Tag: Lindsay Allen

WNBL Player Spotlight – Melbourne Boomers – Maddie Garrick

THE fifth side we now look at for Draft Central’s Player Spotlight series is last season’s semi-finalists, the Melbourne Boomers, who after bowing out in a hard-fought series to the eventual champions, the University of Canberra Capitals, will look to go one step further next season in WNBL21.

Kicking off the Boomers’ core five for the week, is Shepparton-born co-captain Maddie Garrick, who is still recovering from the surgery and re-stabilisation of her left ankle in the preparations for her sixth season at the club.

Head coach Guy Molloy provided a clearer insight into how far off Garrick is to fully recovering from her surgery.

“We’re still restricting her workload, but I would say she’s ahead of schedule,” Molloy said. “I think that we have a draft or tentative date somewhere in November to begin play, and when Maddie had her surgery done, that was the conservative return date for her anyway.”

Molloy also noted that his coaching staff and trainers still have time to work with Garrick in the later stages of her ankle rehabilitation, which has meant a lot of quarter-court work and half-court work for the 28-year-old. Nevertheless, Molloy has a strong feeling that if the season is to begin in the middle stages of November, Garrick will be ready to suit up by then.

In terms of play last season, Garrick was able to provide her side with decent figures throughout the campaign, putting up 11.1 points per contest alongside a clip of 37.4 per cent from the field. Garrick also facilitated the ball and made the extra effort on numerous possessions, as she also averaged four and a half rebounds per game and over two assists to add to her season stat-line.

While Garrick rarely put up numbers in droves, a 26-point performance against the Sydney Uni Flames at the mid-way point of last season suggested that she does have the ability to turn up her production if need be, especially from deep as she knocked down six three-pointers in that contest alone. This trait could become more visible next season as Molloy sees a more prominent role for Garrick in the immediate future, given the absences of imports like Lindsay Allen and Sophie Cunningham.

“I think the ball will go into her hands a lot more just because we don’t have Lindsay and Sophie and we’ve got to find ways to replace those numbers, so I think Maddie will become an important part in that,” Molloy indicated.

“To Maddie’s credit, she’s remained true and faithful to the club in her role,” said the Boomers head coach. “We’ve kind of kept Maddie back a little bit as a support player in some respects, so she’s been terrific with that role and remained a true team player, so I think she’s earned it if we step her up to a more prominent role next season.”

As the dominos started to fall in the club’s bid to re-sign their core group, Garrick’s name was the first to make the headlines. Evident in the club’s announcement, she has the obvious objective of taking her side past the semis for next season.

“I’m looking forward to building on from an exceptional season for the club last season (with a hint of unfinished business). I am looking forward to getting back to work more than ever after everything that’s happened in the world over the past months,” Garrick said.

“I absolutely love playing for this club – the fans, the environment, the professionalism and also the culture that we have created amongst the team. These are just a few central reasons as to why I’ll be returning to the club for my 6th season, as well as continuing on in the role as co-captain,” she added.

Not only will it be exciting to watch the Boomers co-captain set her sights on a serious title run, but also seeing that mindset translate to the rest of the team will provide for an entertaining brand of basketball.

2019/20 WNBL season review: Melbourne Boomers

IT was a solid season for the Melbourne Boomers who made it all the way to finals, but fell at the last hurdle against a rampaging University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. While they were strong at home winning seven out of 10 games, their ability to win on the road made them a formidable outfit notching up eight wins. Despite their best efforts it was simply not enough to take the final leap into the grand final.

Ladder: 3rd
Win-loss: 15-6

Before the beginning of the season, Boomer fans were up and about. Coming off a playoff run that ended in the semi finals, Melbourne added a whole lot of talent to the roster in hope to go one better and claim that all elusive premiership. Stella Beck was coming off a noteworthy NBL1 season collecting 10 rebounds a night, making her a handy inclusion in the side. Boomer fans were similarly eager to find out if Americans, Sophie Cunningham and Rachel Brewster, were up for the challenge and ready to guide their side to victory. Both coming out of American colleges, the WNBL would certainly be quite the adjustment. Fans were also looking forward to seeing the development of Antonia Farnworth, who had some much needed experience with the Hawks in the NBL1. Although, one question that was never answered all season was how would Paige Price go in an WNBL game. The six foot tall, 16 year old ‘prodigy’ got moved up to the senior level after a great season in the NBL1 with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. But the rising star only entered one game for limited minutes. With such a fresh roster, the Boomers did have to say goodbye to some key contributors such as former captain Jenna O’Hea, who took her talents to Southside, as well as Stephanie Talbot who departed for the Lightning. Richmond AFLW star Monique Conti left midway through the season to focus on her football club leaving a sizeable hole in their roster considering the impact she had off the bench. They also parted ways with Sarah Boothe and Jazmin Shelley, both in pursuit of playing overseas. 

After just coming short of playing in the grand final, the new faces added a certain level of confidence that the team could get over the line in 2020. Led by one of the most decorated and experienced coaches in WNBL history, Guy Molloy had a challenge on his hands. With O’Hea gone, the team had Madeleine Garrick to look up to as team captain. All season long, the Boomers were in good hands as the two-time WNBL champion could not be left open, draining 52 three pointers. Garrick was a major reason why the Boomers were first for steals in the league, swiping the ball off opponents 1.8 times a night, which was only tied with Cayla George. Ezi Magbegor, George and Cunningham would make up a stellar trio on offence, all averaging over 11 points a game. But Lindsay Allen would be the recognised star of this season. At only five foot eight, Allen starred averaging 14.8 points a night, the team’s most. The Boomers have plenty of depth, with more than one choice on the fast break, but this abundance of options can be costly at times with players looking to share the load rather than just take control. Renowned for their team like mentality it was sometimes their downfall, often over sharing the ball which resulted in turnovers. 

But the Boomer’s might just have their future superstar already.  At only 20-years-old, and standing at six foot four, Magbegor won Youth Player of the Year this season, for her second time. An award handed to the most outstanding young player in the league. The award has been given to the likes of four-time MVP, Lauren Jackson which if that is any indication, means big things ahead for Magbegor who is only at the beginning of her career. The scoring load was evenly shared between their stars as reflected in the league scoreboard with no player making it inside the top 10 points scorers for the season but that did not stop them from marching into finals and snatching one win off eventual premiers, the UC Capitals. Melbourne had a season for the ages and while the finals loss will linger it is fair to say that the Boomers are well and truly building towards something if they can keep that winning momentum going heading into season 2020/21. 

2019/20 WNBL: UC Capitals take down Boomers in style

COMING in with the same regular season record whilst previously splitting the series down the middle with a win each, this game was deeply consequential and fortunately it lived up to the hype. But it was the Canberra Capitals who secured the ‘W’ and the grand final hopes, eliminating the Melbourne Boomers in a memorable clash at the AIS Arena.

UC Capitals (77) defeated Melbourne Boomers (64) 

Starting the game with a three pointer from MVP Kia Nurse, the intensity ran high from the very beginning. Capital’s Kelsey Griffith and Nurse came out hot leading the charge with eight points a piece to end the first quarter. All of a sudden, Boomer fan’s fell dead silent as beloved sharp shooter Stella Beck landed awkwardly when going up for a rebound with Griffith, holding her ankle in pain. She inevitably had to be carried off the court and would not return, adding to the already surmountable pressure to come through with a victory. However this would be an important turning point in the game as the Boomers, motivated to win for Beck, matched the Capitals 22 points in the third quarter. After a tech foul was handed out to Capital’s Nurse for flopping, a Boomers late game run push was imminent. The Boomers would carry on with this momentum going on a admirable seven point run in the fourth quarter, making it a ‘must watch’ four point elimination game in favour of the Capitals. However Olivia Epoupa would have the play of the game with a gut wrenching three pointer, diminishing all hopes of a Boomers comeback. With little time left, every fan on both sides knew the Capitals were safe. 

The story of Game 2 where the Boomers left victoriously was one of their impeccable defence all game, finishing with a whopping eight blocks to the Capitals 0. However this game was another story as the Capitals came out of the gate with three blocks, and had more points than the Boomers coming off forced turnovers and from the fast-break. Nevertheless, the Capitals struggled all game to fire from long range, shooting only 14 per cent from behind the three point line. But instead of trying to fix something that was not working, the Capitals got their buckets in the paint. Capital’s coach Paul Gorris’ decision to play out the rest of the game the more traditional way, led the Capitals to get 44 of their 77 points just from the paint. Definitely a deciding factor for the Capitals to get over the line. 

The UC Capitals efforts were commendable, relying heavily on their starting core to get them on the scoreboard. In fact the Capitals bench only contributed five points for the entire game, a statistic that the Capitals coaching staff must address before the grand final. Marianna Tolo was the undisputed star of the game putting up 20 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Capital’s Maddison Rocci was slightly disappointing offensively, playing the second most minutes on the floor but only putting up four points. However the Capitals having a consistent superstar in Kelsey Griffith always comes in handy in tough games like this as she put up 19 points and nine rebounds. Olivia Epoupa was also remarkable, flirting with a triple double with 11 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. 

Boomer’s Sophie Cunningham did her best to keep the team from elimination putting up 14 points and five rebounds. Unfortunately she seemed to be the only light in a dark game for Melbourne, being the only player on the team to score double digits. While the last game was won off the backs of Lindsay Allen and Ezi Magbegor scoring 25 and 17 respectively while pulling down five and nine rebounds together. The Capital’s defence was too much to handle for the dynamic duo, as Allen only had nine points with Magbegor scoring just eight. Although, Boomer’s Cayla George did dish the rock successfully acquiring 12 assists. 

2019/20 WNBL preview: Semi-final 3 – Reigning premiers back at home in deciding grand final spot

REIGNING premiers, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals are back at home for the third and deciding game of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) competition, taking on the Melbourne Boomers who forced a decider with the win on Sunday night.

After triumphing in the first game of the best-of-three series 84-70, the Capitals went down to the Boomers on the road by 12 points, losing 76-88 following a spirited effort from Melbourne’s big guns. Now heading into the third and final game of the series, the Capitals will look to bring much of their performance from the first game back here at AIS Arena. The reigning premiers are near-unbeatable on this court, winning 11 of a possible 12 games, with only minor premiers, Southside Flyers getting the better of them. In other words, it would take an unbelievable effort for the Boomers to get up, but they have a respectable 7-3 record on the road, with one of those losses of course coming in game one.

This year, Kia Nurse has been the standout player with the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) averaging 21.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Teaming up with last year’s MVP, Kelsey Griffin (15.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.0 blocks), the pair has been a headache for the opposition when on the court together. At the center position, Marianna Tolo has been strong with 14.2 rebounds and 7.6 rebounds per game, while Keely Froling (13.2 points, 7.4 rebounds) has provided great support across the court. The only two players to have started every game are Maddison Rocci (9.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and Olivia Epoupa (8.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.0 steals) showing just how versatile and damaging the Capitals’ line-up is on a weekly basis.

The Boomers have some serious A-Grade talent at their disposal as well, with Cayla George (14.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals) on fire, teaming well with fellow Opal, Ezi Magbegor (13.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks). Lindsay Allen (15.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals) has been impressive, as has fellow American, Sophie Cunningham (11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists). Rounding out the starting five is Madeleine Garrick (11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals), while the Boomers have shared court time with players coming off the bench such as Kalani Purcell (23 games), Stella Beck and Antonia Farnworth (both 22 games).

UC start favourites for this clash given its sterling record at home where they have been able to tick off any challenge thrown at them. The Boomers understand they will be up against it in this game, but showed in game two that they have the top-end talent and depth off the bench to match it with the Capitals. Given Southside Flyers are through to the grand final awaiting the winner, both these sides would love to win in a bruise-free encounter, but they both know this is likely to go down to the wire.

WNBL Semi-final 2 review: Boomers keep grand final chance alive

MELBOURNE Boomers have kept their dreams alive with a highly important win against the Capitals in the second semi-final. With one win apiece Melbourne and Canberra will face off in a decider with the victor going on to play in the grand final against the Southside Flyers.

Melbourne Boomers (88) defeated UC Capitals (76)

In front of a home crowd the Melbourne Boomers well and truly struck back against the Capitals downing them by 12 points and keeping their grand final chances alive. The Boomers raced out of the blocks applying early scoreboard pressure with a 23 and 26-point showing in the first and second terms while keeping the Capitals to 18 and 16 respectively. While the traveling side had a stronger second half they failed to reduce the margin. It was a complete performance on behalf of the Boomers who came out with a point to prove from tip off and did not let up throughout forcing the Capitals to play catch-up.

Accuracy was one of the key differences between the two sides throughout the game, with Melbourne making the most of their chances sitting at 50 per cent from field goals as opposed to the Capitals who only managed 42 per cent. Although the Capitals were stronger from beyond the arc with 35 per cent conversion the Boomers reigned supreme in close with 61 per cent accuracy from two point range compared to their opponents with 44 per cent. Defensively the Boomers were also a lot stronger racking up an impressive eight blocks while the Capitals did not register one. In terms of rebounds, Melbourne won that area as well with 14 more than their opponents showing just how much of a one-sided affair the match was.

Melbourne’s big guns sensed the moment and rose to the occasion. While they did not get a lot of relief from their bench players the Boomers did not look overawed or run of their feet instead showed plenty of composure and class. Lindsay Allen led from the front with a stat stuffing performance with a game-high 25 points along with five rebounds and four assists. Teammate Ezi Magbegor starred in her sides victory with a whopping four blocks and nine rebounds seven of which were defensive highlighting her defensive mindset while also hitting the scoreboard with 17 points of her own. Guard Madeleine Garrick also shone with 17 points and eight rebounds while captain Cayla George plied her trade across the court knocking back 13 points, five assists, six rebounds and two steals.

For the Capitals, Olivia Epoupa was relatively well held compared to her lofty standards but still had an influence with 13 points and two steals. Keely Froling started on the bench but when on court managed to have an impact albeit limited with six points but a strong seven rebounds. The number 17 proved to be the magic number for Kia Nurse and Kelsey Griffin with both players recording 17 points apiece. Nurse added five rebounds, four assists and two steals to her impressive outing while Griffin gobbled up seven rebounds of her own. Marianna Tolo struggled to find her usual point-scoring form with 14 for the match and only two rebounds.

WNBL Semi-final 1 review: Capitals dominate Boomers in first semi-final outing

THE first semi-final of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) saw the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals get the job done against the Melbourne Boomers in game one of the best-of-three series.

UC Capitals (84) defeated Melbourne Boomers (70)

It was neck and neck for the first three quarters of the game, before the Capitals blew Melbourne out of the water in the final quarter. All scores were tied up at half-time with neither side willing to give an inch and going blow for blow setting up an intriguing battle. Unfortunately, it all fell apart for the Boomers in the final quarter with the Capitals piling on a massive 27 points to 15 in the final term, to run out comfortable winners in front of their home crowd. Melbourne simply had no answers for the Capitals who were slick across the court and backed themselves off the boards.

Kia Nurse led from the front once again for the Capitals starring with a game-high 25 points for her efforts. She was not alone though, with Olivia Epoupa plying her trade off the boards and hitting the scoreboard. The French import has not skipped a beat this season and proved why she is a force to be reckoned with recording a double-double thanks to her 19 points and 10 rebounds. Although Kelsey Griffin did not feature as highly in the points column, it was her rebounding work that separated her from the pack with a whopping 12 for the game. Keely Froling (11 points, six rebounds, two blocks) and Mariana Tolo (10 points, four rebounds) both hit the scoreboard for the Capitals doing their part to keep their chances of making it to the big dance alive.

Melbourne struggled to get its normal game play flowing with a host of its big time players well held throughout the match. Lindsay Allen led the way for the Boomers knocking down 17 points for the game. Allen was good with ball-in-hand, racking up five assists while also showcasing her defensive attributes with two steals. Guard, Madeline Garrick was the next closest with 16 points and five rebounds with Sophie Cunningham also chipping in to try and keep her side within striking distance. Dominant duo Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George failed to have their usual impact on the scoreboard with a collective 20 points but made their presence felt in the rebounds stats with four and eight respectively.

Both sides will meet again on Sunday, February 23, this time at the State Basketball Centre.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Semi-finals – Capitals look to extend winning streak over Boomers

THE first of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals action is set to kick off on Sunday with the reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting the Melbourne Boomers. Both sides have been in ripping form as of late and coming off a break should be raring to go.

A one-point loss will be etched in the memory of the Boomers with the Melbourne side unable to get over the line in their recent clash against the Capitals who simply did just enough. In fact, the Capitals had the wood over them in Round 5 as well running away with a three point victory. But the Boomers know what it takes to conquer the Capitals downing them by a whopping 35 points early in their season well and truly announcing their dominance and will be looking to repeat those efforts in the semi-finals. The Capitals have really hit their straps in recent history with five game winning streak while their opponents have not had the same luck recording three wins out of their past five making for an intriguing battle on Sunday. University of Canberra are strong at home winning 10 of their 11 while Melbourne have an impressive away record winning eight of their 11 chances.

The Melbourne Boomers will be without Monique Conti with the Richmond AFLW star opting out of her basketball contract to focus on her footy career. Conti provided that little bit of x-factor off the bench and will be sorely missed but the Boomers are not without a plethora of other talented options. Opals star Cayla George is in a league of her own with the highly touted forward able to excite the crowd with her scoring prowess and dynamism. She is not alone with Ezi Magbegor able to inflict pain on the scoreboard sitting at a 53.3 per cent field goal accuracy with only Stella Beck above her on 61.4 per cent. The Boomers are a relatively well rounded team with each individual player able to stand up and take the game by the horns with Sophie Cunningham solid from the free-throw line and Lindsay Allen a proficient points scorer and handy around the basket.

The Capitals finished second for a reason the main one being their strong offensive options with Kia Nurse, Mariana Tolo and Keely Froling all able to blow a game wide open. All three players are renowned for their high scoring ability and attack on the ball making them a damaging trio for the Boomers. Kelsey Griffin is another go-to girl for the Capitals able to churn out the minutes and play at a consistently high level credit to her basketball nous. Although she is not as prominent as some of the other members in her team Maddison Rocci is no slouch racking up the rebounds and points. Olivia Epoupa leads the way for rebounds in the Capitals outfit with the Frenchwoman recording 164 for the season so far.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 14 – Make or break round for Capitals

CLASHES against the top two sides makes Round 14 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) a belter for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. Aside from those couple of thrilling contests, Adelaide Lightning is still looking to keep a step ahead in third, while the Boomers and Flyers hope to solidify their top two spots ahead of finals.

UC CAPITALS vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 17, 7pm
National Convention Centre

Opening up the weekend is a huge top four clash between reigning premiers, UC Capitals and Melbourne Boomers. With a four-game gap between fourth and fifth, the Capitals are secure in the knowledge they will play finals, but will hope to win this game to draw one win closer to the top two Boomers. Finishing fourth means the Capitals will not be able to host two home finals in the series, and will be travelling for the majority of the time – predominantly to Victoria. If they can win, then it leaves the race for second wide open, as the Southside Flyers look to have secured top spot on the WNBL table. In the two previous meetings the teams are one win apiece with the Boomers thrashing the Capitals by 35 points back in Round 3, before the Capitals earned a hard-fought three-point win a couple of weeks later. The Capitals have proven to be near-impossible to beat at home with a 6-1 win-loss record there, though the Boomers are just as impressive on the road with six wins from eight encounters. In the absence of injured star Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling has stood up of late to be a bonafide starter, posting 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, teaming well with the equally impressive Marianna Tolo (13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks). Tolo will be particularly important to try and quell the influence of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor of whom the pair of forward-center’s combining for 26 points and 15 rebounds.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, January 17, 7pm
Titanium Security Arena

Down in South Australia, third placed Adelaide Lightning will be keen to take advantage of the result from the Capitals-Boomers clash and either move one win closer to Melbourne or one win further away from UC. The season is done and dusted for Townsville who sit four and a half games outside of fourth spot. The Fire will still be keen to have a strong finish to the year and push for fifth spot, and back-to-back wins over Round 14 would likely see them achieve that spot, albeit temporarily. The Lightning are fairly strong at home with a 6-3 win-loss record, while the Fire on the road have been shaky to say the least, winning just two of nine attempts this season. Both of the clashes between these sides in the 2019/20 season have been in Townsville with the Lightning easily taking the wins both times thanks to margins of 18 and 26 points respectively. Brianna Turner (16.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) has been a ray of consistency this season, combining well with the all-round efforts of Stephanie Talbot (14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game). Nicole Seekamp has been steadily building in the guard position, while the inclusion of Kathryn Westbeld in replacing Crystal Langhorne as a forward has been a positive one. For the Fire, Abby Bishop has missed the last few games but it has not hurt the Fire who have recorded back-to-back wins and jumped off the bottom of the table. Tess Madgen (12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) have been quite handy for the team over the course of the season.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday, January 18, 5pm
Brydens Stadium

In what will be a quick turnaround for the Boomers, Melbourne heads from the nation’s capital to Sydney for a match against Sydney Uni Flames. A couple of wins could see them draw level with Southside Flyers, but a couple of  losses all but rules them out of a run for top spot. Not only could that be the case, but both third placed Adelaide and fourth placed UC would be on the Boomers case heading into the final two rounds of the season. Sydney Uni have won three of eight at home, while the Boomers are confident on the road and will start favourites despite the short turnaround. Player management will be crucial for the visiting side over the weekend as the Boomers have one eye on the finals series. In the two matches this year, Melbourne has brought home the chocolates on both occasions, winning by 13 points in Melbourne before toppling Sydney Uni by 23 points on the road. For the Flames to win they will need to be at their best, led by Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Jessica Kuster (12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks). Lauren Scherf had a standout game last season and is averaging eight points and eight rebounds per game, and will need another huge one to topple the likes of George and Magbegor. Restricting the Boomers’ bigs will be key to victory, though Sophie Cunningham (11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds) and Lindsay Allen (15.3 points, 4.9 assists) are a couple of Americans who continue to cause headaches for the opposition.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, January 18, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

In the most anticipated one-sided game of the round, top takes on bottom when Southside Flyers travel up the highway to face Bendigo Spirit. The Flyers have had a superb first season in the WNBL after the rebrand from Dandenong Rangers, sitting two games clear with 14 wins from 17 games, while Bendigo has struggled at times with just four wins from 13 games. The one positive heading into this match is the fact that all four of Bendigo’s wins have come at home, though Southside are 8-1 on the road. In their two previous encounters this season – both at home for Southside, the Flyers have won by eight and 13 points. Bendigo’s Carley Ernst is the key rebounder in the side, picking up 6.7 boards a game to accompany her 11.8 points. Kelly Wilson (8.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds) and Tessa Lavey (8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are others who have had strong seasons despite the unfavourable results for the Spirit. The Flyers have had no shortage of contributors, and Mercedes Russell has set the tone as the premier center in the competition, averaging a double-double of 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Rebecca Cole (16.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (15.9 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists) are others have worked hard, playing as important guards in the ladder-leading side.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 19, 2pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

In one of two Sunday games, Perth Lynx play their first game of the round against a Townsville Fire side travelling across the border after their clash against the Lightning on Friday night. The Lynx would need incredibly favourable results to have any chance of making finals, sitting four games outside of the top four with just two rounds remaining. Realistically it is beyond last year’s finalists, though ensuring they do not finish in the bottom two would also be a huge motivation to win this match. The Lynx are 4-5 at home, while the Fire are only 2-7 on the road so expect the Lynx to be favourites without being a sure thing – especially considering Townsville toppled them back on November 2 in Western Australia by five points before Perth sought revenge with a five-point win of their own up in North Queensland. Perth has a number of players who have produced solid performances throughout the year, with an even team performance rather than standout individuals. Katie-Rae Ebzery (15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals) has led the way from the likes of Alison Schwagmeyer (15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.7 points, 4.6 assists). While the Australian cohort of the Fire have been up and about, the international imports in Bridget Carleton (11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Belgian Julie Vanloo (8.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists) have also contributed this year.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. UC CAPITALS
Sunday, January 19, 5pm
Dandenong Stadium

The match of the round could well be the final game of the weekend. The top-of-the-table Southside Flyers make the trip up to Canberra following a night clash with Bendigo Spirit the day before, to take on the UC Capitals in a ladder-defining clash. The Flyers can lock up top spot with a big weekend, while a couple of losses could see the Boomers pounce on top spot. Arguably the Capitals have even more to lose if they go down in their clashes against the top two sides because it would rule them out of a top two spot and a double home final. These sides have played twice this season with the Capitals winning on the road to hand Southside its first loss back in early November, before the Flyers knocked off the Capitals in their only loss at home. While Southside seldom lose at home, the Capitals have shown the formula to do it, and it could be a thrilling contest. The forwards have been good at providing some strong rebounding and point-scoring abilities with the likes of Jenna O’Hea (14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and Sara Blicavs (13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds) leading the way for the Flyers. The Capitals have an equal amount of enviable depth with other starters Kia Nurse (19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds), Olivia Epoupa (7.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists) and Maddison Rocci (7.6 points, 2.5 assists) all crucial in combining for a successful team this season.

2019/20 WNBL Round 13 preview: Boomers and Flyers to go at it again

WITH the finals within reach the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is about to ramp up with a host of key match-ups headlining Round 13, none bigger than the clash between Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 10, 7:05pm
Titanium Security Arena

It will be a blockbuster opening to Round 13 with the Adelaide Lightning hosting the in form Melbourne Boomers who have shown they have skill to boot. The Lightning have rallied in recent weeks claiming four of their last five wins much like the Boomers, making for a hotly contested game. The Boomers currently sit second on the ladder but a loss here could see them potentially drop down the ladder, meaning the Lightning have a lot to play for. Both sides are relatively evenly matched when it comes to points scored, but Melbourne could find themselves in a world of hurt if they do not get on top of Adelaide early when it comes to points scored from fast breaks. With the likes of Lindsay Allen and Cayla George leading the way the Boomers have a plethora of options when it comes to damaging the scoreboard. Madeleine Garrick can also post her fair share of points making the Boomers a deadly counterpart once they get going. Lucky enough for the Lightning they have a pretty stacked line-up with the likes of Brianna Turner a points scoring machine. Turner along with Lauren Nicholson and Stephanie Talbot can do a wealth of damage to trouble not only the scoreboard but so too the Boomers.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. UC CAPITALS
Friday, January 10, 7:05pm
Townsville Stadium

The Townsville Fire have struggled for consistency throughout the 2019/20 season as opposed to reigning premiers the UC Capitals who have left their mark on the competition. Despite dropping a few games here and there the Capitals, despite a shock loss last week against the lowly ranked Spirit, have been hailed as a team to watch with their best hard to stop. Headlined by Kia Nurse, UC have scoring prowess and class across the board while Keely Froling and Marianna Tolo are no slouches able to consistently hit the scoreboard. It is not only their work in the points department but ability to gather the rebound or dish off assists that makes the Capitals a damaging opponent.  Although the Fire do not have the same depth as their competitors they have their own key players in Darcee Garbin and Abby Bishop. Both players are known for their ability to put points on the board and if they can get enough of the ball early will help to set up a good foundation for the game. Townsville and Canberra are both coming off losses and will be looking for redemption but given the Capitals have that extra bit of star power it will be an uphill battle for the last placed Fire.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 12, 1:05pm
Brydens Stadium

The fifth placed Sydney Uni Flames are set to take on the Townsville Fire who will have played their second game in as many days. The Flames have worked their way up the ladder and will be looking to consolidate on their recent form against the struggling Fire who have only notched up three wins so far. Despite the Flames dropping their last two games they still have a wealth of key players that can have an influence and help dictate the flow of the game. The Flames would be well aware that if they lose this match it could be the end of their albeit slim finals hopes. Alice Kunek has been a scoring machine for the Flames leading the way with a whopping 292 points so far this season and while she had a quiet game last week she will be looking to bounce back. Teammates Colleen Planeta and Jessica Kuster are just a couple of other game changers for the Flames with their dynamic style of play. For the Fire the usual suspects in Bishop and Garbin will have to step up but expect the likes of Bridget Carelton to have an impact.

PERTH LYNX v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, January 12, 1:05pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

It will be a battle of the two lower placed teams with Perth Lynx playing host to the Bendigo Spirit on Sunday. The Spirit will be riding high after notching up a surprise win against the Capitals last round and will be aiming to replicate that strong showing once again. Bendigo have had an up and down season this year but a win here could see them leapfrog their opponents on the ladder. On the other hand, Lynx will be holding on tight to ensure they do not drop down the ladder with the end of season quickly approaching. Kate Ebzery and Alison Schwagmeyer have been the shining light for the Lynx able to win a game off their individual performance. Schwagmeyer has posted some hefty totals throughout the year and will have to pull out all the stops to get over the top of the Spirit who are on a two-game winning streak. Imani McGee-Stafford is another player that can tear games wide open making her an ominous threat for the Spirit. But Bendigo should not be worried with the likes of Carley Ernst a handful to control. Ernst can apply plenty of scoreboard pressure while Shyla Heal has continued to develop as the season has worn on making for an intriguing battle.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, January 12, 5:05pm
State Basketball Centre

The final game of the round is set to finish with a bang with one versus two. The Boomers will be suiting up for their second game of the round, while the Southside Flyers will be hoping to capitalise on their opponent’s fatigue. Having not played since last round the Flyers will be hoping to exploit any potential cracks in their cross-town rivals and get some separation on top of the ladder with a win. Southside are littered with a wealth of game changes in the form of Rebecca Cole and Mercedes Russell. Both players can knock back some lofty totals with Cole dropping 30 points in one game last week highlighting her sheer explosiveness if left unattended. Other key players such as Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs pose a dominant threat for the Boomers given their ability to flick a switch and cause an impact. The Boomers have the firepower to inflict some pain on the Flyers with Ezi Magbegor, George and Allen all able to have an influence while dual athlete Monique Conti offers plenty of skill. With stacked line-ups and relatively even statistics across the board it will be an enthralling game for all involved.

WNBL Round 12 review: Adelaide Lightning make it four in a row

WITH Round 12 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) done and dusted, the Southside Flyers remain at the top of the table despite suffering a loss while the Melbourne Boomers remain a constant threat sitting in second. The Spirit mustered up their second consecutive win while Adelaide continued their purple patch.

Bendigo Spirit (94) defeated UC Capitals (90)

Bendigo kicked off the round in style with a surprise four-point victory over the higher ranked UC Capitals. The Spirit have struggled throughout the 2019/20 season but pulled out all the stops in their game against the Capitals to prove they have what it takes to match it with the best. Despite contributions across the board from the Capitals it was their inaccuracy that killed them with the Spirit sitting at 45.8 per cent from the field compared to 38.1 per cent with accuracy from the three point line also reflecting a similar situation. Marianna Tolo recorded a game high 26 points highlighting her explosiveness while also showing her strength off the boards with 17 rebounds to start 2020 with a double-double. The next closest was opponent Shyla Heal who led the way for Bendigo finding the net with ease and opening up space to drive to the basket with 24 points and eight rebounds. For the Capitals, Keely Froling threw her weight around especially when it came to scoreboard pressure, posting 22 points to go with her 11 rebounds, while teammate Kia Nurse also notched up 17 points. Despite big efforts from three of their top performers the Capitals could not get over the line with Heal and Carley Ernst (19 points) combining effortlessly across the court in what was only their fourth win.

DC Medal: 3 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 2 – Keely Froling (UC), 1 – Shyla Heal (BS)

Townsville Fire (61) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (87)

The Lightning came into the new year with a point to prove and made their plans pretty clear from the get go, bursting out of the blocks with a 33 to 16 point first term. Adelaide built from there, gaining momentum and not looking back and although they lost the last quarter, the damage was already done. Adelaide had no trouble hitting the scoreboard, able to shoot from range or under the post to steadily increase their margin while Townsville struggled to muster up any type of scoring rhythm. It was easy pickings for the Lightning sitting at an impressive 57.9 per cent from three point range compared to the Fire who only managed a mere 20 per cent. Another major difference between the two sides was the contributions off the bench with Adelaide recording 27 points while Townsville posted seven. But the efforts of Darcee Garbin did not go unnoticed for the Fire, leading the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, Abby Bishop also contributed to the Fire’s total with 15 points along with four assists. But it was not enough to stop the rampaging Lightning with all 10 of their players posting a score with import Brianna Turner nailing 17 points and seven rebounds. Stephanie Talbot showcased her class across all areas of the court with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Lauren Nicholson sunk 13 points of her own.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 2 – Brianna Turner (AL), 1 – Darcee Garbin (TF)

Perth Lynx (75) defeated by Southside Flyers (90)

The Southside Flyers continued their hot form disposing of the Perth Lynx by 15 points in a win away from home. It was relatively even across the board with both sides boasting similar game styles however it was the Flyers’ ability to race down the court and convert that was a major turning point in the game. Southside scored nine points from fast breaks while Perth managed four. A big last quarter from the Flyers all but handed them the win scoring 22 points and keeping their opponents to just 14. Rebecca Cole took the game by storm with a whopping 30 points for the Flyers. Teammate Mercedes Russell recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea posted 18 and 13 points respectively in their win over the Lynx. Perth were not without their chances leading in offensive rebounds and bench points but faded out when the game was on the line. Kate Ebzery did her best to stay in touch, sinking 20 points and showing her durability having played the most game time. When it came to rebounds, Lynx was all over it with four of the top five all donning the red and black. Imani McGee-Stafford was quiet by her points scoring standards but managed nine rebounds with Marena Whittle the next in line with seven. For Lauren Mansfield, six proved to be the magical number – notching up six points, six rebounds and six assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Rebecca Cole (SF), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Mercedes Russell (SF)

Adelaide Lightning (104) defeated Southside Flyers (93)

In both sides’ second game of the round it was the Adelaide Lightning that came out victorious against a potentially fatigued Flyers who played two days before. It was a hot start to the contest with only one point separating them at quarter time before the Lightning put the foot down in the second term to pile on an impressive 35 points and force the Flyers into chase position. The Flyers simply could not recover despite big efforts from the likes of Russell who replicated her hot form with 28 points and 10 rebounds to notch up yet another double-double. Sara Blicavs also put in a solid performance for the Flyers mustering up 18 points and seven rebounds meanwhile Cole also made her presence felt on the court with 18 points, four assists and three rebounds in her sides defeat. The Lightning made it two from two in Round 12 once again led by Turner with 25 points and nine rebounds. But Turner was closely followed by Nicholson who contributed an impressive 24 points, four assists and five rebounds. Kathryn Westbeld was not to be forgotten about, converting 22 points while Nicole Seekamp put on some kind of performance with a whopping 20 assists to help guide her side to victory.

DC Medal: 3 – Nicole Seekamp (AL), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Brianna Turner (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (63) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (86)

In the final game of the round, the Melbourne Boomers showed why they sit second on the ladder with a strong performance against the struggling Sydney Uni Flames. The Boomers outscored their opponents in every quarter, quickly dashing any chances they had of getting back into the match. Melbourne’s defensive pressure was impressive racking up nine steals and limiting the Flames to just two while their rebounding ability was just as strong taking 15 more (53-38) highlighting their skill above the rim and off the backboard. Lauren Scherf was the go to girl for the Flames knocking back 20 points and nine rebounds while the efforts of teammate Alice Kunek was also key racking up 13 points and seven rebounds. But the Boomers were just too strong with a host of players able to stand up and deliver time and time again. Madeleine Garrick top-scored for the home side with 19 points, with Cayla George hot on her heels with 18 points and 10 rebounds to record her first double-double of the new year. Lindsay Allen also popped up with a handy 15 points to keep the scoreboard ticking over meanwhile Ezi Magbegor plied her trade off the boards with 10 rebounds highlighting the strong team effort displayed by the Boomers.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Lauren Scherf (SU), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

The clash between the UC Capitals and Perth Lynx was set to take place at the AIS but was cancelled due to poor air quality as a result of the bushfires in surrounding areas. A decision will be made in the coming days announcing a possible rescheduled match between the two sides.

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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