Tag: Kayla Steindl

NBL1 West wrap: Round 15

WHILST other National Basketball League (NBL)1 competitions across the country were impacted by lockdowns, the NBL1 West went ahead with some thrilling contests.

Men’s:

Cockburn and Warwick played out an epic battle at the Wally Hagan Stadium on Friday night with the Cougars coming out two-point winners after the game was extended into overtime. A high scoring first quarter saw the contest headed for quarter time at 30-points apiece. Gavin Field was off to a hot start scoring 12 first quarter points himself. The teams were going shot for shot in the second quarter, before the Cougars managed to get out to a nine-point lead. A late cameo from the Senators’ Justin King, scoring seven straight points, meant his team remained in touching distance of the Cougars who led 56-52 at the main break.

The second half got started with the Senators drawing level again during the third term, but a timeout just before the midway point of the quarter sparked a 13-0 run in favour of the Cougars. They maintained their lead and took an 11-point advantage into the final break. A two-pointer by Cockburn’s Seva Chan was the only basket in the opening two minutes of the last, before a 23-8 run for the Senators put them ahead by two points inside the last 30 seconds. An unsportsmanlike foul on King saw Nicolas Pozoglou hit some clutch free throws, but Field was unable to make his three-point shot in the next play. King owed his team and he stood up hitting a big three with just nine seconds remaining, before Field hit the last shot of regulation time, a three pointer with six seconds remaining, taking the game into overtime. A tight battle eventuated in Cockburn’s Josh Hunt making the final basket of the game with 26 seconds left in overtime.

Field finished the game with 25 points (including five three pointers made) and eight rebounds, while teammates Chan (16 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) and Hunt (19 points) all played well, but from a Cougars perspective Pozoglou was dominant on both ends of the court all night. He finished the game with 24 points (10/16 field goals made) but showed his worth defensively registering a game-high 12 rebounds (10 defensive), equal game-high five steals and the most the blocks as well (four). For the Senators Caleb Davis (25 points) and Cody Ellis had strong performances, but King was the standout with 27 points, eight rebounds, five steals and the teams only block.

The Cougars made it two from two the following the night when they defeated the Willetton Tigers in a much more comfortable 20-point victory. Pozoglou was on fire again recording another 27 points (10/16 field goals made), eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks in 23 minutes of action.

Meanwhile, Mandurah made it six straight wins after two more victories in round 15. On Saturday night they defeated the Eastern Suns by 10 points before Scott Machado took over the city on Sunday scoring 37 points in the 95-73 win against the Goldfields Giants. The Cairns Taipans star has been electric since his debut seven games ago, and it’s no coincidence the Magic find themselves in a rich vein of form since his arrival. The Suns had no luck in round 15 as they were already losers on Thursday night suffering a 15-point defeat to the first placed Lakeside Lightning. Rowan Mackenzie also feasted on the Suns scoring 35 points, and there was no stopping him as he backed it up again the following night in front of the home crowd, adding another 30 points in a dominant display from the Lightning as they defeated Joondalup by 27 points.

In an exciting finish, Geraldton’s Mathiang Muo hit a game winning three-pointer with just two seconds left on the clock to secure a 68-67 win against Perth.

ROUND 15 RESULTS:

Eastern Suns 90 def. by Lakeside Lightning 105
Perry Lakes Hawks 105 def. Willetton Tigers 88
Lakeside Lightning 106 def. Joondalup Wolves 79
Rockingham Flames 103 def. South West Slammers 67
Cockburn Cougars 104 def. Warwick Senators 102
Geraldton Buccaneers 68 def. Perth Redbacks 67
Joondalup Wolves 79 def. Perry Lakes Hawks 70
Warwick Senators 112 def. East Perth Eagles 70
Willetton Tigers 76 def. by Cockburn Cougars 96
South West Slammers 86 def. Goldfields Giants 81
Eastern Suns 75 def. by Mandurah Magic 85
Mandurah Magic 95 def. Goldfields Giants 73

Women’s:

Willetton extended its unbeaten run to seven games following victories over Perry Lakes and Cockburn. After Friday night’s road win against the Hawks, the Tigers returned home to face the Cougars at the Willetton Basketball Stadium. Samantha Lubcke scored nine first quarter points as the teams were tied on 18 at the first break. The Tigers scored another 18 points in the second term and took a two-point lead into half time. Willetton really put their foot down in the third term not only scoring 26 points themselves, but also performing strongly on the defensive end, keeping the Cougars to just 13 points for the quarter. An even final quarter was enough for the Tigers to maintain their lead and come out 79-64 winners.

Emma Gandini (12 points, eight rebounds, five steals), Desiree Kelley (16 points), Alex Sharp (eight points, 10 rebounds, six assists) all contributed to the win alongside Lubcke, who was a standout with 27 points and six rebounds. Taylah Simmons (14 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Olivia Bassett-Scarfe (12 points, five rebounds) were the only two double digit scorers for Cockburn. Two wins in the round for Willetton keeps them one game clear on top of the ladder.

Meanwhile, second placed Joondalup Wolves also secured two wins over the weekend, keeping themselves in touching distance of first position. The Wolves won on the road against the Lightning by 23 points, before they defeated Perry Lakes 69-63 at the HBF Arena. A slow start saw the Wolves trailing by 11 points at quarter time as the Hawks had doubled their first quarter total, but a strong second and third quarter performance where they outscored Perry Lakes 42-22 proved the difference, as they were able to hold off a Hawks comeback in the final term. Neseya Parker-Williams (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (15 points, three steals) were good for the Wolves, while Mia Satie was a standout for the Hawks, scoring 22 points and collecting nine rebounds.

In other matches, a massive 20 and 20 game from Mary Goulding (25 points, 21 rebounds) led East Perth to a 10-point victory over Warwick, Carly Boag (18 points, 17 rebounds) also had a big game against the Eastern Suns, leading her Magic to a 79-61 win, and 21 points from Paris Duffield was the most for Rockingham as they also came out victorious, defeating the South West Slammers by a 23-point margin.

Women’s Round 15 Results:

Eastern Suns 75 def. by Lakeside Lightning 81
Perry Lakes Hawks 59 def. by Willetton Tigers 70
Lakeside Lightning 51 def. by Joondalup Wolves 74
Rockingham Flames 76 def. South West Slammers 53
Cockburn Cougars 67 def. by Warwick Senators 94
Joondalup Wolves 69 def. Perry Lakes Hawks 63
Warwick Senators 81 def. by East Perth Eagles 91
Willetton Tigers 79 def. Cockburn Cougars 64
Eastern Suns 61 def. by Mandurah Magic 79

 

Picture credit: June Halliday

NBL1 West: Round 14

THERE was no shortage of action in Round 14 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West as 11 games took place in the men’s league while for the women only six games were scheduled.

Men’s:

Only three points separated East Perth Eagles and Geraldton Buccaneers with both sides coming into the clash with a checkered history. In the end it was the Buccaneers that snuck over the line in what was a tough contest, winning 75-72. The Eagles sunk to their third consecutive loss as Geraldton rallied in the final term to walk away with the win.

It took a while for both sides to get off the mark with a tick under two minutes played before the Buccaneers managed to open the scoring with a handy triple off the hands of Taine Wattie. That was quickly answered by the Eagles signalling the intent from both sides. Geraldton created a handy four-point lead early but scoring proved hard to come by as the quarter went on and both sides lacked accuracy to the rim. The momentum started to swing in favour of East Perth as they ran down the lead and created a handy three point buffer of their own. By quarter time only one point split the two sides with the Buccaneers the beneficiaries.

The second quarter took a turn as Geraldton put the foot down with a couple of successive shots to turn the game on its head and open up four-point lead. They only gained more momentum as the quarter went on piling on 23 points to 14 boasting a 10 point lead at half time. But East Perth refused to go away, hitting back in the third and coming out with a real pep in their step. They chased down the Buccaneers with a scintillating third term performance heading into the break only down by one point once more. With the game on the line it was Geraldton that dug deep finding an extra gear to steal the win.

Lee Roberts was a real threat draining 27 points for East Perth in his 37 minutes out on court. Roberts also managed 12 rebounds, eight of which were defensive in the narrow loss. Andrej Donlagic worked tirelessly for his 11 points, shooting at 36 per cent from the field as Mitch Benger produced 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals.  Both Brendan Tucek and Logan Thwaites contributed to the scoreboard putting up eight and seven points respectively to keep their side in the hunt.

There were two main contributors for Geraldton as Elijah Barbour and Mathiang Muo plied their trade. Barbour found his groove shooting at 42 per cent from the field and recording 27 points as Muo slotted 21 points while also reeling in eight rebounds. Wattie had a hot hand from downtown sinking four of his seven attempts from three-point range to finish with 14 points to his name along with eight rebounds and two assists. Brandon Holloway was another figure that had an impact in the win credit to his eight points, five rebounds and eight assists.

In other results, Cockburn Cougars impressed recording two wins from their two outings while on the flip side the Goldfield Giants were left winless from both their encounters. South West Slammers struggled to generate any winning momentum going down in both of their games as the Eastern Suns lost in a close encounter with the East Perth Eagles. Mandurah Magic just got over the line in their clash against the Willetton Tigers as did the Warwick Senators over the Buccaneers.

Men’s results:

South West Slammers (73) defeated by Cockburn Cougars (90)
Lakeside Lightning (91) defeated Perry Lakes Hawks (86)
Eastern Suns (76) defeated East Perth Eagles (82)
Perth Redbacks (89) defeated Lakeside Lightning (77)
Perry Lakes Hawks (95) defeated South West Slammers (69)
Joondalup Wolves (77) defeated by Warwick Senators (90)
East Perth Eagles (72) defeated by Geraldton Buccaneers (75)
Mandurah Magic (65) defeated Willetton Tigers (62)
Goldfields Giants (60) defeated by Rockingham Flames (96)
Goldfield Giants (78) defeated by Cockburn Cougars (84)
Warwick Senators (81) defeated Geraldton Buccaneers (76)

Women’s:

The battle between Joondalup Wolves and Warwick Senators was a thriller as the two sides came into the clash with winning form. The Senators had only lost one of their past five encounters while the Wolves were tracking with a handy five-game winning streak and extended it to six with a victory over Warwick, 94-85.

It was a fiery start to the game from both sides as they poured on the points indicating what was going to be a high scoring fiasco. The Senators wasted no time finding their way to the basket draining a handy triple before the opened up a six-point lead. But the Wolves were determined to keep themselves in the contest as they rode the early wave of offensive pressure and stepped up to the plate as the quarter went on. The tables started to turn as the shots fell their way and the lead changed hands midway through the term. But a fast-finishing Senators outfit went into the first break up by a mere point.

Unhappy with their slow start the Wolves came out with a real pep in their step to force Warwick onto the back foot and control the tempo of the game. Increased pressure across the court forced the Senators into uncharacteristic turnovers as the Wolves pounced on each and every opportunity that came their way creating am eight point lead at the break. That momentum filtered into the third term as Joondalup refused to break their winning streak. It was an improved effort from the Senators though as they managed 20 points as the Wolves snuck ahead with 23 to take the lead once more at the final change. In the end it was too little too late as the Wolves ran home with victory despite a last quarter comeback from the visitors.

Kayla Steindl proved to be a ball magnet for the Wolves producing a team-high 30 points while shooting at 48 per cent. She also managed 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals in the win. The number 12 shaped up to be the magic number for the Wolves as three players in Tia Ucich, Rebecca Benson and Neseya Parker-Williams all walked away with 12 points to their name. Ucich also lent a hand off the boards with three rebounds while she also recorded five dimes. Amber Land was influential for Joondalup as she posted eight points and 11 rebounds with nine of them defensive.

For the Senators it was Stacey Barr that led the way producing 28 points in her 38 minutes out on court. She could have had more given she converted at a lowly 29 per cent from the field while she also racked up six rebounds. Tayla Hepburn was not far off the pace registering 18 points at 62 per cent from the field while also chiming in with four rebounds. Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard was also up and about for the Senators nailing 14 points as Chloe Forster contributed 11 in the loss.

In the battle between the South West Slammers and Cockburn Cougars it was the Cougars that walked away with a resounding win as the Lakeside Lightning fell to Perry Lakes Hawks. East Perth Eagles managed a 12 point win over the Eastern Suns as Perth Redbacks ran rampant against the Lighting. The Tigers also got up over Mandurah Magic by 19 points to round out the action.

Women’s results:

South West Slammers (38) defeated by Cockburn Cougars (94)
Lakeside Lightning (72) defeated Perry Lakes Hawks (89)
Eastern Suns (60) defeated East Perth Eagles (72)
Perth Redbacks (84) defeated Lakeside Lightning (62)
Joondalup Wolves (94) defeated Warwick Senators (85)
Mandurah Magic (55) defeated by Willetton Tigers (74)

Photo credit: Arctic Moon Photography

NBL1 West wrap: Round 7

AS the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West competition continued over the weekend, both the men’s and women’s divisions had some classic contests, and we recap how all the games went down.

WOMEN:

A dominant final term from East Perth Eagles ended the unbeaten streak of Joondalup Wolves with a 17-point triumph at home. The Eagles lead by six points at quarter time, and held that lead right up until the final break, before piling on 21 points to eight in the last stanza to run away with the eye-catching upset win.

Brianna Moyes (23 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) lead the way for points, while Tahlia Fejo (17 points, four rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks) did a bit of everything, and Opal Mader (17 points, four rebounds and two assists) was also impressive. Chelsea Belcher stood out for the Wolves with 16 points, while Amber Land (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Neseya Parker-Williams (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals) were both impressive.

Joondalup Wolves did manage to bounce back last night with a seven-point win over Perry Lakes Hawks, 73-66. Kayla Steindl had 25 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in a double-double performance, while Rebecca Benson (12 points, two assists) and Parker-Williams (eight points, nine rebounds, six steals and three assists) all contributed to the cause. Madeleine Dennis (27 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Sarah Donovan (18 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals) were the two best in the Hawks’ defeat.

The next closest result of the round went the way of Perth Redbacks who took the points over a sluggish Mandurah Magic. The Hawks piled on 40-13 in the first half to set up the win, and whilst they lost the second half 45-27, had done more than enough to win 67-58. Makailah Dyer (23 points, six rebounds) and Maddison Allen (nine points, six rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocks) were the keys for the Redbacks, while Casey Mihovilich (16 points, five steals, three rebounds and three assists) and Carly Boag (seven points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals) covered plenty of areas for the Magic.

Warwick Senators easily dominated Lakeside Lightning, doubling their score on the Senators’ way to a huge 102-51 victory. Tayla Hepburn (24 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Stacey Barr (23 points, five rebounds and two assists) did most of the scoring damage, with Caitlyn Jones (15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals) and Chloe Forster (15 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) also influential. Savannah Coleman had six points and 10 rebounds in defeat, while Kyrah Daniels tried hard for the Lightning with eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

In other results, Rockingham Flames picked up another win to hand Cockburn Cougars a second straight defeat, getting up 71-52, whilst Eastern Suns piled on more pain to South West Slammers with a 53-point shellacking at home. Christina Boag (25 points, 14 rebounds and three assists) and Tayah Burrows (24 points, seven assists and four rebounds) were outstanding for the Flames and countered out the impact of the Cougars’ Jessie Edwards (16 points, 11 rebounds). In the other game, Jewell Williams (24 points, four assists and three rebounds) top-scored for the Eastern Suns, but it was the likes of Mia Jacobs (14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Ellyce Ironmonger (10 points, 12 rebounds) who picked up double-doubles, and Samantha Roscoe chipping in with a dominant 18points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Zaya Lilly Black (21 points, four steals and three rebounds) and Jasmine Barrett (16 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals) were the only key scorers for the Slammers.

ROUND 7 RESULTS:

East Perth (75) def. Joondalup Wolves (58)
Mandurah Magic (58) def. by Perth Redbacks (67)
Warwick Senators (102) def. Lakeside Lightning (51)
Rockingham Flames (71) def. Cockburn Cougars (52)
Eastern Suns (109) def. South West Slammers (56)
Perry Lakes Hawks (66) def. by Joondalup Wolves (73)

MEN’S:

The match of the round was easy to pick in the NBL1 West men’s division, with Willetton Tigers coming from behind at the final break to win by one point over Goldfields Giants to grab the 74-73 victory. After being level at quarter time, the Giants took advantage and went up by two at half-time and seven by the final break, before the Tigers roared back to life to run over the top of the Giants and secure the 21-13 triumph.

Connor Mincherton (21 points, seven rebounds and two assists), Michael Vigor (18 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) and Damien Scott (14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) were key players in the win. For the Giants, Julian Pesava (16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals), Dion Collins (13 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals) and Fletcher Klasztorny (11 points, six rebounds and four assists) were the key architects in trying to keep their side in the contest.

Lakeside Lightning handed Warwick Senators their first loss of the season, posting a 90-61 triumph to continue their fantastic season. Grabbing a 29-point win on the road, the Lightning were lead by Julius Bowie (26 points, seven rebounds) and Kyle Armour (16 points, five assists, three steals and two rebounds). Warwick Senators had Justin King (19 points and two assists) and Cody Ellis (16 points and three steals) who topped up the team’s scoring column.

Perry Lakes Hawks picked up back-to-back wins in Round 7 with victories over Geraldton Buccaneers (27 points) and Joondalup Wolves (31 points) to remain one of the key title contenders this season. Cooper Hamilton (17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists), Ben Purser (16.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals) and Mitchell Clarke (16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists) were consistent contributors across both games. Matthiang Muo (24 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals) was the top player for the Buccaneers, while Jonathan Wade (34 points, three rebounds) lit it up for the Wolves.

The Wolves picked up a win over Perth Eagles by 33 points, thanks to another 34 points from Wade, who racked up 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals for his troubles. Sioeli Vaiangina (14 points, eight rebounds) also stood out for the victors. Kieran Berry (20 points, five rebounds and two assists) was the dominant scorer for the Eagles. Meanwhile Mandurah Magic defeated Perth Redbacks by eight points (82-74), as Ben Smith (21 points, nine rebounds), Fred Williams (15 points, six rebounds) and Jerami Grace (12 points, five assists and three rebounds) all impressed, though the Redbacks’ Louis Timms (27 points, seven rebounds) and Isaac Gattorna-Hargrave (20 points, four rebounds and four assists) both put up some big numbers.

In other results, Rockingham Flames defeated Cockburn Cougars by 21 points (106-85), whilst in the battle of the winless sides, South West Slammers finally got on the board with a 10-point triumph over Eastern Suns, 90-80. Justin Beard (23 points, five rebounds) and Atem Bior (21 points, seven rebounds) combined well for the Flames against Cockburn’s Jaarod Holmes (17 points, six rebounds) and Seva Chan (17 points, four assists and two rebounds), while the Slammers’ Mitchell Keller (25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists) and Suns’ Ryan Blanchett (20 points, eight rebounds) were the key players for their respective sides.

ROUND 7 RESULTS:

East Perth Eagles (61) def. by Joondalup Wolves (94)
Geraldton Buccaneers (63) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (90)
Mandurah Magic (82) def. Perth Redbacks (74)
Goldfields Giants (73) def. by Willetton Tigers (74)
Warwick Senators (61) def. by Lakeside Lightning (90)
Rockingham Flames (106) def. Cockburn Cougars (85)
Eastern Suns (80) def. by South West Slammers (90)
Perry Lakes Hawks (118) def. Joondalup Wolves (87)

Picture credit: Eric Paul Goldie

NBL1 West wrap: Round 5

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 West competition was back to its full strength in the third round of action. Whilst technically Round 5 due to the two-week hiatus following the West Australian lockdown, the most recent weekend of play featured more games than the return Round 4.

WOMEN’S:

Perth Redbacks (82) def. East Perth Eagles (71)

Perth Redbacks bounced back from a loss last game to hold on and defeat East Perth Eagles at home by 11 points. A strong first half was credited with the Redbacks’ win, putting up 48 points to 31, and whilst the Eagles won the second half by six, it was a case of too little, too late and the home team got up, 82-71. Maddison Allen racked up a huge double-double of 10 points and 18 rebounds – 13 defensive – for the Redbacks, while Makailah Dyer (19 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Jessica Jakens (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were also productive in the win. Mary Teresa Goulding top-scored in the game for the Eagles with 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Opal Mader (15 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up a double-double, and Tahlia Fedjo recorded 15 points and two rebounds.

Warwick Senators (72) def. by Joondalup Wolves (78)

In the first of two victories for the Joondalup Wolves over the weekend, the visitors handed the Warwick Senators their second loss of the season. The Wolves won the first three quarters to hold a 12-point advantage after three quarters, and whilst the Senators won the final term 18-12, it was not enough to overturn the result and Joondalup won 78-72. Kayla Steindl was a clear best-on with 28 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Wolves, aided well by Amber Land (12 points, nine rebounds and six assists) and Neseya Parker-Williams (11 points, 12 rebounds). Stacey Barr lead the way for the Senators with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Tayla Hepburn (10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up a double-double, while Chloe Forster (15 points, eight rebounds) was also lively.

Joondalup Wolves (69) def. Mandurah Magic (44)

Joondalup Wolves went back-to-back with a win over Mandurah Magic to make it four consecutive victories to open the NBL1 West season. The Wolves took control from the get-go and won every quarter, with the first (21-11) and fourth (17-9) quarters being particularly dominant on their way to a 25-point victory, 69-44. Land topped the scoring charts with a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, while Steindl (10 points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals) and Georgia Denehey (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) were among the key contributors in the Wolves’ win. Casey Mihovilovich (16 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists) was the dominant Magic shooter, while Serika Shillingsworth (eight points) was the next best.

Willetton Tigers (80) def. Perry Lakes Hawks (55)

Willetton Tigers easily accounted for Perry Lakes Hawks, winning all four quarters by at least four points in each term to record an 80-55 victory. The Tigers won by eight, four, eight and five points in each of the respective quarters, in order to post a 25-point win at Willetton Basketball Stadium. Samantha Lubcke was the clear dominant shooter putting up 26 points and seven rebounds, though best-on had to go to Alex Sharp who managed a double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds – nine offensive – as well as seven assists. Desiree Kelly (16 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Emma Gandini (14 points, six rebounds and three steals) were the other prominent scorers for the Tigers. Morgan Ballantyne had the 11 points, three assists and two rebounds, while Natalie Burton (10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Megan McKay (seven points, seven rebounds and four steals) were other prominent Hawks.

Lakeside Lightning (98) def. South West Slammers (48)

There was no reprieve for the South West Slammers in yet another big loss, this time to Lakeside Lightning who broke through for their first win of the year following back-to-back losses. The Lightning put the foot down from the first tip-off piling on 46 points to 20 in the opening half, then 52 points to 28 in the second half to run out 50-point winners, 98-48. Lakeside’s Emma Clarke (22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals) was the clear standout, while Mikayla Pirini (17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals), Savannah Coleman (16 points, nine rebounds and three steals) and Jae Flynn (15 points, seven assists and three rebounds) were all impressive in the huge victory. Cian Parsons (23 points, 15 rebounds and two assists) racked up a massive double-double in the loss to be a lone hand up front, as Skye Palmer was next best with eight points, three assists and two rebounds.

Eastern Suns (45) def. by Cockburn Cougars (63)

Cockburn Cougars continued their winning run with a third consecutive victory to open the season, defeating Eastern Suns by 18 points. The Cougars won each quarter, but it was the third (17-6) that was the big difference in the end, with the 13-point differential there ultimately leading to the low-scoring 63-45 triumph on the road. Jessie Edwards (25 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks) was impressive with a double-double for the Cougars, while Taylah Simmons (15 points, five assists and four rebounds) and Molly Mathews (six points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also lively. For the Suns, Jewel Williams top-scored with 14 points, as well as five rebounds and two steals, while Courtney Mansfield (nine points, four rebounds) and Mia Jacobs (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) tried hard.

Eastern Suns (71) def. by Willetton Tigers (98)

Willetton Tigers handed Eastern Suns back-to-back losses in Round 5 thanks to a strong first and third terms on their way to a big 27-point victory. The Tigers piled on 34 points to 22 in the first term, and then 30-10 in the third, to build an unassailable lead. The Suns cut the deficit back by six in the last term, but the damage was done and the Tigers got up, 98-71. Lubcke had a day out wiht 37 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, while Sharp also picked up a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Kelley (12 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Gandini (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists were other important players once again. For the Suns, Williams had a team-high 18 points with three rebounds, while Rebecca Motroni (15 points, two assists) and Mansfield (11 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) worked hard across the four quarters.

MEN’S:

Perth Redbacks (79) def. East Perth Eagles (65)

Perth Redbacks have accounted for East Perth Eagles in both the first and third quarters by a combined 19 points which proved the difference between the sides during the Redbacks’ 14-point victory at home. The Eagles rallied in the second term to come close at half-time, but a strong second half resulted in the Redbacks securing the 79-65 win. Louis Timms top-scored with 22 points, seven rebounds and two assists, whilst Isaac Gattorna-Hargrave (20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) and Tevin Jackson (17 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were other top performers on the day. Mitch Benger (15 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Logan Thwaites (15 points, five rebounds) were the key scorers for the Eagles, while Andrej Donlagic (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) was also well-balanced across the court.

Warwick Senators (100) def. Joondalup Wolves (78)

The clash of the two unbeaten sides went the way of the home team, as Warwick Senators claimed an impressive 22-point win over Joondalup Wolves. The Senators trailed by three points at half-time, but then dominated the second half by knocking down 60 points to 35 and running away with the 100-78 victory. Justin King (28 points, nine rebounds and three assists) was best-on for the Senators, while Cody Ellis (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals) and Caleb Davis (15 points, six assists and five rebounds) worked hard. For the Wolves, Lochlan Cummings managed the 17 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Jacob Formosa (15 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Trian Iliadis (12 points, three rebounds and two assists) also reached double-figure points in the match.

Geraldton Buccaneers (85) def. Rockingham Flames (82)

After losing last week, Geraldton Buccaneers bounced back with a narrow win over Rockingham Flames. The home team held a narrow three-point lead at half-time and six-point lead at three quarter time, and whilst the Flames stuck with them until the end, the home team held on to win by three points, 85-82. Mathiang Muo did not miss a minute of action with 34 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Aaron Ralph (16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up a double-double. Mathew Wundenberg (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Taine Wattie (11 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) were others who stepped up to the plate. The Flames had their fare share of points scorers in the win, with Travis Durnin (18 points, nine rebounds), Callum Beard (17 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Greg Hire (14 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) all prominent.

Joondalup Wolves (110) def. Mandurah Magic (104)

They needed overtime to get it done, but the Joondalup Wolves bounced back from a loss the night before to post a six-point thrilling win over Mandurah Magic. The Wolves trailed by five points at quarter time and seven at the half, before closing down that lead to be level at the final buzzer. A strong 16-10 overtime period resulted in the Wolves getting up 110-104 in a classic contest. Cummings did not miss a minute with 45 minutes on court for 29 points, five rebounds and three assists, including five of 10 from three-point range. Iliadis (20 points, six steals, four assists and three rebounds), Robert Huntington (20 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Jonathan Wade (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) were all impressive. Jerami Grace was the top points scorer for the Magic with 25, as well as five assists and four rebounds, while Fred Williams (12 points, five assists and four rebounds) and Xavier Garnett-Shaw (16 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were also solid despite the narrow defeat.

East Perth Eagles (73) def. by Goldfields Giants (86)

A fast start by Goldfields Giants has helped the visitors post a 13-point win over East Perth Eagles, the Eagles’ second loss of the weekend. The Giants poured on 26 points to 12 in the opening term and lead by 15 points at half-time. While the Eagles did hit back in the third quarter, the Giants steadied in the last to secure the 86-73 victory. Tom Atkinson (19 points, seven rebounds) top-scored for the Giants, while Julian Pesava (10 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) secured a double-double, and Cooper Creek (seven points, 13 rebounds and five blocks) put on a defensive show. Jarrad Anastasio (16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals) was the dominant player for the Eagles, with Thwaites (17 points, eight rebounds) and Junior Tshikele (14 points, four assists and three rebounds) also among the top scorers.

Willetton Tigers (68) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (86)

Perry Lakes Hawks stepped up to produce a four-quarter effort and knock off Willetton Tigers by 18 points on the road. The Hawks won every quarter, with a 14-point differential in the second half the main catalyst to the 86-68 triumph. Lewis Thomas (23 points, eight rebounds and four assists) was the dominant scorer, while Ben Purser (11 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals) and Andrew Ferguson (11 points, seven rebounds and two assists) were also impressive. Damien Scott put up 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, as Michael Vigor (10 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double, and Hunter Clarke (10 points, three rebounds) also managed double-figure points for the Tigers.

Lakeside Lightning (121) def. South West Slammers (52)

There was no mercy for cellar dwellers South West Slammers during Lakeside Lightning’s smashing 69-point win. Scoring at least 28 points in every quarter, and keeping the Slammers to 14 points or less in three of the the quarters with the end result being a 121-52 win in favour of the Lightning. Corey Shervill top-scored with 25 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, whilst Jarrad Prue racked up a huge double-double of 14 points, 17 rebounds – seven offensive – three steals and two blocks, and both Kyle Armour (18 points, six assists, three steals and two rebounds) and Jack Isenbarger (18 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals) were also standouts in the win. Caleb Van De Griend (21 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks) was the key playmaker in the heavy defeat, while Ngor Nai had the 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in the Slammers’ loss.

Eastern Suns (94) def. by Cockburn Cougars (115)

Cockburn Cougars picked up their first win of the season in the first of two games over the weekend, knocking off Eastern Suns by 21 points at Ray Owen Sports Centre. The Cougars trailed by five points at half-time but then destroyed the Suns in the second half, adding as much as 69 points to 43 – including a 38-17 final stanza – to win 115-94. Gavin Field (22 points, nine rebounds and five assists) was prolific, as Nic Pozoglou (16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) picked up a double-double, and the likes of Josh Hunt (19 points, six rebounds), Jaarod Holmes (16 points, six rebounds, and two assists) and Seva Chan (16 points, six assists and two rebounds) were all strong. Chris Johnson (30 points, four rebounds and four steals), Chuatwech Reath (22 points, four steals) and Ryan Blanchett (21 points, seven rebounds) were the triple threat on the scoring front for the Suns in defeat.

Cockburn Cougars (88) def. Goldfields Giants (74)

Going back-to-back in Round 5, the Cougars have built momentum with a second win, and a first one at home this season, defeating Goldfields Giants by 14 points. The Cougars trailed by two points at quarter time, but won the last three quarters – the second by 10 points – to secure the 88-74 victory. Pozoglou was the dominant scorer with a double-double of 24 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, while Chan (11 points, seven assists three rebounds and two steals) and Kye Chamberlain (nine points, eight rebounds) were also impressive throughout the game. Pesava (26 points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Atkinson (16 points, two rebounds and two steals) were again the prime movers for the Giants in Round 5, while Fletcher Klasztorny (seven points, eight rebounds and three assists) also impressed.

Eastern Suns (77) def. by Willetton Tigers (103)

Willetton Tigers have handed Eastern Suns back-to-back losses with a dominant 26-point triumph on Sunday. The Tigers eclipsed the Suns early with a 57-34 opening half, and whilst the Suns were more competitive in the second half – only conceding three more points than their own – they still suffered a 103-77 defeat. Clarke (21 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Connor Mincherton (20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals) combined for some big numbers, whilst Vigor (14 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, and Scott (16 points, four assists and three rebounds) also impressed. Corey Easley had the 17 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Suns, while Johnson (12 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks) and Blanchett (12 points, three rebounds and two assists) were the next highest points scorers.

Picture credit: Michael Farnell / Sports Imagery

2021 NBL1 West preview: Round 5

THERE are no shortages of classic contests across both the women’s and men’s competitions this weekend in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West, as we preview the Warwick Senators and Joondalup Wolves clash in the women’s league, whilst looking at the Perry Lakes Hawks travelling to Willetton Tigers in the men’s division.

WOMEN’S:

Looking at this week’s matches it is hard to look past the Warwick Senators hosting the Joondalup Wolves. The home team has won its past two matches, and will take to Warwick Stadium tonight to host a Wolves outfit that is unbeaten from two games. The Senators will just have the one game to focus on this weekend, but the Wolves will need to back up against a Mandurah Magic side that will take to the court with a 1-2 record. If the Wolves lose both clashes, they will join both the Senators and Magic at two wins from four games.

The Wolves have some great depth at the center spot, with Kayla Steindl being the impressive leader in there. The Perth Lynx shooter did only play the one game thus far, but put up 24 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and two assists last wee in the Wolves’ win over the Eastern Suns. Expect her to be a huge factor in tonight’s clash, teaming up with even more experienced center Amber Land (11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals). Another Lynx talent in 19-year-old Neseya Parker-Williams has made a promising start to the 2021 NBL1 West season, dropping 14.5 points. 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in the first two games. The other Wolves player to watch is Chelsea Belcher, with the guard recording 13 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals from her two games this season.

Warwick Senators have a couple of gun shooters in Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard and Stacey Barr who have set the competition alight in 2021. Clinch Hoycard has dropped a remarkable 24.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 4.5 steals and 2.6 blocks in an all-round complete performance, making it count from the field with a 55.8 per cent accuracy. Barr is not far behind with 22.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals, shooting at just under a 48 per cent clip from the field. Veteran Nicole Jorre de St Jorre has defied her 39 years of age with a playmaking effort of eight assists to accompany her 5.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. Her clean hands have allowed the likes of Tayla Hepburn (16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks) and 18-year-old Chloe Forster (15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists) to go to work on the offensive end.

In other matches, the Eastern Suns play back-to-back games in search of their first win, taking on Cockburn Cougars (2-0) and Willetton Tigers (1-1) on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The other Friday night clash tonight is between the Perth Redback and East Perth Eagles in the respective team’s only clashes of the weekend. In the remaining two fixtures, Willetton Tigers (1-1) host Perry Lakes Hawks (1-0), while something has to give between the two winless bottom sides in Lakeside Lightning (0-2) and South West Slammers (0-4).

FIXTURES:

Perth Redbacks (1-1) vs. East Perth Eagles (2-1)
Warwick Senators (2-1) vs. Joondalup Wolves (2-0)
Joondalup Wolves (2-0) vs. Mandurah Magic (1-2)
Willetton Tigers (1-1) vs. Perry Lakes Hawks (1-0)
Lakeside Lightning (0-2) vs. South West Slammers (0-4)
Eastern Suns (0-1) vs. Cockburn Cougars (2-0)
Eastern Suns (0-1) vs. Willetton Tigers (1-1)

MEN’S:

The match of the round in the men’s is the Willetton Tigers hosting the Perry Lakes Hawks. While the Senators and Wolves clash promises to be equally as impressive in the men’s as it is in the women’s, the Tigers and Hawks clash will see one of the sides move to 3-0 this season. The head-to-head will be the Hawks’ only clash of the weekend, while the Tigers will travel to take on the Eastern Suns on Sunday.

Previewing the home team first, the Tigers have had two top scorers thus far, with 18-year-old Roosevelt Williams dropping 21 points, six rebounds and two assists in his first game back on April 17, shooting at an elite 88.9 per cent from the field. Damien Scott – 10 years his senior – has been the prime scorer for Willetton, knocking down 23.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.5 blocks, with a 57.6 per cent shooting efficiency. Add in the likes of developing 19-year-olds Dylan Hampson (8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds) and Hunter Clarke (6.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals) and the future is bright for the Tigers.

Unlike the Tigers, instead of having two dominant shooters, the Perry Lakes Hawks have five players who have averaged double-figure points across the Hawks’ two games. Leading the way is Ben Purser, with the experienced forward knocking down 16 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals. The back court has plenty of depth with Mitchell Clarke (16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals), Cooper Hamilton (13.5 points, 2.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds) and Matthew Leary (13.5 points, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds) all putting up good scoring numbers in the first two games. Center Andrew Ferguson is averaging an impressive 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 blocks per game, whilst only coming in for the Hawks’ second game, Lewis Thomas has shot the lights out with 15 points at 83.3 per cent efficiency, as well as four rebounds and three assists in the win over Perth Redbacks.

In other fixtures, the Suns not only face the Tigers, but the Cockburn Cougars (0-2) as well, whilst the Perth Redbacks and East Perth Eagles go head-to-head tonight. The Eagles then host Goldfields Giants tomorrow, while the Wolves have a second game up against Mandurah Magic (2-1). The remaining fixtures sees the Geraldton Buccaneers (0-1) up against the Rockingham Flames (2-1), and the Lakeside Lightning (1-1) hosting the winless South West Slammers (0-4).

FIXTURES:

Perth Redbacks (0-2) vs. East Perth Eagles (1-2)
Warwick Senators (3-0) vs. Joondalup Wolves (2-0)
Geraldton Buccaneers (0-1) vs. Rockingham Flames (2-1)
Joondalup Wolves (2-0) vs. Mandurah Magic (2-1)
East Perth Eagles (1-2) vs. Goldfields Giants (1-1)
Willetton Tigers (2-0) vs. Perry Lakes Hawks (2-0)
Lakeside Lightning (1-1) vs. South West Slammers (0-4)
Eastern Suns (0-1) vs. Cockburn Cougars (0-2)
Eastern Suns (0-1) vs. Willetton Tigers (2-0)

Picture credit: NBL1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flyers snatch unbelievable win against Flames

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 WNBL Round 5 preview: Last chance for teams to make mark

ROUND 5 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is finally here. The last round of the season, and five teams are fighting for four spots, with the top two unable to be moved, and the next two almost there, whilst the fifth placed side has a huge week to try and grab a late spot in the post-season series.

Adelaide Lightning

Position: 5th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5

To make finals?

The Lightning need to win all four games and hope either the Fire or Boomers lose all of their games. Could finish as low as seventh if Perth and Sydney Uni win games in the final round.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Cairns vs. Melbourne Boomers
Wed, Dec 9 @ Cairns vs. Bendigo Spirit
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Townsville Fire
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni Flames

After starting off strongly with a 4-1 start, the Lightning have slumped to a four-game losing streak to now be perilously close to missing out on finals. They need a lot to go right in the run home, though one benefit is playing both the Boomers and Fire who hold onto the spots they needs. If they can win those, they should go 4-0, but even then need at least one of those sides to have a shock loss.

Steph Talbot has been the standout this season, averaging 20.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 block per game, providing some continuity to the side along with Chelsea Brook (10.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists). Abigail Wehrung (11.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Alex Wilson (11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists) have certainly shone but they need to have a big finish in the final round.

 

Bendigo Spirit

Position: 8th
Wins: 0
Losses: 11th

To make finals?

They can’t. In fact they cannot even get off the bottom. Just pride on the line for Bendigo in the Spirit’s final two matches.

Round 5 fixtures:

Wed, Dec 9 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Melbourne Boomers

It has been a disappointing season for the Spirit, but not completely unexpected given the youth they have been pushing through the program. Having lost the likes of Shyla Heal and Abigail Wehrung over the off-season, the Spirit were quite inexperienced, and while they have been overawed, have had some promising moments for the future.

Tessa Lavey (16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals) and Carley Ernst (15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 block) have ben the standout players all season, and have just been searching for more consistent support across the side. Demi Skinner (6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds) and Mary Goulding (5.9 points, 4.0 rebounds) have provided some special moments, while Piper Dunlop (2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds) is one for the future.

 

Melbourne Boomers

Position: 3rd
Wins: 7
Losses: 3

To make finals?

Not lose every game and allow the Lightning to win every game. It is a certainty barring a massive disaster. In fact, even defeating Adelaide tonight guarantees them a spot.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Bendigo Spirit
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Townsville Fire

The Boomers can lock up a finals spot with a win tonight over Adelaide, but realistically they should have no issues casting aside Bendigo on Friday. A grudge match against Townsville looms as a massive final day encounter, with the winner potentially taking third spot, and the loser left for fourth.

Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George combine to be two of the best bigs in the league with the way they have really begun dominating each game of late, not that it should come as any surprise. The two Opals are experts at their craft, and George is averaging 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals, while Magbegor has put up 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block. Tess Madgen (14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists) has provided all-round support for the Boomers, while Maddie Garrick (10.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists) is the other top scorer on the side.

 

Perth Lynx

Position: 6th
Wins: 4
Losses: 7

To make finals?

They cannot. Unfortunately the Lynx left their run a little too late, and even two wins in the final round sees them fall short.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni
Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. UC Capitals

After a poor 1-7 start and only a victory against the winless Bendigo, the Lynx have found their feet in the past week, winning three straight games, and boosting themselves to a 4-7 record which saw them leapfrog Sydney Uni Flames. A win over the Flames tonight guarantees them a top six spot, while they could derail the Capitals plans with a victory on Thursday. Perth will be the first team to finish the WNBL season after Thursday.

Darcee Garbin has had a remarkable season and just keeps getting better, with the ex-Fire talent now up to 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, sharing the load perfectly with Katie-Rae Ebzery (17.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists). Alex Ciabattoni has been a welcome addition to the squad as a two-way player with 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game, while the rebounding duo of Alex Sharp (8.7 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (6.3 points, 7.9 rebounds) has ensured the Lynx remain competitive.

 

Southside Flyers

Position: 1st
Wins: 9
Losses: 2

To make finals?

Never looked like not making it, with top spot to likely be decided in the final round clash against the Capitals.

Round 5 fixtures:

Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. UC Capitals

Now on a five-game winning streak and having taken care of the Boomers after an earlier loss, the Flyers face their other nemesis in UC Capitals in the final round. Southside has plenty of talent with the Capitals and Boomers arguably the only two teams able to have their measure, and as such should have no problems against the Flames on Thursday, then decide top spot with the Capitals on Sunday.

Liz Cambage has been unstoppable at the level since coming back from the WNBA, racking up 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Sara Blicavs (14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals) has relished the focus going off her this season, while Rebecca Cole (13.7 points, 4.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (11.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals) have also provided all-round support. It is hard to forget Leilani Mitchell who has been an assist-machine, picking up 6.5 dimes per game to go with her 8.1 points.

 

Sydney Uni Flames

Position: 7th
Wins: 3
Losses: 7

To make finals?

They cannot, but they could leap as high as fifth if they can win their last three games and results go their way in other matches.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Townsville vs. Perth Lynx
Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Southside Flyers
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Adelaide Lightning

The Flames cannot make finals, but have the potential to pick up a couple more wins in the run home and rise as high as fifth on the table. While the top of the table Southside Flyers will be tough to knock off, the Lynx and Lightning either side of that game, tonight and Sunday are winnable matches for Sydney Uni.

Ex-Perth stars Lauren Mansfield (12.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists) and Alison Schwagmeyer (12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals) have combined brilliantly in the back court this season since crossing the country. Lauren Scherf has remained steady in the five spot with 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, whilst Anneli Maley has been a revelation thanks to 11.4 rebounds to go with her 6.8 points.

 

Townsville Fire

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 4

To make finals?

Similar position to Melbourne, needing one win to secure a Top 4 spot, and can only drop out if they lose them all and the Lightning win them all. Will know if they have to play for a finals spot by the time their first game rolls around.

Round 5 fixtures:

Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Melbourne Boomers

The Fire are on the verge of bouncing back from last year’s wooden spoon to playing finals this year, but must knock off Adelaide Lightning on Friday. They do that and it will be all secure, before a huge playoff for third takes place against Melbourne Boomers on Sunday. Until Friday, the Fire have the longest rest leading up to the final round.

The back court duo of Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal is the best in the competition with the pair providing the majority of the team’s points throughout the 2020 season. Nicholson has put up 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals, while Heal has managed 17.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals in their 10 games this season. Zitina Aokuso just keeps getting better and got the start last match, and is almost up to 10 points per game (9.7) coming off the bench, to go with 5.9 rebounds per match. Nadeen Payne (8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds) has provided great support in that area.

 

UC Capitals

Position: 2nd
Wins: 8
Losses: 3

To make finals?

They are in, and like the Flyers, have looked in since bouncing back from a surprise opening night loss. Top spot will be up for grabs in the last match against the Flyers if the Capitals win their first match.

Round 5 fixtures:

Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Perth Lynx
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Southside Flyers

The reigning back-to-back premiers had a disappointing loss to Townsville Fire which saw them slip to second on the table, and now they have to bounce back with wins against Perth Lynx, and finish off against title favourites, Southside Flyers. The Capitals beat them last time they faced off and will be hoping to do so again, with their defensive mindset key to containing the Flyers’ bigs.

Kelsey Griffin has just been building all season for this pointy end, now averaging 11.8 points. 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, teaming up well with co-captain Marianna Tolo (10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks). The youth coming through the guard spots in Maddison Rocci (15.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals) and Jade Melbourne (8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists) has been a delight for the future, while Keely Froling (9.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) has pieced together a really strong season.

Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Fire take down Caps in a stunning performance

TOWNSVILLE Fire caused a major upset in the WNBL, claiming a 13-point win over UC Capitals in a seesawing affair (84-71). The win marks the Fire’s seventh of the season and keeps them in touch with the top four while it is the second loss in as many days for the Capitals. It has not altered their ladder position too much though, thanks to their strong hold on second place.

Fire skipped out to a strong start and really put the foot down in the second term with a dominant showing thanks to their 24 points to 11. They managed to shut down the typically all-powerful Capitals side before things started to even up in the second half. Managing 19 points apiece in the third quarter, the Capitals came out with a real fire in the belly in the last quarter mounting somewhat of a comeback to outscore Townsville and spark plenty of concern through the Fire camp, but it was not enough to overrun the home side which had created a decent lead and were not ready to give up the “W”.

It was a hard day at the office for the Caps with the Canberra-based side unable to find the basket, sitting at a mere 28 per cent from the field only converting 22 of their 76 chances. On the flip-side, Townsville had a much better day sitting at 48 per cent and impressed from inside the arc nailing 21 of their 37 attempts at 56 per cent compared to 31 per cent. Free throw percentage was another point of difference with the Fire capitalising on their chances at the charity stripe with 75 per cent to 70 per cent. Despite struggling on the scoreboard, the Caps starred off the backboard amassing 49 compared to 35 while they also notched up 15 assists to nine. When it came to turnovers the Fire were much cleaner with ball in hand registering 12 while they also flexed their muscles when it came to points inside the paint with 30-24.

Youngster Shyla Heal seemed to have the ball on a string unable to do no wrong, racking up a game-high 27 points shooting at 58 per cent along with eight rebounds and three assists. Lauren Nicholson was the next best with the guard inflicting plenty of pain on the scoreboard with 25 points to her name and five rebounds, four of which were defensive. Nadeen Payne was the only other player to register double digits for points with 11 while also amassing eight rebounds in her 28 minutes on court. Youngster Zitina Aokuso was down on her usual performance but still managed to record seven points, three rebounds and one assist.

Although the big stars did not step up to the plate it was Maddison Rocci that led the way for the Caps recording 19 points at 43 per cent. Rocci slotted five triples in her outing while also amassing three rebounds, one assist and two steals. Kelsey Griffin had an influence with her 10 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes on court as Mikaela Ruef chimed in with nine points and an impressive 12 rebounds. Keely Froling also hit the scoreboard albeit not in a big way, with her eight points and seven rebounds – six of which were offensive.

The Capitals next look to Perth in hope to secure their ninth win while Townsville next face Adelaide Lightning.

Perth secure nail-biter

WNBL

PERTH Lynx clinched a two-point victory over Adelaide Lightning in a tight contest on Sunday night with the two sides going toe-to-toe for majority of the game (78-80). The victory marked the third straight win for the Lynx who have found some solid form in the back half of the season while Adelaide have faltered in the past couple of outings, with four straight losses.

Adelaide burst out of the blocks with a scintillating start to the game showcasing their dominance and scoring prowess early piling on 28 points to 19. The tables turned in the second quarter with Perth firing back to go on a 26 point to 13 spree and somewhat level the playing field. It was tit for tat for most of the game as the two sides traded blows, with the Lightning rediscovering their form in the third to reclaim the ascendancy and grab a hold of the game. But when it came down to the final quarter Lynx left no stone unturned firing on all cylinders and outscoring the Lightning in the final term to secure an almighty win.

Despite having a lower shooting percentage from the field 33 to 40 it did not stop Perth from stealing the win. Adelaide impressed from two-point range sitting at 41 per cent sinking 16 of their 39 attempts while Perth struggled to find the basket sitting at a mere 28 per cent with 17 from 60. Lynx had the upper hand from range sitting at 46 per cent while Adelaide managed 40 per cent. Rebounding was another strength of Perth (58-44) while when it came to assists the Lightning notched up 23 to 20 and also came out on top in blocks (4-2) and steals (5-4).

The scoring was shared between a number of key players for the Lynx but it was young gun Darcee Garbin that led the pack with her impressive 31 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double performance. Garbin was involved in just about everything and was well aided by teammate Alex Ciabattoni who slotted 15 points in her 30 minutes on court while also registering seven rebounds and three assists. The ever reliable Katie Ebzery stepped up to the plate with her 12 points and 10 assists in another strong showing while Kayla Steidl also managed to find the scoreboard with relative ease picking up 11 points and 11 rebounds to help her side get over the line.

There were only two main scoring options for the Lightning with star Steph Talbot dominating once again. Talbot managed a game-high 23 points to accompany her 13 rebounds and seven assists although it was not enough to get her side over the line. Chelsea Brook plied her trade with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists in her 37 minutes on court despite her shooting percentage being a mere 50 per cent. Abigail Wehrung chimed in with a handy eight points, seven assists and two rebounds while Alex Wilson also managed to hit the scoreboard with her eight points.

It is a short turnaround between games for Adelaide with the side facing off with the third placed Melbourne Boomers while Perth also play on Tuesday against the lowly placed Sydney Uni Flames.

Boomers down ladder leaders, UC Capitals in close encounter

IT was a make or break game for the Melbourne Boomers who had their work cut out for them up against back-to-back premiers UC Capitals but did not disappoint stealing a six point victory (67-73). Heading into the clash the Boomers had a record of 4-1 and were stuck outside the top four with a big week of basketball to come showcasing just how monumental win was in dictating potential ladder position. The victory also proved that their best is definitely good enough to take down the ladder leaders and make a real push for a finals berth.

The lead ebbed and flowed throughout the game testament to the high quality players and all-star teams both the Caps and Boomers have before the Melbourne side forged ahead in the second half to create some strong momentum. Scoring seemed to well and truly dry up in the final quarter with both teams not finding the basket as regularly as normal however that played into the hands of the Boomers who held onto the lead and were not keen on relinquishing the buffer they had established.

Overall shooting accuracy was down for both sides however it was the Boomers that held a marginal upper hand converting at 40 per cent sinking 27 of their 67 shots. The Capitals only managed 34 per cent from the field and really struggled to find their radar from deep only nailing seven of their 21 attempts at 33 per cent while the Boomers managed a 40 per cent clip. Despite not leading on the scoring front UC impressed with rebounds collecting 45 to 40 while also registering one more assist than their opponents (17-16). Blocks were a major difference between the two sides with the Boomers showcasing their clear intent to stop the Caps in their tracks amassing six more than the ladder leaders (7-1) while they were also cleaner with ball in hand only giving up possession nine times compared to 11. The Boomers did the most damage inside the paint knocking back an impressive 34 points as opposed to 24.

There was an even spread of points scorers for the victors but it was Madeleine Garrick that recorded a game-high 19 points to accompany her three rebounds and one assist. Youngster Ezi Magbegor had a day out amassing a double-double thanks to her 18 points and 13 rebounds while teammate Tess Madgen also showcased her prowess knocking back 14 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in an all round solid performance. Captain Cayla George also proved to be a handy option adding 10 points to the tally while also collecting four rebounds and an assist, enough to get her side over the line.

The Caps were down on their usual high output and production with the topscorer the ever-reliable Kelsey Griffin who finished with 16 points, six rebounds and an assist to her name. the next closest was Maddison Rocci with 11 points while the only other player to record double digits for points was Brittany Smart with 10. Keely Froling had an impressive strake rate going at 42 per cent but only managed the nine points in what was a missed opportunity for the Caps. Mariana Tolo might not have been as productive on the scoreboard but was a huge threat off the boards dragging in an impressive 12 rebounds.

It is a tight turnaround for the Boomers who face off with Sydney Uni Flames tomorrow in another must win clash if they are to really stamp their authority on the competition. The Caps have a little bit more time, not playing until Friday but are set to face the Lightning who have proven to be a real threat when on song and raring to go.

Perth honour captain with a 16 point win

WNBL (Getty images)

Down at the opening break Perth turned on the afterburners for the remaining three quarters to hand Bendigo their ninth straight loss (95-79) and honour captain Katie Ebzery in the best way possible her 300th game. It was a slow start to the higher ranked Perth as the Spirit came out with a real intensity and desperation but they simply could not maintain that high level with the Lynx wearing them down and finding the basket with great ease as the game went on.

An explosive second term, really turned the tables into Perth’s favour sinking 30 points to 14 to create some scoreboard separation and put the Spirit well and truly onto the back foot. They continued that hot form into the second half outscoring Bendigo 49-43 showcasing their ability to work their way back into the contest and then maintain that element of control.

Perth made the most of their opportunities when close to the rim sitting at 50 per cent while Bendigo failed to find their range converting at a mere 38 per cent. The Lynx did their most damage when within two point range nailing 28 of their 41 attempts going at an impressive 68 per cent, 20 per cent more than their opponents who only managed to find the basket 17 out of their 35 attempts. Bendigo however were strong from beyond the arc boasting a higher three-point percentage of 29 and better accuracy from the free throw chugging along at 80 per cent compared to 68. Perth did not miss a beat on the rebounding front dragging down 47-36 while also impressing with ball in hand to record 25 assists to 20. They also led the way in steals with 5-3 and had less turnovers (7-9) in an overall clean and tidy game from both sides.

The return home for Darcee Garbin has done nothing but allow the youngster to flourish collecting an impressive game-high 28 points. Garbin proved to be the go-to girl for Perth finding the basket with great ease and converting at 50 per cent while also managed five rebounds and two assists. She was well aided by the likes of captain Katie Ebzery who knocked back 21 points, four rebounds and five assists in her 35 and a half minutes on court. The efforts of Alexandra Sharp did not go unnoticed with the guard starring with her staggering 17 rebounds, 13 of which were defensive along with her 12 points. Kayla Steindl also managed to chime in with her 13 points and fell just short of a double-double with nine rebounds while the only other player to make double figures was Alex Ciabattoni with 11 in her 30 minutes on court.

For Bendigo it was the usual standouts that stepped up to the plate and delivered with Tessa Lavey leading the charge thanks to her 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists in her 40 minutes. The next best was Demi Skinner who slotted 17 points to keep the scoreboard ticking over while also picking up six rebounds and two assists. The reliable, Carley Ernst once again plied her trade knocking back 16 points but could have had more had she been more consistent from the field converting at 35 per cent. She also collected eight rebounds and five assists while Amelia Todhunter proved to be handy off the bench with nine points, three rebounds and four assists.

Bendigo are still on the hunt for their first win of the season and their job does not get any easier set to lock horns with the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday while Perth face off with the fifth placed Townsville Fire.

2020 WNBL Round 4 preview: Competition for finals spots heats up

MELBOURNE Boomers will have the toughest Round 4 schedule of any side after a more relaxed Round 3 in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), having to play four games in six days, including two matches against last year’s grand finalists. Adelaide Lightning, Bendigo Spirit, Perth Lynx and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals will play three games apiece, while Southside Flyers, Sydney Uni Flames and Townsville Fire have the two games this week.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING

vs. Southside Flyers @ Cairns on Wed, Dec 2
vs. UC Capitals @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. Perth Lynx @ Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

It is a make or break round coming up for the Lightning, following two losses in Round 3, that were also accompanied by two big wins. They lost by 40 and 31 points to Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers respectively, but accounted for Bendigo Spirit and Sydney Uni Flames by 40 and 22. They now have to back up to try and turn the tables on the Flyers, before two sets of 48-hour breaks to take on reigning premiers, UC Capitals and then the struggling Perth Lynx. If the Lightning can come away with two wins, they will be in a good position to play finals, but even 1-2 could leave them in the lurch if results do not go their way.

Steph Talbot has been the star this season, putting up 20.8 points 9.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, joined by the likes of Abigail Wehrung (13.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Alex Wilson (13.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals) in the top points scorers. Marena Whittle has also been crucial off the boards with seven rebounds to go with eight points per game.

BENDIGO SPIRIT

vs. Perth Lynx @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Cairns on Sat, Dec 5
vs. Sydney Uni Flames @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

The Spirit are out of contention for the finals race, but could try and finish on a high, playing the other two bottom three sides in the next week. Yet to win a game, a win over the Lynx would be a confidence-boosting effort, whilst the Flames on Sunday is a possible chance as well with their opponents’ best impressive, but their worst pretty bad. The Boomers in between will be a tough ask, but even the likely finals-bound side has shown to have chinks in the armour. With only two games left after this round, the Spirit need to break their winless drought here.

In season 2020, much of the work has been left up to the experience of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey. Ernst has been enormous off the boards with 7.3 rebounds to go with 16.7 points and a block per game, while Lavey has put up 16.3 points, 6.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and a steal per game. Both have been crucial in transitioning from offence to defence, but have made up the bulk of their team’s scoring with Mary Goulding (6.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.1 assists) the next best, and Lavey has recorded about half of the team’s assists, an area the Spirit have struggled in.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS

vs. UC Capitals @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Sydney Uni Flames @ Cairns on Thu, Dec 3
vs. Bendigo Spirit @Cairns on Sat, Dec 5
vs. Southside Flyers @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

If we are talking make or break, then the Boomers have that this round. Four games in six days starting tonight, Melbourne can launch a finals campaign by the end of the week. However, a terrible week would likely see them not only slip back into the back, but also put their finals chances right in doubt. They have a mixed bag this week with likely wins over the Flames and Spirit, but they also take on top two sides, Southside Flyers and UC Capitals. They did account for the Flyers back in Round 1 and would love nothing more than to upset their closest Victorian rival, but coming off three games in five days while the Flyers will have had a few days rest off their only other Wednesday night fixture, it will be tough. Four wins and they are genuinely in the hunt for a top two spot.

Tess Madgen was in scintillating form prior to her ankle injury but she should be back and raring to go this round, averaging 18.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 2020 since crossing from Townsville Fire. The experienced four and five combination of Cayla George (16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and Ezi Magbegor (11.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks) has also been a highlight of the year for the reigning semi-finalists.

PERTH LYNX

vs. Bendigo Spirit @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Townsville Fire @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. Adelaide Lightning @ Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

There is no doubt that for Perth to have a shot at finals, they would need a near-impossible set of results to occur. Having played two extra games to their biggest threats in Melbourne and Adelaide, Perth would need to win its remaining five games, and hope the Boomers and Lightning lose them all – bar the one they face against each other. Despite their 1-7 start, the Lynx have been competitive for the most part despite some one-sided defeats too. They have a very winnable game first up against the only side they have beaten so far in the Spirit, before taking on finals contenders in Townsville Fire and Adelaide Lightning. Whilst it is anticipated they end the week with 1-2 added to their tally, they could catch the Lightning off guard and derail Adelaide’s finals chances.

Katie-Rae Ebzery has been the dominant player, averaging 16.6 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, whilst former Fire talent Darcee Garbin has thrived in the move out west, putting up 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals. Much like the Spirit, the points drop off though both Alex Ciabattoni (8.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Alex Sharp (8.3 points, 6.9 rebounds) have been prominent, as has Kayla Steindl off the boards with 7.9 rebounds.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS

vs. Adelaide Lightning @ Cairns on Wed, Dec 2
vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

After a busy couple of weeks, the Flyers have a relatively smooth week with just two games in the seven days, coming up against Adelaide Lightning and Melbourne Boomers in Cairns. Tomorrow night’s clash against the Lightning will go a long way to securing a top two spot, with a victory over the Boomers just about confirming it. They have only lost the two games – to the Boomers and Capitals – and will be keen to bounce back against the Boomers in their second fixture. Either way, finals is sewn up for the Flyers who are the title favourites despite the losses.

Liz Cambage has made the mark everyone expected her to on-court with 22.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game thus far. She has plenty of talent around her though, with Sara Blicavs (14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals) having a ripping season with Jenna O’Hea (10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game) in the front court. In the back court, Leilani Mitchell (8.7 points, 5.9 assists) and Rebecca Cole (13.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds) have been slicing and dicing opposition defences and leading their side to some big wins.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES

vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Carins on Thu, Dec 3
vs. Bendigo Spirit @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

Sydney Uni is a side whose season is on life support, though there still is a pulse there if they can capitalise this round. With only five games remaining, they will need to win at least four, but preferably all five, starting with the Boomers and Spirit this week. The Spirit is an obvious must-win on Sunday, but to knock off the Boomers on Thursday would help the Flames at least leapfrog them, and potentially sit equal fourth by the end of the round. With Perth and Adelaide amongst the opponents in the final round, their fate is still in their hands, but they cannot afford to slip-up.

Former Perth duo, Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer have taken to the east coast like ducks to water. Mansfield is averaging 12.6 points, 4.8 assists and 2.1 rebounds while Schwagmeyer has put up 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.3 steals. The impact of five, Lauren Scherf with 12.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks should not be underestimated, while Anneli Maley might be the most underrated player in the competition, putting up 7.3 points and 1.3 steals to go with a whopping 11.5 rebounds in her eight games since crossing from the Flyers.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE

vs. Perth Lynx @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. UC Capitals @ Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

Much like the Flyers and Flames, the Fire complete the trio of ‘F’ sides only playing the two games this weekend. Both are at home in Townsville this week, and the Fire get to rest up until Friday, the last team to commence action in Round 4. They go head-to-head with Perth Lynx up first, and are able to put a line through the Lynx’s season. The Capitals on Sunday will be a tougher challenge, and they will need to be at their best, but the Fire have shown to be capable throughout matches they just need to do it for longer periods of time, having gone down to the Capitals back in Round 1 by 11 points.

Lauren Nicholson (16.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals) and Shyla Heal (16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.0 steals) have been one of the best back court duos in the league this season. They have dominated the vast majority of Townsville’s points since crossing from Adelaide and Bendigo respectively over the offseason. Zitina Aokuso (9.9 points, 6.0 rebounds), Megan McKay (5.9 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (8.0 points, 5.7 rebounds) are the bigs who cause headaches for opposition sides off the boards.

UC CAPITALS

vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Adelaide Lightning @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. Townsville Fire @Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

The UC Capitals are sitting pretty at the moment with seven wins from eight games and in prime position for top spot. With a last-day matchup against the Flyers set to potentially determine top spot, there would be one eye on the semis despite having the five games remaining. They have the three this weekend, and none are easy, taking on the likely finals-bound Boomers and Fire either side of the team that beat them in overtime back in Round 1, Adelaide Lightning. The form that a full-strength Capitals outfit has shown over the journey is better than any other side, and they will be hard to beat, but before they can focus on finals, they need to keep ticking over the wins and it starts tonight against the Boomers.

Maddison Rocci (15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals) leads all-comers in terms of points, with the co-captains Marianna Tolo (11.6 points. 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks) and Kelsey Griffin (10.8 points. 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals) building into the season nicely. Jade Melbourne‘s season has been impressive (9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists), while Tahlia Tupaea‘s work off the bench (6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists) should not be understated.