Tag: gemma potter

Victoria dominates in AJC tournaments, SA takes home Men’s Ivor Burge title

IT was a successful weekend for Victoria as three of their four teams came out of the ACT victorious in this year’s Australian Junior Championships for Basketball. The three-teams being Victoria’s under 20 men and women, who both knocked over Queensland’s sides, while Victoria’s Ivor Burge Women’s team toppled NSW in convincing fashion. Lastly it was South Australia that took home the Ivor Burge Men’s title in an overtime classic.

U20 Men

Victoria (92) defeated Queensland (90) 

The Australian Junior Championships finally came to a head on Sunday as Queensland and Victoria squared off in what was a hectic gold medal game. Following a dominant 35-point first quarter, it already looked like the boys in navy-blue were ready to run away with the contest, leading Queensland by a sizeable 12 points. A gradual increase in scoring efficiency from the Reds saw them grind away at what was an 18-point deficit, outscoring team Vic 23-15 in the second, and then 26-20 in the third, resulting in a two-point lead at the final break for Queensland. In what was a back-and-forth final period, that saw the lead change hands nine times, it was not until the final 10 seconds that the game was decided. Former Melbourne Tigers guard in Joshua Giddey, took his chances from the three-point arch over a contesting Didan Tito, in which the ball bounced off the back of the rim straight into the lap of Giddey again, from which his second attempt from the elbow would strike true, putting the Vics up by two and win the coveted national title. Giddey played on another level throughout the entire game, as he amassed a sizeable 27 point, 10 rebound and eight assist stat line on the day. Credit still falls on the efforts of Southern Sabres big-man Kobe Williamson, who notched up a double-double, putting up 24 points and 11 rebounds, as well as a pair of blocks. For Zac Triplett, it was another shooting exhibition, as the Keilor Thunder guard rounded up 19 points, along with five three-pointers under his belt. For Queensland, the scoring load again fell onto the shoulders of Blake Jones, who piled it on with 24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, whereas Boston Mazlin supported as best as he could with 20 points and five assists. Donovan Crowe produced 16 of his own points in addition. The win for Victoria was their third consecutive year raising the trophy, their 30th in history.

Meanwhile, in the Bronze medal game, the contest once again came down to the wire, as Taran Armstrong’s two made free-throws put Tasmania up by one point with two seconds remaining, which was followed up by a last second Biwali Bayles three-point heave that was off target for NSW, earning Tasmania a third-place finish at the tournament. Top scorers for Tassie were Armstrong who finished with 28 points and seven assists, whereas Reyne Smith compiled 22 points along with four threes from deep. As for NSW, Bayles led the charge the Blues as the Sydney Comets prospect put up a respectable 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

U20 Women

Victoria (69) defeated Queensland (56)

Like their male counterparts, Victoria’s U20 Women’s side pushed out ahead early against Queensland, whilst also limiting the Reds’ ability to score, leading 20-10 after 10 minutes of play. The Big V continuously and patiently extended the deficit over the next two quarters, out ahead 56-33 after three quarters of basketball. A late charge by Queensland would ensue, with the women from up north outscoring Victoria 23-13 in the final session, falling 13 points short of the now four-time defending champs, 69-56. The major factor for Victoria was the all-around performance of UCLA-commit Gemma Potter, who produced at an exemplary level, finding her stroke with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. By her side was Stanford-commit Agnes Emma-Nnopu, who secured a double-double on the day, like she had been doing frequently throughout the tournament putting up 10 points and 11 rebounds. Despite managing just 56 points through four quarters, Queensland’s scoring was more widespread across the team, as four of their starting five collected double digits, notably led by Neferatali Notoa who put up 16 points in her side’s loss. Furthermore, Georgia Woolley was very effective on the boards, as she attained 11 points and seven rebounds, while Catherine Macgregor produced 14 points.

Victorian head coach, Hannah Lowe, was extremely grateful to be the one at the helm of such a talented group post-game, “It’s a fantastic group – I feel really privileged to coach a group of girls who are that talented,” Lowe said. “We had a really short preparation, which makes it hard for us to put together an extensive playbook, but I think with that limited preparation, the girls did really well – they executed on the day, under pressure and all-in-all it was an excellent week.”

Following the events of the gold medal game, attention turned to Victoria A’s demolition job of NSW. Outscoring the Blues 27-eight in the first period, Victoria owned the game from there on in. With a 46-point second half, Victoria A would easily come out on top, taking out the contest 58-85. Despite Victoria A scoring 85 total points, only two players in Keeley Evans and Casey Paea reached 15 points, while Kayla Salmons was a monster on the glass finishing with a massive 16 rebounds. For NSW, Isabella Morgan’s 12 and Rebekah Dallinger’s 10 points headlined their team’s statistics.

Ivor Burge Men

South Australia (98) defeated Victoria (90)

South Australia took home this year’s Ivor Burge Championship over a courageous Victoria side in an entertaining finish to an action-packed tournament. With both sides winning two quarters each, regulation would not be enough time to separate these two sides. South Australia went on to score 20 overtime points, and held Victoria’s offence to a mere 12 points, leading them to a historic eight-point victory.  Perhaps Victoria’s biggest downfall were the number of turnovers they allowed being 31, compared to South Australia’s 19. In addition, SA moved the ball spectacularly, accumulating a mammoth 32 assists. Wayne Kinross led the way for SA, with 27 points and four assists, meanwhile Keenan Georg-Dent racked up 22 points and 17 rebounds. Averaging over 38 points per game throughout the competition, it was inevitable Jake De La Motte would put on another scoring display, this time with a ridiculous 47 points next to his name as he was later named tournament MVP and received the Ivor Burge Medal. Whereas Frazer Dawber mustered 11 rebounds in his performance. For head coach Ryan Holloway, it was a journey for his side, one that led to a style of basketball that he was proud of. “They gave it their all throughout the week,” Holloway said. “From game one our goal was to play the most respectful basketball that we could, play fairly throughout the tournament and I think these guys did that excellently.”

Ivor Burge Women

Victoria (76) defeated New South Wales (53)

Victoria’s Ivor Burge Women’s team rounded out a stellar weekend for Victoria as a state, toppling a gallant NSW side on Sunday morning. The game started with both sides shooting at an efficient rate and staying neck-and-neck through the first quarter, with Victoria holding the slight one-point edge at the first break. Victoria’s defence put its best foot forward in the second and third quarters, as they limited NSW’s scoring almost completely, only allowing 11 points from the Blues over the two-quarter span. NSW scored 20 points in the fourth quarter; however, it would be too little, too late as they went down 76-53, with Victoria dominating the end result. With three women collecting double-doubles, Victoria was dominant at both ends of the floor. Kaitlyn Zonneveld (13 points and 11 rebounds), Jessica McCulloch (13 points and 10 rebounds) and Kaitlyn Papworth (10 points and 14 rebounds) all put on impressive displays, while Montana Haag-Witherden contributed 15 points. For NSW, 22 points and five rebounds was the end product for Brittany Anderson, as Eliza Mills was good for 13 points, five assists and five rebounds..

Head coach Simon Robinson was excited to see the group rise to the occasion and bring the gold medal back to Victoria. “We’re very happy to obvious avenge last year where we felt that we didn’t play as well as we possibly could,” Robinson said. “New South Wales is a very strong team and they always test us – they tested us on Friday morning in the rounds and that was quite a close one, so it was good to control things early, get to an early lead and then consolidate and build on it. “It’s delightful to coach this group; last year they were very disappointed obviously, so to win this one it’s quite a good feeling.”

2019/20 WNBL Round 15 preview: Capitals and Lightning look to make charge

IT is now or never for the two sides just outside the top two positions on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) ladder with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Adelaide Lightning needing victories if they are to force their way into the favourable finals spots. The season might be over for four teams, but pride is still on the line, and they can still impact the finals series with some upsets in the penultimate round of action.

UC CAPITALS vs. PERTH LYNX
Wednesday, January 22, 7pm
National Convention Centre

The standalone Wednesday night fixture is the re-scheduled Round 12 game between University of Canberra (UC Capitals) and Perth Lynx, which was delayed due to the recent heavy smoke plaguing the nation’s capital three weeks ago. With just two rounds to go, the WNBL deemed it was the right time and safe enough with the forecasted weather, for the game to go ahead. With Perth already scheduled for a Friday night game, the match had to be at least a couple of days earlier hence the Wednesday night time slot. This game will really add an extra element to the WNBL Round 15, with the Capitals able to put pressure on the top two sides. While the points differential means they cannot overtake the Boomers on one win alone, it moves them to within one victory of overtaking them. A loss however, and they could slip to fourth with an upset win for the Adelaide Lightning over Southside Flyers. So far this season the Capitals are 7-1 at home with only the Flyers having found the key to victory, and are coming off two vital wins over the Boomers and Flyers in Round 14. For the Lynx, the season might be over with a three and a half gap deficit to the Lightning, but they are the best of the rest and are the leading side to finish fifth on the table. In the two clashes thus far, the Capitals have got up by comfortable margins of 18 and 17 points in November and December respectively. Kia Nurse is coming off a 33-point game against the Flyers and now averages 20.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while Marianna Tolo has stepped up in the absence of teammates with 14.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in the center, while Maddison Rocci benefited from a step-up in time and role to post 19 points in the Capitals’ win in Round 14. Perth will hope to take greater advantage of a Capitals side missing Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling, with Katie-Rae Ebzery ever-consistent this season, posting 15.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Nadeen Payne (10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals) are the other two Lynx players who have started every match and will be crucial in the match.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. PERTH LYNX
Friday, January 24, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

Backing up from Wednesday night’s game, Perth travels south to meet Bendigo Spirit on Friday night. The Lynx will have a huge chance of collecting a win over the bottom placed side, even though they have struggled on the road with a 2-5 record that could be 2-6 by the game’s tipoff. Bendigo have been much stronger at home than away, winning four of 10 at home whilst not winning a game while visiting. The teams have played twice this season and the last time they met in Bendigo, the Spirit got up by 12 points in a great win. Perth sought revenge in the Round 13 match however, knocking over Bendigo by 19 points in Perth. Neither of these sides can make finals, but a win for the Spirit would move them closer to the Fire with the bottom two sides facing off in the last round, while the Lynx can gain some separation on the bottom three sides. Bendigo has just the two players who are averaging double-figure points with Carley Ernst and Abigail Wehrung recording 12 and 10.9 points per game respectively. Ernst also averages 6.6 rebounds per game, while Wehrung has been an inspiration coming off the bench. The Spirit have had just two players start every game, with Tessa Lavey (9.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists) and Kelly Wilson (8.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.4 steals) providing the best playmaking abilities in the team. For the Lynx, they would love to have Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins both up and firing in the one team, with the American duo providing great support of the boards; McGee-Stafford leading the team with 8.4 rebounds per game.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday January 25, 6pm
Townsville Stadium

Tipping off the Saturday night proceedings, seventh placed Townsville Fire host top two side, Melbourne Boomers in a bid to desperately improve from last round. The Fire were well beaten in both their matches and it does not get any easier here against a genuine title contender. At home the Fire are 3-5, while the Boomers are strong on the road with a 7-3 record and not afraid of winning in front of a hostile environment. On the two occasions the teams have faced off this season, Melbourne got up on both occasions, defeating Townsville by nine points back on October 27, and 16 points two months later. The Fire have missed Abby Bishop since she was mutually released from her contract, with the consistent performer averaging 15.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game from 14 games prior to her departure. In her absence, Darcee Garbin (14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Tess Madgen (12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists) have carried the load, while Bridget Carleton gets around the court and provides great offensive and defensive plays for the Fire. The Boomers have been steadily building over the season with lots of depth coming off the pine, and this game is a chance to try and gain some separation on the Capitals after the Boomers went down to the reigning premiers last week. A win would also move them closer to Southside setting up an unlikely charge for top spot if results go their way. Sophie Cunningham has been impressive of late, averaging 11.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while the towering duo of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor – who combine for 26.8 points and 14.8 rebounds – will also be a handful for the Fire in this game.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Saturday, January 25, 7pm
Dandenong Stadium

The other Saturday night game might be the most touted of the round, with a top four clash on offer and a result that will directly affect the finals make-up. If the Southside Flyers can get up over the Adelaide Lightning, expect the league’s newest rebranded side to take the minor premiership given the two-game gap on the second placed Boomers. At the same time, the Lightning will be almost certainly resigned to fourth spot, and meet the Flyers in the first week of finals, which could well happen anyway. However if the Lightning get up, then it opens the door for all top four sides, with the Lightning keeping the pressure on the third placed Capitals, while the Boomers could be knocking on the door of top spot with the Flyers potentially slipping up. These sides have played twice – both in Adelaide – with the Flyers getting up on December 1 by six points, before the Lightning returned the favour in Round 12 with an 11-point victory in front of home fans to all but lock up a top four spot. Now out at Dandenong, the Flyers are a difficult team to beat, having only lost to the Capitals twice and Sydney Uni once at home. The Lightning are 50 per cent on the road with four wins from eight games, but will have gained confidence from the big win last round. Mercedes Russell has been a star all season for the Flyers, pumping out numbers of 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the center position, well aided by the likes of Rebecca Cole (16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Leilani Mitchell (16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals), while Sara Blicavs has been the side’s top player in the last few weeks. For the visitors, Brianna Turner and Stephanie Talbot continue to create headaches for the opposition, combining for 31 points, 18.5 rebounds and three blocks per game. Lauren Nicholson has also been a consistent contributor for the Lightning, as has Nicole Seekamp who has stepped up in the past month.

UC CAPITALS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, January 26, 5pm
National Convention Centre

Depending on Wednesday and Saturday nights’ results, the UC Capitals could be battling for second spot with a win here against the Sydney Uni Flames. The Capitals need to defeat Perth Lynx and for Townsville to upset Melbourne, which granted is unlikely based on the Fire’s recent form and the Boomers’ ability to get the job done. However if it happens then it opens the door for the Capitals to access second spot with a win, and depending on the other Saturday night encounter between the Flyers and Lightning, might even give the reigning premiers a sniff at top spot. If the Lightning and Fire win, the Capitals could move to within one game of top spot, sitting pretty in second on the WNBL table. However, back-to-back losses this round would see the Capitals drop back below the Lightning in fourth spot. They are 7-1 on the table at home, while the Flames are 3-6 when on the road so they will need to defy the recent season history to cause an upset. The Flames are a much improved side on last year’s wooden spoon effort with Sydney Uni looking safe from that fate again in 2019/20. These teams have played twice this season, with the Flames causing a boilover back on October 27 with a six-point win over the Capitals, before UC clicked into gear a week later with a smashing 25-point victory. Olivia Epoupa is a versatile player who defies her 165cm height to be a real influence off the boards with 8.1 rebounds per game to accompany her 6.7 assists and 3.2 steals in a truly impressive effort. Along with Alex Delaney – who got her first start – and other youngsters in Gemma Potter and Abby Cubillo – who are getting vital time off the bench – the Capitals have plenty of depth to fill in for the injured Griffin and Froling. The Flames have had some strong contributors themselves this season, with Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) leading the way, while Jessica Kuster (12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals) and Alex Wilson (11.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds) have been strong, Lauren Scherf is also building some nice form of late and will be hard to stop in the center.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 12 – Finals race set to narrow

IT is make or break time in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) this round, with finals well and truly on the line. If the results go the way as planned, there could be as much as a four-game gap between fourth and fifth making it incredibly difficult for the sides outside the finals spots to force their way into the top four.

PERTH LYNX vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Friday, January 3, 6.30pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

In one of three Friday night games, a well-rested Southside Flyers returns to WNBL action against a Perth Lynx side that has been steadily improving after a mid-season slump. The Lynx have hardly made Bendat Basketball Centre a fortress this year, but remain stronger at home than on the road which is where their troubles have come from. The Flyers are coming off a rare loss, going down to Sydney Uni Flames back on December 21, which was their last game prior to the Round 12 clash. They are sitting pretty on top of the table, two games clear, and after missing a couple of key players in that game, will be keen to bounce back with an important win here. These teams have played twice so far this season, with Southside getting up at home both times, including in Perth with an 82-68 triumph back on November 29. Alison Schwagmeyer has been a force this season off the boards for the Lynx, leading their points scoring with 16 per game in 2019/20. Katie-Rae Ebzery and Lauren Mansfield have also provided plenty with their movement across the court despite both being sub-180cm. Mercedes Russell missed the last game for the Flyers, but has been superb this year, averaging just about a double-double when it comes to points (16.1) and rebounds (9.9), to be the standout center in the competition. Jenna O’Hea also missed the last game, with the Opals star another standout player this year for the top-of-the-table side. Southside head into this contest as strong favourites, but you can never discount the Lynx.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Friday, January 3, 7.00pm
Townsville Stadium

With a line now all but put through their name for season 2019/20, Townsville Fire host their first game of 2020 on Friday night in a bid to try and wreck the Lightning’s chances of making finals. The Fire have slipped to three consecutive losses, including a disappointing one-point loss to Bendigo Spirit which all but ended their hopes of making finals this season. Five games adrift of the fourth placed Lightning makes it difficult given the time remaining in the season, but there is still plenty to play for in the last month. For Adelaide, it is much higher stakes, needing a win to retain the breathing space ahead of Sydney Uni and Perth who have both been sniffing around for that all-important top four position. The last time these two teams met was back in October, when Adelaide triumphed up in Townsville with an 86-68 victory. The Lightning will be hoping for much of the same in this clash, having won just one of the three encounters from the 2018/19 WNBL season. The two standouts for the Lightning are Stephanie Talbot and Brianna Turner. Talbot is averaging more than 16 points and eight rebounds per game, whilst getting close to a couple of steals and more than a block per game in a strong all-round effort. Turner on the other hand is a rebounding machine, averaging a double-double of points and rebounds, whilst providing a great defensive option close to the defensive basket, blocking opponents’ shots almost twice per game. For the Fire, Abby Bishop has had an outstanding season, and while her game last round was quiet by her standards, she still averages a team-high 15.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. Darcee Garbin (13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals) and Tess Madgen (12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists) are handy contributors, while Bridget Carleton picked up a double-double last round and averages 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game following her 19 and 12 respectively last round. Adelaide should get the win here, as the Lightning have a good record in Townsville, though the Fire would love to cause a few headaches for the visitors.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. UC CAPITALS
Friday, January 3, 7.00pm
Bendigo Stadium

In the third and final game of the Friday night trio, reigning premiers UC Capitals travel to Bendigo to take on the last placed Spirit. Whilst finals is out of reach for the potential wooden spooners, last round was a positive when the Spirit snapped a nine-game losing streak to down Townsville Fire. The Capitals have been able to make the best of an absence of Kelsey Griffin who is currently out due to an ankle injury. Last round’s win against Perth Lynx showed the Capitals have the depth to match it with anyone, as Olivia Epoupa, Marianna Tolo and Keely Froling all picked up double doubles. These sides have played twice in the past month, with the Capitals naturally getting up both times given the Spirit’s form of late. The wins were by 25 and 10 points respectively, though the Spirit will hope to ride on last week’s performance and put in a much better effort at home than the December 6 drubbing. The Spirit have three players averaging more than 10 points per game this year, with Carley Ernst leading the way with 11.4 as well as 6.5 rebounds. Demi Skinner (10.6 points, 3.3 rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (10.3 points, 2.4 rebounds) have been busy this season, while Kelly Wilson (9.3 points, 5.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals) has been a balanced contributor. Coming off an important confidence-boosting win at home last week, the Spirit have had all three of their wins in Bendigo, with a 3-5 record there. The Capitals have been a little more shaky on the road with a 4-3 record, but should get the job done against the bottom side. Given what is on the line, being level with the Boomers in second spot, it is crucial for the Capitals to make up the 32-point differential between them and the second placed Melbourne to try and push their way into the top two.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, January 5, 1.00pm
Titanium Security Arena

Playing their second game of the round and back-to-back games on the road, Southside Flyers head to Adelaide where they take on Adelaide Lightning at Titanium Security Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Lightning crucially held onto their top four spot last round, triumphing in style over reigning premiers, UC Capitals, and would love nothing more than a win against Southside Flyers here. These two teams have faced in South Australia this season already, with the Flyers getting up 91-85 back on December 1. After such a long break between games, it will be interesting to see how Southside pulls up in a second match two days after the first. Adelaide also plays its second game of the round, and will have more travelling to do, heading home from Townsville after the Friday night match, but will at least be at home for the match. Along with Talbot and Turner who have been the two standouts this year, Lauren Nicholson and Nicole Seekamp have shared in more than 25 points, six rebounds and nine assists between them. They are among a starting five that all average a steal per game, while Chelsea Brook has shown she is capable of putting up solid numbers when called upon to do so. The Flyers might have missed two of their top stars back in Round 10, but the likes of Rebecca Cole, Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs ensures the league’s newest rebranded side has no problem with depth. Anneli Maley might not have a lot of points to her name, but she provides good rebounding depth off the bench and will be one who continues to be an option coming onto the court throughout games. The Flyers can almost secure top spot, and one would think a top two spot, with back-to-back victories in this round.

UC CAPITALS vs. PERTH LYNX
Sunday, January 5, 2.00pm
AIS Arena

Two sides who go at it for a second time in Round 12 are the UC Capitals and Perth Lynx who head to Canberra to face-off at AIS Arena from 2pm on Sunday. The Capitals return from Bendigo to host the clash, while the Perth cross to the eastern seaboard after a home game on Friday night. Depending on the Capitals’ result against Bendigo – which in fairness to the Spirit is expected to be a win against the bottom side – UC could well go outright second with a second victory here. The Boomers play a few hours later against the Flames in a day that if both sides win, the finals race is just about decided. Given the Capitals’ 6-1 record at home and Perth’s 2-5 record on the road, it is clear to see which team is favourite heading into this clash. Also taking into account the fact the Capitals knocked off the Lynx by a comfortable 17 points in the last outing just a week earlier – in Perth – showed they have the form and confidence to knock over the sixth placed side. There are a lot of permutations this round, but if Adelaide Lightning get the win over Townsville as expected and the Lynx lose both games, it would mean the Lynx must chase down a five-game deficit outside the top four with just four rounds remaining. It will be the third time these teams have faced off with the 17-point win to UC actually the lesser of the two victories from the reigning premiers in this head-to-head. The Capitals also won by 18 points in Canberra back in November. While the double-double trio caught headlines last round for the Capitals, you cannot forget the impact Kia Nurse has each and every week, averaging a handy 20.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. The other starter is Maddison Rocci who has been flying under the radar with more than seven points and almost three assists per game. Add in Gemma Potter who has received court time every game to average almost three points and a rebound per game, and the Capitals have some youth coming through the ranks. Perth would hope to piece together a much better performance this week against the Capitals and along with Schwagmeyer and Ebzery, they need more consistency standing up each week. Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins are a couple of American imports who show signs of breaking games open and the former is averaging 10.6 points and 8.4 rebounds, while the latter is 9.8 and 4.6 respectively. With Mansfield and Nadeen Payne also putting up solid numbers and Marena Whittle coming off the bench, the Lynx have the talent, they just need to build greater consistency, particularly on the road. This will be a tough game to win but give them a world of confidence if they can pull it off.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, January 5, 5.00pm
Brydens Stadium

In a game that will likely have some big ramifications for the finals race, fifth placed Sydney Uni Flames take on top two side, Melbourne Boomers. With the UC Capitals having the luxury of already having played two games prior to this tip-off, the Boomers could find themselves fighting for second spot in this game. The Flames have shown they are capable of knocking off some serious talent, taking down the Flyers in Round 10, but will still be hurting from the loss of Colleen Planeta for the season. The Boomers will have an eye on the WNBL finals considering their season, and with their depth will be favourites in this one. These sides have only played once thus far this season, with the Boomers getting up by 13 points at home. They have not played in Sydney since October 21, 2018, where the visiting side also got the chocolates on that day in an 87-75 triumph. Neither of these sides have played earlier in the round, so earn a nice break heading into this final game of Round 12. Alice Kunek is the Flames’ leading points scorer, and will share the load left by Planeta with Jessica Kuster and Alex Wilson who both average double-figure points. Lauren Scherf is an underrated player coming off the bench with seven points and eight rebounds per game, and could be the one who stands up and consolidates her starting spot with Tahlia Tupaea rounding out the five. The Boomers also have plenty of firepower across the court with Lindsay Allen and Cayla George averaging more than 30 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three steals between them. Sophie Cunningham, Ezi Magbegor and Madeleine Garrick are the other three regular starts, all of whom average double-figure points. Last round was the first time the Boomers had a different starting five, with Cunningham absent, and Antonia Farnworth stepping up to play that role. Expect Melbourne to go all-out to try and hold onto second spot, but Sydney Uni will be keen to cause yet another upset.

2019/20 WNBL Round 11 preview: Top four spots on the line to close out the year

FIVE Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) games will be played between Christmas and the New Year with the top of the table Southside Flyers to have a week off, while University of Canberra (UC) Capitals, Adelaide Lightning and Townsville Fire all play two games.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. UC CAPITALS
Friday, December 27, 7:00pm
Titanium Security Arena

In the first game post-Christmas, fourth placed Adelaide Lightning will be keen to bridge the gap between themselves and third spot on the ladder, UC Capitals. This top four clash could well determine if a spot in the top three is still up for grabs, or whether or not the reigning premiers can consolidate their position with the top two Victorian sides. For Adelaide, a win keeps the Lightning in touch with the top three, while a loss throws them back to a mid-table log-jam. These teams have played just once this season, with the Capitals getting up at home by seven points. With Kelsey Griffin missing last round, it was the likes of Keely Froling who stood tall, picking up 30 points and taking her average to 14.3 points per game as well as 6.8 rebounds. Kia Nurse has been a consistent scorer for the Capitals with 20.4 points per game, while Olivia Epoupa continues to rack up the stats across the board, averaging 8.3 points. 6.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.3 steals per game. For the Lightning, the damaging duo of Stephanie Talbot (16.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game) and Brianna Turner (15.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals) have been the key players throughout the 2019/20 WNBL season.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 27, 7:30pm
State Basketball Centre

In Victoria, Melbourne hosts Townsville in a bid to retain second spot on the table after snatching it last round. The Boomers host the Fire who are just about out of finals contention, winning just three games from 12 so far this season and are three games outside the top four. For the Boomers, grabbing a top two spot will be crucial in their hopes of making it one step further than last year, and have a 5-2 win-loss record at home, while Townsville is just 1-5 when on the road this season. In these side’s only other head-to-head, Melbourne got up by nine points up in Queensland, with them previously winning both fixtures at home in the 2018/19 season, albeit by a combined 10 points. One can expect this will be an exciting contest, with the likes of Boomers Lindsay Allen (16.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.3 steals) and Cayla George (13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks) leading the charge, while Ezi Magbegor has been in good form of late. Abby Bishop continues to dominate games for Townsville, standing up each and every week to average 16.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game, while Darcee Garbin (14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game) and Tess Madgen (11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals) have also been strong performers.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, December 28, 7:00pm
Bendigo Stadium

Townsville has less than 24 hours to turnaround from the contest against the Boomers in order to face bottom placed Bendigo Spirit up at Bendigo Stadium. It is fair to say a loss for the Fire here would rule them out of the finals race, and join the Spirit as the other team out of contention. Bendigo has a chance to draw within points difference of the Fire if it can get a good result here, but with nine consecutive losses, the Spirit have not had the start to the season they would have liked. The good news for Bendigo is they are better at home than on the road, winning both their games there, but they came early in the season, though Townsville are worse on the road with the 1-5 record. Carley Ernst was again prolific in the Spirit’s performance last round, averaging 10.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season, while Demi Skinner has progressed from the bench to the starting line-up, averaging 10.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Kelly Wilson is the other standout player this season for the Spirit, posting up numbers of 9.9 points. 4.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Bridget Carleton has been a valuable addition to the fire this season, with the Canadian putting up numbers of 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while Belgium’s Julie Vanloo averages the 8.1 points and 3.6 assists.

PERTH LYNX vs. UC CAPITALS
Sunday December 29, 1:00pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

Staying in the finals race last weekend, sixth placed Perth Lynx will hope to stand up against the reigning premiers, UC Capitals at home when the teams clash on Sunday afternoon. The Lynx are just half a game outside of fifth from Sydney Uni Flames, and a game and a half from fourth placed Adelaide Lightning as both those teams clash in Sydney later on in the afternoon. In this match, the Capitals will eye off second spot once against after Melbourne snatched it in Round 10. The Capitals have only played five games on the road, registering a 3-2 win-loss record, while the Lynx have split their home games at three wins and three losses apiece. In their only other encounter this season, the Capitals easily got the win at home, producing an 18-point win over the Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer (16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists) has been important for the home side this season, as have Katie-Rae Ebzery (14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 blocks) and Imani McGee-Stafford (11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks). The Capitals have no shortage of contributors this season, with others who have been strong performers across the board including Marianna Tolo (11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks), Maddison Rocci (7.1 points, 2.4 assists) and Gemma Potter (2.8 points, 1.2 rebounds) who have been involved in all games when available.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Sunday, December 29, 5:00pm
Brydens Stadium

To round out the weekend, Sydney Uni Flames will be eyeing off fourth spot with a do-or-die clash against Adelaide Lightning. Adelaide has first crack at retaining fourth spot courtesy of a match against UC Capitals on Friday night, but lose that and it is game-on here. The winner will secure fourth in that scenario, and while Sydney Uni’s points difference is a concern (minus 64), it has started to build some good form of late, winning both games last weekend, including an all-important victory over Southside Flyers. The Flames were able to topple the Lightning just a couple of weeks ago in Sydney and will be aiming to repeat the dose in this Round 11 match. Back in Round 1, Adelaide got the chocolates with a 10-point win in South Australia. Sydney holds a positive 3-2 record at home, while the Lightning are two from six when on the road. Alice Kunek has mirrored the team’s form as she racks up double doubles with ease, averaging 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, teaming well with Jessica Kuster (12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals). Colleen Planeta (15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds) has been constantly along the best and will leave a hole in the line-up after it was confirmed she injured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the Flames’ last game, while Alex Wilson (11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists) is always prominent. Talbot and Turner have been the key duo this season for the Lightning, but Lauren Nicholson (14.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game) and Nicole Seekamp (11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists) are always carefully monitored by the opposition. A crucial game to close out the round and the year.

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 9 – Top three clash to end round on a high

A MASSIVE clash between Southside Flyers and University of Canberra Capitals on Sunday caps off a split round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action which sees the Flyers and Townsville Fire open the round on Friday night, then back up with second games. Plenty is on the line in the other games between Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 13, 7.30pm
Dandenong Stadium

In the opening game of the round, top of the table Southside Flyers host bottom two side, Townsville Fire at Dandenong. The Fire leapt off the bottom of the table last round following a nice win over the now cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit by 14 points. The Fire had won just one of the eight games prior to that victory, and still remain with just two wins from nine games – the complete opposite to Southside enjoying a four-game winning streak for 10-1 ladder leaders. The matchup will be the third time these sides have clashed this year, and the Flyers have unsurprisingly won both, winning by nine points in Round 1 over the Fire, before completely taking control in the second game on November 23, scoring 91-59. Mercedes Russell will once again be a key player in the center for Southside, averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and likely to be the difference on court. Leilani Mitchell (16.2 points and 6.0 assists) and Rebecca Cole (15.9 points and 3.8 assists) have been important in the guard positions for the favourites, while Townsville has had some strong individual performances from its forwards. Abby Bishop has been the shining light in season 2019/20 for the Fire, averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Darcee Garbin is coming off an impressive performance last week and will be hoping to add to her 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and help Townsville cause a huge upset. Both these teams play a second game in Round 9 on Sunday in different states, so management will be key.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Titanium Security Arena

Heading west to South Australia, the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning are narrowly clinging to a finals position at this point of the season, just one and a half games clear of Sydney Uni, and two and a half games clear of Perth and Townsville. Whilst it may seem comfortable, Adelaide is three games away from the top three, and had a couple more losses than any of the sides about it. Having left the door to the top four ajar with a loss to Sydney Uni last week, Adelaide must simply rebound with a victory at home against this season’s cellar dwellers. Bendigo dropped to the bottom of the table with a sixth consecutive loss last weekend, going down to previous ladder carriers, Townsville. With the equal most games played in the league at 11, Bendigo must find a way to flick the switch and make a run from this point, with its season on life support if a change does not happen soon. The positive for Bendigo is that one of its wins did come against Adelaide, getting up by 13 points earlier in the season, before going down by 28 points in a forgettable performance on the road. Stephanie Talbot has been a consistent player for the Lightning this year, posting up 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, sharing the load off the boards with Brianna Turner (14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds). Lauren Nicholson (15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists) has also been prominent as expected, while the introduction of Kathryn Westbeld (11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) over the past three games has helped. The Spirit have one of the most even teams across the board, with no one standout player. Their highest scorer is Tessa Lavey, averaging just 10.7 points, as well as 3.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Kelly Wilson (9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Rebecca Tobin (8.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2,0 assists) are others who have had some seriously dominant moments, but it is just piecing it all together.

PERTH LYNX v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Continuing the trip west down the highway, Perth Lynx host Melbourne Boomers in Western Australia with last year’s finalists season slowly slipping away. The Lynx have to see this as a must-win, losing their past four games and winning just three from 11 to sit two and a half games adrift of fourth spot. The good news for Perth is, two of its wins have come at home, though it has hardly been a fortress, dropping three games at the same time. For the Boomers, the road trip holds no fears, recording four wins from five games when travelling and they only have to look to last week for form when Melbourne got up over Perth by nine points at the State Basketball Centre. The last time these two sides played in Perth was last season, when the Lynx got up by 14 points. Alison Schwagmeyer has been superb for the Lynx this year, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with fellow Americans Imani McGee-Stafford (13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Ariel Atkins (9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds) when they played. Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a reliable option at the guard position, averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. The Boomers have had plenty of contributors across the list, with Cayla George being enormous as one of the bigs, averaging 14.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Lindsay Allen (16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists) are others

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Townsville Stadium

In what will be Townsville’s second game of the round, the Fire will be hoping to burn brighter and faster than their opponents when Sydney Uni Flames come to town. Back-to-back wins for Townsville will be crucial in keeping the faint hope of finals alive, but it will be a tough ask given Sydney Uni have a top four spot on the line with a win. The points difference is too great to immediately leapfrog Adelaide Lightning into a finals position, but the Flames will need to win to keep touch with the top four given the Lightning also play the bottom of the table Bendigo Spirit. These two sides have only clashed the once thus far in season 2019/20 with Sydney Uni getting up by nine points at home on November 7. Last season when the Flames finished on the bottom, Townsville won all three head-to-head encounters and will hope to channel that energy for this game. Aside from Bishop’s impact and Garbin’s recent form, Tess Madgen (11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Bridget Carleton (10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) are the other two Fire players who average double-figure points this season. For the Flames, Alice Kunek averages a team-high 17.9 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Colleen Planeta‘s best is as good as anyone else in the competition with the American posting up 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, slightly more than American teammate, Jessica Kuster. The forward has sank 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but has shot at a deadly 60.2 per cent from the field. Sydney Uni will be favourites in this game, but Townsville has its season on the line in this clash.

UC CAPITALS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 15, 5pm
National Convention Centre (Canberra)

The best game has been saved until last with third placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting top of the table Southside Flyers in the nation’s capital on Sunday evening. The Capitals are the only side to have penetrated the otherwise unflappable defence of the Flyers, winning 91-72 on the road in one of the performances of the year. It gives the Capitals great confidence coming into this clash now they return home, while for Southside, there is perhaps further motivation on top of getting the win by levelling the two teams head-to-head for this season. The Capitals’ starting five is superb, and with the success that has come, they have started blooding some youngsters as well. Kia Nurse (21.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists) is the key scorer, while Kelsey Griffin (17.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals) is once again a Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender. Olivia Epoupa (8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.2 steals) is not a huge scorer but just contributes across all areas, while Gemma Potter has come off the bench every week gaining valuable minutes for future development. A couple of others for the Flyers who have been important up the forward end are Sara Blicavs (14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists) rounding out a strong starting five with Russell, Mitchell and Cole, even with the bulk of the scoring only come from those players. The Capitals depth might see them turn the tables on Southside, and have a six-game winning streak themselves, but one thing is for sure, this game is going to be a cracker.

WNBL Round 6 review: Top three move two games clear

BACK-to-back wins over the weekend to Melbourne Boomers, and victories to Southside Flyers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals meant the top three in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) moved two games clear of fourth. The other game saw Perth Lynx keep their finals hopes alive with an important win over Sydney Uni Flames.

Adelaide Lightning 57 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 71

Melbourne secured a vital road win against fourth placed Adelaide Lightning to gain a bit of separation inside the top three. The Boomers trailed by three points at the first break, but hit back with a 17-8 second term, and went on with it from there, restricting the Lightning to just 30 points in the last three quarters, while piling on 57 themselves to run away with a 71-57 victory. Lindsay Allen was the top scorer with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal, while Ezi Magbegor picked up a double double in her best performance of the year with 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Cayla George (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks) was superb, while Penina Davidson had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench. For the Lightning, Nicole Seekamp sank 15 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Brianna Turner (10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks) and Chelsea Brook (10 points, five rebounds) were the other two players who reached double figure points. Stephanie Talbot tried hard with seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, but ultimately the home side could not put enough points on the board.

DC Medal: 3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 2 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

Sydney Uni Flames 82 defeated by Perth Lynx 91

Perth finally snapped its four-game losing streak with an important nine-point victory over Sydney Uni – the side it last beat all the way back in Round 1. The Lynx edged ahead in the second term after an even first quarter, but then added 23 points to 18 in the third to lead by 10 at the final break. The Flames hit back to cut the deficit back to nine, but it would not be enough in the end. Alison Schwagmeyer produced another stunning game, picking up a double double with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal to be best on court, while Katie-Rae Ebzery returned from Opals duties to post 20 points, three rebounds and three assists in the win. Ariel Atkins continued her good start to her WNBL career with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench. Maddison Allen was also strong with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta was the best with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Alex Wilson shared the top scorer billing with 16 points, three rebounds and nine assists. Lauren Scherf (14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jessica Kuster (13 points, nine rebounds) were the other two key scorers for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Colleen Planeta (SU)

Townsville Fire 59 defeated by Southside Flyers 91

Southside Flyers bounced back from their first loss of the WNBL season with a big statement over cellar dwellers, Townsville Fire. Sitting at opposite ends of the ladder, the Flyers piled on 30 points to 19 in the opening term, then proceeded to win all four quarters in a one-sided, dominant display. Never letting up, it was clear to see that Southside is one of the title contenders, producing such an effort on the road. Jenna O’Hea (21 points, seven assists and two steals) and Rebecca Cole (20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the key scorers, while Mercedes Russell continued her dominant start to the season with an impressive 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists. It was hard to find the top player for the Flyers with Sara Blicavs also picking up a double double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Leilani Mitchell had eight assists and three rebounds to go with her 13 points. Abby Bishop was the clear standout for the Fire with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Micaela Cocks (10 points, three rebounds and three assists) was the other player to reach double figures in what was a disappointing loss for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Sara Blicavs (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Bendigo Spirit 59 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 75

Rounding out a good weekend for the Boomers, Melbourne took home the points on the road against Bendigo Spirit in a 16-point win. The Spirit started strongly to lead by three points at the first break and half-time, before the Boomers took over to lead by the same margin with a quarter to play. They built on that momentum in the final term to post 24 points to 11 and run away with the contest in a margin that was not completely accurate of the game’s tightness. Allen was again the team’s top scorer with 17 points, four assists and two steals in the win, while Madeleine Garrick stepped up to contribute 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. Magbegor (10 points, seven rebounds and two steals) and George (10 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) were also prominent across the board. For the Spirit, Abigail Wehrung was a lone hand in the scoring department with 13 points, as well as two rebounds and two assists, while Kelly Wilson picked up nine of her team’s 16 assists, though had seven of her side’s 27 turnovers. Rebecca Tobin was the dominant player off the boards with 15 rebounds to accompany her six points, four assists and two steals.

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

UC Capitals 84 defeated Perth Lynx 66

Reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals finished strongly at home to run over the top of Perth Lynx and maintain touch with Melbourne and Southside in the top three. The Lynx surprised the home crowd in the opening term to lead by a point at quarter time, before the Capitals piled on 23 points to 16 in the second term. Perth got back on top in the third to reclaim the lead by two points at the final break. Like any good side on the ropes, the Capitals found a way to breakthrough and eventually piled on the points in the final term, sinking 32 points to 12 to run away with an 18-point win in a game where – like the previous one – the final margin did not accurately reflect how close the game was. Kelsey Griffin was unbelievable with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Marianna Tolo (12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) also picked up a double double, Kia Nurse played her best game for the season in terms of overall impact and not just points, picking up 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Maddison Rocci also impressed with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Coming off the bench, young gun Gemma Potter scored nine points and had two assists. For the Lynx, Lauren Mansfield scored a game-high 23 points, as well as five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Schwagmeyer added another 19 points and seven rebounds to her season totals. Nadeen Payne (10 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Atkins had six points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

2019/20 WNBL season team preview: UC Capitals

LAST year’s premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals were deserving of the overall title, finishing on top of the table after the regular season, then winning through the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals series in a clean sweep of Perth Lynx, and a 2-1 series win over Adelaide Lightning, bringing the title home in front of home fans. The Capitals will have a largely different looking list heading into the 2019/20 season, but with a couple of the league’s best players surrounded by a host of young talent, the Capitals have set themselves up for long-term success.

Finished: 1st (Premiers)
Wins: 16
Losses: 5
Points: 32
Percentage: 117.69%

Last season:

The damaging duo of Kelsey Griffen and Kia Nurse lead the way for the premiers, with Griffin sinking an average of 19.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game, ranked number one in both points and rebounds, while being the second highest effective field goal shooter of the top 20 point scorers with 51 per cent accuracy. Nurse was not far behind on the stats sheet, averaging 17.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals, with her relative inaccuracy (38 per cent) only holding her back from being even more dominant in the scheme of things. Marianna Tolo got better as the season went on, averaging 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, while the biggest departure of the off-season was Kelly Wilson with the 170cm guard heading to Bendigo where she played in the Braves’ NBL1 side and now front up for the Spirit. Lauren Scherf headed to Sydney Uni, while Leilani Mitchell (Southside Flyers), Kate Gaze and Hannah Young (both Townsville) are the other rotation players out of the team this season.

New recruits:

Former Capitals’ player, Mikaela Ruef has returned to the WNBL after a stint in France and then in the Queensland league for Logan Thunder. The Capitals also picked up French national, Olivia Epoupa from Galatasaray in Turkey, with Alex Delaney crossing from Sydney Uni. Having a close eye on the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence in Canberra, the Capitals plucked out young stars, Gemma Potter and Lily Scanlon who were impressive in the NBL1 and have big futures in the WNBL. Pyper Thornberry and Maddison Wheatley round out the inclusions having stepped up from the Canberra Nationals.

Star player:

Kelsey Griffen. Even though you could pick anyone of a number of players, the leading points scorer from last season is still the player to beat across the competition. She is consistently damaging and one who will help shape the future careers of some of the young talents coming off the bench for the Capitals as they strive to go back-to-back in season 2019/20.

NBL1 Women’s Round 10 review: Sabres, Eagles wreak havoc on top eight sides

GEELONG Supercats, Bendigo Braves and Kilsyth Cobras’ winning runs continued as Dandenong Rangers’ poor form stretched another week in a big round of National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s action.

In the shocks of the round, bottom two sides Southern Sabres and Diamond Valley Eagles both picked up their third and second wins respectively to move up the table. The Sabres knocked off Dandenong Rangers by a point to mark the Rangers’ fourth consecutive loss and see Dandenong drop out of the top four for the first time. The Rangers led by as much as eight points at the final break, but a 25-16 final term in favour of the visitors saw the Sabres run over the top of the favourites. Ella Batish sank 21 points and had seven rebounds, while Tenaya Phillips helped herself to 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. Rachel Jarry (10 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) and Amelia Todhunter (four points, 10 rebounds and two assists) were huge off the boards. For the Rangers, Colleen Planeta stepped up with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocks, while Aimie Clydesdale (16 points, three rebounds) and Rosie Fadljevic (12 points, seven rebounds and two steals) worked hard to reach double-figure points.

Diamond Valley Eagles’ two-point win over Eltham Wildcats was equally as challenging, taking out the game 89-87 after trailing at the main break by six points. A determined second half saw the Eagles open it up and pile on 46 points to 38 to steal the three points and put Eltham’s top eight hopes in jeopardy. Anneli Maley has been a rock of consistency in an otherwise disappointing year for the Eagles, posting 27 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, but this week was joined by her four other starters who reached double-figure points. Shelby Cheslek (14 points, nine rebounds and four steals), Meg Crupi (14 points, three assists), Alex Wilson (13 points, six rebounds and seven assists) and Hope Terdich (12 points, seven rebounds) all impressed in a great team effort for the Eagles. In a losing side, Chelsea Schweers had a equal round-high 39 points to go with two rebounds and two assists, while Margaret Mulligan posted 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. In Eltham’s other loss, an equally heartbreaking – but spirited against a top three side – three-point defeat to Knox Raiders, Schweers produced a 27-point, seven-rebound game to lead the way, while Chelsea Brook had 20 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Lauren Scherf (17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks) led the way for the Raiders in the 82-79 victory, while Abbey Wehrung (13 points, eight rebounds) and Marena Whittle (13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were also impressive.

The win for Knox was an important one, having come after a 17-points loss to Kilsyth Cobras who took full advantage of Dandenong’s shock defeat to move into fourth spot on the table. The Cobras made it eight consecutive victories with the win over Knox, as Lauren Nicholson produced an equal round-high 39 points – shooting at 68 per cent from the floor and 80 per cent from three-point range – as well as 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in an unbelievable game. Kara Tessari (12 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) and Sarah Boothe (10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) both picked up double-doubles, while Klara Wischer was busy with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. For the Raiders, Scherf helped herself to 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks, while Whittle had 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the defeat.

Another team that took advantage of Dandenong’s loss was Nunawading Spectres, moving to just percentage behind the Rangers in sixth. The Spectres’ fortress at Nunawading Basketball Centre continued as their record there stretched to 6-1, with a nine-point win over Melbourne Tigers. That result looked in doubt at the final break as the Tigers overturned a 10-point half-time deficit into a four-point lead at the final change. Despite the momentum with the visitors, Nunawading dug deep and produced a 29-16 final term to win, 75-66. Rachel Antoniadou top scored with 17 points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals for the Spectres, while Rachel Brewster (14 points, seven rebounds), Eliza Chilcott (12 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Chelsea D’Angelo (12 points, four rebounds) were all impressive on the day. For the Tigers, Molly Matthews picked up a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, as Kasey Burton just missed out with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Meanwhile at the top of the table, Geelong Supercats reminded Ballarat Rush of what it takes to take down the best, running away with a 23-point win at home. The Supercats led early with a 12-point advantage at quarter time, and aside from the Rush cutting the half-time deficit back to five, it was Geelong’s game to lose and they showed that with a dominant 41-23 second half to make it 12-straight wins. Sara Blicavs (22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) and Ezi Magbegor (16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks) were at their best, while Zitina Aokuso‘s (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and four blocks) work off the boards was rewarding for the winners. Unfortunately for the Rush, it was a one-player show with Chanise Jenkins (30 points, nine rebounds and five assists) picking up half of her team’s points, while Hsi-le Bao had 12 rebounds – eight defensive – to stand up when the Supercats were attacking.

Keeping close touch with the Supercats at the top, second placed Bendigo Braves came away with the points against Albury Wodonga Bandits, winning all four quarters on their way to a 76-57 victory. Rebecca Tobin posted a game-high 22 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, while Bianca Dufelmeier (19 points, five steals, two blocks and two rebounds) and Kelly Wilson (14 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals) were productive for the winners. Albury Wodonga had the two players reach double-figures with Emma Mahady (21 points, four rebounds and two assists) leading the way, while Jessie Edwards (14 points, five rebounds and two assists) was also solid.

In other results, Ringwood Hawks won a crucial game against Waverley Falcons to remain in the top eight, coming from seven points down at half-time to win, 71-67. Megan Mullings (27 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) and Cassidy Mihalko (22 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals) did all the damage on the scoring front for the Hawks, while Kelly Bowen (18 points, seven rebounds and two assists) was the sole major scorer for the Falcons. In the all-Tasmanian battle, Hobart Huskies’ fast start of 31 points to 18 helped them race to a 90-69 victory over Launceston Tornadoes, ending the Tornadoes hopes of a finals berth, while keeping their own slim chances alive. Tayla Roberts helped herself to a massive game of 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, while Jennifer Schlott (17 points, eight rebounds and nine assists) came agonisingly close to a rare triple-double. Sharna Thompson (17 points, seven rebounds) and Nikki Green (14 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and three blocks) were others who impressed for the Huskies. Stella Beck (23 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and three steals) was magnificent in the Tornadoes’ defeat. While Sarah O’Neill tried hard with 14 points and eight rebounds. In the other game, Frankston Blues continued their hunt for an unlikely finals berth after a slow start, posting a 12-point win over Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE) in the nation’s capital. Shereesha Richards was the star for the Blues, posting 26 points, 12 rebounds and three steals, while Steph Reid (23 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals) was equally as dominant. Jade Melbourne came off the bench to sink 17 points, four rebounds and two assists for the CoE, while Gemma Potter had 14 points, six rebounds and two assists in the loss.

Round 10 results:

Geelong Supercats 83 defeated Ballarat Rush 60
Dandenong Rangers 69 defeated by Southern Sabres 70
Kilsyth Cobras 87 defeated Knox Raiders 70
Albury Wodonga Bandits 57 defeated by Bendigo Braves 76
Eltham Wildcats 87 defeated by Diamond Valley Eagles 89
Launceston Tornadoes 69 defeated by Hobart Huskies 90
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 70 defeated by Frankston Blues 82
Knox Raiders 82 defeated Eltham Wildcats 79
Waverley Falcons 67 defeated by Ringwood Hawks 71
Nunawading Spectres 75 defeated Melbourne Tigers 66

NBL1 Women’s Round 8 review: CoE, Rush surge with big wins

IT was a weekend to remember for the struggling Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Ballarat Rush, while one to forget for Launceston Tornadoes. The CoE played three games across the round, and having not won a game in 11 starts, were desperate to get on the board. They did just that not once, but twice, defeating fellow bottom two side Diamond Valley Eagles, and then smashing Launceston Tornadoes by 37 points with a loss to Waverley Falcons in between. In the drought-breaking win against the Eagles, the CoE had a strong start to lead by 11 points at the first break and then held the home side at bay until a late charge by Diamond Valley saw the final deficit cut to eight. Lily Scanlon posted 19 points, while Ashlee Hannan (12 points, seven rebounds) and Jade Melbourne (12 points, eight rebounds) were also impressive off the boards. For the Eagles, it was mostly Anneli Maley (27 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) who stood out, while Shelby Chesiek (20 points, eight rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks) and Alex Wilson (11 points, five assists and two steals) who contributed strongly as well without a lot of help.

The next day the CoE suffered a 14-point loss at the hands of Waverley despite a promising start. The young stars led by 10 points at half-time, but a 43-19 second half saw the home team run over the top of them. Kobe King-Hawea had 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the loss, while Agnes Emma-Nnopu had 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks. For the Falcons, Tegan Cunningham top scored with 16 points, as well as eight rebounds, two steals, while Kelly Bowen (11 points, six rebounds) and Jessica Bygate (10 points, seven rebounds) were also good under the post. In the massive win over Launceston, the CoE led from the start and never looked back with a season-record six players reaching double-figure points for the winners in the 102-65 victory. Kelsey Rees finished with the most, posting up 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Hannan also picked up a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Gemma Potter (12 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Millie Prior (13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks) were others who stood up. For the Tornadoes, it was a disappointing performance with just Stephanie Gardner (25 points, three rebounds, two assists) and Sarah O’Neill (17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) ones who did damage to the opposition.

Unfortunately for the Tornadoes, it was Launceston’s second defeat in as many days, also going down to Ballarat Rush, 130-94. The Rush found a way to score with ease in one of the most dominant team performances of the year – recording seven of a possible eight players reaching double-figure points. Three players picked up double-doubles with Chanise Jenkins (22 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds) one rebound away from a triple-double. The other standouts were Laura Taylor (26 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) and Lucy Cochrane (10 points, 10 assists), while Olivia Hackmann (19 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Georgia Amoore (19 points, four assists) were also prolific. For the Tornadoes, O’Neill (32 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Gardner (20 points, three rebounds and three assists) were again the two dominant players. The win was the first of two for the Rush who made it four consecutive victories, toppling Southern Sabres by 18 points on Sunday. Hackmann was again impressive with 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Jenkins picked up another 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and massive seven steals. The standout on court for the Rush was Hsi-le Bao with the center having a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds. For the Sabres, Rachel Jarry (31 points, 15 rebounds and three assists) did all she could in defeat, while Sherry Glennie picked up 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

In a top-of-the-table battle, Geelong Supercats jumped one game clear against Dandenong Rangers to make it nine consecutive wins. The Supercats are yet to lose at home this season, and won 71-55 against a strong Rangers outfit. Sara Blicavs (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Zitina Aokuso (16 points, 13 rebounds) picked up double-doubles while Ezi Magbegor continued her good form for the winners with 12 points and eight rebounds. For the Rangers, Colleen Planeta also recorded a double-double with a team-high 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Aimie Clydesdale (12 points, five assists) was the only other player on the losing side to reach double figures. It was a testing weekend for the Rangers, who also went down to third placed Bendigo Braves, who stole the Rangers’ top two spot in the process. Kelly Wilson‘s form for the visitors continued, downing 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Gabrielle Richards (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Bianca Dufelmeier (10 points, seven rebounds) were strong across the court. Rebecca Tobin also worked tirelessly (eight points, 13 rebounds) owning the boards. For the Rangers, Clydesdale recorded a team-high 21 points as well as three assists and two blocks, while Planeta was again arguably the team’s best with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three blocks.

Bendigo Braves passed the litmus tests against the Rangers, and fellow top four side Nunawading Spectres on the weekend, defeating the Spectres by six points. Tobin had an evening to remember with a massive 21 points, 18 rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Kelly Wilson dominated as the playmaker, picking up 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, with her points tally likely to be more had it not being for her inaccurate 23.1 per cent field goal percentage. The Spectres were even more inaccurate from the field, with just 27 of a possible 72 shots made on the night. Chelsea D’Angelo led the way with points (18), while Kathleen Scheer (14 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Eliza Chilcott (nine points, 12 rebounds and nine assists) were also strong, the latter of whom narrowly missed out on a triple-double.

Knox Raiders shuffled into fourth spot with a commanding 72-46 win over Diamond Valley Eagles. Bree Whatman recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Marena Whittle helped herself to 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Lauren Scherf had a team-high 12 rebounds to go with her eight points, six assists and four blocks, while for the Eagles, Chesiek (11 points, six rebounds) was the only player to reach double figures, and Maley (nine points, 15 rebounds) impressed once again for the Eagles. The Raiders made it two from two with a 12-point win over Melbourne Tigers. Whittle (24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and six steals) stood out, while Bec Ott had 24 points, three rebounds and three steals in the win. Scherf again stood tall with a double-double comprised of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Santomaggio added another 16 points to her weekend tally. For the Tigers, Monique Conti was the clear standout with 35 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Molly Matthews and Louella Tomlinson both picked up identical double-doubles (11 points and 10 rebounds).

Frankston Blues enjoyed the weekend, adding two much-needed wins to their season to take their tally to four from 11 games. They defeated Hobart Huskies at home by 19 points, before downing Ringwood Hawks away in a 20-point victory. At the Frankston Basketball Centre, Steph Reid picked up a team-high 20 points, three rebounds and six assists, while Shereesha Richards (13 points, nine rebounds and two steals) and JoAnna Smith (16 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals) were also impressive. In defeat, Sharna Thompson had an equal game-high 20 points, as well as three assists, five steals and two rebounds, while fellow Huskies, Tayla Roberts (16 points, five rebounds), Ellie Collins (16 points, four rebounds) and Nikki Greene (12 points, five rebounds) also played their part. In Frankston’s win over Ringwood, Reid picked up another 21 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Saraid Taylor (15 points, nine rebounds) and Richards (15 points, eight rebounds) also impressed. For the Hawks, Megan Mullings was the top player with a double-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks, while Cassidy Mihalko had 18 points, eight rebounds and two assists.

In the other two games, Hobart Huskies suffered an over-time loss to Eltham Wildcats, and in the two side’s only games for the weekend, Albury Wodonga Bandits went down to Kilsyth Cobras by 13 points at home. The best contest was left until last with the wildcats trailing by 15 points at the first break then dominating the next two quarters to lead by six at the final break. Not content to allow the game to slip, Hobart posted 26-20 in the final term to level the scores, only for the Wildcats to win in overtime with a 15-13 term, leading to a 105-103 win. Three players picked up more than 20 points for the winners, with Chelsea Schweers (29 points, six rebounds and three assists), Chelsea Brook (22 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals) and Abbey Ellis (11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) the top players for Eltham. For the Huskies, Jennifer Schlott feasted on points with a game-high 31 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals, while Collins (26 points, six rebounds, two assists) and Thompson (20 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were impressive for the second time on the weekend. In the final game, Kilsyth grabbed the points against Albury Wodonga up on the border, as Lauren Nicholson had a day out, posting 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Alison Downie (15 points, 10 rebounds) had a double-double and Sarah Boothe (eight points, 13 rebounds) was impressive off the boards. For the Bandits, Emma Mahady topscored with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists, Cherise Daniel had 16 points and five rebounds, and Natalie Hurst posted 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the loss.

Round 8 results:

Diamond Valley Eagles 75 defeated by Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 83
Geelong Supercats 71 defeated Dandenong Rangers 55
Frankston Blues 94 defeated Hobart Huskies 75
Nunawading Spectres 74 defeated by Bendigo Braves 80
Ballarat Rush 130 defeated Launceston Tornadoes 94
Albury Wodonga Bandits 66 defeated Kilsyth Cobras 79*
Knox Raiders 72 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 46
Waverley Falcons 67 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 53
Dandenong Rangers 53 defeated by Bendigo Braves 60
Launceston Tornadoes 65 defeated by Baketball Australia Centre of Excellence 102
Melbourne Tigers 74 defeated by Knox Raiders 86
Southern Sabres 72 defeated by Ballarat Rush 90
Ringwood Hawks 66 defeated by Frankston Blues 86
Eltham Wildcats 105 defeated Hobart Huskies 103

Victoria Metropolitan Under 18s claim both titles at the AusChamps

VICTORIA Metropolitan doubled up for wins in both the Men’s and Women’s National Championship competitions, snatching victory in a pair of remarkable comebacks to claim both trophies at the tournament.

The Metro men’s side overcame a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to topple South Australia 74-64 and regain the National trophy. Up against the swift outside attack of South Australia Metro, the Victorians were bombarded by threes in an unrelenting quarter-and-a-half display. A 32-8 run after that completely switched the momentum, with the South Australian side pushing to the very end after relinquishing the lead.

Josh Giddey proved the star for Vic Metro with 31 points, nine rebounds and five steals in an big-time performance on both sides of the paint, with the likes of Zac Taylor (10 points) and Paul Tsapatolis (nine) instrumental in keeping the margin manageable early on. Marcus Windhager (nine points, three assists) provided some grunt off the bench alongside Riley Simmons to thwart SA’s ball movement and scoring.

Crediting a shift to the 2-1-2 press, Vic Metro Coach Darren Perry said a call to “(back) each other” spurred his side to their incredible second half.

“We just talked about at half time that we weren’t playing hard enough, we weren’t backing each other and didn’t play our defence,” Perry said. “We just asked for effort and whatever happened was going to happen. “We found some success in the 2-1-2 and we just stuck with it – we had some great individual plays and some great defence and you don’t expect to run over teams in the second half like that… but it was a great win.”

In another come from behind effort, Vic Metro’s women’s team triumphed 72-51 in a hard slog against Queensland South to complete the Victorian double. Trailing by 13 points in the first quarter, the Big V built a revival on a typically even team effort. Leaders Gemma Potter (14 points, nine rebounds) and Leia Hanafin (nine points, six assists, five rebounds) were crucial to the early fightback, while Casey Valenti-Paea (13 points), Charlise Dunn (12) and Emily Sewell (10) ensured that the Victorians had plenty of scoring versatility – as had been their strength all tournament.

Vic Metro Coach Reece Potter lauded his side’s “big plays” in the second half after some defensive adjustments, while also acknowledging the depth required to win such tournaments.

“They had a really big time second half – I thought Leia Hanafin was unbelievable, with deflections, blocked shots and made some really big plays. Gemma Potter made some big plays as well and I think everyone followed,” Potter said. “That’s what we kept preaching to the girls – we run deeper than them. “They’ve had some players play 40 minutes but we’ve barely had any who played over 30, so we’ve really rotated well. We go 10-deep and that’s the great strength of Vic Metro.”

In other results, Victoria Country Women finished third after taking out a 68-67 overtime win over New South Wales Metro, rebounding well from their disappointing semi-final defeat. Meanwhile, Victoria Country Men lost its final tournament game against Queensland South 82-84, with the result seeing it finish sixth overall.