Tag: gabrielle richards

NBL1 South women’s team summary: Bendigo Braves

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 last year’s minor premiers in the women’s competition, Bendigo Braves who fell in the finals series.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 1st (lost in Preliminary Final)
Wins: 19
Losses: 1
Home: 9-1
Away: 10-0

What went right:

  • Ridiculous regular season, only dropping one game
  • 12-game winning streak heading into finals
  • Kelly Wilson’s season
  • Offence (ranked first in two-point field goal percentage and free-throw percentage, and assists, and second for overall points)
  • Disciplined (least personal fouls with 12.7 per game)

Prior to the finals series, it was hard to really find too much of a chink in the Braves’ armour. They finished minor premiers ahead of Geelong comfortably, and even had a big 30-point win over the – albeit understrength – Supercats in the final round of the season. Their only loss of the regular season came in round 11 against the Supercats, and with a 12-game winning streak heading into the finals series, few would have predicted what was to follow in the last few weeks of the competition. Aside from how it ultimately finished, the Braves were a dominant side both at home (9-1) and on the road (10-0) and were the clear standout team when it came to offence. They were ranked the top of the competition in both two-point field goal and free-throw percentage, which ensured they were getting the points whether they were fouled or not. They were also creative in their attack, able to find targets through opposition defences, with neat passes which led to assists – they topped the competition in that statistic as well – whilst remaining disciplined with the least personal fouls per game at just 12.7. In other words, so much went right except August.

What went wrong:

  • The finals series
  • Blocks (ranked 14th overall with just 2.2 per game)

Had this review been up until the end of the regular season, it would be a real head scratcher to find too much wrong with the season. They had only had the one loss to the Supercats and were firing on all cylinders come August. No one would have predicted a shock loss to Kilsyth Cobras in the qualifying final – with the Cobras sneaking into fourth, but Kilsyth racked up a whopping 16 offensive rebounds to five, and beat the Braves at their own assist game (25-22). The finals series by the experienced Lauren Nicholson was out of this world, and the qualifying final was no exception, though Sarah Boothe‘s 21 points and 17 rebounds – eight offensive and nine defensive – is what won the Cobras’ the match. A heartbreaking loss to Geelong on the road in the preliminary final ended the Braves’ chances at a flag, but they could certainly look back on a wonderful season, even if they did not get reward for effort.

Top Players:

Kelly Wilson

An incredibly player who is almost super-human with her endurance, averaging a mind-boggling 38.4 minutes per game in the 40-minute matches. She had almost 350 attempts from the field, and got to the line for 135 free throws, averaging 87.4 per cent for the latter. Finishing the season with 19.3 points, 19.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds, as well as 2.0 steals, it was no surprise to see Wilson named as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the competition. Received a lot of plaudits for her season and deserved it too, with the 34-year-old like a fine wine.

Rebecca Tobin

A rebounding machine, Rebecca Tobin was simply remarkable off the boards, averaging 13.3 rebounds per game, with 9.3 off the defensive end and 4.0 from the offence to try and create second chance points. She also finished the year with 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks in a really consistent season, and would have been in MVP calculations too had it not been for Wilson’s unbelievable season which just topped her and Tobin could only manage the 15 games. Unlike her teammates, Tobin did not try and shoot outside her limits, with the 30-year-old center only making one three-point attempt and mostly using her bigger frame to get to the line to muscle her way in to the basket.

Gabrielle Richards

Richards provided a two-prone attack off the boards with Tobin, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game and coming close to a double double herself. She averaged the 14.1 points and played every game of the season, also picking up two assists and one steal per game. Like Wilson, the 34-year-old was strong and used her bigger body to advantage around the basket, which is what made the Braves such a dominant team with two stars rebounding it so consistently every match.

Young Gun:

Danielle O’Toole

The Braves do not have as much youth as other sides, with their experience leading them to the minor premiership and as a title contender. But with three teenagers named on the list at the start of the season, it was O’Toole who managed to get on court the most with 13 games, albeit with an average of just under five minutes per match. She made up for lost time however, putting up 3.4 points per game, which is almost a point-per-minute. Most impressively, O’Toole looms as a long range shooter, averaging 46.4 per cent from three-point range, sinking 13 of 28 attempts, ranking first for accuracy in the side, and equal fifth for attempts despite much less time on court.

Christmas list for 2021:

Young depth. Bendigo’s core group of players are elite talents, but are still the wrong side of 30 and with another year on, will begin the season with a couple of 36-year-olds and a few more past 30. Tessa Lavey (27-years-old by next year’s season start) looms as the youngest starter, and while some of the teenagers got minutes, it will be about blooding the next group of players to come through the Braves program. Hopefully the veterans will look to go a week longer and push on in 2021 for a strong season.

Summary:

They came so close to a title in 2019, and will be hungry to go better in 2021. There are questions around the age profile of the group, but with the form they were in for last season, it is hard to doubt them. If anything, a season off might prolong the careers of some of the veterans who earn a much needed rest. Bendigo will be a team to watch and if the list can relatively remain stable, then the Braves will be the team to beat.

WNBL Round 16 review: Capitals secure second with final round win

THE University of Canberra (UC) Capitals were able to stand up when it counted and secure second spot ahead of the Melbourne Boomers – the Capitals’ opponents in the upcoming 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals series. The other spots were already locked in prior to the final round, with Southside Flyers earning the minor premiership and will face fourth placed Adelaide Lightning in the other semi-final. Perth Lynx, Sydney Uni Flames and Townsville Fire avoided the wooden spoon with Bendigo Spirit’s last round win over the Fire falling three points short of leaping off the bottom of the table.

Sydney Uni Flames (78) defeated Bendigo Spirit (68)

A strong final quarter saw Sydney Uni Flames get the points in their final home game of the WNBL season, securing a 10-point victory over Bendigo Spirit. The Flames raced out of the blocks early to gain the advantage and lead by eight points at the first break. Desperate to get off the bottom of the ladder, Bendigo fought back to cut the deficit to just one point at the main break. They then took the ascendancy from that quarter into the third, taking the lead by two and looking good with 10 minutes to play. Sydney Uni finished the stronger of the sides, putting the foot down and pleasing the home crowd with a 20-8 final term to win, 78-68. Brittany Smart was strong with 22 points, three rebounds and four steals, well aided in the starting side by Jessica Kuster (16 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals). Lauren Scherf was important off the boards with 12 points, eight rebounds as well as four assists, while Alex Wilson came agonisingly close to a double-double or even a triple-double with 10 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks. Shyla Heal stood up in defeat for the Spirit with 17 points and four rebounds, while Abigail Wehrung (15 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Tessa Lavey (14 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals) were also prominent.

DC Medal: 3 – Jessica Kuster (SU), 2 – Alex Wilson (SU), 1 – Brittany Smart (SU)

Adelaide Lightning (75) defeated Perth Lynx (74)

In an important game for confidence, fourth placed Adelaide Lightning survived a thriller against fifth placed Perth Lynx. The Lightning led early by three points at the first break, but the Lynx kept in the contest with a 21-20 second term to cut the deficit back to two, and by the final break scores were level. With nothing separating both sides keen for a win, the Lightning stepped up in the crucial final quarter to win, 75-74 and finish at home on a high prior to finals. Brianna Turner put up a ridiculous 24 rebounds to go with 16 points, three assists and two blocks, hauling her side across the line when it counted. Stephanie Talbot was unsurprisingly impressive again for the home team, posting numbers of 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Nicole Seekamp helped herself to 17 points, five rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Kathryn Westbeld showed off her talents in the starting side with six points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Lightning. Nadeen Payne picked up a double-double for the losers, recording 11 points and 10 rebounds as well as three steals. Maddison Allen had 15 rebounds to go with four points and three blocks. From a points perspective, Ariel Atkins and Katie-Rae Ebzery both recorded a team-high 16 points.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Nicole Seekamp (AL), 1 – Nadeen Payne (PL)

UC Capitals (73) defeated Adelaide Lightning (71)

The UC Capitals gained a hard-fought but important win over the Lightning ahead of the WNBL finals series. While the pair have opposite semi-finals in a fortnight, the Capitals were able to hold firm against a side that started strongly, and hold them off by two points at the National Convention Centre. The Lightning led by two points at quarter time, but the Capitals regained control at a place that has become a fortress this season for them, taking the lead by a point at the main break. They extended that out to two by the last change but the Lightning refused to go away. Both sides threw everything they had in the final quarter, and in the end they could not be separated, which meant the home team got up by the three quarter time margin of two points, 73-71. Kia Nurse had another night out on the scoresheet with 28 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Kelsey Griffin returned to the starting line-up and had 10 rebounds, two steals and three blocks to go with seven points. Maddison Rocci again picked up double-figure points with 16, as well as two rebounds and two steals. Marianna Tolo‘s good form also continued, having 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and four blocks. For the Lightning, Talbot picked up a double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and while Turner did not reach the feat, finished the weekend with an average of 18 rebounds following another huge game on the boards with 12, as well as eight points, two assists and two blocks. Lauren Nicholson had an impressive 16 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Westbeld picked up 10 points, two rebounds and three assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Maddison Rocci (UC)

Townsville Fire (69) defeated by Bendigo Spirit (89)

It might have mattered little in the scheme of the WNBL finals series, but the result of this game meant plenty to both sides. In a battle of the bottom two sides, Bendigo Spirit needed to win by 23 points in order to leap off the bottom of the ladder and overtake Townsville Fire. Both teams have had disappointing seasons this year, but Bendigo was yet to win on the road so Townsville started as strong favourites at its home court. It was the Braves that quietened the crowd early, leading by six points at quarter time and held a 12-point lead by the main break. Sensing a blowout, the crowd was nervous but the Fire responded to match it with the Spirit and only concede an extra point in the third term. Bendigo needed to win the last by 10 points in order to grab seventh spot on the table, and it did all it could in that quarter, piling on 24 points though it would not be enough, running out a comfortable 20-point winner but falling short of sentencing Townsville to the wooden spoon. Carley Ernst was simply sensational for the Spirit, scoring 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in an almost triple-double effort. Lavey was her partner-in-crime with 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds, while Heal also reached double-figure points from the starting line-up with 14, as well as five rebounds and five assists.  Coming off the bench, Gabrielle Richards picked up 11 points and six rebounds in the win. For the Fire, Christina Boag had a memorable game to round out the season, picking up huge numbers of 22 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Darcee Garbin (14 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Micaela Cocks (11 points, five assists) also reached double-figures, while Tess Madgen had seven rebounds and four assists, but only five points.

DC Medal: 3 – Carley Ernst (BS), 2 – Christina Boag (TF), 1 – Tessa Lavey (BS)

Southside Flyers (78) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (61)

The ladder-leading Southside Flyers got the job done on Saturday with a 17-point win over Sydney Uni Flames at Dandenong. While top spot was never in doubt for the league’s newest side, the Flyers finished off the season in style to prepare for the WNBL finals. Meanwhile the Flames were unable to cause an upset, though they did have a promising final term, scoring 21 points to 11 to stop what looked like a complete annihilation brewing. At the final break, Southside led by 27 points after winning each of the first three quarters by six, four and 17 respectively, completely dominating the third term. They were able to give valuable court time to some of their younger players, and gave Ringwood Hawks’ utility, Jacqueline Trotto a debut. Sara Blicavs was strong for the winners, picking up a team-high 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists to be the clear standout for the Flyers. Mercedes Russell had 17 points and three rebounds, while Anneli Maley played her best game of the season off the bench with 11 points and six rebounds, Rebecca Cole had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists to also reach double-figure points. For the Flames, Kuster was a lone hand up the scoring end with 21 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals, the only visiting player to surpass 10 points. Scherf and Madeleine O’Hehir both had nine points on the night, but it was a lean performance from the team in the Flames’ last match of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – Sara Blicavs (SF), 2 – Jessica Kuster (SU), 1 – Mercedes Russell (SF)

Melbourne Boomers (104) defeated Perth Lynx (75)

From an almost-blowout to an actual blowout, Melbourne Boomers took no chances, convincingly putting Perth Lynx to the sword in the second against fifth clash. They never looked like losing this match, piling on a whopping 32 points to 14 in the opening term, and by half-time the margin was out to 23 points. The home fans were up and about wile the visiting fans were hoping for the final buzzer, as Melbourne continued its strong control in the second half, winning that half by six points. Perth to its credit managed to stem the bleeding in the half, particularly in the last term, while Melbourne gave some of its bench players more time to spread the load and manage them ahead of the post-season series. Cayla George had a big day out with one assist away from a triple-double, posting up 24 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks in the big win, while Ezi Magbegor also recorded a double-double thanks to 15 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. Madeleine Garrick (17 points, three assists) and Sophie Cunningham (10 points, two rebounds) performed well, while Kalani Purcell (17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals) was sensational off the bench in her best performance of the season. For Perth, the Lynx had just 26 rebounds on the night, with Atkins and Marena Whittle both picking up eight apiece, as well as combining for 41 points in an otherwise low-statistical night. Ebzery could also hold her head high after 15 points and two assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 1 – Ariel Atkins (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

32 – Cayla George (MB)
31 –
30 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
29 –
28 –
27 –
26 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
25 –
24 –
23 – Brianna Turner (AL)
22 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
21 – Kia Nurse (UC)
20 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
19 – Olivia Epoupa (UC)
18 –
17 –
16 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Alice Kunek (SU)
15 – Ezi Magbegor (MB)
14 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF), Jessica Kuster (SU)
13 – Abby Bishop (TF)
12 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Darcee Garbin (TF), Marianna Tolo (UC)
11 – Keely Froling (UC), Carley Ernst (BS)
10 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Sara Blicavs (SF)
9 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)
8 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Tess Madgen (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF)
7 –
6 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Ariel Atkins (PL), Tessa Lavey (BS), Nicole Seekamp (AL)
3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Shyla Heal (PL), Mareena Whittle (PL), Alex Wilson (SU)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Julie Vanloo (TF), Christina Boag (TF), Maddison Rocci (UC), Nadeen Payne (PL)
1 –  Anneli Maley (SF), Stella Beck (MB), Abigail Wehrung (BS), Kathryn Westbeld (AD), Lauren Scherf (SU), Brittany Smart (SU)

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 15

IN a short round of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), just four games were played and therefore it made for an even playing field with every player making the team having played one game. Of the individual performers who made the cut, two were from Perth Lynx, Adelaide Lightning and the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals, with one representative from four other sides, as Bendigo Spirit was the only team without a nominee for Round 15.

Perth’s Katie-Rae Ebzery was the easy choice to start as a guard following her terrific 28 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocks as the only player across the competition who recorded at least two of each of the five main statistics. She is joined in the side by teammate, Ariel Atkins who picked up a double-double and is on the bench ready to provide support. Meanwhile in the forward half of the court, Adelaide Lightning’s Stephanie Talbot again made the side following a double-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block, shooting at 61.5 per cent from the field. Talbot and partner-in-crime, Brianna Turner both impressed despite the Lightning’s loss, and earned spots in the 10-player side. The UC Capitals were the other side with two players on the team, as Kia Nurse and Marianna Tolo both filled out two of the bench spots in the guard and center positions respectively.

Back to the starting side, and the other guard is Southside Flyers’ Leilani Mitchell. She was surprisingly the only Flyer to make the side despite the impressive win, but shone the brightest across the board with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals, though it is fair to say Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs and Mercedes Russell were all unlucky to miss out after being considered. Ezi Magbegor slotted into the starting center position in a round where there were plenty of possible players for the spot, picking up 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and three blocks. Like the Flyers, the Boomers were unlucky not to have another nominee, though both Sophie Cunningham and Sara Blicavs were considered. The final starting spot went to Sydney Uni’s Jessica Kuster following the forward’s 17 points, six rebounds, eight assists, five steals and one block, and an impressive 66.7 per cent shooting efficiency from the field.

Rounding out the bench was UC Capitals’ Marianna Tolo in the center position, and Townsville Fire’s Bridget Carleton who slotted into the bench forward role. Those who were unlucky to miss out and were considered for a spot included UC Capitals’ Maddison Rocci and Kelsey Griffin, Bendigo Spirit’s Shyla Heal and Gabrielle Richards, Townsville Fire’s Darcee Garbin, and Perth Lynx’s Nadeen Payne.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 28 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 52.4 FG%
G: Leilani Mitchell (SF) – 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 57.1 FG%
C: Ezi Magbegor (MB) – 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 3 blocks, 60.0 FG%
F: Stephanie Talbot (AL) – 16 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 61.5 FG%
F: Jessica Kuster (SU) – 17 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, 1 block, 66.7 FG%

BENCH:

G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 45.0 FG%
G: Ariel Atkins (PL) – 16 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 60.0 FG%
C: Marianna Tolo (UC) – 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 44.4 FG%
F: Brianna Turner (AL) – 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 53.3 FG%
F: Bridget Carleton (TF) – 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 0 blocks, 66.7 FG%

WNBL Round 15 review: Top three guaranteed after title contenders win big

THE top three sides have been decided in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) after the top of the table Southside Flyers defeated Adelaide Lightning in a big round of action for the finals-bound teams.

Bendigo Spirit (66) defeated by Perth Lynx (89)

Perth Lynx locked in fifth spot on the ladder for all the unlucky spot is worth, downing Bendigo Spirit on the road by 23 points The Lynx have missed out on finals this year, but are determined to finish the 2019/20 season off strong, posting a big win over the Spirit, which could have been even larger had it not been for a fourth quarter comeback. The visitors led by four points at quarter time and all but ended the game with a second quarter blitz, piling on 31 points to 13 to race out to a 22-point lead at the main break. They kept up the intensity to again run away with it in the third and build on the lead to push it out to 33 points. With the game over at the last change, Bendigo managed to gain back some of the deficit with a 19-9 last term, but it was far too little, too late and lost, 66-89. Katie-Rae Ebzery scored a game-high 28 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocks in a standout performance, while Ariel Atkins (16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double double. Nadeen Payne (13 points, nine rebounds and two steals) came close to a double-double, while Marena Whittle (18 points, six rebounds) was impressive coming off the bench. For the Spirit, Shyla Heal top-scored with 17 points, eight rebounds and two steals, with Gabrielle Richards (16 points, seven rebounds) the other key player for the losing side. Abigail Wehrung (14 points) and Tessa Lavey (12 points, five assists) both reached double figures, but there were not enough contributors across the board.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Ariel Atkins (PL), 1 – Nadeen Payne (PL)

Townsville Fire (68) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (79)

Melbourne Boomers picked up the win they had to have, with an 11-point victory over bottom two side, Townsville Fire. The Boomers were up by a point at quarter time, but found themselves facing a two-point deficit at the main break, and four-point deficit by the last change. The home crowd was up and about with the possibility its team could cause an upset and help knock the Boomers out of the top two, but instead Melbourne put the foot down in the last quarter, piling on 28 points to 13 to run away with the contest, 79-68. Ezi Magbegor scored a team-high 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and three blocks in the win, well aided by fellow big, Cayla George who sank 19 points, as well as six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Sophie Cunningham was the other Boomer to reach double-figure points with 15, also recording six rebounds and four assists on the night. Madeleine Garrick only had the three points, but made her time count with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. For the Fire, Bridget Carleton helped herself to 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals in a dominant performance. Darcee Garbin had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Micaela Cocks (12 points, two rebounds and two assists) and Tess Madgen (10 points, five rebounds) also reached double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Sophie Cunningham (MB)

Southside Flyers (81) defeated Adelaide Lightning (69)

While the Southside Flyers position was hardly under threat at the top of the table, they gained a handy mental edge over Adelaide Lightning with a 12-point win at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday. The Flyers will take on the Lightning in the first week of the WNBL Finals and will play two games at home, meaning the Lightning will need to win at least one there if they are to upset a Victorian team for the second consecutive season (after doing it to Melbourne Boomers last season). On the weekend, the Flyers burst out of the blocks to race to a 15-point lead at quarter time, and 17-point lead by the main break. To the Lightning’s credit, they did not give up, fighting back to narrow the gap marginally to 15 again, before cutting into it by three to eventually bow out with a 12-point defeat, 69-81. Rebecca Cole led from the front for the Flyers, posting up 28 points, two rebounds and five assists, while Leilani Mitchell had 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in an impressive performance. Sara Blicavs‘ ripping form of late continued with 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Mercedes Russell had lower numbers than previous matches, but still managed a handy 15 points, five rebounds and two assists in the win. Brianna Turner was the top scorer for the Lightning, reaching 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists and four blocks as she tried to drag her team over the line. Stephanie Talbot picked up a double double with 16 points 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals in an unbelievable playmaking effort, while Nicole Seekamp (16 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals) was also impressive in defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), 2 – Rebecca Cole (SF), 1 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)

UC Capitals (82) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (66)

The University of Canberra (UC) Capitals’ recent form continued on Sunday with a comfortable 16-point win over Sydney Uni Flames at the National Convention Centre. The win meant the Capitals are ready to pounce if Melbourne Boomers slip up in the final round, though the WNBL Finals clash between the pair is locked in. On the weekend, the Flames got the early jump on their highly fancied rivals, leading by three points at the first break, before the Capitals took control with a 21-12 second term to move six points clear at the half. The Capitals continued that form with a 19-13 third term to extend the lead out to 12 by the final break, and finished off with a 23-19 final quarter to run out 82-66 winners. Kia Nurse put up 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals on the day, while Kelsey Griffin continued her recovery from injury coming off the bench to reach 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Maddison Rocci again was prolific with 15 points at 62.5 per cent from the field, as well as four rebounds and a massive five steals. Marianna Tolo (11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Olivia Epoupa (four points, four rebounds, eight assists and four steals) also contributed in the win. Brittany Smart (21 points, three rebounds and two blocks) and Jessica Kuster (17 points, six rebounds, eight assists and five steals) were the two key scorers for the Flames, while Lauren Scherf helped off the boards with seven points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Jessica Kuster (SU), 1 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

29 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Cayla George (MB)
28 –
27 –
26 –
25 –
24 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
23 –
22 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
21 –
20 – Brianna Turner (AL), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
19 – Olivia Epoupa (UC)
18 – Kia Nurse (UC)
17 –
16 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Alice Kunek (SU)
15 –
14 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF)
13 – Abby Bishop (TF), Ezi Magbegor (MB)
12 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Darcee Garbin (TF), Marianna Tolo (UC)
11 – Keely Froling (UC)
10 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)
9 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU)
8 – Carley Ernst (BS), Bridget Carleton (TF), Tess Madgen (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF)
7 – Sara Blicavs (SF)
6 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS), Sophie Cunningham (MB),
3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Tessa Lavey (BS), Shyla Heal (PL), Mareena Whittle (PL), Ariel Atkins (PL)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Julie Vanloo (TF)
1 –  Alex Wilson (SU), Anneli Maley (SF), Stella Beck (MB), Abigail Wehrung (BS), Kathryn Westbeld (AD), Lauren Scherf (SU), Maddison Rocci (UC), Nadeen Payne (PL)

WNBL Round 8 review: Southside edges out Boomers in top-of-the-table clash

THE top-of-the-table Southside Flyers put distance between themselves and the second seeded Boomers, after edging out Melbourne by seven points in Dandenong, extending their winning streak to four. In terms of streaks, the Capitals increased their winning streak to six and Townsville snapped their losing streak of three games without captain Micaela Cocks, while losses by Perth and Bendigo lengthened their losing streaks to four and six.

Bendigo Spirit (66) defeated by UC Capitals (91)

The opening game of Round 8 saw the WNBL’s most and least in-form teams go head to head in Ballarat, as the Spirit were sporting a four-game losing streak and the Capitals stringing together five consecutive victories prior to Friday’s encounter. From the outset however, it was the Capitals that controlled the game, leading at every break and dominating in all facets of the game. UC took control on the boards as well, earning 10 more total rebounds compared to the Spirit which then transferred to a good scoring output from their starting five. Most impressively, scoring came from Kia Nurse who scored numbers in bunches, finishing with 32 points whilst shooting 7-10 from three-point range. She was assisted by Kelsey Griffin who put a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, alongside Marianna Tolo and her 16 points. For the struggling Spirit, only three players managed to crack double digits with Tessa Lavey (17), Shyla Heal (15) and Gabrielle Richards (14) combining for most of Bendigo’s scoring. Nevertheless, the Capitals ran away with the game by 25 points extending their winning streak to six games hot on the heels of the Melbourne Boomers who sit second in the standings. Another loss was added to Bendigo’s record extending their streak to five with their next contest to come a couple days later against the Townsville Fire.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 1 – Olivia Epoupa (UC)

Adelaide Lightning (79) defeated Perth Lynx (69)

After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Adelaide Lighting were looking to reclaim the title of victor against the Perth Lynx who were in the midst of a similar situation. Both clubs fought hard in what was a battle of strengths and weaknesses as Adelaide punished Lynx inside the key and Perth showed off their prowess from the perimeter. In the end it was the consistency of baskets from close range that won out as Brianna Turner compiled 24 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and five blocks as she put on her best performance of the season so far. With the help of Lauren Nicholson and her 21 points, the Lightning were able to pull away from Perth and earn the first victory of their double-header weekend, while also handing the Lynx their third consecutive loss. Performances worth noting from Perth entailed Imani McGee-Stafford’s double-double (14 points and 11 assists) as well as Katie Ebzery’s respectable 18-point performance where she shot 70 per cent from the field.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 2 – Lauren Nicholson (AL), 1 – Nicole Seekamp (AL)

Southside Flyers (89) defeated Melbourne Boomers (82)

The Round 8 game of the week took place in Melbourne’s South-East as the league’s top teams did battle at Dandenong Stadium. Both the Southside Flyers and the Melbourne Boomers were enjoying sizeable winning streaks leading into their Saturday night clash, with both teams knowing that one of them had to end. Both sides shot the ball well and when shots did not fall, both the Flyers and Boomers were there to grab their misses. The main difference between the sides came down to free-throws, as the Flyers went 22-23 from the line compared to the Boomers who only managed 7-9. This combined with the Flyers elite starting five’s performance, enabled Southside to continue their winning streak to four games, whilst being the first team to reach ten victories and snap the Boomers’ three game winning streak in the process. Southside’s starting side combined for 83 of their 89 points, led by Jenna O’Hea who notched up 22 points and six assists in her side’s victory. Melbourne’s Cayla George was the Boomers’ leading points getter, while also grabbing eight total rebounds. Despite the loss, Melbourne needed to readjust quickly, as they had to take care of a Perth Lynx squad that was also keen for a bounce back win only 24 hours later.

DC Medal: 3 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Sara Blicavs (SF)

Sydney Uni Flames (81) defeated Adelaide Lightning (69)

After Adelaide’s hard-fought win over Perth on Friday night they had their sights set on going two games clear of .500, but in their way were the Sydney Uni Flames who needed to claw their way back into top four contention and a win against the fourth seed itself would be a good first step in achieving that. Colleen Planeta was once again the go-to woman as she dominated around the basket racking up 28 points and 12 rebounds, which was further bolstered by Alice Kunek’s 21 points. The performance by the duo helped facilitate the Flames to halt the Lightning’s intentions and finish off the game with a convincing 12-point triumph. Key scorers for the visiting Lightning were Brianna Turner, who accumulated 19 points as well as seven rebounds and Stephanie Talbot, who put up 18 points and seven rebounds. The Lightning’s loss put them back on a .500 record at five wins and five losses, whereas Sydney Uni now trail the Lightning in the standings by a game and a half as a result of Sunday’s victory.

DC Medal: 3 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 2 – Alice Kunek (SU), 1 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)

Townsville Fire (94) defeated Bendigo Spirit (80)

The Townsville Fire who had up until Sunday, only won one of its opening eight games this season, looked to break that trend and come out victorious at home against the only other team in the competition that was performing worse than themselves, the Bendigo Spirit. With the Fire coming out successful in areas such as field goal percentage, assists and points from turnovers, Townsville was able to capitalise on their opportunities in front of their home crowd, which was desperate for a win. Led by Darcee Garbin, who finished with 27 points and seven rebounds, the Townsville Fire were able to hold off Bendigo for their second win of the season, winning the bout by double-digits. Despite Bendigo succumbing to their ninth loss on the season and cementing their place on the bottom on the ladder, Demi Skinner managed to take 26 points away from the contest. Townsville now hold a record of two wins and seven losses.

DC Medal: 3 – Darcee Garbin (TF), 2 – Tess Madgen (T), 1 – Tessa Lavey (BS)

Melbourne Boomers (72) defeated Perth Lynx (63)

The Boomers were at-risk of slipping to third place behind the UC Capitals who had just won against Bendigo, so the home side knew of the increased importance of the contest. It was a scrappy contest with both sides failing to gain the upper hand early on. Individual performances, points from turnovers and calm nerves from the free throw line proved to be some of the separating statistics in the final game of the round with the Boomers holding the upper hand. Melbourne would outscore the Lynx 18-10 from the line, which would be critical in the side’s nine-point victory over Perth, retaining their rank as second on the WNBL Ladder, trailing only the team that had defeated them the day before. The individual performances from Madeleine Garrick and Sophie Cunningham who both finished with 17 and 15 points each helped to get the Boomers over the line to notch up their eighth win for the season. Garrick was accurate from the free-throw line nailing five from six. McGee-Stafford collected her second double-double for the weekend as she totalled 11 points and 11 rebounds alongside Alison Schwagmeyer who was the Lynx’s top-scorer with 13. The two losses for Perth over the weekend extended their losing streak to four, as they sit a game above Townsville in sixth place.

DC Medal: 3 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Lindsay Allen (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

21 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
20 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
19 – Cayla George (MB)
18 –
17 –
16 –
15 –
14 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
13 –
12 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
11 – Kia Nurse (UC)
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Jenna O’Hea (SF), Colleen Planeta (AD)
9 – Madeleine Garrick (MB),
8 – Abby Bishop (TF), Alice Kunek (SU)
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Sara Blicavs (SF)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS), Jessica Kuster (SU)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Rebecca Cole (SF), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Darcee Garbin (TF), Tess Madgen (TF), Tessa Lavey (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Nicole Seekamp (AL)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU)

WNBL 2019/2020 preview: Round 4 – Unbeaten all-Victorian clash set for Monday blockbuster

ALL eyes could turn to a packed out State Basketball Centre on Monday night when the two undefeated sides, Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers go head-to-head for the first time in Round 4 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). The Flyers still have to get past Bendigo Spirit the day before, but providing they can win, it sets up a tantalising match-up.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Friday, November 1, 7:00pm
Bendigo Stadium

Playing off for the first time this season, the Spirit are hoping to bounce back from their third loss of the season, coming up against third placed Adelaide Lightning who have found some form with back-to-back wins in the past two rounds. The Lightning are poised if one of the top two Victorian teams slips up, especially after the UC Capitals dropped both games last round. For Bendigo, they have just one win from their first four games and will be keen to get one-up on the Lightning and keep in touch with the top few sides. Last time these sides met was last season in January, with Nia Coffey dropping 37 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks on the Spirit as the Lightning ran our 11-point winners. On that day, the now Perth Lynx forward Nadeen Payne was Bendigo’s best with 21 points, four rebounds and an assist. In season 2019, Lauren Nicholson has been the prolific scorer for the Lightning, averaging 18.8 points, while Brianna Turner has been arguably Adelaide’s best player to-date with nine rebounds to accompany her 15.3 points, as well as an assist, block and steal per game. For the Spirit, Marte Grays has been a terrific addition to the side this season, with the American averaging 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals. Carley Ernst has also been prolific with 10.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists, while Kelly Wilson has been the playmaker with 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Adelaide go into this game as favourites, but Bendigo will be keen to upset the Lightning in front of the Spirit faithful.

UC CAPITALS v SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, November 2, 5:00pm
AIS Arena

The reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals do not have to look too far back for motivation against their NSW/ACT rivals, suffering a shock loss to last year’s wooden spooners last round despite being undefeated heading into the weekend. The Capitals also dropped a game to the undefeated Boomers in an un-Capitals like performance, going down by 35 points. The Flames on the other hand finally found form with the win after three consecutive losses, ensuring they moved off the bottom to leapfrog Townsville Fire and remain just percentage out of the top four. Given UC’s heavy loss to the Boomers, a win to the Flames by three points or more would see them move past the highly fancied Capitals. The Capitals are unlikely to have a worse weekend any time soon, with Kia Nurse, Keely Froling, Kelsey Griffin and Olivia Epoupa providing a really strong top four. Nurse, Froling and Griffin all average 16.8 points or more, with Griffin also averaging a double-double with 12.3 rebounds, while Froling (7.3 rebounds) has been a great help off the boards. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta has been busy since crossing from the Lightning, averaging 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Alice Kunek (18.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists) and Lauren Scherf (6.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steal) have also provided great coverage and support across the court. The Capitals deservedly go in as favourites despite last weekend’s results. While the Flames will hope to make history repeat itself, the Capitals will be keen to repay the favour bestowed upon them in Round 3, with a return victory at home.

PERTH LYNX v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, November 2, 6.30pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Two sides that are yet to play each other in the calendar year are the Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire. You have to go back to December 14 last year for the last time these sides met, when Townsville upset the Lynx by 25 points at home. It came after Perth won the first two encounters, at home and away by 10 and eight points respectively. Both teams usually put in a close contest aside from the last outing, and expect plenty to be on the line with the sides in poor form of late. The Lynx have dropped their past three matches of the season, only lessened by the Fire who are the only side yet to put up a win from four encounters. Considering they have dropped all their games to-date, the Fire have maintained relative competitiveness, while the Lynx have been incredibly unlucky, with an overtime loss against the Lightning in Round 3 a perfect example. Alison Schwagmeyer is having some sort of season this year, with 18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, while Payne (16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds) and Imani McGee-Stafford (14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 blocks) have been superb for the Lynx as well. Last week, Katie-Rae Ebzery stepped up to bring her points average into double figures, now averaging 13.5 points, but crucially, 7.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds as the key playmaker for Perth. The Fire have been led by Abby Bishop who has averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game, while Tess Madgen (12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds), Bridget Carleton (11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals) have also provided support across the court. Perth would see this game as an absolute must-win at home against the last placed, winless Fire, but Townsville will also see this match as an opportunity to pounce against a side that has dropped off a tad in the past two rounds.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, November 3, 5:00pm
Dandenong Stadium

Whilst the previous head-to-head had a 10-month gap between games, Southside played Bendigo just last round and will be hoping to double the dose this weekend with a second home match. These sides faced off at this very venue in Dandenong, with the Flyers getting up by eight points. While the result will be fresh in supporters’ minds, it was the likes of Sara Blicavs (23 points, two rebounds and two steals), Mercedes Russell (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (13 points, five rebounds and seven assists) who applied the pressure to the Spirit. Grays was superb in a losing side with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Tessa Lavey helped herself to 17 points, four rebounds and seven assists in arguably her best game to-date. Gabrielle Richards (14 points, five rebounds) was also important, while Wilson was quiet on the points front with just seven, though she had six assists and three rebounds. Southside is living up to its name, flying into season 2019/20 with four straight wins to open the season. Russell has been a superb inclusion to the side, averaging 15.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, while Mitchell (UC Capitals) was another one who has stepped into the side with ease, averaging 14.8 points, 5.0 points and 7.8 assists, as well as almost two steals per game. Jenna O’Hea (16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 3.5 steals) has had a remarkable start to the season, while Rebecca Cole and Blicavs have also averaged 13.8 points per game in what has been as good of a start to the season as the Flyers would have hoped from their starting five. Expect the Flyers to win this game, but they would not want to hand the Spirit any momentum because Bendigo fought back right into the contest last weekend.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Monday, November 4, 7:30pm
State Basketball Centre

The first WNBL Monday night fixture of the season could not be more highly anticipated with two Victorian clubs likely to head into the clash undefeated at the top-of-the-table. Both teams are currently 4-0 heading into Round 4, with the Flyers taking on the Spirit a day before this clash to try and leapfrog the Boomers – at least temporarily – into top spot. Melbourne’s points difference this season has been remarkable, with plus-63 compared to its opponents, making Southside’s plus-34 look somewhat inadequate. However the Flyers have got the job done each and every time, including against high quality opponents. Now they take on the benchmark in the competition, with arguably the strongest starting fives in the competition going head-to-head. While we mentioned above about Russell, Mitchell, O’Hea, Cole and Blicavs having an impact thus far in season 2019/20, the Boomers’ starting five have also all averaged double-figure points this season. Lindsay Allen has led the way with 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists, while Cayla George is averaging a double-double courtesy of her 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. Ezi Magbegor (11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds), Sophie Cunningham (11.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals) have all been impressive. The head-to-head clashes in this game are exciting with a great mix of youth, experience and international talent on show and the game is not to be missed. The Boomers look likely to start favourites, but Southside has been building nicely this season and will be keen to get one-up on the ladder leaders.

WNBL Round 3 review: Victorian sides, reigning premiers remain undefeated

IT was a big weekend of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action with Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers remaining undefeated, the reigning premiers going down in both games, and a bit of scoring controversy to finish the round.

Melbourne Boomers (107) defeated UC Capitals (72)

In arguably the most dazzling team performances of the year, Melbourne Boomers completely dismantled reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals in Geelong with a four quarter performance on their way to a 35-point victory. The Boomers raced away to a 13-point lead at quarter time, and were up by 25 at the main break. The Capitals managed to even it out in the third term to only concede an extra goal towards the deficit, before the home side again took control with a dominant 31-22 final term to run away 107-72 winners. Lindsay Allen was the top points scorer with 23, as well as five rebounds, six assists and two steals, while Cayla George was best on court with an amazing 18 points (80 per cent efficiency from the field), 12 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block. Madeleine Garrick (16 points, five rebounds and four assists), Ezi Magbegor (12 points, four rebounds) and Monique Conti (16 points, two assists) were also busy on the night. It was a disappointing night for the Capitals, with Kelsey Griffin restricted to 12 points, but was strong defensively with 10 rebounds and four steals, while Kia Nurse had just 13 points, two rebounds and one assist. Keely Froling was steady however, putting up 14 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal on the night.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

Southside Flyers (85) defeated Bendigo Spirit (77)

Southside Flyers maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a tight eight-point win over Bendigo Spirit. Wining the first three quarters, the Flyers led by four, 15 and 18 points at the breaks, before Bendigo charged home to try and steal an unlikely win. Unfortunately for the visitors, they could only manage to cut into the deficit by 10 points, 26-16, to go down, 77-85. Sara Blicavs was dominant on the point-scoring side of things with 23 points, two rebounds and two steals, while Mercedes Russell was the star off the boards courtesy of a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rebecca Cole (16 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Leilani Mitchell (13 points, five rebounds and seven assists) continued their terrific form in season 2019/20 with great contributions. For the Spirit, Marte Grays was the standout player on the court, sinking 22 points and nine rebounds, while Tessa Lavey got around to try and inspire her team with 17 points, four rebounds and seven assists, and Gabrielle Richards posted 14 points and had five rebounds in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Sara Blicavs (SF)

Perth Lynx (86) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (90)

Adelaide’s upset win on the road against Perth Lynx broke the drought of one-sided games to start the round, with the Lightning taking until overtime to get past the Lynx. Last year’s grand finalists showed they will be a contender once again, trailing by a point at quarter time only to hit the front by two at the main break. Perth took control in the third to open up a six-point advantage, before a 19-13 final term saw the Lightning draw level at the final buzzer. Overtime had to separate the sides, with the Lightning continuing their last quarter momentum to post 11-7 and run out 90-86 winners. Brianna Turner put in a terrific performance for the Lightning, sinking 26 points at 64.7 per cent efficiency, while racking up 17 rebounds – 13 defensive – two assists, two blocks and one steal. Lauren Nicholson also had plenty of points with 21, as well as four assists and three rebounds, but did not pick up a double-double. Along with Turner, Nicole Seekamp (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Stephanie Talbot (12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals) did however, making it three double-doubles from the one team. Her side might have lost, but Katie-Rae Ebzery produced one of the performances of the season with 22 points, seven rebounds and 15 assists to almost haul her side across the line. Lauren Mansfield was also impressive with 14 points, four rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Nadeen Payne posted 22 points and six rebounds.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Brianna Turner (AL), 1 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (81) defeated UC Capitals (75)

It is not too often the reigning wooden spooners can upset the reigning premiers so early in a season, but that is what happened when the Flames got up over the Capitals in a six-point upset win. The sides had very different starts to the season, but a stunning opening term of 30-12 saw the home side get the Brydens Stadium crowd up and about. The Capitals hit back after that to cut the deficit to 10 by half-time, and managed to get it back within single digits by the final buzzer, but the slow start was too great to overcome. Alice Kunek (24 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block) and Tahlia Tupaea (23 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block) were the dominant scorers, while Alex Wilson sank 18 points, one rebound, three assists and two steals. Lauren Scherf provided an influence off the boards with 10 rebounds to accompany her four points, while Colleen Planeta managed eight rebounds with six points. For the losers, Nurse bounced back from her quiet game earlier in the weekend to post 21 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal, while Froling was again the dominant player with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal. Griffin also had a bigger influence in the contest in the Capitals’ second game of the weekend, sinking 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), 2 – Alice Kunek (SU), 1 – Keely Froling (UC)

Townsville Fire (71) defeated Melbourne Boomers (80)

Confusion might have sent social media into overdrive over the final scores, but luckily it was the Boomers who had enough of a buffer for a Lindsay Allen triple (which was counted twice on the live stats), to not have the final result altered. The Boomers got out to a one-point lead to start the game, then extended it to 12 by half-time. Townsville hit back with an 18-9 third term which meant it was game on, until a strong final term which saw the Boomers pile on 23-18 and run out, 80-71 victors. Even though the final scores read 83-71 online – fans watching the game had noticed the error and indeed the official WNBL Twitter account confirmed that the Boomers had won 80-71, with Allen having the 25 – not 28 points. Along with her 25 points, Allen had five assists and two rebounds to be the dominant shooter on the court. George (10 points, seven rebounds and one steal) and Magbegor (13 points, six rebounds, one assist and two blocks) were also busy off the boards, while Garrick put up 11 points to accompany her three assists and three steals. For the Fire, it was Abby Bishop who topped the points column with 20, as well as six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Tess Madgen (18 points, six rebounds and four assists) was prominent, Bridget Carleton (12 points, five rebounds) was busy off the boards and Darcee Garbin (10 points, six rebounds and five steals) was a pick-pocket. Overall the result meant the Boomers joined their Victorian counterparts the Flyers at the top of the table, while the Fire remained anchored to the bottom as the only winless side.

DC Medal: 3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 2 – Abby Bishop (TF), 1 – Tess Madgen (TF)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

8 – Cayla George (MB), Lindsay Allen (MB),
7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
5 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Brianna Turner (AL)
4 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Abby Bishop (TF), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Stephanie Talbot (AL), Tahlia Tupaea (SU)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Kia Nurse (UC), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Kelly Wilson (BS), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Alice Kunek (SU)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Sara Blicavs (SF), Keely Froling (UC)

2019/20 WNBL season team preview: Bendigo Spirit

A NEW season and a new head coach for Bendigo Spirit, who finished bottom two last season in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). With previous coach Simon Pritchard‘s contract not renewed, the Spirit opted to hire Adelaide 36ers assistant coach, Tracy York to take the club forward. The Spirit have had plenty of changes over the off-season with recruits and departures, in a bid to chance the side’s fortunes for the 2019/20 WNBL season.

Finished: 7th
Wins: 7
Losses: 14
Points: 14
Percentage: 89.15%

Last season:

It was overall a disappointing year for the Spirit, winning just 33 per cent of their games and finishing seventh overall for the WNBL season. Nadeen Payne was the highest points scorer, averaging 13.3 per game to go with her 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists, but she has since departed the club for Perth Lynx, along with Marena Whittle. Natalie Hurst has also moved on to Adelaide and will be a huge loss, while Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Jessie Rennie (USA) have also moved on. With so much change at the club, they will be looking for the inclusions to have an early impact and shape up the season from a strong start.

New recruits:

They spared no expense in going on a huge recruiting drive to build up the Spirit team again, bringing in Tessa Lavey and Carley Ernst from Dandenong Rangers, Shyla Heal from Perth and Kelly Wilson from Canberra. After averaging just the seven points per game last season in the WNBL, but the 4.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists, Wilson had a big year for Bendigo Braves, putting together 19.3 points, 10.5 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals in the NBL1. Ernst (Waverley Falcons) and Lavey (Braves) were equally as influential across the season, and could be quality inclusions this season. Gabrielle Richards was a revelation last season for the Braves in the NBL1, and now has a chance to use her work off the boards (14.1 points and 9.2 rebounds) in the big league. The Spirit also picked up Kasey Burton from Melbourne, and American Marte Grays, while Alicia Froling was signed before being released after an injury mid-year.

Star player:

Rebecca Tobin. While much has been spoken about the comings and goings of the Spirit, Tobin re-signed with the club after entering free agency and will be aiming to build on her performances at the Braves in the NBL1, where she averaged 16.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per game in 15 matches. Last season in the NBL, Tobin averaged 10.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.7. assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks and is a steadying influence in a side where much change has occurred.

NBL1 Women’s finals review: Preliminary Finals

BOTH Kilsyth Cobras and Geelong Supercats were able to withstand challenges from their opponents in the respective preliminary finals to advance through to the 2019 National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s Grand Final. The Cobras booked a place courtesy of a dominant performance from midway through the second term, while Geelong lead all game and kept composed despite minor premiers’ Bendigo’s best efforts in the final quarter.

KILSYTH COBRAS 22 | 22 | 21 | 17 (82)
NUNAWADING SPECTRES 21 | 14 | 14 | 10 (59)

Kilsyth Cobras have earned a spot in the 2019 NBL1 Women’s decider after a comprehensive 23-point win over Nunawading Spectres at home in their preliminary final clash. The first term saw the Cobras and Spectres going at it only for the home side to nudge ahead by just one goal at the break. Nunawading managed to gain the ascendancy early in the second to regain the lead by two courtesy of a three-pointer by Chelsea D’Angelo four minutes into the term. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was all one-way traffic after that because from the moment Lauren Nicholson sank a three-pointer and Kilsyth lead by that margin midway through the term, the home team did not surrender the lead. Kilsyth lead by as much as 18 points early in the fourth term but the Spectres managed to cut it back to 11 with six minutes remaining in the game. In a remarkable defensive effort over the final six minutes, Kilsyth did not allow Nunawading a score, as they piled on 12 points themselves to run out 82-59 winners. Nicholson was a standout performer with 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while both Klara Wischer (20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists) and Sarah Boothe (14 points, 20 rebounds and five assists) dominated off the boards in what was a mammoth win for the Cobras registering 24 rebounds and 13 assists – seven of which came from Alison Downie who also picked up six rebounds. For the Spectres, D’Angelo top-scored with 13 points, as well as four rebounds, three assists and three steals, wile Maddie Garrick picked up a double-double courtesy of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kathleen Scheer (12 points, eight rebounds and two assists) was the other player who tried her heart out throughout the four quarters, but it was a complete performance from the Cobras who now meet Geelong Supercats in the final.

GEELONG SUPERCATS 25 | 23 | 25 | 10 (83)
BENDIGO BRAVES 18 | 22 | 21 | 19 (80)

Geelong Supercats weathered an almighty comeback from Bendigo Braves to secure a spot in the 2019 NBL1 Women’s Grand Final with a three-point victory. In a game many thought might be the grand final clash, the match lived up to pre-game expectations with Geelong seemingly having the upperhand for most of the contest, but Bendigo did not go down without a fight throwing everything at the Supercats in the final quarter. Geelong never trailed in the game making it a comprehensive victory, as they scored the first five points of the game and took a seven-point lead into quarter time. The Braves made a big charge in the second term to get within a point with just under three minutes remaining, but a nine points to two run late in the half saw the home side win the quarter and extend their lead at half-time to eight. Bendigo could not make much headway into the deficit in the third, getting it as low as seven points with four minutes remaining, but when Zitina Aokuso produced a successful lay-up with 87 seconds left in the quarter, the Supercats were out to a game-high 15-point lead. Trailing by 12 at the final break, Bendigo gradually attacked the deficit to come within five midway through the quarter, but ultimately the Supercats had all the answers with the three-point final margin the closest it had been since the second term. Aokuso scored a team-high 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, well aided by fellow Australian Opals, Sara Blicavs (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Ezi Magbegor (15 points, nine rebounds and four assists). Jazmin Shelley (14 points, four assists) was productive off the bench, wile Alex Duck (10 points, four assists) also achieved a team-high in assists. Rebecca Tobin sank a game-high 23 points, as well as a mind-boggling 20 rebounds, three assists and four steals to be the best player on the court, while Kelly Wilson had a double-double effort with 16 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and two steals. Tessa Lavey (17 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Gabrielle Richards (10 points, seven rebounds and two steals) were the other two Braves to make double figures. Now Geelong head to the decider to face the other side who was able to knock off the minor premiers in the finals, Kilsyth Cobras.

NBL1 Women’s finals preview: Preliminary Finals

THREE of the four top sides have made it through to the penultimate week of finals, but not quite as the script might have planned. The top two sides in Geelong Supercats and Bendigo Braves go head-to-head, while the two underdogs, Kilsyth Cobras and Nunawading Spectres will battle for a spot in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 decider.

KILSYTH COBRAS vs. NUNAWADING SPECTRES
Saturday August 10, 7pm
Kilsyth Basketball Stadium

Not many people would have predicted this to be a preliminary final match-up, especially with Kilsyth having the home court advantage in the third week of finals. Many expected Bendigo Braves to continue their remarkable season and knock off the Cobras, but with an upset win by Kilsyth, the Cobras have opened up the finals race. Joining them in the preliminary final is sixth placed Nunawading Spectres who sent Waverley Falcons packing in straight sets after a semi-final win last weekend. Now these two unlikely opponents meet for a spot in the 2019 NBL1 Women’s decider.

In terms of win-loss records, Kilsyth has a 7-3 record at home, and an even better 8-2 away, which was helped by the win at Bendigo last weekend. They did not come into the finals with the best of form, losing in the final round, but that all changed when then they toppled the minor premiers. Nunawading sit at four wins from 11 games both at home and on the road, meaning neither side is particularly favourable with the home court advantage. These sides will clash in a battle of offence vs. defence, as the Spectres are known for putting up some high numbers, whilst Kilsyth is the best defensive side in the competition. The Cobras also have an extra nine percentage points on Nunawading and if percentage is anything to go by, than these sides deserve to be in the Preliminary Finals, ranked third and fourth respectively.

These sides have met twice in season 2019, and sit at one win apiece. It bodes well for the Spectres in this match as the victors on both occasions have come from the away side. In their first meeting back in June, they played at this venue and a powerful opening term by the Spectres saw them race away to a 24-9 quarter time lead. Kilsyth won the remaining three quarters but could not bridge the 15-point gap, going down by seven, 71-78. Kathleen Scheer (24 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine rebounds and three assists) were the Spectres’ best in the win, while Klara Wischer (26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Lauren Nicholson (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) were impressive for the Cobras. Sarah Boothe had a massive 15 rebounds in the defeat, while Rebecca Pizzey and Chelsea D’Angelo both had 13 points to their name for the visitors. In the second match-up only a few weeks ago, Kilsyth came out on top by almost an identical margin, winning 80-72 at Nunawading. They dominated the first half to lead by 17 points at the main break, and while Nunwading hit back to win the second half by nine and could not bridge that gap. Nicholson was best on court in the win, sinking 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Boothe (10 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Wischer (eight points, eight assists) were others who impressed. For Nunawading, Maddie Garrick posted a team-high 25 points and had three steals, while Scheer, Pizzey and Rachel Brewster all recorded 11 points on the night.

The big factors which have shone in those two games and will be closely watched on Saturday night, Kilsyth posted 32 assists to 19 over both games, while rebounds were also in the Cobras’ favour 73-49. In fact, the Spectres recorded just 10 offensive rebounds in the two games, compared to Kilsyth’s 22. The big advantage Nunawading has is its spread of scorers, with anyone able to stand up and play a role, whilst Kilsyth have a couple of starts in Nicholson and Boothe, and players who have been able to assist well. Kilsyth is a side you expect can now advance through to the decider and will be favourites here given the Cobras’ last match.

GEELONG SUPERCATS vs. BENDIGO BRAVES
Sunday August 11, 1pm
Geelong Arena

Much like the other head-to-head, many would not have predicted this as a preliminary final, but rather the match a week later. The top two sides have been the clear standouts this season, dropping just four games between them in the regular season. But it showed how finals is a different ball game, when Bendigo was forced to use its double chance after losing to fourth placed Kilsyth. The Braves then knocked off the Knox Raiders to keep their title hopes alive, while Geelong Supercats defeated Ringwood Hawks to move through to the preliminary final. Unlike in the men’s competition, the women’s finals were all played last weekend, so both sides have had the week’s break, with Geelong having the extra day on Bendigo.

Looking at the win-loss records, Geelong has lost just the one game at home – to Bendigo – while winning eight of the 10 matches on the road. For Bendigo, the only two games the Braves have dropped were at home, as the minor premiers head into the clash with 10 consecutive wins on the road this season. When investigating the breakdown of the sides, it is no surprise to see both teams rated well on both ends with Bendigo ranked second and Geelong fourth offensively, while defensively, the Supercats come in at two and the Braves at three. These sides also have the two higher percentages and the only teams with greater than 120 per cent for the season.

Like the other preliminary finalists, these sides have met twice for a win-loss record of one each. Bendigo’s only regular season loss came at home at the hands of the Supercats back in May, while as already mentioned, Geelong’s only loss at home came a few weeks back against the Braves – albeit understrength. On the first occasion these sides met, Geelong got up by 16 points after a dominant first and third quarter set them aside. The Supercats showed they can match it with the best and have momentum swings, including a 20-point advantage in the third term (36-16). Ezi Magbegor sank 30 points, had 10 rebounds as well as two steals and two blocks, while Sara Blicavs (23 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Jazmin Shelley (26 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also prominent. For the Braves, Kelly Wilson had a remarkable 36 points and nine assists, while Gabrielle Richards picked up a double-double courtesy of 22 points and 12 rebounds, Andrea Wilson had the same amount of rebounds had despite contributing just two points. Tessa Lavey (17 points, six rebounds) and Bianca Dufelmeier (15 points, five rebounds) tried hard, while Supercats Isabelle Bourne and Alex Ducks combined for 22 points 12 rebounds and 11 assists in the victory. In the second game, the Braves never looked like losing against a side missing its three best players running riot over a Geelong outfit minus Magbegor, Blicavs and Shelley on the Braves’ way to a huge 88-58 victory. Gabrielle Turner scored 23 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Richards (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Wilson (21 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and two steals) were again the best, as Wilson collected another 11 rebounds from two points, Rebecca Tobin was also prominent with nine rebounds and nine points, as well as seven rebounds. For the Supercats, Isabella Brancatisano (16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) and Ebony Rolph (15 points, 10 rebounds and six steals) were the two standout players.

How much you can judge the games as a whole is difficult because one was early in the season as teams were finding their best structures and combinations, while the second was where one team was very clearly understrength. Assuming both teams can go in at it full strength, Geelong might have the upperhand being at home and with a vocal crowd backing them. No doubt this could be the game of the season because each team has a number of genuine A-grade stars, as well as some real contributors which makes it a fascinating contest. While Kilsyth did knock off Bendigo in the qualifying final, you would think the Braves are better for it having gone multiple months without tasting defeat. Expect the winner of this game to take out the title as these teams on paper are something else.