Tag: Kalani Purcell

NBL 1 North wrap: Round 11

IN an unimpeded National Basketball League (NBL)1 North competition, there were some serious thrillers that played out across the men’s and women’s divisions in Round 11.

Men’s:

Townsville and Brisbane gave fans a Saturday night show after the two sides couldn’t be separated in regulation time. The back-and-forth contest was settled by a dominant overtime display from the Heat who came out 10-point winners, giving the home crowd plenty to cheer about at the StarFm Stadium.

Early on it was a tough battle, with Peter Crawford nailing a couple late threes to ensure the Heat led by five points at the first break. Ben Volkman and Nicholas Stoddart landed the first two blows for the Capitals to begin the second quarter as it remained tight before the Heat rallied late to lead 52-44 at half time. The third period was even, with Matthew Rees hitting a jump shot to stretch the Heat’s lead out to 11 points early on, and then the Capitals making some shots themselves to reduce the first half deficit by one heading into the final break.

A defence dominated last quarter saw both teams combine for just 28 points. Sam Froling led a block party with four massive rejections in the final term, while Jalen Patton-Croker and Crawford also had one each. The Capitals defence was strongest though restricting Townsville to just three made field goals for the quarter (10 points total). Didan Toto (two blocks, one steal) led the way showing off his defensive presence. While Brisbane didn’t make a heap of shots themselves, Stoddart’s two-pointer with 40 seconds remaining drew the scores level. A frantic last 30 seconds followed with the Heat’s Patton-Croker rejecting Stoddart, giving Ethan Betts a chance at a three-quarter court effort that only just missed, bouncing off the back iron and sending the game into an additional five-minute period. Overtime was a one-sided affair as the Heat started with a 12-0 run, and the Capitals were never able to pull themselves back into the contest. Froling added another two blocks to his name to assert his dominance at the rim, as the hosts went on to win the contest 100-90.

There were plenty of contributors for both teams on the night with Betts (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Froling (15 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks) recording double-doubles for the Heat, while Volkman scored 14 points and 11 rebounds for the away team. Patton-Croker (23 points) and Crawford (19 points) led the scoring for Townsville, with Stoddart (22 points) and Jacob Wilson (19 points) the most prolific offensive options for the Capitals.

The following afternoon the Heat hosted Cairns, with Froling having another strong game scoring 30 points and gathering 11 boards, however the home side were outplayed in a solid second half performance by the Marlins, who were led by Cairns Taipans product Majok Deng (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Alex Loughton (22 points).

Sunday’s victory was the second of the round for the Marlins after they too defeated Brisbane 97-82 on Friday night. Stoddart (34 points) and Volkman (28 points) were big contributors for the Capitals, but they were outshone by Deng who exploded in front of the home crowd for a huge 46 points (20 of 27 field goals made), 16 rebounds (five offensive) and two blocks.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast Rollers also recorded two victories in round 11, defeating Red City Roar and South West Metro Pirates to extend their unbeaten run to five games, and USC was the third side nailing a couple victories over the weekend. Rip City’s Tanner Krebs had 32 points in Saturday’s win against the Phoenix, and he added another 33 points in Sunday’s matchup against Northside.

Top of the table Logan Thunder defeated Southern Districts by 33 points and second-placed Mackay had a close game with Ipswich, eventually winning the contest 79-75.

ROUND 11 RESULTS:

Gold Coast Rollers 106 def. Red City Roar 91
Mackay Meteors 79 def. Ipswich Force 75
Cairns Marlins 97 def. Brisbane Capitals 82
Northside Wizards 107 def. Red City Roar 79
Rockhampton Rockets 71 def. by Ipswich Force 80
Logan Thunder 132 def. Southern Districts Spartans 99
South West Metro Pirates 84 def. by Gold Coast Rollers 114
Sunshine Coast Phoenix 99 def. by USC Rip City 106
Townsville Heat 100 def. Brisbane Capitals 90
Townsville Heat 74 def. by Cairns Marlins 90
USC Rip City 89 def. Northside Wizards 74

Women’s:

Round 11 action in the women’s draw was headlined by a clash between the two giants of the competition. Southern Districts Spartans and Logan Thunder both entered the round undefeated, with the Spartans having won all 11 of their games, while the Thunder had recorded 12 successive victories. The game did not disappoint either with both teams having their chances to take the number one spot in the competition. A big last quarter from the Spartans was the decisive factor as they ran over the top of the hosts to clinch a 12-point victory at the Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre.

The first quarter was evenly poised as the Spartans heated up from beyond the arc, sinking five first quarter threes including three from Maddison Rocci alone. This would later prove to be a good scoring source for both team on the night as the Thunder shot 11 of 32 three pointers (34 per cent) and the Spartans made an impressive 15 three pointers from 32 attempts (47 per cent). At quarter time the scoreboard showed the visitors narrowly ahead by just three points. As the second quarter progressed it was much of the same with the home team trying to wrestle back the lead. The quarter went up a notch when Mikaela Cann sunk a triple at the 6.59-minute mark to spark a remarkable run of seven out of eight scores all coming from deep. Kalani Purcell’s field goal put the Spartans up by two points, before the last minute of the second term went without a basket. That meant Southern Districts entered half time with a 44-42 lead.

With neither side willing to give in, the battle continued to entertain fans as the two teams went blow for blow in the third quarter. Eight points to Carla Drennan in the last few minutes of the term helped the Thunder edge in front by two points heading into the final break. A blistering start to the last quarter from the Spartans had the home team under the pump early. Rocci, Nadeen Payne, and Ash Karaitiana all hit three pointers before a Purcell basket made it a 10-0 start in the visitor’s favour. Mikaela Ruef broke the Spartan’s run, but the Thunder couldn’t regain the lead, as Southern Districts came away with an 89-77 victory.

Cann (18 points, six assists) and Ruef (14 points, 16 rebounds, five steals) were impressive for Logan, while Payne (20 points), Rocci (21 points), and Madelyn Willey (21 points) were all offensive threats for the Spartans. Purcell was another contributor for the travelling team completing a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Elsewhere, the Gold Coast Rollers had a successful weekend with two victories. This included a 50-point slaughtering of Red City, led by Casey Samuels (29 points) on Friday night, and a much closer 64-60 victory against South West Metro Pirates on Saturday. The two wins has the Rollers sitting in sixth position. Up North, Townsville also added two wins to their name at home with a 28-point victory over Brisbane and a staggering 62-point demolition of Cairns. Mia Murray led the team on Sunday with 26 points, while all 11 of her teammates also scored in the win against the Dolphins. The loss for Cairns came after Friday’s home defeat to Brisbane, as they went down 75-99. USC Rip City had similar luck in round 11, losing both their matches to the Phoenix and Northside, the latter who also defeated Red City Roar 84-66 on Saturday. Courtney Woods was a key part of the Wizards’ success over the weekend scoring 29 and 23 points in their two wins.

ROUND 11 RESULTS:

Gold Coast Rollers 98 def. Red City Roar 48
Mackay Meteorettes 87 def. Ipswich Force 77
Cairns Dolphins 75 def. by Brisbane Capitals 99
Northside Wizards 84 def. Red City Roar 66
Rockhampton Cyclones 63 def. by Ipswich Force 87
Logan Thunder 77 def. by Southern Districts Spartans 89
South West Metro Pirates 60 def. by Gold Coast Rollers 64
Sunshine Coast Phoenix 62 def. USC Rip City 54
Townsville Flames 76 def. Brisbane Capitals 48
Townsville Flames 117 def. Cairns Dolphins 55
USC Rip City 78 def. by Northside Wizards 89

NBL1 North wrap: Round 5

THERE were some big upsets across the men’s and women’s divisions of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 North competition, with some of the NBL players returning to shake up the mix following the conclusion of their seasons.

WOMEN’S:

Southern District Spartans handed Townsville Flames their second loss of the season and created a two-game gap inside the top two in doing so. The second placed Spartans did enough to see off the Flames in a tight eight-point match, winning three of the four quarters. The home team started the stronger of the pair with a 22-19 opening stanza, before the Spartans hit back with a 15-8 second term to lead by four at the main break. A tight second half ensued but the Spartans did enough to win it by four points all up to salute by eight, 71-63.

Kalani Purcell was the chief destroyer with a massive double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds, working both ends of the floor with an eight/seven split in terms of defensive and offensive rebounds. She also had the three assists and two steals in the win, as Nadeen Payne also collected a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Maddison Rocci (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Ash Karaitiana (12 points, three assists) both hit double-figure points, while Madelyn Willey had a terrible night shooting with just two points (one of 10 from the field) but picked up 10 assists and six rebounds.

Steph Reid had 18 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals to lead the scoring for the Flames, while Mia Murray (17 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Micaela Cocks (14 points, three rebounds) used their WNBL experience to produce impressive efforts.

It was a much tighter game than the Spartans’ 54-point thrashing of the lowly Cairns Dolphins. The Spartans dominated from the opening tip-off, winning every term by at least nine points and as much as 21, to run out 114-60 victors. In that performance Willey could not miss with 28 points (11 of 14 and six of nine from long-range) and five assists.

Payne (18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Rocci (11 points, nine assists and six rebounds) and Purcell (12 points, eight rebounds) all feasted as well. Leichlan Williams (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Sarah Heard (16 points, two rebounds and two assists) did the bulk of the scoring for the Dolphins.

Top of the table Logan Thunder easily accounted for last placed RedCity Roar with a 27-point victory, as Gold Coast Rollers had a mixed weekend from two games. Losing to Mackay Meteorettes by 24 points, the Rollers bounced back to post a 19-point victory over Rockhampton Cyclones. In other results, South West Metro Pirates knocked off Ipswich Force by 16 points, and USC Rip City posted a 10-point victory over Brisbane Capitals.

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

Mackay Meteorettes (82) def. Gold Coast Rollers (58)
Cairns Dolphins (60) def. by Southern Districts Spartans (114)
Rockhampton Cyclones (60) def. by Gold Coast Rollers (79)
RedCity Roar (46) def. by Logan Thunder (73)
South West Metro Pirates (81) def. Ipswich Force (65)
Townsville Flames (63) def. by Southern Districts Spartans (71)
USC Rip City (74) def. Brisbane Capitals (64)

MEN’S:

In a battle of the winless sides, Ipswich Force got on the board with a six-point victory over South West Metro Pirates. The result left the Pirates and Rockhampton Rockets as the only sides yet to taste victory in season 2021, as the Force leapfrogged RedCity Roar who pushed the top of the table undefeated Logan Thunder all the way in a 12-point defeat. The Force lead by two points at quarter time and five at the main break, before the Pirates hit back to take control and win the second half by the same margin. Forcing overtime, it was the Force who stood up in the extra period 13-7 to win by six points, 93-87.

Nathan Sobey was a key in for the Force, notching up 27 points – though shot at an inaccurate 34.62 per cent, including four of 19 from long-range – nine rebounds, six assists and two steals. He teamed up well with Jason Ralph (15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) and Manylok Malek (12 points, seven rebounds) in the win. Kai Woodfall had 29 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals for the Pirates, while Brendan Teys (16 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Ramy Kodi (16 points, nine rebounds and two steals) were both impressive.

In the tight game between the undefeated Thunder the the struggling Roar, it was RedCity who jumped out of the blocks to pile on 27-20 in the opening term. That momentum swung in the other direction after the break though for the Thunder to take a four-point advantage into half-time. They extended it to seven by the final break and cruised to a 12-point win, 96-84. Jeremy Kendle (24 points, 12 assists and three rebounds), Boston Mazlin (21 points, five rebounds) and Blake Jones (12 points, 15 rebounds and five assists) were all among the Thunder’s best in the win.

Kian Dennis impressed for the Roar with 25 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while Kobe McDowell-White (20 points, five rebounds and four assists), Darryl McDowell-White (16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Brent Wallace (14 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks) did most of the scoring.

In other results, Southern Districts Spartans had a weekend to force, dropping both games to slip to eighth and a 3-3 record following losses to Cairns Marlins (17 points) and Townsville Heat (11 points). In other results, Mackay Meteors knocked off Gold Coast Rollers by 12 points to keep in touch with the top two, and USC Rip City accounted for Brisbane Capitals by 17 points in an upset to move to 2-2 and sentence the Capitals to their second loss of the season and a 4-2 record in fourth spot.

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

Mackay Meteors (101) def. Gold Coast Rollers (89)
Cairns Marlins (85) def. Southern Districts Spartans (68)
Rockhampton Rockets (92) def. by Gold Coast Rollers (107)
RedCity Roar (84) def. by Logan Thunder (96)
South West Metro Pirates (87) def. by Ipswich Force (93)
Townsville Heat (93) def. Southern Districts Spartans (82)
USC Rip City (107) def. Brisbane Capitals (90)

Picture credit: Ray Krause / Cairns Basketball

NBL1 North wrap: Round 2

RETURNING for Round 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 North competition, there were a number of tight contests, and some blowouts across both the men’s and women’s divisions.

WOMEN:

Gold Coast Rollers (91) def. Cairns Dolphins (63)

Gold Coast Rollers backed up their double-win first round with a third straight victory to open Round 2 of NBL1 North, defeating Cairns Dolphins by 28 points at home. the Rollers piled on 50 points to 33 in the opening half, then lead by as much as 31 points at the final break, before the Dolphins won the last quarter to cut the final deficit to 28, 91-63. Lauren Mansfield (19 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals), Casey Samuels (16 points, six rebounds and four steals) and Caitlin Cunningham (16 points, four rebounds and three assists) were the top players for the Rollers in the victory. The two key players for the Dolphins were Sarah Heard (25 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Leichan Williams (16 points, five rebounds).

Mackay Meteorettes (95) def. Rockhampton Cyclones (43)

Mackay Meteorettes proved far too good for Rockhampton Cyclones, winning by 52 points in a dominant display at home on Friday night. The Meteorettes piled on 59 points to 15 in the opening half blitz, and while the third term actually went the way of the Cyclones 23-17, the Meteorettes put the foot down again in the final stanza 19-5 to run away with the contest, 95-43. Cayla George (25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and two blocks), Heidi Freeburn (23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Paris Santacaterina (21 points, six rebounds and two steals) all had big performances. For the Cyclones, Katrina Clifford (20 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists) did most of the heavy lifting, while Tori Rouse (nine points, four rebounds) was the next best.

Brisbane Capitals (65) def. by Southern District Spartans (87)

Southern Districts won the battle of the Round 1 winners, knocking off Brisbane Capitals by 24 points on the road. The Spartans took control in the opening half to lead 53-28 at the main break, before a tighter second half saw the Capitals cut the deficit to 24 at the final buzzer to go down 65-87. Nadeen Payne (21 points, five rebounds), Kalani Purcell (13 points, seven rebounds and three steals) and Madelyn Willey (11 points, 11 assists and four rebounds) all impressed in the win. Meg Essex was the only double-figure scorer for the home team, scoring 10 points, four rebounds, while Stephanie Collins (nine points, three rebounds) and Brooke Blair (nine points, six steals) were the next best.

Ipswich Force (96) def. Cairns Dolphins (83)

Ipswich Force bounced back from a Round 1 loss to hand Cairns Dolphins a third straight defeat, winning by 13 points. The Dolphins bolted out to a 14-point lead at quarter time, but it was all the Force from there, dominating the second term 36-20 to retake the lead by two at half-time, then went on with it in the second half to win, 96-83. Catherine MacGregor (32 points, three assists and three rebounds) had a big performance, while Amy Lewis almost recorded a triple-double of 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Georgia Ralph finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists. Cairns’ Myra Donkin (34 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) almost had a triple-double of her own, while Heard racked up a massive double-double in the loss with 25 points and 17 rebounds.

Northside Wizards (63) def. Sunshine Coast Phoenix (62)

Northside Wizards got home in a one-point thriller against Sunshine Coast Phoenix, holding firm in the dying seconds to record a 63-62 win at home. In a see-sawing contest, the Wizards managed to come good in the final term after trailing by a point at the last chance to win in a low-scoring epic. Courtney Woods finished with a match-high 24 points four the Wizards, also collecting 10 rebounds and five assists. Regan McCarty (nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Alice O’Driscoll (seven points, five rebounds and three blocks) were others who stood out in the win. For the Phoenix, Jennifer Carden-David had 20 points and 19 rebounds – 10 offensive – in a massive double-double along with two steals, while Kathleen MacLeod (14 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals) and Georgia Berry (12 points, six rebounds) were also solid.

Red City Roar (53) def. by South West Metro Pirates (80)

South West Metro Pirates picked up a big 27-point win on the road against Red City Roar. The Pirates won every quarter with an eight-point difference in the first and third terms and 10 points in the final term to run away with the 80-53 victory. Bree Farley (21 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Tylah King (21 points, six rebounds) were the equal top-scorers, while Kayla Kiriau (18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals) was also strong. Annaliese Watkinson (22 points, three rebounds and two assists) was the lone scorer for the Roar, while Ash Kelman-Poto (nine points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Georgia Smith (eight points, seven rebounds and two assists) also tried hard.

Townsville Flames (90) def. Rockhampton Cyclones (63)

The Cyclones suffered their second consecutive defeat, going down to Townsville Flames in a one-sided contest. The Flames dominated the opening half, putting up 56-28, before the Cyclones matched it with their opponents in the second half, but the damage was done by then with the Flames winning 90-63. Steph Reid managed 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in an all-round effort, while Mia Murray shot six of 13 from long-range to finish with 24 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Micaela Cocks (10 points, six rebounds and three assists) was also prominent in the win. Lara McSpadden knocked down 26 points, eight rebounds and two assists for the Cyclones, while Akaysha Muggeridge managed the 11 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals.

Logan Thunder (94) def. Ipswich Force (37)

Ipswich Force certainly found out just how good Logan Thunder can be, getting smashed by 57 points after the Force won their early game over the weekend. It was the first three quarters that did all the damage, with Logan racing out to a 76 points to 23 at the final break, before a tighter fourth quarter saw the Force keep in touch, but were too far gone by then, going down 94-37. Mikaela Ruef (32 points, 26 rebounds) dominated in the huge win, while Carla Drennan (16 points, four steals, three rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Ashley Taia (14 points, four rebounds and two assists) were also lively. For the Force, Ali Burke was the highest points-scorer with nine points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Amy Lewis (seven points, three rebounds) also tried hard in a heavy loss.

MEN:

Gold Coast Rollers (97) def. Cairns Marlins (68)

Gold Coast Rollers proved too good for Cairns Marlins, getting up by 29 points at home thanks to a dominant second and fourth quarter where they piled on 51-27 in that time to help them set up the 97-68 win. A whopping seven players had double-digit points in the win, with Callum Dalton (13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists), Tom Howard (12 points, nine rebounds and three assists), Jaryd Eustace (13 points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals) and Preston Le Gassick (13 points, six rebounds and five assists) all among the better players. Alex Loughton finished with 16 points and two rebounds for the Marlins, while James Mitchell shone with a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Deba George (13 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) impacted in multiple facets.

Mackay Meteors (95) def. Rockhampton Rockets (81)

Mackay Meteors recorded a 14-point victory over Rockhampton Rockets, running out the stronger side in the second half. The Meteors only lead by two points at the half, but piled on 48-36 in the second half to race away to a 95-81 win. Christopher Cedar (24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds) lead the way with an almost triple-double, while Jerron Jamerson (21 points, three rebounds and two steals), Emmanuel Malou (13 points, nine rebounds) and Matthew Adekponya (12 points, seven rebounds and two steals) also contributed strongly. Kon Anguik (26 points, seven rebounds), Hayden Richardson (17 points) and Najeal Young (15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals) were the top Rockets in the loss.

Brisbane Capitals (86) def. Southern Districts Spartans (70)

Brisbane Capitals posted its second consecutive win of the season, putting up a strong effort to knock off Southern Districts Spartans by 16 points at home. The Capitals won three of the four quarters, and whilst they trailed by five points at half-time, won the second half by 21 points to record the 86-70 win. Nicholas Stoddart dominated with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Timothy Soong (12 points, six rebounds), Ben Wilson (11 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Ben Volkman (10 points, 15 rebounds and three assists) all had big days out. Josh Derksen was the top-scorer for the Spartans with 21 points, three rebounds and three steals, while CJ Massingale (17 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) also impressed.

Ipswich Force (72) def. by Cairns Marlins (83)

Cairns Marlins bounced back from a loss the night before to post an 11-point win over Ipswich Force. The Marlins trailed by five points at quarter time, but won the remaining three quarters to get up 83-72 in an impressive victory on the road. Mitchell picked up another double-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists, while Loughton equal top-scored with 20 points, two rebounds and two assists. George (15 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) was also prominent with Anthony Fisher (13 points, four assists and three rebounds). Ethan Robinson (17 points, three rebounds and three assists), Michael Fleming (16 points) and Cameron Weber (10 points, three rebounds and two assists) were the trio of Force talents to hit double-figure points.

Northside Wizards (86) def. Sunshine Coast Phoenix (83)

Northside Wizards have won a three-point thriller against Sunshine Coast Phoenix, coming from a point down at the final break to win. They lead by one at half-time after trailing by seven at the first break, then trailed at three quarter time before coming home strongly in the final quarter to win, 86-83. Six players recorded double-digit points in the victory, with Jesse Ghee (10 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and three steals), Aiden Krause (14 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Logan Kyle (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) all among the best. Jamaal Robateau was a shooting machine for the Phoenix with 34 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Darnell Robateau (15 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals), and Oscar Cluff (10 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two assists) were also strong.

Red City Roar (83) def. South West Metro Pirates (78)

Red City Roar also came away with the narrow win, defeating South West Metro Pirates in a come-from-behind victory. The Roar were slow to start, trailing by 11 points at quarter time, but quickly made up the difference to only trail y a point at the main break. The Pirates extended their lead to two by the final break, before Red City roared home to score 19-12 in the last quarter and win, 83-78. Kobe McDowell-White (24 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Darryl McDowell-White (22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds) both shone, while Kian Dennis finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win. Kai Woodfall was the standout Pirate with 25 points and two steals, while Jakobe Hunter had the 18 points, four rebounds and two assists, and Ramy Kodi managed seven points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Townsville Heat (103) def. Rockhampton Rockets (73)

The Rockhampton Rockets were on the receiving end of another defeat, this time a hefty 30-point loss to Townsville Heat on the road. Despite winning the final term by eight points, the Rockets were already down 38 points by the final break, suffering the 73-103 away loss. Jalen Patton-Croker had 24 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a dominant effort for the Heat, as Josh Spiers (18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Luca Yates (18 points, seven rebounds) also put up some good numbers. Ethan Betts (12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals) and Peter Crawford (12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals made it real team effort. For the Rockets, Young had 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals to be the clear best for his side, while Ben Wright (15 points, five rebounds, four assist sand two steals) and Jared Blanchard (11 points, seven rebounds) were also prominent.

Logan Thunder (79) def. Ipswich Force (69)

Ipswich Force suffered its third straight defeat of the NBL1 North season, going down to Logan Thunder by 10 points. They trailed by eight at quarter time, and whilst it was tight after that, the Force could not make up the difference and fell, 69-79 on the road. Jeremy Kendle (24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) lead the way for the Thunder, with impressive efforts from Mitch Young (13 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals) in a complete performance, and Michael Cedar (10 points, six rebounds and six assists). For the Force, Manylok Malek had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Jason Ralph was the other key scorer with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in an almost triple-double effort.

Picture credit: Kieron Place Art and Photography

WNBL20 Season Review – Melbourne Boomers

FOR the third consecutive season the Melbourne Boomers have been knocked out of the finals without reaching the big dance, even though head coach Guy Molloy and his formidable side exhibited a ferocious brand of basketball all season long, proving to be one of the WNBL’s toughest opponents. Along with their preliminary final defeat to the Townsville Fire, Melbourne’s title drought extends to a twelfth season.

Commencing season play with a superior 15-point win over their Sydney counterparts, the Sydney Uni Flames, the contest everyone one was waiting eagerly for was the first Melbourne Derby of the campaign between the Boomers and Southside Flyers.

Leading into the derby, Southside had already made a loud announcement to the league with a 42-point drubbing of the Bendigo Spirit in their previous outing, but Melbourne would unleash their season’s biggest weapon – their defence. Holding the Flyers to 72 points, the Boomers ran out with a convincing rout of their cross-town rivals by 17 and led into Round 2 at optimal form.

Melbourne’s undefeated start continued to three games after a hard-earned 62-56 win over the Perth Lynx, but the two-time defending champion Canberra Capitals put the first blemish on the Boomers’ record, thoroughly outperforming their foes by 17 points and holding them to just 50 points. Melbourne’s second round got worse as the Townsville Fire started to pick up numerous successful outcomes, defeating the Boomers 87-75 and weakening Molloy’s record to three wins and two losses.

The Boomers re-established their form in Round 3 with a 40-point win over the Adelaide Lightning, the only game of the week for the purple and gold, as they would relish a weeklong rest before undertaking a four-game Round 4.

To begin the week, Melbourne exacted their revenge on the Capitals (73-67) and cap off the season double over the Flames (86-64). The same could be said for the Spirit, going down to the Boomers by 32 (84-52) meaning that last season’s semi-finalists were one win away from an undefeated four-game week. This time it was not the case however, with Southside redeeming themselves from their early season encounter with the Boomers, edging out their old foes 94-79.

Two expected wins against the Lightning (76-55) and the Spirit (91-70) preceded a season-concluding loss to the Fire (64-70), all but confirming a postseason position, although not in the top-two following their loss to Townsville.

Being one of three teams to finish the season with a record of nine wins and four losses, it represented just how even things were at the top of the standings. Melbourne now had to batten down the hatches and get results given they had not earned a double chance by finishing third.

First up on the finals docket for Melbourne was Canberra, a team they split their two prior meetings with during the regular season. But it was plain and simple for the Boomers – defend, defend, defend, and that is what they did against the reigning premiers. Holding the Capitals to just 68 points, the Boomers ran away 10-point victors, ending the Caps three-peat bid and putting in motion a much-anticipated preliminary final against the Fire.

In a tightly contested clash that lasted all 40 minutes of play, Townsville continued to fend off a resilient Boomers outfit and with Shyla Heal running the show based on her remarkable 28-point performance, Melbourne just could not get ahead of the host-city side, losing out in the final seconds 62-65 and ending their season one win short of their main objective in making the Grand Final.

Once again it was the expected trio of WNBA champion Ezi Magbegor (15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds), Cayla George (14.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists) and Maddie Garrick (10.5 points and 2.5 assists) that ran the show for Melbourne, however the addition of returning Boomer Tess Madgen (13.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds) made Molloy’s core unit that much more potent throughout the entire season. But the late-season surge of Ashleigh Karaitiana (6.9 points and 1.8 rebounds) and consistency of Stella Beck (5.3 points and 2.5 assists) added another layer of depth to the WNBL20 roster. Furthermore, New Zealand Tall Fern Kalani Purcell (4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds) was able to add another successful season under her belt.

As a franchise, the Melbourne Boomers have an abundance of motivators amongst their ranks and because of the fact they have to wait another season to have a crack at that WNBL title once again, you can be dead serious that the club’s fire to get there is only burning brighter.

Heal drops 28 as Fire return to Grand Final

THIS season’s WNBL Grand Final will have a home-court advantage, after Townsville Fire squeezed out a three-point victory against the Melbourne Boomers in last night’s preliminary final, 65-62. The Fire have managed a complete flip from a season ago, going from wooden spoon recipients in 2019/20 to now facing the Southside Flyers tomorrow afternoon in what will be a must-see season decider.

Neither of the two teams were able to take command of the prelim in the opening period, but good shooting and some terrific finishing allowed Townsville to hold a solid five-point advantage with Shyla Heal exhibiting some good shooting early on with seven points after one quarter.

Kalani Purcell kicked off the second with her first basket of the contest in a see-sawing affair throughout the first half. But the second term provided little scoring and inconsistent offence with both teams locking down on defence. Winning the second quarter 12-11, Melbourne trimmed the deficit to four points in time for the main break meaning that the contest still hung in the balance.

Early on in the second half, more of Melbourne’s usual producers started to make a difference such as Maddie Garrick, Cayla George and Ashleigh Karaitiana. Guy Molloy’s squad found the majority of their points in the third thanks to Tess Madgen’s ability to facilitate the ball. But the Fire returned serve with a six-point scoring run to give themselves a temporary buffer at an important stage of the game with 10 minutes to go, leading 54-47 at three-quarter time.

The Boomers had a formidable mountain to climb and Heal’s layup to get the fourth going did not help Melbourne’s cause. However, the purple and gold continued to stick around in a game as important last night’s.

Having not made a dent in the margin and actually falling behind by as much as nine points, the Boomers kicked into desperation mode with less than five minutes remaining before coach Molloy deployed his starting five back onto the court to finish the game. The same could be said for Shannon Seebohm with the only exception being Megan McKay because of foul trouble, thus allowing Zitina Aokuso the chance to help close the book.

A layup for Karaitiana, two buckets from Ezi Magbegor and a fast break layup for Garrick, sparked eight unanswered points for the Boomers in their last roll of the dice cutting Townsville’s lead down to just one point. But two made free throws with 21 seconds from none other than Heal put the Fire up by three.

Melbourne’s flurry of threes in the dying moments were not enough to save the contest, meaning Townsville would head to the grand final for the sixth time in nine years, a feeling of success that Townsville’s faithful feared they would not have for the next few years.

Adding to her collection of impressive performances in WNBL20, Heal finished her night with 28 points, five rebounds and three assists, while fellow backcourter Lauren Nicholson played a full 40-minute game compiling 12 points and eight rebounds. Adding to this was Aokuso, accumulating 10 points and five rebounds, as well as WNBL legend Mia Murray providing a much-needed presence on the glass with eight boards.

Melbourne’s frontcourt was its primary producer last night, with Magbegor (19 points and nine rebounds) and George (15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) putting up impressive statistics. Furthermore, despite no other Boomers gaining double-digit totals Madgen was instrumental yesterday even though the side could not get it done with nine points and six assists.

It is the end of Melbourne’s remarkable road, but Townsville’s triumph provides a first versus second seed grand final and a chance for the Fire to redeem themselves at the best possible moment. Even though the Flyers have two days of extra rest going into tomorrow, you can rest assured that the Townsville fans will provide their club with a massive chunk of adrenaline in 24 hours.

WNBL Preliminary final: Townsville Fire v. Melbourne Boomers

IT is a do or die clash for the Melbourne Boomers and Townsville Fire as both sides aim to keep their grand final hopes alive with a win in the preliminary final. Melbourne is chasing its first premiership in over a decade while the Fire have enjoyed a rapid rise up the ladder and will be hoping not to bow out in straight sets.

The Boomers switched on the fireworks in their semi-final win against two-time premiers, UC Capitals and will be wanting to replicate those highs against a young and inexperienced Fire side. On the other hand, Townsville fell victim to a rampant Southside Flyers outfit that was eager to make amends for its shortcomings last year, succeeding with a dominant first term that set up the win.

In terms of recent results, the two sides cannot be separated with the Boomers and Fire winning three of their past five outings to highlight just how evenly poised they are. There has not been too much time between their last encounter with the second and fourth ranked sides meeting in Round 5, when Townsville Fire reigned supreme by six points. The Fire had the better of Melbourne, making them work in overdrive and shutting down a couple of their key figures, an area Melbourne will be hoping to address ahead of their preliminary final clash tonight.

Statistically speaking, the Fire have proven to be more potent in attack than their competitors; averaging 82 points across their 14 games while the Boomers have managed a lesser total of 77. If the Fire are able to find easy avenue to the basket, the Boomers could be in trouble. However, the Boomers’ strength lies in their defensive prowess with the side recognised for its ability to slow down opposition teams and be a real menace off the backboards, boasting 30 more rebounds than the Fire (565-535). Melbourne also reigns supreme in blocks (62-21) and steals (108-105) indicating its defensive minded techniques. When it comes to shooting percentage it is hard to split the two, however the Fire have the upper hand in all areas; going at 46.3 per cent from the field, 75.4 from the charity strip and 35.1 per cent from outside the arc compared to Melbourne’s 43.4, 73.2 and 33.1 respectively.

There are plenty of exciting players across the court with Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal likely to light it up for Townsville. Nicholson was awarded All-WNBL honours for her performances throughout the season, averaging 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.08 steals while shooting at a 48.1 field goal percentage. Heal has also been recognised for her breakout season, winning the Youth Player of the Year award and will be eager to keep her scintillating form going heading into the preliminary final. She has registered averages of 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game while another one to keep an eye out for is Zitina Aokuso, with her ability to come on and impact the play. Players such as Kate Gaze, Nadeen Payne and Stephanie Reid are also handy inclusions that are able to make a splash.

The Boomers are not without their plethora of stars, with Ezi Magbegor leading the pack. The defensive star averages some impressive numbers (14.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.1 blocks) and knows what it takes to perform on the big stage, converting at a 56.2 per cent clip. Partner in crime and Boomers captain, Cayla George is another dynamite player, able to leave a lasting imprint with her hot hand and rebounding ability; averaging 14.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals and a little over a block a game. Maddy Garrick also has an uncanny ability to sense the moment and star, amassing averages of 10.9 points a game, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Meanwhile, Tess Madgen is a force to be reckoned with alongside the likes of Ashleigh Karaitiana and Kalani Purcell.

WNBL semi-finals preview

WNBL semi-finals action begins tonight as the Melbourne Boomers and UC Capitals kick things off at Townsville Stadium, with the victor progressing through to the preliminary final. Meanwhile, ladder leaders Southside Flyers take on Townsville Fire later tonight with the winner through to the grand final.

UC Capitals v. Melbourne Boomers

A couple of familiar faces return to the finals fold with the UC Capitals and Melbourne Boomers gearing up for another finals campaign. Both sides are formidable forces that ooze class, composure, and plenty of smarts,  able to work their way out of tricky situations and barely have a bad game. It makes for an exciting clash between the two sides.

There has not been too much time between their last outing with the Melbourne Boomers getting the last laugh and walking away with a six-point victory just over two weeks ago. However, the Capitals are no easy beats and will be hoping to reverse those efforts with the back-to-back reigning premiers a force to be reckoned with each time they step out on court. The Caps have only won two of their past five outings while the Boomers have gone one better, sitting at three wins over their past five performances. Both sides are coming into the final off a loss and will be eager to flip the script and keep their finals dreams alive.

Looking at the statistical breakdown there are plenty of similarities between the two sides, with scoring no problem for either but the difference coming from where they score from. In terms of percentage the Boomers have the upper hand at both the three-point range and in overall field goal percentage – 33.3 per cent to 29.9 per cent and 43.3 per cent to 40.9 per cent respectively. The Caps are prolific in the paint, managing 496 for the season as opposed to 484 while they also have the upper hand when it comes to fast break points (105-73). On the other hand the Boomers make the most of turnover opportunities, nailing 189 points to 183. When it comes to rebounds the Capitals are above and beyond with 514 for the season while Melbourne managed 453.

There is no shortage of excitement machines for UC but it is Maddison Rocci who has really taken the step up this season, averaging a team high 16.2 points along with 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals. She is not alone though with Marianna Tolo another commanding presence out on court, averaging 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists – highlighting her ability to have an impact in all aspects. It is hard to go past the services of Kelsey Griffin with the forward able to find the basket and score, going at 45.3 per cent from the field and averaging 12 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals. There are a host of other key contributors such as Keely Froling, Jade Melbourne, and Mikaela Ruef, who has proven her star power off the boards on more than one occasion.

The Boomers also have a number of livewires, none bigger than the exciting duo of Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George with the latter named in the All-WNBL First Team. Magbegor has taken another big step forward this season, averaging an impressive 14.8 points a game, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists while also lending her hand on the defensive end with 1.1 blocks. Her partner in crime, George, is not far behind averaging 14.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, not to mention one block and 1.4 steals a game. Tess Madgen is another one to keep an eye out for with her explosive nature to record 14.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists a game. Madeleine Garrick, Kalani Purcell and Ashleigh Karaitiana are others that are able to chime in and keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Boomers.

Southside Flyers v. Townsville Fire

Southside Flyers come into the semi-final against Townsville Fire with a real sense of vengeance having fallen short in the big dance last year and proven eager to make up for their missed opportunities. Boasting a stacked team with plenty of big names, the Flyers will be hoping to assert themselves early and pounce on the inexperienced and youthful Townsville outfit.

The last time these two sides met it was the Flyers who took home the chocolates, downing the Fire by a convincing 24 points while also winning by a similar margin the time before in Round 2. In fact, the Flyers have a pretty good record against Townsville; claiming victories in all five of their past encounters, an area the Fire will be hoping to correct in this semi-final to progress through to the next stage. In terms of current form, the Flyers are on a staggering seven-game winning streak and have no intentions of slowing down while Townsville has managed four wins in its past five appearances.

The Flyers are scoring machines, averaging a whopping 96 points per game credit to their plethora of options that can attack the rim and do so at a high accuracy. Conversely, the Fire only manage 81 points per game and will have to try and shut down Southside if they are any chance to keep up with them. Field goal percentage is another strength of the Flyers, sitting at 51.1 per cent with the Fire converting at 45.6 per cent. They also have the upper hand when it comes to three-point accuracy 43.1 to 34.6 but Townsville is pretty reliable when sent to the charity strip, managing a 74.4 per cent clip as opposed to the Flyers’ 71.7 per cent. Aside from shooting the Flyers are incredibly strong when it comes to blocks, registering 31 more than the Fire (52-21) and also reign supreme in assists (343-214) and steals (126-96). However, the Fire have the upper hand on the rebounding front (508-471) and will be hoping to make the most of their efforts off the board.

Despite missing out on the League MVP there is no denying that the acquisition of Liz Cambage has been influential on the Flyers outfit. The star center is a menace off the boards and a commanding force overall, able to hit the scoreboard with great ease in averaging 23.6 points and 8.2 rebounds each time she steps out on court. However, she is not a lone hand with the likes of Sara Blicavs just as much of a handful given her innate ability to pop up when needed and deliver at a high standard, thanks to her 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game averages. Rebecca Cole is another one that is able to ply her trade for the Flyers, averaging 14.5 points per game, 2.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists each time she steps out on court. Teammates Jenna O’Hea and Leilani Mitchell are also are also crucial cogs for the Flyers and will have to fire if they are to get over the top of Townsville in their semi-final clash.

Townsville will be looking to the likes of Lauren Nicholson an Shyla Heal to lead the way for them from start to finish. Nicholson has been a revelation since joining the club this season with her ability to find the rim really coming to the fore, averaging 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists an 1.4 steals each game. Further court time for Heal has worked wonders for her basketball ability with the youngster averaging 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists making her one to watch in this clash. Fellow youngster Zitina Aokuso is another exciting prospect that can sense the moment and knows how to deliver recording an average of 9.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Nadeen Payne is a handy option for the Fire as is Stephanie Reid and Courtney Woods highlighting the amount of depth the club has.

Melbourne weathers the Lightning, 21-point victory over Adelaide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pic: WNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flames survive second term scare from Spirit

SYDNEY Uni Flames survived a forgettable second term to put away the winless Bendigo Spirit in the first of four games on a Super Sunday of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action. The Flames started strongly, but found themselves down at half-time against a spirited Bendigo outfit, though they steadied in the second half to run away with an eight-point win, 62-54.

The Flames lit up the court in the opening quarter, racing to a 23-14 lead at quarter time. Though they were expected to get the job done, it was an impressive start to the game, but Bendigo was not to fade away easily. The Spirit picked up in the second quarter to pile on 19 points to eight and actually take the lead by two heading into the main break. The penultimate quarter turned into a low-scoring slog with just total 18 points scored – less than Sydney Uni in the first term and Bendigo in the second – with the Flames levelling the match at 41-apiece.

The Flames bolted out of the gates early in the final term to pile on 13 points to three in the opening six-and-a-half minutes of play. They were firmly in control leading 54-44, though the damaging duo of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey refused to give in, cutting the deficit to two plays after back-to-back jumpers. The Flames steadied, and whilst Lavey hit another triple with 38 seconds left on the clock to cut it to six, it would not be enough as the Flames controlled the play and then a last second layup off an offensive rebound from Lauren Scherf put the icing on the cake for a 62-54 victory.

The Flames’ dominance off the boards was the crucial difference between the teams, racking up a whopping 57 rebounds to 38, which allowed them to also control second chance points, putting in 25-6 and making the most of poor accuracy. Sydney Uni will certainly want to sharpen up their shooting for the next match, only scoring at a 32 per cent clip. The Spirit were not much better at 34 per cent, but they matched it with the Flames for the most part, winning the assists for the first time (17-16), and having a couple more fast break points (8-6).

Alison Schwagmeyer was put up 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in an impressive performance for the Flames. Christina Boag did not have the same accuracy issues that some of her teammates did, hitting 63 per cent of her field goal attempts to finish with 16 points, as well as six rebounds and two blocks. It made up for an uncharacteristically inaccurate performance from star guard Lauren Mansfield who hit just one of 14 from the field – including one of eight from long range and none of six from two-point range – but the former Lynx talent picked up seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.

Scherf (seven points, six rebounds) and Natalie Burton (six points, seven rebounds and four blocks) were strong throughout, but it was Anneli Maley who again decimated the opposition near the basket with a whopping game-high 11 rebounds to go with five points.

For the Spirit, Lavey had the 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Ernst picked up 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Sharing the points evenly elsewhere, Mary Goulding had seven, plus four rebounds and two assists, whilst Cassidy McLean (five points, four rebounds), Demi Skinner (five points, five rebounds) and Amelia Todhunter (five points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals) all contributed in some way.

Sydney Uni now have a two-day break until facing the Perth Lynx on Tuesday, while the Spirit come up against Adelaide Lightning on Wednesday.

Picture credit: WNBL

Flyers exact revenge on Boomers

Liz Cambage had a huge day out against the Boomers. Picture credit: WNBL

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have bounced back from their loss to Melbourne Boomers earlier in the 2020 WNBL season to post a commanding 15-point win over their Victorian counterparts today. In a performance led by Liz Cambage who put up a massive 35 points to go with seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals, the Flyers were just too good after quarter time, particularly in the middle two quarters where they outscored the Boomers, 48-35.

The first term was even with Southside getting the edge by a point at the early break, heading in after a high-scoring quarter to lead 22-21. They continued their scoring prowess in the second term, but managed to restrict the Boomers’ impact on the scoreboard, putting up 20 points to 12 and leading by nine at half-time They continued that momentum after the break to win the third quarter solidly with 28 points to 23, before finishing off marginally ahead in the final stanza, saluting 24-23. It allowed them to post a 94-79 victory and remain equal on top with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals.

Southside was deadly from the field, hitting 62 per cent of their shots, and despite having 10 less field goal attempts, managed to slot six more overall, including 10 of 17 from long-range in a three-point shooting bonanza. The boomers hit 44 per cent from the field, largely let down by their two-point shooting which ran at less than 50 per cent, but their three-point efforts were relatively strong with 10 from 26.

The teams were evenly poised across the stats with the Boomers picking up one extra rebound (32-31), as well as more steals (11-7), bench points (19-11) and second chance points (6-4). The Flyers were controlling the offence with 29 assists to 22, whilst also having six blocks to two and scoring four more fast break points.

Aside from Cambage who was clearly best on court in the win, the Flyers had three others who contributed double-figure points. Fellow big, Sara Blicavs hit 18 points – seven of nine from the field – along with nine rebounds and four assists, while Rebecca Cole (16 points at 87 per cent efficiency, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals) and Jenna O’Hea (11 points at 66 per cent efficiency, two rebounds) both emphasised how accurate the Flyers were.

Steph Blicavs was also effective off the bench, hitting three of her four shots to finish with six points, three rebounds and two assists. Leilani Mitchell only put up three shots for three points, but dished off dimes like there was no tomorrow with a massive 11 assists.

For the Boomers, Ezi Magbegor scored a team-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and two assists, hitting 69 per cent of her shots from the field, including nine of 11 from inside the arc. Cayla George (12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals) could not have done much more on a losing side, while Ashleigh Karaitiana (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Tess Madgen (10 points, four assists and three rebounds) were also busy. Kalani Purcell (nine points, three rebounds and four steals) was the standout coming off the Boomers’ bench.

Melbourne find late-season form, rout Spirit 84-52

AFTER an even first quarter from both sides, the Melbourne Boomers ran away with Saturday’s only game in the remaining three quarters against the Bendigo Spirit, namely in the middle two periods where last year’s semi-finalists outscored their opponents 42-14, ultimately concluding matters 84-52 and extending their winning streak to four.

Given the Boomers’ red-hot form as of late, it did not shock many when Melbourne opened up the contest with a 7-0 run, which acted as a prelude to what would be a strong initial term for Guy Molloy’s squad.

Despite its opponent’s exceptional start to the game, Bendigo worked its way back into the contest leading into the first break. Backing their duo of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey, who had eight and six points respectively, the Spirit found themselves level with the Boomers 20-20 after 10 minutes of play, one of their best opening periods to date.

Again, the Boomers strung together another sizeable scoring run to start the second, concocting 14-straight points over the opening five minutes of the period and really separating themselves from this season’s likely wooden-spooners after an even first term.

Cayla George made her impact visible in the later stages of the first two quarters, accumulating 13 points, five rebounds and three assists as she led the charge in gaining her side a 38-23 half-time score line.

But with Tracy York’s side converting on just a single field goal in the second, it allowed Melbourne to take control of the contest and secure the driver’s seat in the process, thanks to individual efforts like Ezi Magbegor and Ashleigh Karaitiana’s in the first half.

Putting their advantage over 20 points in the penultimate period, the Boomers run to the finish line became relatively uneventful as they gave their secondary unit an abundance of court time in the second half.

Coach Molloy’s bench held their own to conclude the third, extending their side’s lead to 28 points at the turn of the third with Bendigo totalling just 11 points in the third quarter, and 14 total points over the two middle stanzas.

While the Boomers rested their star players, the Spirit did the same as we got to see some up and coming talent show off their quality from both squads. Melbourne would eventually topple Bendigo by 32 points and stretch their winning streak to four matches.

Quite simply, Melbourne blew Bendigo out of the water following the opening quarter and maintained a substantially high shooting percentage, converting on 41 per cent of its attempts (33/80), whereas the Spirit managed a meek 27 per cent on the night. Additionally, coming out superior on the boards with a plus-24, the Boomers destroyed their counterparts on the glass.

George would only add two more points to her 15 in total, while Penina Davidson made the most of her increased court time with 15 points of her own in almost 16 minutes of game time. Magbegor would finish with a humble 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Izzy Wright (nine points and five rebounds) and Kalani Purcell (nine points and three rebounds) were the team’s next highest contributors.

In a quiet night across the board for the Spirit, not one individual would compile more than eight points by the final buzzer, as Ernst earned her team-high eighth point before half-time and gathered seven rebounds in the process. Demi Skinner rounded out her afternoon with seven points, meanwhile 17-year-old rising star Piper Dunlop tallied a season-best seven points and three rebounds.

Both sides make their returns to the court later today as all eight teams are scheduled to play in Sunday’s Round 4 action. Bendigo will open up proceedings against the Sydney Uni Flames, where the Spirit have only a couple more chances to get into the winner’s column before the season’s end. The Boomers have their work cut out for them when they size up the Southside Flyers, who did not play a particularly good brand of basketball in their last meeting – a memory they will look to rectify this time around. More importantly it will set the tone for both teams with finals play just around the corner.