the off-season to secure their line-up for a crack a at a three-peat. Whilst it was announced early that they would be without their Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final MVP Olivia Epoupa, they were able to secure everyone else. Only young gun Gemma Potter departed the club for College in the United States, whilst the big guns such as co-captains Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all re-signed.

In terms of their inclusions, the Capitals added some extra strength to the line-up with Tahlia Tupaea and Brittany Smart both making the move from Sydney Uni Flames. Hannah Kaser was the other WNBL player to switch allegiances, coming from Adelaide Lightning, while Jade Melbourne took the step up from the AIS and Ashley Taia earned a contract following her QSL season. Abby Cubilo, Alex Delaney and Mikaela Ruef were the other players to re-sign with the reigning premiers.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

They have continuity in their team, they will have a fully fit Griffin and the team knows what it takes to win the title. They have done it twice back-to-back and the team is largely the same minus their couple of imports. If their young guns can step up, they are every chance.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Southside Flyers have brought in some imposing players, while Melbourne Boomers have not got any worse. It will be interesting to see if the Capitals can cover the loss of Nurse and Epoupa this season which will go a long way to determining their fortunes in 2020.

CHANGES:

INS: Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart (Sydney Uni), Hannah Kaser (Adelaide), Jade Melbourne (NBL1), Ashley Taia (QSL)
OUTS: Kia Nurse, Olivia Epoupa, Gemma Potter (International)
RE-SIGNINGS: Marianna Tolo, Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling, Maddison Rocci, Abby Cubilo, Alex Delaney, Mikaela Ruef

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Tahlia Tupaea
Maddison Rocci
Keely Froling
Kelsey Griffin
Marianna Tolo

>> UC Capitals team preview

PREDICTION: 1st-3rd

The UC Capitals are too good not to be there at the pointy end. They are a superb team, and whilst the Flyers will be hard to beat with all their firepower, expect the Capitals to give it a red hot crack and go for a three-peat. If they can play at the level they are capable of, they are the best chance of winning another flag.

Melbourne Boomers

The Melbourne Boomers have gone close the last couple of years, but have not been able to come away with any silverware. Remaining one of the most solid units over the off-season, the Boomers only lost a trio of young guns, whilst picking up a top talent from Townsville. Paige Price (Bendigo), Monique Conti (Southside) and Chelsea D’Angelo (Achilles, released) were the three main departures from the club, with the Boomers always relying on Australian talent, so the import rule did not impact them as much as other sides.

Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor and Kalani Purcell form a dominant four, and throw in the Fire’s Tess Madgen who has made the move to the Boomers, and Guy Molloy will head in with another title-contending unit. Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster re-signed as well as a number of state-league talents, including Tall Black shooter Ashleigh Karaitiana who could prove important coming off the bench.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

The Boomers are a settled unit with very few changes to the side that has challenged the last couple of years. The addition of Madgen is a positive one, and it is hard to see them not at least giving it a crack, even if they do fall short again.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Southside and UC Capitals still have the firepower, though the Boomers might be on par with the Capitals given their losses over the off-season. The Flyers will be hard to beat on paper, but the continuity of the Boomers over a short season might help.

CHANGES:

INS: Tess Madgen (Townsville), Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich, Rachel Antoniadou (NBL1), Ashleigh Karaitiana (QSL)
OUTS: Paige Price (Bendigo), Monique Conti (Southside), Chelsea D’Angelo (Achilles)
RE-SIGNINGS: Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor, Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck, Rachel Brewster

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Maddie Garrick
Tess Madgen
Ezi Magbegor
Kalani Purcell
Cayla George

>> Melbourne Boomers preview

PREDICTION: 1st-4th

The Melbourne Boomers are a tough team to beat, and it will take the best of the Flyers and Capitals to get it done. They are certainly among the top sides in the competition, and whilst the Flyers are deserving favourites, the Boomers have enough talent to step up in big games.

Adelaide Lightning

Even though the Lightning might be lower down on this list, there is genuine hope they can repeat their last two season and make finals. The loss of veteran, Lauren Nicholson would have hurt the Lightning, with Steph Blicavs the other massive out for the Lightning. Both players headed off to the east coast to play with Townsville and Southside, though the one benefit is that Blicavs missed last season due to her pregnancy, so effectively Nicholson is the only starting five net out. The other two that were due to come in but have since had to be released were state league talent Jasmin Fejo (pregnancy) and college graduate Alanna Smith (ankle) who would have provided some excitement. Natalie Hurst (retired), Jessie Edwards (Perth), Jessie Rintala (Bendigo) and Hannah Kaser (UC Capitals) were the others to depart.

The Lightning have brought in some vital experience though, with Sydney Uni’s Alex Wilson expected to slot into the guard spot alongside Perth’s Marena Whittle making that a pretty handy, and most importantly steady duo. Steph Talbot and Chelsea Brook provide some strength and consistency through the forwards, and whilst Brook might start as the five, bringing in another veteran in Louella Tomlinson from Southside means Brook might slide to the four. Abby Wehrung is a pretty handy sixth player, with some impressive state leaguers in Carlie Smith and Ella Batish also joining, and a quartet of international young talents in Taylor Ortlepp, Morgan Yaeger, Brooke Basham and Aimee Brett returning to Australia.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

Despite losing Nicholson and Blicavs, the damage to the team from last season that was effectively done was just Nicholson out, and a mix of youth and experience in. They have enough versatility to get the job done and bringing in veterans helps steady the team and allow them to gel quicker. This season should be more competitive and could allow for some upset wins.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

In a short season it still will take a little time to gel and adding extra talent to the starting five is great, but it will be interesting to see how they fare against the top three teams. They need a lot to go right to knock them off.

CHANGES:

IN: Marena Whittle (Perth), Taylor Ortlepp, Morgan Yaeger, Brooke Basham, Aimee Brett (International), Louella Tomlinson (Southside), Carlie Smith (QSL), Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni), Abby Wehrung (Bendigo), Ella Batish (NBL1)
OUT:  Lauren Nicholson (Townsville), Jessie Edwards (Perth), Jessie Rintala (Bendigo), Steph Blicavs (Southside), Hannah Kaser (UC Capitals), Natalie Hurst (retired)
RE-SIGNED: Steph Talbot, Chelsea Brook

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Alex Wilson
Marena Whittle
Steph Talbot
Chelsea Brook
Louella Tomlinson

>> Adelaide Lightning team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-6th

Overall the Lightning are not to be underestimated. There is every chance they force their way into the four. In a short season with a quick turnaround between games, it will be interesting to see how they first gel, and secondly deal with the body management given some of their older talents. Still an outside contender.

NBL1 South women’s team summary: Southern Sabres

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at Southern Sabres womens side that finished 16th overall.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 16th
Wins: 4
Losses: 16
Home: 0-10
Away: 4-6

What went right:

  • Won two of the first six
  • Competitive – Seven losses by single digits including two in the last three games
  • Defeated a couple of finalists on the road in Dandenong Rangers and Frankston Blues
  • Rachel Jarry’s season
  • Steals (9.6 per game ranked fourth overall)
  • Bring youth through the system

The 2019 NBL1 season was definitely about providing games to some of the Southern Sabres’ talented youth prospects coming through the program. Heading into the season, there were eight players aged 20 or under on a large list, while just three were above 26. Their season on court might be hard to find positives in terms of pure results, but they were competitive at different points, coming close with seven losses by single digits, including two one-point defeats in the final three rounds. They were able to defeat a couple of finalists on the road in Dandenong Rangers and Frankston Blues, and started solidly considering their youth, winning two of the first six. Their away record was actually okay considering a lot of non-finalists finished with worse, winning four of a possible 10 games on the road, needing to just improve their home record. They ranked inside the top five for steals with 9.6 per game, while forward, Rachel Jarry had a superb season, almost averaging 20 and 10 from a points and rebounds perspective. Sure it is easy to say that 2019 did not go to plan, but there were still areas that the Sabres could pick out as positives for the future.

What went wrong:

  • Did not win a game at home
  • Scoring (71.7 points per game ranked 17th overall)
  • Accuracy (41.1 per cent two-point and 27.9 per cent three-point ranked in the bottom three)
  • Rebounding (23.2 defensive and 34.8 total, ranked last overall)

As already mentioned, it is easy to pick out things that did not quite go to plan, but there were a lot of near misses. The Sabres did not win a game at home for a start, and after the first six games, would only win two more in the last 14. They came close on a number of occasions and could have won a couple of the late ones, but they struggled with the fundamentals. Ranking in the bottom three for scoring, accuracy and rebounding, the Sabres just could not match it with the top sides in that regard. Had they made more of their chances and had a greater impact off the boards, then those narrow losses might turn into wins, which is something to be optimistic about for the future if they can tweak certain aspects of their game.

Top Players:

Rachel Jarry

Jarry was the standout player from a Sabres perspective, who racked up team-high totals in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She played every game for the season, almost putting up 400 points for an average of 19.6 per game, to accompany 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals as well. Her field goal accuracy was a low 37.7 per cent, but when heading to the line, she was reliable with 82.2 per cent. Providing a strong presence defensively, Jarry added more than six defensive rebounds a game and a block every two games, denying the opposition in the air or pickpocketing them around the court.

Tenaya Phillips

The forward was 24 coming into the season and averaged 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals, working her way off the bench on six occasions to start in 10 games. In the end she started the fourth most of any player on the side, and was the most reliable three-point shooter on the team with 26 makes for an efficiency of 37.7 per cent. She also averaged 46 per cent from the field and 70 per cent from the line, committing fewer turnovers and personal fouls than others on court and working well in tandem with Jarry.

Amy O’Neill

A late inclusion to the side, O’Neill finished the season with nine games but had an impact in that time, averaging 11.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and a team-high 4.6 assists. She facilitated a lot of plays on the offensive end with her passing and it was that area which the Sabres lacked at times. O’Neill brought that point of difference, and while she was not a long-range shooter, she still managed 44.8 per cent from the field and a terrific 85 per cent from the free-throw line. O’Neill came into the side after finishing college with St Francis and used her ball handing abilities to give the team confidence going forward.

Young Gun:

Ella Batish

There are plenty of young guns who could have slotted into this spot, but Batish earns the nod having the highest efficiency rating of the lot. She averaged 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, taking the court in 19 of a possible 20 games. She was the most accurate shooter from the field with a 47.4 per cent efficiency, and also made her free throws count more often than not. In her early 20s, Batish looms as a player for the future standing at 189cm and able to match the more experienced opposition players in the five position.

Christmas list for 2021:

Scoring power. The team just needs to pick up the scoring and the wins will come. They had plenty of young guns coming through the ranks, led by a number of solid contributors who were able to get close on a number of occasions and win a few tight games. If they can add a couple of players who can average double-figure points and ideally five or more rebounds per game, then facilitating the scoring will be easier.

Summary:

The Southern Sabres might not have had on-court success in 2019, but were able to provide plenty of experience to younger players in the side and it will hold them in good stead for the future. If they can add more firepower and build their transition offence to be more damaging, then watch out in the coming years.

NBL1 Women’s Round 15 review: Braves make a statement as Cobras secure fourth

THE final round of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s competition is done and dusted, with the top eight locked up ahead of the start of finals in a fortnight. Bendigo Braves sent a message to the rest of the competition with a comprehensive 30-point win over second placed Geelong Supercats to lock up the minor premiership. The Braves’ only loss had come at the hands of the Supercats, and from the outside it was clear to see they were keen to post a big win. They won all four quarters on their way to victory, albeit against a Geelong side missing Sara Blicavs and Ovie Magbegor. Instead it was Gabrielle Richards (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Kelly Wilson (21 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks) who dominated, while Gabriella Turner (23 points, five rebounds and three assists) also had a say in the proceedings for the winners. In their NBL stars absences, Isabella Brancatisano had her best game to-date, picking up 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Ebony Rolph helped herself to 15 points, 10 rebounds and six steals with both players registering double-doubles.

In the standalone game on Friday night, Waverley Falcons locked up a top eight spot courtesy of a 34-point win over Hobart Huskies to secure the finalists for season 2019. The visiting side also won each of hte four quarters on their way to an imposing 97-63 win over the bottom four side. Renae Mokrzycki had a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds, while Tegan Cunningham (12 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Kelly Bowen (12 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists) was also important in the victory. For the Huskies, Ellie Collins (19 points, two rebounds, three assists and two blocks) was the standout scorer, while Tayla Roberts (10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Kylie McCauley (nine points, seven rebounds and two assists) were both prominent off the boards. Waverley then moved into seventh spot on the table courtesy of a 22-point win over Launceston Tornadoes. Carley Ernst picked up 21 points and nine rebounds in the big win, while Mokrzycki (19 points, nine rebounds), Cunningham (15 points, seven rebounds), Bowen (10 points, nine assists, three steals and 13 rebounds) and Jessica Bygate (11 points, six rebounds) had great presence off the boards and on the scoreboard. Launceston’s Stephanie Gardner topscored for her side with 19 points and four rebounds, while Micah Simpson (16 points), and Sarah O’Neill (14 points, five rebounds) also tried hard throughout the game.

Dandenong Rangers’ weekend saw them just cling onto a finals spot, dropping both games, albeit against top four sides in Kilsyth Cobras (23 points) and Ringwood Hawks (three points) on consecutive days. In the big loss to Kilsyth, it was a slow start of 17 points to the Cobras’ 43 that all but sealed the Rangers’ fate, with Sarah Boothe having a night out by feasting on 28 points and 23 rebounds, shooting at 72.2 per cent from the field, as well as six assists. Clare Camac was the next highest points scorer for the Cobras with 17, as well as five assists and three rebounds, while Alison Downie picked up a double-double thanks to 12 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. For the losers, Colleen Planeta did the bulk of the damage picking up a double-double herself courtesy of 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Rebecca Cole was the next highest scorer (12 points, seven rebounds. In the loss to Ringwood, Planeta again did all she could with 25 points, nine rebounds and three bocks, while Cole recorded 23 points and six rebounds. For the Hawks, they shared the points around as Ella Ogier (16 points, 11 rebounds) was the best of them, ahead of Cassidy Mihalko (15 points, eight rebounds and three steals) and Danni Bone (14 points, nine rebounds and six assists).

A team who enjoyed a much better weekend was Eltham Wildcats, downing Nunawading Spectres by seven points, then toppling Melbourne Tigers by 21. Whilst it was not enough to make finals due to Waverley claiming both wins, the Wildcats finished their season on a high with back-to-back wins to sit ninth on the table. Against Nunawading it was Alice Kunek (27 points, nine rebounds and six assists) who stood tall), but she was joined by Chelsea Schweers (18 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals), Vanessa Panousis (13 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Chelsea Brook (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) as other double-figure scorers. Nunawading had a couple of important scorers, with Maddie Garrick (20 points, six rebounds) leading the way, although Kathleen Scheer (18 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks) was best on the court. Rachel Brewster (13 points, nine rebounds) and Rebecca Pizzey (12 points, nine rebounds) came agonisingly close to double-doubles. In the comfortable win over Melbourne, Schweers had a team-high 23 points, while Margaret Mulligan was the standout with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Kunek (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Brook (15 points, eight rebounds and three steals) were productive for their sides. For the Tigers, Monique Conti finished her consistent season off on the right note with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Kasey Burton (15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals) was the other Tigers’ player who stood tall.

Ballarat Rush also enjoyed a win over Melbourne Tigers on their way to a narrow five-point victory. Chanise Jenkins had 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and four steals in the win, while Olivia Hackmann (19 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Hsi-le Bao (13 points, 10 rebounds) were other Rush players to reach double-figure points. Conti was again the standout for the Tigers with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, while Katie Budgen picked up some of the slack with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals, and Kasey Burton helped herself to a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, as wells four assist, four steals and two blocks.

Knox Raiders finished the season with an on-the-road win against Albury Wodonga Bandits. The Raiders posted a 98-84 victory, winning three of the four quarters to do it comfortably in the end. Abbey Wehrung (22 points, two rebounds, six assists and two steals) and Bec Ott (21 points, five rebounds and four assists) both troubled the scorers quite a bit, while Lauren Scherf picked up a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds). For the Bandits, Jessie Edwards was the top player with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Emilee Harmon (17 points, six rebounds) and Cherise Daniel (15 points, five rebounds) were both productive players on the court.

In the other two games, Southern Sabres suffered two losses to finish off a disappointing season, going down to last placed Diamond Valley Eagles by 19 points, before suffering a narrow one-point loss to Frankston Blues. Diamond Valley’s Shelby Cheslek (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Anneli Maley (21 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and three steals) were dominant against the Sabres’ side, with Rachel Jarry (24 points, nine rebounds and six steals) doing all she could, while Amy O’Neill (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) was the next best. In the narrowest of overtime losses, O’Neill was again prominent for the Sabres, registering 22 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and four steals, while Tenaya Phillips (24 points, five rebounds and three steals) and Ella Batish (20 points, six rebounds) were also busy. For the Blues, Shereesha Richards hauled her side across the line thanks to a mammoth 40-point, 14-rebound and seven-assist game, leading the way ahead of Saraid Taylor (19 points, 10 rebounds) who picked up a double-double as well, while Courtney Wilkins (14 points, seven rebounds) and Taylor Lee (13 points, six rebounds and four assists) were the next best.

Round 15 results:

Hobart Huskies 63 defeated by Waverley Falcons 97
Geelong Supercats 58 defeated by Bendigo Braves 88
Kilsyth Cobras 81 defeated Dandenong Rangers 58
Diamond Valley Eagles 88 defeated Southern Sabres 69
Albury Wodonga Bandits 84 defeated by Knox Raiders 98
Ballarat Rush 84 defeated by Melbourne Tigers 79
Eltham Wildcats 80 defeated Nunawading Spectres 73
Launceston Tornadoes 77 defeated by Waverley Falcons 99
Southern Sabres 96 defeated by Frankston Blues 97
Dandenong Rangers 68 defeated by Ringwood Hawks 71
Melbourne Tigers 72 defeated by Eltham Wildcats 93

Final ladder:

1 Bendigo Braves 19-1
2 Geelong Supercats 17-3
3 Ringwood Hawks 15-5
4 Kilsyth Cobras 14-6
5 Knox Raiders 14-6
6 Nunawading Spectres 12-8
7 Waverley Falcons 11-9
8 Dandenong Rangers 11-9

9 Eltham Wildcats 10-10
10 Albury Wodonga Bandits 9-11
11 Frankston Blues 9-11
12 Ballarat Rush 8-12
13 Melbourne Tigers 8-12
14 Basketball Australia CoE 6-14
15 Hobart HUskies 6-14
16 Southern Sabres 4-16
17 Launceston Tornadoes 4-16
18 Diamond Valley Eagles 3-17

Week 1 finals:

Bendigo Braves vs. Kilsyth Cobras
Geelong Supercats vs. Ringwood Hawks
Knox Raiders vs. Dandenong Rangers
Nunawading Spectres vs. Waverley Falcons