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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

NBL1 South Womens: Round 2 wrap – Blues standalone with 3-0 record

FRANKSTON Blues stand alone as the only side to record three wins so far in the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as the results played out over the weekend. We recap how each of the games went down and who the top performers were with some one-sided results.

Bendigo Braves (70) def. by Frankston Blues (76)

The first of two wins for the weekend for the Blues saw them claim a narrow six-point victory over Bendigo Braves in a come-from-behind triumph. The Braves raced out to a 21-9 lead at quarter time after a dominant first term, with the Blues clawing their way back to within six points at the final break, before slamming on 24-12 in the last quarter to win, 76-70. Darcee Garbin was again a prolific scorer for the Blues, adding 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a standout performance. She teamed up well with Tessa Lavey (14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals) and Taylah Gilliam (14 points, four rebounds). For the Braves, Abigail Wehrung nailed 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks, though it was Tess Madgen who came agonisingly close to a triple-double of 16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Piper Dunlop (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Kate Oliver (10 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were both impressive for the losers.

Hobart Chargers (61) def. by Ballarat Rush (62)

A two-pointer from Ballarat Rush’s Kasey Burton in the final 30 seconds – and a missed three-point attempt from Hobart Chargers’ Madeleine Garrick helped the Rush grab a one-point thrilling victory at Kingborough Sports Centre. The visitors trailed by five at quarter time, led by one and then four at the next two breaks, then were caught by the Chargers, only to win at the death. Burton had an equal team-high 13 points, as well as six rebounds, but it was the amazing effort of Alicia Froling (10 points, 20 rebounds and five assists) that stood out, while Kristy Rinaldi (seven points, 13 rebounds) also dominated off the boards. Annie Collins had the 13 points and two rebounds to equal Burton on the scoring front. For the Chargers, Garrick finished with a double-double of 19 points – including five of 11 from long-range – and 10 rebounds, while Ellie Collins had 16 points and 15 rebounds in an equally amazing effort. Tayla Roberts came close to a double-double herself picking up 16 points and nine rebounds.

Frankston Blues (78) def. Dandenong Rangers (75)

It was billed as the match of the round, and it certainly lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues moving to 3-0 for the NBL1 South season, defeating Dandenong Rangers by three points. The teams traded blows throughout the match, though the Blues led by 11 points at the final break, before Dandenong hit back with a 23-15 final quarter to get within three points, but fall short, 78-75. Garbin had another outstanding game with 30 points – four of 10 from long-range – and eight assists, while Lavey picked up 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win. Gililam (13 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Saraid Taylor (seven points, 10 rebounds and three assists) were others who stood out. For the Ranges, Gemma Potter was on fire with six triples leading to her 28 points, as well as five rebounds and two assists. Emilee Harmon (23 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Tenaya Sooalo (16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were also busy.

Knox Raiders (82) def. Kilsyth Cobras (70)

Knox Raiders proved too strong for Kilsyth Cobras in their clash at the State Basketball Centre, winning three of the four quarters to post a 12-point win at home. The teams were fairly even at half-time after counter-contrasting first and second terms, with Kilsyth leading by one point. Knox piled on 24-14 after half-time to set up the win, then held on in the final term for the 82-70 victory. Klara Wischer was the star for the Raiders, picking up a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds, as well as three steals and two assists. Marianna Tolo (14 points, seven rebounds) and Kiera Rowe (12 points, five rebounds and four assists) were also busy in the match among a host of other contributors. Lauren Scherf stood tall for the Cobras with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, notching up a double-double while Briahna Whatman (145 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Carly Turner (five points, 10 rebounds and three assists) were also productive.

Sandringham Sabres (72) def. Mt Gambier Pioneers (70)

Sandringham Sabres survived a thriller with a two-point win over the cross-border Mt Gambier Pioneers on Saturday evening. The Sabres held a narrow lead early, and extended it out to as much as 13 points by the final break, before the Pioneers hit back with a massive fourth quarter. The 29-18 term in favour of the visitors would not be enough however, as the Sabres triumphed 72-70. Jenna O’Hea had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win for the Sabres, leading the way from Rachel Jarry (14 points, six rebounds and two steals), Cassandra Hill (10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Amy O’Neill (eight points, six rebounds and two assists). For the Pioneers, Hannah Young racked up an important double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, while Jasmine Howe (15 points, six rebounds) and Shakera Reilly (11 points, eight rebounds) also stood up on both the scoring and rebounding fronts.

Eltham Wildcats (84) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (52)

Eltham Wildcats made it two from two this season in the NBL1 South competition, dominating the Diamond Valley Eagles to win by 32 points. The Wildcats won by nine, seven, nine and seven points in each of the respective four quarters during the 84-52 victory. Anneli Maley had a ridiculous 29 rebounds – 20 defensive – to be unbeatable off the boards, as well as pick up 21 points, two assists two steals. Rebecca Pizzey (11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks), Shelby Britten (16 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals) were also impressive as Chloe Hilderbrand (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Tess Heal (10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points. In a disappointing loss for the Eagles, Teah Reichert picked up a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Imogen Rock (12 points, five steals) and Sophie Burrows (seven points, six rebounds) tried hard.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (68) def. by Melbourne Tigers (116)

Melbourne Tigers were on from the first tip-off as they completely dismantled Albury-Wodonga Bandits in a dominant 48-point win. Storming to a 31-13 lead at quarter time, the Tigers lost the second term by three, but then piled on the points in the second half with 62 points to 29 to run out 116-68 victors. Monique Conti impressed with 28 points, six assists and three steals, teaming up brilliantly with fellow WNBL talent Zitina Aokuso (18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks) doing it all. Isabella Brancatisano (25 points, six rebounds, eight assists and seven steals) was arguably the best on the court, while Melissa Prior (17 points, six rebounds) was also outstanding in the win. The Bandits were led by Emma Mahady (24 points, five rebounds), while Jade McCowan (15 points, three rebounds) and Brodie-Paige Theodore (12 points) reached double-figure points in the loss.

Melbourne Tigers’ Monique Conti puts up a shot. Picture credit: NBL1

Ringwood Hawks (84) def. Geelong Supercats (55)

Bouncing back from a Round 1 loss, Ringwood Hawks proved too much for Geelong Supercats, running out 29-point victors at The Rings on Saturday evening. The Hawks won the first two quarters to stamp their authority on the match and lead by 20 points at the half, before Geelong edged back one point, only for Ringwood to go again and score 22-12 in the final term a for a 84-55 victory. Marena Whittle had a night out with 20 points and 13 rebounds, as well as six assists and two blocks. Funda Nakkasoglu (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals), Hope Terdich (13 points, six rebounds) and Demi Skinner (12 points, four rebounds) also stepped up in the win. For the Supercats, Stephanie Blicavs knocked down 17 points, along with three rebounds and two assists, while Aimee Clydesdale was the other prominent scorer with 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.

Launceston Tornadoes (92) def. Ballarat Rush (61)

Launceston Tornadoes have stormed to a dominant 31-point win over Ballarat Rush to go 2-0 this season, with Keely Froling picking up another huge double-double against her sister. The Tornadoes never looked like losing, winning the first half by 23 points, then the second half by another eight to secure the 92-61 victory. Froling finished with 28 points, 19 rebounds – 17 defensive – five assists and four steals, while Mariah Payne (22 points, five rebounds and six assists) and Teyla Evans (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) were other double-digit scorers. For the Rush, Alicia Froling hit up 27 points, seven rebounds and four blocks to be the best of the losers, while Kasey Burton (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) were both strong.

Nunawading Spectres (83) defeated Sandringham Sabres (70)

Nunawading Spectres bounced back from a Round 1 loss to hand the Sandringham Sabres their first loss in three games. The Sabres took control to lead by six points at half-time, but having already played a game this round, the Sabres tired in the second half as the Spectres ran over the top of them, courtesy of a dominant 44-25 half to win, 83-70. Izzy Wright (21 points, nine rebounds) and Louise Brown (20 points, five rebounds and four assists) did the damage on the scoreboard, with Rachel Antoniadou (18 points, four rebounds and five assists) not far behind. Rachel Brewster (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Penina Davidson (10 points, 10 rebounds) also picked up double-doubles to share the load across the court. O’Hea was again the standout for the Sabres, picking up 27 points and eight rebounds not leaving the court for a second, while Jarry (16 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) and Amy O’Neill (six points, 11 rebounds) were prominent off the boards.

Waverley Falcons (74) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (66)

After their heartbreaking one-point loss last week the Waverley Falcons bounced back to win by eight points against Diamond Valley Eagles, handing their opponents a third consecutive loss in the process. The Falcons were led by Aneta Bandilovska (20 points, two rebounds and two assists) on the scoring front, with Renae Mokrzycki (11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and four steals) recording a double-double. Nyakoang Lok (15 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Kelly Bowen (13 points, five rebounds) were the other double-digit scorers. For the Eagles, Burrows scored a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Jade Dunne (17 points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds) and Olivia Bontempelli (12 points, five rebounds and two locks) were also steadfast in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

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.

UC Capitalise on first half blitz to end Lynx’s season with a loss

UNIVERSITY of Canberra (UC) Capitals showed no mercy during an impressive and dominant first half, leading to a 27-point win over Perth Lynx to set up a top of the table battle for the minor premiership against Southside Flyers. The Capitals dominated the first half with 53 points to 29, then holding firm in the second half to run out 96-69 victors.

The Capitals raced away to a 26-19 lead by the first break, and then hit the half century at half-time courtesy of a one-sided 27-10 second quarter. It meant the Capitals were all but home with a half to play, though the Lynx made it more difficult after the main break. Scoring 23 points to 22, the Lynx actually won the third term, but the Capitals got back on top in the fourth, winning it 21-17 to round out an all-round strong performance.

The Capitals were on top in nearly every area, dominating the rebounds (44-34), assists (27-16) and steals (12-7), whilst also having less turnovers (9-16). They punished their opponents on the counter attack, putting up 25 points to six, while also scoring 18-14 fast break points, and capitalising with 12-5 second chance points. The reigning premiers’ depth had plenty to say with 37 points to seven, preparing themselves for the crunch match with the Flyers.

Maddison Rocci was electric from long-range, hitting four of six triples, and nine of 14 from the field as she knocked up 27 points in just 26 minutes. She also picked up five rebounds, four assists and one steal without turning the ball over. Kelsey Griffin was huge off the boards thanks to 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Keely Froling also picked up 11 points, three rebounds and three assists. Not scoring a point, Abby Cubillo thrived from her first start, dishing off seven assists, as well as recording three rebounds and three steals.

Coming off the bench, Marianna Tolo (12 points, six rebounds) and Mikaela Ruef (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) both provided size and experience. Brittany Smart gained the most minutes of the season with 22, scoring nine points, four rebounds and three assists.

For the Lynx, Katie-Rae Ebzery had a night out with 24 points – including three of five from long-range – three rebounds and two steals. Darcee Garbin scored 17 points and seven rebounds, while Ashley Sharp was equally influential off the boards with eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Alex Ciabattoni (six points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals) and Kayla Steindl (seven points, three assists and two blocks) were both strong.

The Capitals finish their season off on the right note on Sunday when they clash with the Flyers, as the Lynx prepare to head home and set themselves for a big 2021.

Flyers snatch unbelievable win against Flames

Southside Flyers’ Sara Blicavs competes for the ball against Anneli Maley. Picture credit: WNBL

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have found a way back from the brink to post a nail-biting four-point win over a plucky Sydney Uni Flames to remain on top of the WNBL ladder heading into the Flyers’ final match of the season. Trailing by nine points with 2:51 on the clock after Lauren Mansfield had drained a triple, the Flyers managed to score the last 13 points of the game with a Sara Blicavs triple with 11 seconds on the clock helping the Flyers hit the front and then last second free throws cementing the narrow 81-77 victory.

It was quite the contest between a side locked into the top two and one that was already out of finals contention, but the Flames showed they could match it with the best on their day. The first half saw the Flames race out to a five-point lead at the main break, then having won the first three quarters, lead by six with 10 minutes to play. At one point, the score was 77-68 with the Flames ahead 17-14 in that last stanza. Somehow the Flyers found a way to win, with Leilani Mitchell having a massive last minute thanks to a defensive rebound off a Lauren Scherf miss, the assist to Blicavs and then finishing the match with two successful free throws to seal the deal.

Both teams had their fair share of little wins on the night, with the Flames surprisingly dominating the usually unbeatable Flyers’ bigs, winning 51 rebounds to 30. However the Flyers were better with ball-in-hand picking up 19-15 assists, 11-3 steals and punishing the Flames for their extra turnovers (21-15) with 25-19 points from turnover. Southside also capitalised off the fast break with 20-4 points. Their accuracy of 57 per cent from the field was much higher than the Flames’ 42 per cent, though the latter managed to hit 10 of 26 triples, much better than the Flyers’ six of 22 which kept the losing side in the game.

Liz Cambage had 24 points and five rebounds in another game-high points performance, aided by the remainder of the Flyers’ starting five who scored nearly all of the team’s points. Mitchell (15 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals) was prolific, while Blicavs (13 points, eight rebounds) was dominant off the boards. Rebecca Cole had 14 points, five assts and four steals, while Jenna O’Hea finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Aimie Clydesdale was the one contributor off the bench for the winning side, scoring two points and had five assists and two rebounds in 22 minutes as the Flyers could not utilise their bench as much as usual.

For the Flames, Mansfield had a massive night out picking up 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Anneli Maley‘s rebounding efforts were out of this world. The former Flyers’ forward showed her team what they were missing, notching up 19 points and 17 rebounds in a huge performance. Alison Schwagmeyer had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Natalie Burton picked up 10 rebounds to go with six points and two assists. Funda Nakkasoglu came off the bench for 11 points to round out the top performers.

Both teams set their sights on Sunday, where the Flyers face off against the Capitals for top spot, and the Flames take on Adelaide Lightning in the final game of the regular season.

Melbourne weathers the Lightning, 21-point victory over Adelaide

AFTER their 76-55 win over the Adelaide Lightning, an impressive Melbourne Boomers roster has regained the third seed in the WNBL standings to kick off the fifth and final round of the season. The win also sets the tone for the rest of their final week with two more games still yet to be decided for one of the competition’s favourites.

Melbourne looked to do damage early, following a triple from Ashleigh Karaitiana on the opening play. However, Ally Wilson answered back with a mid-range jumper of her own to commence proceedings in Cairns.

Trading buckets early, both sides put up consistent numbers for the majority of the first quarter and remained within earshot of one another in that time. But a 10-0 run from the Boomers, allowed the purple and gold to take a superior stance with a double-digit advantage early in the game.

A three-pointer off the inbound pass to Cayla George would drop, as the opening quarter buzzer went off, giving Melbourne a huge 17-point lead at the first break. Now being down 14-31, Adelaide head coach Chris Lucas pleaded with his side to make some changes and talk to one another for the remainder of the contest, a focus point that would do little good.

Despite holding a 20-point buffer approaching the second intermission, the Lightning were able to construct a 7-0 scoring run of their own to ultimately win the second term exclusively, narrowly cutting the deficit to 13 at halftime.

The Lightning’s main issue to address at half-time was George’s accuracy, as she converted 66 per cent of her shots (compared to her team’s 48 per cent) which translated to 14 points, seven rebounds and a couple of assists up to the halftime stoppage. Meanwhile, Stephanie Talbot was accumulating statistics as per usual, with 10 points and four rebounds for her side after 20 minutes.

The efforts in the third quarter from the likes of Ezi Magbegor, Maddie Garrick and Kalani Purcell was enough to maintain a lead over 10 points at the conclusion of the period, but Adelaide’s efforts in the middle quarters was enough to keep the Boomers within striking range with just 10 minutes left to play, especially with sharpshooters Abbey Wehrung and Taylor Ortlepp starting to find their range.

To the Lightning’s credit they worked their way to just an 11-point defici early in the fourth, but Guy Molloy’s roster depth grounded down a struggling Adelaide side, piling on and continually enlarging the lead for the remainder of the meeting.

A massive credit to their work inside the paint, the Boomers totalled 42 points in the key which completely dwindled the Lightning’s 16 points in this area of the game. Such a difference in an extremely important facet of the contest ultimately led to Melbourne’s convincing 21-point win and bumped up the side to third in the WNBL standings as a result.

One of the by-products of Melbourne’s dominance inside the key was their resulting 45 per cent shooting overall, and with Adelaide barely making a quarter of their total attempts (27 per cent) the Boomers made the most of their passing, out assisting the Lightning 25 to 12.

Perfectly fitting for the veteran and future hall of famer, George’s double-double effort (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) led the way from start to finish for her side. While supporting frontcourt acts on the night like Magbegor (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Purcell (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) made her job a little easier in securing the side’s eighth win of the campaign.

Unsurprisingly it was the Lightning’s main two threats that were the team’s only double-digit producers on the scoreboard, with Wilson accumulating 14 points on the night, along with three rebounds and two assists, whereas Talbot finished with 11 points and six rebounds – a more quiet outing than usual for the MVP candidate.

While Adelaide has essentially lost their ability to make a run at the postseason, they need to recover quickly if they are to bounce back tomorrow and topple the Bendigo Spirit, as more of the team’s secondary unit will have extended runs in the last round of the fixture. For the Boomers, they will look to consolidate a precarious third seed when they face off with the Spirit two days later, in what will be a favourable matchup for the title contenders.

Flames snatch victory from Lynx AND halt Perth’s winning streak 

Pic: WNBL

WITH neither the Sydney Uni Flames or the Perth Lynx eligible for the WNBL Finals, it did not stop both sides from playing with a sense of urgency and determination when they collided in the second of last night’s two games, as the former escaped with the win by a mere three points, 71-68.

In the infancy stages of Tuesday’s closer, both teams were able to display formidable tactics defensively throughout the first 10 minutes of play. Evidently this was the case purely based on the fact that both sides would only combine for 23 points, with Perth harbouring the narrow 13-10 lead heading into the first break.

The subsequent quarter to follow proved fruitless in terms of one team taking control over the game, as the Flames outscored the Lynx 20-19 in a more offence-filled second period, putting the half time deficit at just two points.

But with both teams shooting the ball at a rather poor rate, it seemed like just a matter of time before one of the two sides would start to get going. Nevertheless, Flames’ center Lauren Scherf was rejecting the status quo in those regards, compiling 12 points and five rebounds on 44 per cent shooting in her productive first half. Meanwhile, no Perth players on the other side managed to get quite as hot in the first half as Scherf, but Katie Ebzery gave it a red-hot crack with seven points of her own.

Ebzery continued her efforts on the scorecard, doubling her totals in the next 10 minutes while Sydney Uni continued to hang in there and close the distance. With rebounding superstar Anneli Maley continuing her dominance on the glass, as well as 150-gamer Nat Burton and Alison Schwagmeyer providing supplementary supports elsewhere, Katrina Hibbert’s side found themselves a single point the lesser at the final break, 45-44, and looked to get a running start at the turn of the fourth period.

This aim would be fulfilled as the Flames knocked down the opening two baskets of the final term, momentarily holding a one-point lead over the in-form Lynx. But a return three from Alex Ciabattoni 80 seconds in handed back the lead to Ryan Petrik and his side, further prolonging the Flames’ comeback efforts.

Even though Perth managed to hold onto the lead for essentially the whole last term, the Flames would just not go away, tying things up with two and a half minutes remaining and then regaining the lead a minute later off of a Schwagmeyer triple. Known for her shooting, Funda Nakkasoglu put Sydney Uni up by four with 55 seconds left, where Ebzery answered back with a three of her own with 24 seconds to play, putting Perth behind by just a point. But Scherf’s two made free throws with just 10 seconds on the clock iced the game and end the Lynx’s three-game winning streak.

Both teams shot at a surprisingly low efficiency, where Sydney Uni converted on 36 per cent, which was slightly higher than Perth’s 34 per cent. The Flames held the higher ground in a number of categories to name a few. Particularly noticeable was the side’s plus-11 in rebounding (52-41) and superiority off the bench (30-14), while also winning statistically in areas such as assists, second chance points and three-point shooting.

Schwagmeyer (four assists and three rebounds) and Scherf (11 rebounds and five assists) each scraped away with 19 points apiece, whereas Burton (10 points and two assists) and Maley (eight points, 14 rebounds and four assists) were also instrumental in the win.

Despite the Lynx’s best efforts last night, only two individuals managed over 10 points. Ebzery showed off her scoring abilities at the point guard position, with a game-high 24-point performance, as Alex Sharp fought for her 11-point and 12-rebound double-double last night. A major downfall for the side was Darcee Garbin’s lack of impact, as the Opal only managed nine points and seven rebounds in her 37 minutes of court time.

Perth returns to Townsville Stadium on Thursday to try and emerge victorious for the fourth time in five games against the Canberra Capitals, while the Flames will take the court directly after when they try to upstage a Southside Flyers outfit that has not been defeated since the 23rd of November.

Boomers dominate first half to extinguish Flames

MELBOURNE Boomers have won their second of four matches their week, putting away the Sydney Uni Flames in a strong 86-64 victory in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) clash last night. The win was set up by a huge first half, dominating by scoring 48 points to just 21 and effectively shutting out the Flames before they could even ignite. To Sydney Uni’s credit, the Flames did hit back in the second half to make it a contest with 43-38, but the Boomers were able to manage their stars and ensure they were well rested ahead of their third game coming up on the weekend.

The Boomers dominated the assist count with 27 to 12, able to slice through the Flames’ defence, whilst stopping their opponents in their tracks. The Flames were not helped by the fact they could not finish off ,hitting just 32 per cent of their field goal attempts, despite having 10 more chances than the Boomers who went at a much higher 53 per cent. Melbourne also led the rebounds (45-38), fast break points (12-10) and bench points (22-8), and had eight blocks to zero, constantly denying the Flames close to the rim.

The Flames would have been a lot closer had it not been for the accuracy, because defensively they held up well, earning nine steals to five and having five less turnovers (12-17). Both teams scored 16 points off turnovers, while the Flames managed to have an extra point off the second chance (16-14), and had four less personal fouls (12-16). Overall, it was more about chances, and the Boomers took them in the first half.

Ezi Magbegor led the way with a double-double of 23 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Most impressively, she nailed 10 of her 11 chances and did not miss any of her three free throw attempts in a stunning performance. Maddie Garrick hit the 15 points, but it was Tess Madgen‘s 13 points, nine assists and five rebounds that caught attention, slicing up the opposition defence and only having three less assists than the entire opposition team.

Cayla George almost recorded a double-double in the win with eight points and 10 rebounds, as well as four assists, while Penina Davidson came off the bench to score 10 points in nine minutes. Also gaining some extra minutes was Stella Beck who had seven points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in the win.

For the Flames, it was the former Perth duo that were left to carry much of the load as Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer combined for 43 of the Flames’ 64 points. Mansfield had 22 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Schwagmeyer hit 21 points, eight rebounds and two steals in the loss. Anneli Maley was huge off the boards with 11 rebounds to go with five points – only two from 11 – while Funda Nakkasoglu had six points and two assists.

Melbourne faces a tough weekend, coming up against Bendigo Spirit on Saturday, before taking on top of the table Southside Flyers on Sunday, Meanwhile Sydney Uni will have a break until Sunday when they face the winless Bendigo Spirit.

Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

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.

Capitals grab fifth consecutive win, move ahead of Flyers

IN what was a defining victory, back-to-back premiers University of Canberra (UC) Capitals reminded fans just what they were capable of, dominating against the highly fancied Southside Flyers to win by 23 points and go outright with the most wins thus far in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). Both sides came into the clash with 4-1 records, though the Capitals had strung together four consecutive wins since an overtime loss to Adelaide Lightning on the opening night of the season, and since have gone from strength to strength.

That was certainly the case last night, when the Capitals outplayed the Flyers, convincingly winning three of the four quarters to secure a 95-72 victory, as six players hit double-figure points as the Flyers’ impressive depth struggled outside of Liz Cambage and Sara Blicavs. The ominous signs were there from the beginning with the Capitals racing out to a six-point lead at the first change, before streaking away to a 12-point advantage at half-time.

The third term saw the Flyers manage to stem the momentum and actually win the quarter 23-22, but it was the stunning 29-17 final term by the Capitals that saw them blow the margin out to 23 points and secure such a huge win. They dominated the rebounds (38-32), steals (9-4) and second chance points (18-8), while also having six less turnovers (10-16). The Flyers squared the assists ledger at 20 apiece, whilst having an extra block (3-2).

The Capitals had no shortage of contributors on the night, and a greater accuracy from the field – 52 per cent to 45 per cent, with Marianna Tolo leading the way. The co-captain had a team-high 19 points (64 per cent accuracy), as well as seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Hitting the scoreboard in a big way was Maddison Rocci who produced 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals, while young gun Jade Melbourne again stood tall under pressure, producing 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Keely Froling also managed the 12 points against the strong forward duo of Blicavs and Jenna O’Hea, while picking up three assists too. Coming off the bench, former Sydney Uni Flames talent Tahlia Tupaea recorded 12 points, four assists and two steals, while co-captain Kelsey Griffin again hit double-figure points with 10, as well as nine rebounds and two assists.

For the Flyers, Cambage (26 points, six rebounds and three blocks) and Blicavs (21 points, seven rebounds) did all the damage for the Flyers, but in an un-Southside like performance, lacked support on the scoring front. The usually slick Leilani Mitchell could only manage three points – one from eight from the field – and just the three assists, half of her season average.

O’Hea (six points, three rebounds and four assists) and Rebecca Cole (four points, six assists and three rebounds) also had low scoring numbers, though both were proficient on offence with their passing. Off the bench, Rachel Jarry had a handy seven points and three rebounds.

Southside Flyers will need to regroup in 48 hours to take on Perth Lynx on Wednesday, before the Capitals have a crack at the no doubt tiring Lynx on Thursday.

Flames fire up to narrow win over Lynx

Funda Nakkasoglu shot an incredible 27 points in Sydney Uni’s win over Perth last night. Picture credit: WNBL

LED by Funda Nakkasoglu off the bench, the Sydney Uni Flames have recorded a tight seven-point victory over Perth Lynx last night to keep their finals hopes alive and move to a 2-4 record early in Round 3 of the condensed WNBL season. The Flames looked good early and on track to record a big win, racing to an eight-point lead at quarter time. The Flames had restricted the Lynx to just 11 points in the first quarter, before Perth clicked into gear in the second.

The Lynx piled on 24-23 in a high-scoring term that made up about a third of the total game’s score, as Perth’s depth started to hit up the scoreboard. While the class of Darcee Garbin and Katie-Rae Ebzery helped cap off a strong finish to the quarter, it was the likes of Alexandra Sharp who started the term in good form. For the Flames, Nakkasoglu was getting her hands on the ball as the team shared it around.

Perth started to get on top in the third term and cut the deficit to just two points at the final break, with an Ebzery layup with three seconds on the clock – making it eight points for the term – drawing the Lynx within a basket. The Lynx had got within a point two minutes earlier, but each time the Flames pulled away. They did so in the final term, scoring the first eight points of the quarter to go 66-56 up, and it was hard to pull back.

When Garbin sank a triple with 2:44 on the clock, the deficit was just three points however as her and Ebzery had done everything they could to lift their side. Unfortunately for the Lynx, that would be their last score, as the Flames closed out the match courtesy of of deliberate fouls and subsequent four free throws to win, 74-67.

It was the team effort of the Flames that got them home, though the shooting of Nakkasoglu – which included four of five from long-range and 10 of 16 from the field for 27 points, was a catalyst. Alison Schwagmeyer (12 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals) and Lauren Scherf (12 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were incredible, but it was the stunning work of Anneli Maley off the defensive boards that stole the show. Only the five points herself, the former Southside Flyer racked up 20 rebounds – 15 defensive – as well as three assists in a starring performance.

For the Lynx, it was again the Garbin and Ebzery show as the talents combined for 41 of their team’s 67 points. Garbin hit 22 points at 47 per cent from the field, including four of 10 from long range, while picking up eight rebounds – four up each end – three assists and two steals. Ebzery hit 50 per cent of her field goal attempts for 19 points, as well as five assists. Kayla Steindl did not make any of her eight field goal attempts, but was still the standout, picking up 12 rebounds, including nine off the defensive boards. Sharp had eight points, while Jessie Edwards came off the bench for six.

Sydney Uni Flames now have a little rest until their clash with Adelaide Lightning on Saturday, which also sees them back up against Townsville Fire the next day. That is not the case for Perth Lynx, who have to lick their wounds and then take on last year’s grand finalists, Southside Flyers and UC Capitals back-to-back tomorrow and Thursday respectively.

2020 WNBL Round 2 weekend preview: Spirit and Fire complete massive week

IT has been a particularly strange week in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), but not just because the season itself has had to be condensed and Round 2 be a 13-game round over six days.

Due to the ever-changing climate in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adelaide Lightning have been forced to isolate until Monday under State Government regulations following the cluster in South Australia. While it means the Lightning will miss the three games – and the WNBL will no doubt announce what will happen in regards to their clashes with Southside Flyers, Sydney Uni Flames and Sunday’s match with Melbourne Boomers – it will throw up another challenge for the players and staff alike. In this weekend preview, we will preview the other four games set to go ahead.

Townsville hub:

Townsville Fire vs. Bendigo Spirit
Bendigo Spirit vs. Townsville Fire

In case you had not seen the fixture, that is not a typo, the two sides face off back-to-back over Saturday and Sunday in what will give fans plenty of information about the teams going forward. The Fire are at home – even when they are away – and so far have impressed even in their losses. Townsville went down in narrow defeats to the benchmark sides (UC Capitals – 11 points and Southside Flyers 12 points), in which coach Shannon Seebohm can take plenty of solace from knowing they are not too far off the mark. Considering this was the side that finished on the bottom of the ladder, the Fire are genuinely looking like a finals team.

In our season preview, we believed the Fire could make the finals, and crunch wins over Perth Lynx (25 points) and Sydney Uni (three points) have the North Queensland team at 2-2 after two rounds. They have won the games expected of them, and lost the ones no one would have predicted they do. The two matches against Bendigo fall into the latter, and if the Fire are to make finals, they need to come away with a 3-1 round record and a 4-2 season record with eight matches to play.

On the other hand, Bendigo just need a win, having lost all four games to start the season. The Spirit went down to Southside Flyers (42 points), Sydney Uni Flames (37), UC Capitals (20) and Perth Lynx (13) in some pretty ugly reading. The only positive in that line is that they have trended upwards and been more competitive each game. Given the difficult situation of playing a third and fourth game this round – and back-to-back against the same opponent – it will be more about which team can manage their players better to get the best possible outcomes.

Much has been talked about Townsville Fire’s back court duo of Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal. The taller and more experienced Nicholson has put up a team-high 18.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, whilst Heal has been the facilitator, not only averaging the 15 points and 3.3 rebounds, but also four assists per game as well. However it is worth noting Steph Reid’s work coming off the bench and contributing 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assits and 1.3 steals has made her incredibly valuable.

In terms of Bendigo’s back court, Tessa Lavey (11.3 points, 6.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals) has unsurprisingly been a star, but she needs support, with Jennie Rintala (5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds) and Amelia Todhunter (35. points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists) the others involved in that trio that need to step up against the in-form Fire guards.

In the front court, Carley Ernst has been sensational for the Spirit, racking up 18.3 points, seven points, and one assist, steal and block per game thus far. Mary Goulding has provided good support with 6.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while Alicia Froling has been the influencer of the boards with six rebounds but just the three points. Outside Ernst and Lavey, the rest of the team averaged 26.2 points compared to the duo’s 29.6, which is how the Spirit improve from here.

Townsville’s front court has not had the massive numbers, but Heal has the flexibility to role in there, while Mia Murray (3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (8.0 points, 6.3 rebounds) and able to rotate in that four spot. Throw in the highly talented Zitina Aokuso who has been building very strongly over her four games with 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds off the bench, and Townsville head into these must-win matches as favourites and it is easy to see why.

Cairns hub:

Southside Flyers vs. Perth Lynx
Sydney Uni Flames vs. UC Capitals

Another change for the teams and remainder of the season from this point on is the inclusion of Cairns’ Pop-Up Arena which replaces Mackay as a hub for the WNBL. In the remaining three and a half rounds, all the matches will be played in either Townsville or Cairns and the first four teams to play here are ready to go.

The Sydney Uni Flames have had the extra long break due to Adelaide not being able to play, so the Flames have not taken to the court since Tuesday, which has probably helped given they were one of only two sides to play three games in Round 1. Instead of taking on the Lightning on Thursday, they could focus their attention on UC Capitals for Saturday night, with the reigning premiers seemingly back in business. The Flames belted Bendigo Spirit in Round 1 by 37 points, but have lost to Melbourne, Southside and Townsville since, and have the other key contender in UC making it a tough few games. The Capitals on the other hand have bounced back from their shock overtime loss to Adelaide to post wins against Townsville, Bendigo and Melbourne with a good chance to go 4-1 after this game.

The Flames have had a tough draw but will be keen to bounce back after that heartbreaking three-point defeat at the hands of Townsville. Former Lynx guards, Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer have had good seasons, with Mansfield putting up 14 points, six assists and three rebounds, while Schwagmeyer has averaged the 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Funda Nakkasoglu coming off the bench to give them some rest has put up 8.8 points per game, it is more about lifting the assist numbers when the starting duo are on the bench. Lauren Scherf has been building nicely at the five, averaging the 11.5 points. 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, while Anneli Maley has had an underrated season with 7.5 points ad 9.3 rebounds per game.

By comparison, the Capitals could easily be 4-0 right now had the first game of overtime gone their way, but Kelsey Griffin has returned and come off the bench for seven points, four rebounds and two steals, to no doubt be at full capacity at the pointy end of the season. Fellow co-captain Marianna Tolo has been sensational in the five spot and will have a huge clash with Scherf, having put up 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists tis season. Mikaela Ruef has stepped up to support her up the front end of the court with almost a double-double of 11 points and nine rebounds, but it is a couple of young guns who have stolen the limelight. Maddison Rocci is in unbelievable career-best form with 17.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals, while Jade Melbourne has won over a lot of fans with her games building each and every match to the point where she is one of the clear rising stars of the competition. Melbourne is up to 11.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, having recorded her first 20-point game last match.

In the other game, Southside also had its Round 2 schedule interrupted by the Adelaide clash being postponed, and will have only played the one game – Thursday night’s 12-point win over Townsville – since the Flyers took on the Flames last Sunday. With one game in six days, the premiership favourites will be rested and ready to go against a Perth Lynx outfit that finally broke through for their first win against bottom-of-the-table Bendigo Spirit, though they did show promising performances in their past two games against Melbourne Boomers (six-point loss) and Adelaide (five-point loss) since their disappointing 25-point defeat at the hands of the Fire.

Despite the Lynx’s improvement – which has coincided with captain Katie-Rae Ebzery finding her groove – it will take an unbelievable effort to topple the Flyers in the match. Ebzery has certainly been a strong performer since a disappointing first game, averaging 19.3 points. 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 blocks, joining Darcee Garbin (11.3 points. 6.0 assists. 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks) as the two players to watch up either end of the court. Emma Clarke has been producing big and flying under the radar with 7.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while bigs in Alex Sharp and Kayla Steindl have combined for 13 points and 17 rebounds in their matches.

The duo will have its hands full against the unbelievable depth of the Flyers, led by Liz Cambage is averaging close to a double-double of 20 points and 9.8 rebounds, as well as 2.8 blocks per game. Sara Blicavs (13.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals) and Jenna O’Hea (12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists) have also rolled through the front court making life difficult for oppositions. In the back court, the dimes by Leilani Mitchell (10.3 points, 6.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds) and Rebecca Cole (15.8 points, 3.3 assists) have been crucial in setting up the team transition offence.

Last year’s grand finalists in UC Capitals and Southside Flyers are out tip to win their respective matches.

2020 WNBL Round 2 weekday preview: Last year’s semi-finalists to clash in bumper week

EIGHT games will be squeezed over the next four days in what will be a bumper week of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action. With one round down and four more to go, teams have started to get an early feel for the action again, and a repeat of the two semi-finals from last year will take place this week across the two hubs of Mackay and Townsville.

Mackay hub:

UC Capitals vs. Bendigo Spirit
Perth Lynx vs. Melbourne Boomers
Melbourne Boomers vs. UC Capitals
Bendigo Spirit vs. Perth Lynx

Only one side will leave the Mackay hub winless as Bendigo Spirit takes on Perth Lynx in a battle of the bottom two teams. The pairing will first have the chance to overcome title contenders, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Melbourne Boomers respectively, before the Capitals and Boomers go head-to-head in the earlier game on Wednesday in what is a repeat of last year’s semi-final. The Boomers are one of only two unbeaten sides after Round 1, with a couple of wins giving them the chance to remain poised to overtake Southside Flyers in the next week. Meanwhile UC Capitals are 1-1 from their season thus far, whilst the Lynx and Spirit sit at two losses from as many games.

If we look at the two bottom teams, the key battles will be at both ends of the court. Carley Ernst has been a prolific scorer for the Spirit in her two games, averaging the 15 point, four rebounds and one block in her two games this season, and she will likely spend time going head-to-head with Darcee Garbin who is a little smaller, but just as potent, with 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals, showing she can do a little of everything.

Jessie Edwards has the extra height in the paint for the Lynx, averaging the six points and five rebounds, as Alicia Froling will aim to nullify some of that influence with a massive nine rebounds already in her two games to go with five points per game. In the backcourt, Tessa Lavey built up from game one to game two, averaging 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and an impressive 6.5 assists so far this season. With her team struggling to find a playmaker on offence, she is averaging almost half of her team’s 14 assists per game. Perth are in a similar boat with Garbin and Taylah Burrows (2.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists) leading the way.

Katie-Rae Ebzery is the third highest scorer from the quartet of teams in the Mackay hub this week, with the Lynx Opal shooting 17 points per game, to go with her 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. For a sub-180cm player, Ebzery is able to deny the opposition really well and provide good defence on court, then get forward and apply scoreboard pressure.

The blockbuster match of the hub will be the rematch of last year’s semi-final between the Capitals and Boomers, though fresh off an upset win over title favourites Southside Flyers, the Boomers will this time be favoured. The big question mark for the Capitals will be whether or not co-captain Kelsey Griffin can return from injury, because being one of the biggest stars in the competition, she automatically adds and extra element of X-factor for the reigning back-to-back premiers.

In her absence, Keely Froling has made the starting position her own, putting up big numbers of 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists, whilst Mikaela Ruef has seamlessly returned without an issue thanks to a massive 9.5 rebounds and 11.5 points per game. The fact that she often shares the five spot with Marianna Tolo, or has the flexibility to role into the four shows the amount of depth the Capitals have.

If there is one thing to take away from the Capitals thus far in season 2020, it is the development of the young talent. One only has to look at the likes of Maddison Rocci who has grabbed her starting spot with both hands, dominating on offence with 22.5 points per game, the third highest in the competition. Her head-to-head with the red-hot Tess Madgen (23.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists) is one that everyone will be glued to their devices watching. Spectators cannot forget about Jade Melbourne who has been a special talent since arriving with the team this season, averaging the six points and three rebounds, but showing enough to suggest long-term she is a starting five player.

The Boomers have quickly established themselves as a team not willing to muck around, and whilst Opals, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor were ultimately beaten by Liz Cambage in their win over the Flyers, the team had enough of a shared load to get over the line. George is putting up 16.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, whilst Magbegor is 11.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals. The front court duo are well supported by  Ashleigh Karaitiana who has slotted into the three spot with a huge second game against the Flyers, deadly from range – 54.5 per cent – and averaging 11.5 points.

This group will answer plenty of questions this week, but the Boomers might be marginally favoured to win both, with the Capitals getting up in their clash against the Spirit. The Spirit also could get their act together in the bottom of the table match against the Lynx, though it is hard to split them, just like if Griffin returns for the Capitals.

Townsville hub:

Southside Flyers vs. Adelaide Lightning
Townsville Fire vs. Sydney Uni Flames
Southside Flyers vs. Townsville Fire
Sydney Uni Flames vs. Adelaide Lightning

Interestingly enough, the Townsville hub has arguably the bigger question marks around the results based on the first round of action. It looks early like both Adelaide Lightning and Sydney Uni Flames will not be easy beats, with the Lightning already toppling the UC Capitals and the Flames taking care of the Spirit. The big question will be how they fair against the biggest challenger in the league in Southside Flyers, as well as a team that is touted as the most improved in Townsville Fire.

The Fire and Flames clash tomorrow will be a hotly contested match, and not just because of their names, but because both are battling for what could be that fourth spot on the table. Similarly, the Lightning have the two crunch games against the Flyers and Flames to really see where they are at. If the Lightning or Flames come away with a win, or even two wins, then that will go a long way to seeing up their season in a condensed year.

Starting with the title favourites, the Flyers are 2-1 after a loss to rivals Melbourne Boomers either side of wins over the Flames and Spirit. They should be able to win against both the Lightning and Fire at their best, but both teams have enough talent to worry the Flyers if they have an off night. It is no surprise to see Cambage leading the way, but despite 24 points and 19 rebounds against the Boomers, it was not enough to drag her team over the line. Limited minutes – eight – in the win against the Flames brought her average down to 16.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, but it’s well over a double-double when looking at the 40-minute average.

Cambage should have no shortage of support around her with Opals all across the court from Sara Blicavs helping her off the boards (14 points, nine rebounds as well as 2.3 steals), Jenna O’Hea (10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists) covering the court well, and Rebecca Cole being the prolific scorer (17.3 points, 3.3 assists) coming off a 27-point game last start. Leilani Mitchell is able to fly under the radar this season, but her tenacity and ability to scrap for every possession, as well as feed to those potent scorers has been noticed, as she put up 8.7 points and 6.3 assists to rank equal second in that area.

Lauren Mansfield has been one of the top transfers in the WNBL for the Flames, coming across from the Lynx and assimilating in without any issues. She is averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in her time, whilst teammate Alison Schwagmeyer (10.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals) has similar enjoyed the extra time on court. Turkish-Australian national Funda Nakkasoglu has come off the bench for 11.7 points per game in coming into the Australian league, while Anneli Maley, Lauren Scherf and Natalie Burton are all bigs who are averaging 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds or more thus far in the season.

Townsville Fire might be the most interesting team to watch, with the the potent scoring back court duo of Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal. Coming from Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit respectively, the experienced Nicholson has averaged 17.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists this season, whilst the young star Heal has put up 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. No doubt the Fire would love to get more points out of the rest of the team, but they have been quite prolific off the boards, as Nadeen Payne (5.0 points, 6.5 rebounds) has helped support the returning Zitina Aokuso (8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals) with minutes.

Adelaide Lightning have been an even team performance led by Steph Talbot who was simply unbelievable in her first two games. Clearly the player of the first round, Talbot dropped 27.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks across her matches in some sensational outings, including stepping up in overtime against the Capitals with eight points. The new recruits have also come in and done well as Abigail Wehrung (16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Alex Wilson (13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals) have seamlessly slotted into the five. Wilson will have a chance to face her old team the Flames in a blockbuster showing.

The Townsville hub has plenty of potential to answer a lot of questions with two more teams having a crack at the Flyers. With the Fire back in front of home fans you can never discount them, whilst the Flames are much improved too. That Sydney Uni-Townsville clash is potentially an early head-to-head to determine a fourth from fifth position. Expect the Flyers to still win both, with the feeling that Adelaide and Townsville get up over Sydney Uni, though the Flames could easily win both as well showing just how tight the competition is.