Tag: megan mckay

NBL1 West wrap: Round 9

IN ROUND 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West competition, Perry Lakes Hawks asserted their dominance across both competitions with impressive wins, including a top of the table victory in the men’s division.

WOMEN’S:

Perry Lakes Hawks had a good weekend in Round 9, triumphing in both their clashes over Lakeside Lightning and South West Slammers. The Hawks started off the weekend with a Friday victory over the Lightning, getting up 91-74, before smashing the Slammers on Saturday evening with a 66-point shellacking on the road. In the tighter 17-point win, Perry Lakes took control from the start and lead by eight points at the first break, then won each quarter after that to secure the victory. They also won the four quarters against the Slammers who were competitive for a term – scoring 18 points in the first – but then proceeded to only score 13 over the next three quarters – including just two in the second and fourth quarters – to go down 97-31.

Megan McKay had a couple of memorable outings, putting up 22 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and three steals against Lakeside Lightning, then added 22 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists in just 19 minutes against the South West Slammers. Natalie Burton did a lot of damage against the Slammers with 24 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, having a quieter 11 points, six rebounds and two assists against the Lightning. Millicent McCarthy (20 points, four rebounds and two steals) was lively from long-range against the Lightning, but only managed the eight points, through eight assists, five steals and three rebounds, against the Slammers.

There was not much to smile about from South West’s perspective, with Zaya Lilly Black battling hard to score a team-high seven points, as well as six rebounds. Cian Parsons was the top player with 13 rebounds – 11 defensive – to go with six points, matched on a scoring front by Imogen Van Iaere (six points, seven rebounds). The more competitive Lightning had the impressive Ashleigh Isenbarger who finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Kyrah Daniels (13 points, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Jae Flynn (12 points, three rebounds) also hit double-digit points.

Another team that picked up two wins on the weekend – both on the road – was East Perth Eagles who knocked over Rockingham Flames by six points (83-77) and then Willetton Lightning by 13 points (87-76). In a battle of the two losers from Friday night, the Lightning bounced back to record a three-point win over Rockingham Flames (72-69) on Saturday. Meanwhile in other results, Cockburn Cougars defeated Mandurah Magic by 13 points, Warwrick Senators smashed Perth Redbacks by 35 points, and Joondalup Wolves grabbed the win against Eastern Suns by 12 points.

ROUND 9 RESULTS:

Perry Lakes Hawks (91) def. Lakeside Lightning (74)
Rockingham Flames (77) def. by East Perth Eagles (83)
Cockburn Cougars (69) def. Mandurah Magic (56)
Perth Redbacks (58) def. by Warwick Senators (93)
South West Slammers (31) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (97)
Willetton Tigers (76) def. by East Perth Eagles (87)
Lakeside Lightning (72) def. Rockingham Flames (69)
Eastern Suns (54) def. by Joondalup Wolves (66)

MEN’S:

A top of the table clash between Perry Lakes Hawks and Lakeside Lightning went the way of the now first placed Hawks, as Perry Lakes got up by 16 points. Playing on Friday night, the Hawks were sluggish at the start as the visitors got away to a five-point lead at quarter time, and were out by eight at the main break. Reeling them in immediately after half-time, the Hawks scored 22-10 in the third term to take a four-point advantage into three quarter time, before piling on 25 to 13 in the final term to win 97-81.

Lewis Thomas lead the way for the Hawks with a double-double of 25 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Also contributing well across the floor was Ben Purser (21 points, seven assists and five rebounds), whilst Ryan Smith (18 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Mitchell Clarke (12 points, eight assists and four rebounds) also impressed. Andrew Ferguson (eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks) was strong off the boards.

For the Lightning, Julius Bowie took control of scoring with 22 points and four rebounds, one of four players to rack up double-digit points. Jack Isenbarger (19 points, two assists), Kyle Armour (17 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Rowan Mackenzie (15 points, seven rebounds) were also impressive.

Turning around the result, the Lightning took the win over Rockingham Flames on Saturday, getting up by 17 points, 101-84. They won the first half by nine points, then finished strongly with a 26-18 last term to win comfortably. Mackenzie managed the 26 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Isenbarger pipped him for 28 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Bowie had 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists. For the Flames, Cirkook Makuac Riak (22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists), Ryan Godfrey (14 points, four assists and three rebounds) and Justin Beard (seven points, 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists) were among the best players.

In a much easier win than their Friday night victory, Perry Lakes Hawks secured a 27-point win over South West Slammers on the road. Matthew Leary (16 points, four rebounds and two assists) did well, stepping up with Ferguson (19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals), Clarke (15 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals) and Smith (14 points, five rebounds) in the big win. For the Slammers, Mitchell Keller (15 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks) and Ngor Nai (10 points, three rebounds and two steals) were the double-digit scorers.

In other results, Warwick Senators suffered a disappointing loss to Perth Redbacks by 14 points, as East Perth Eagles went down in both their clashes to Rockingham Flames (52 points) and Willetton Tigers (26 points). Mandurah Magic proved too good for Cockburn Cougars (13 points), while Goldfields Giants came away with the eight-point victory over Geraldton Buccaneers, and Eastern Suns suffered back-to-back defeats to Joondalup Wolves (18 points) and Mandurah Magic (14).

ROUND 9 RESULTS:

Perry Lakes Hawks (97) def. Lakeside Lightning (81)
Rockingham Flames (105) def. East Perth Eagles (53)
Cockburn Cougars (78) def. by Mandurah Magic (91)
Geraldton Buccaneers (62) def. by Goldfields Giants (70)
Perth Redbacks (83) def. Warwick Senators (69)
South West Slammers (64) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (91)
Willetton Tigers (90) def. East Perth Eagles (64)
Lakeside Lightning (101) def. Rockingham Flames (84)
Eastern Suns (75) def. by Joondalup Wolves (103)
Mandurah Magic (83) def. Eastern Suns (69)

 

Picture credit: Eric Paul Goldie

2021 NBL1 West wrap: Round 6

IN Round 6 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West there were a number of tight games across both the men’s and women’s divisions.

NBL1 West Women: Perry Lakes Hawks (61) defeated by Rockingham Flames (62)

It was a fiery battle between the two sides, but the Rockingham Flames managed to steal the win in an intense one-point win over the Perry Lakes Hawks. The East Perth Eagles burst out onto the scene early with four points, leading Rockingham to fire back with three points. A tight contest emerged between the two teams, as the scores were 14-19 heading through to the end of the first period. Heading into the second period, the Flames immediately took advantage and held onto the lead for the majority of the time, until a quick two-pointer saw the Hawks steal the lead 31-30.

The back and forth continued going into the second half, as Rockingham slowly began to get a stream of points on the board for the third period. An exciting final period was on the agenda, with a time-out called as the scores were 59-62, Rockingham’s way. Despite a last-minute two points from the Hawks, they were unable to get the win for themselves.

Rockingham had a stellar performance from the likes of Alex Ciabattoni (23 points, four assists, three rebounds and who steals), while Christina Boag (eight rebounds) and Paris Duffield both scored nine points. Zoe Richards also impressed with seven points, and four rebounds.. For the Hawks, Megan McKay was the clear standout with 21 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Mia Satie had an incredible game with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Madeline Dennis’ presence on the court was significant, also putting 10 points on the board for the Hawks.

Perth Redbacks secured a 16-point win against the East Perth Eagles, but were unable to get past the Rockingham Flames in a tight one-point game. The Rockingham Flames won against the Perry Lakes Hawks, as did the Eastern Suns when they played against them. The Willetton Tigers also got a win against the Cockburn Cougars.

NBL1 West Men: Geraldton Buccaneers (60) defeated by Lakeside Lightning (82)

A two-point shot from Geraldton set up the battle between these two teams. But even with an early start from Geraldton, Lakeside managed to pull an upset win. A two-pointer saw Lakeside continue with dominance in the first period, before the Buccaneers scored two point to end the first period. Two free throws from Lightning opened the beginning of the second term. The Buccaneers responded with two three-point jump shots and a two-point jump shot, the scores evenly close 24-26 going Lakeside’s way.

A time-out was called by the Lightning before the heated contest continued. Heading into the second half, both teams showed determination with the scores remaining close until the end of the third period. A two-pointer from Geraldton in the third terms’ final minutes put them in the lead 58-51. The final period saw the game start to turn, as the lead that Geraldton once have was now slipping away from their grip. It was a three-point jump shot from Lakeside Lightning that put the game out of reach for their opposition, leading to the final score of 62-80.

Corey Shervill was a force to be reckoned with on the court, as he amassed an impressive 29 points, four rebounds and two assists for the winners. Jack Isenbarger (14 points, five rebounds) and Kyle Armour (12 points, five rebounds and five assists) were also impressive, while Jarrad Prue racked up 23 rebounds – 16 defensive – to go with six points. For Geraldton, Dylan Myers lead the way with 16 points and five rebounds, while Titgyeth Kwajakwan (14 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Aaron Ralph (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) hit double-figure points.

Picture credit: NBL1

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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 wrap: Round 4

AFTER a fortnight off due to various State Government restrictions, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West competition tipped off for Round 4 and some teams made their entrance into the new competition, whilst others established themselves with big wins or heavy losses.

WOMEN’S:

Mandurah Magic (50) def. by Cockburn Cougars (71)

Cockburn Cougars made it back-to-back wins to tip-off the season, taking care of Mandurah Magic by 21 points. The Cougars dominated the first half to race out to a 24-point lead, and that went out to 28 by the break, before a low-scoring 13-point final term resulted in Cockburn getting the job done 71-50. Jessie Edwards led the way for the winners with 14 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals, as Taylah Simmons (13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Olivia Bassett-Scarfe (12 points, five rebounds) were also busy. Serika Shillingsworth was the only double-digit Magic scorer with 13 points, two rebounds and two steals, while Casey Mihovilovich finished with seven points, five assists, five steals and three rebounds.

Warwick Senators (111) def. South West Slammers (32)

Warwick Senators showed no mercy to a struggling South West Slammers, dominating every quarter on their way to a 79-point shellacking. The Senators piled on at least 25 points in every quarter, and kept the Slammers to single-digits in three of the four terms during the 111-32 victory. Stacey Barr (24 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard (24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and six steals) top-scored with double-doubles, as Tayla Hepburn (17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals) also racked up a double-double. Zaya Lilly Black (nine points, four rebounds and two steals) was the prominent scorer for the Slammers, while Imogen Van Iaere finished with five points and seven rebounds in the match.

Lakeside Lightning (75) def. by East Perth Eagles (80)

East Perth Eagles won a tight one on the road over Lakeside Lightning, getting up by just the five points. The Eagles led by 14 points at half-time before the home team hit back to cut the deficit over the second half. Unfortunately for Lakeside, the Lightning just fell short, going down 75-80. Mary Teresa Goulding had 26 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists, while Opal Mader (17 points, six rebounds) and Tahlia Fejo (14 points, seven rebounds and six steals) were also prominent. For the Lightning, Ashleigh Isenbarger was a clear standout with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and four steals, while Emma Clarke (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals), and Mikayla Pirini (11 points, four assists and two rebounds) were also busy.

Rockingham Flames (85) def. Willetton Tigers (72)

Rockingham Flames’ dominant third quarter of 27-11 has helped kick the home team into gear for a big 13-point win over Willeton Tigers. The Flames trailed by a point at half-time, but took control in the third term, and while the Tigers managed to win the last quarter, the damage was done and Rockingham took home the win, 85-72. Jorjah Smith (20 points, five rebounds) and Tayah Burrows (19 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals) both had some prominent scores, while Christina Boag (12 points, eight rebounds and three assists) also impressed. For the Tigers, Alex Sharp shot 24 points and picked up 14 rebounds and four assists, as Samantha Lubcke (16 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Hayley Winter (15 points, four rebounds and three assists) also shared the load.

Perth Redbacks (70) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (74)

Making their long-awaited return into the season after byes and lockdowns, Perry Lakes Hawks got off to the perfect start with a four-point victory over Perth Redbacks. The Hawks did most of their work in the first half, racing out to a seven-point lead at half-time, with the teams fairly evenly matched in the second half, and the Redbacks cutting the final deficit back by three for a 74-70 result. Madeleine Dennis scored 22 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in a starring role, teaming up well with Megan McKay (21 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists), while Natalie Burton had the eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Makailah Dyer finished with 23 points, six assists and three steals for the losers, while Jessica Jakens had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Raya Thompson the 12 points, three steals and two rebounds.

Joondalup Wolves (78) def. Eastern Suns (65)

Joondalup Wolves made it two wins on the trot in the NBL1 West, handing the Eastern Suns a defeat in the Suns’ first game for the season. The Wolves started strongly to lead by four points at quarter time, only for the visitors to turn it on in the second and race out to a commanding seven-point advantage. The Suns came out after half-time with renewed vigour to dominate the second half 48-28 and run out 13-point winners, 78-65. Kayla Steindl had a team-high 24 points and 14 rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals, whilst Neseya Parker-Williams (12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Amber Land (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were also among the best for the Wolves. Jewell Williams was a shooting machine for the Suns, dropping seven of 11 triples on the opposition, for 32 points, four rebounds and two assists while Courtney Mansfield was impactful across the court with 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in the loss.

South West Slammers (39) def. by Rockingham Flames (80)

Rockingham Flames made it a good weekend of NBL1 action and compacted more pain onto the struggling South West Slammers with a dominant 41-point victory. The Flames kept the Slammers to single-digit points in the last three quarters, and whilst they only scored 10 themselves in the final term, had secured the win and enable heavy rotations in the process during the 80-39 win. Burrows dropped 28 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steaks in the win, with Boag (15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Alexandra Ciabattoni (14 points four rebounds, five assists and two steals) also outstanding. Black had another impressive outing in tough circumstances for the Slammers, putting up 11 points and six rebounds, while Karinda Farrant had 10 points, three rebounds and three steals.

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Joondalup Wolves (84) def. Eastern Suns (61)

Coming from three points down at half-time, the Joondalup Wolves finished on a wave of momentum to easily account for Eastern Suns in the Suns’ first match of the season. The Wolves won by 23 points, courtesy of a 50-24 second half which saw them take complete control and win 84-61. Lochlan Cummings scored 20 points – including four of nine from long-range – three assists and two rebounds in the win, while Jonathan Wade (18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Sioeli Vaiangina (13 points, 10 rebounds) both picked up double-doubles. Chauatwech Reath had a team-high 14 points, while Chris Johnson (11 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Bang Majok (11 points, three rebounds) also hit double-figure points.

Perth Redbacks (51) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (96)

Perry Lakes Hawks doubled their win tally with a comprehensive 45-point smashing of Perth Redbacks, handing the Redbacks their second consecutive loss to open the season. The Hawks won every quarter, including three of them by at least 12 points or move, to run out 96-51 victors in the end. Mitchell Clarke knocked down 22 points with three rebounds, while Ben Purser (14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) and Robert Cassir (nine points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also lively. Lewis Thomas had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Andrew Ferguson made it a really consistent five with nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. For the Redbacks, Louis Timms (15 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Joel Wagner (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) were both hard workers in defeat, while Lachlan Bertram (seven points, eight rebounds) got involved off the boards.

Mandurah Magic (88) def. Cockburn Cougars (81)

Mandurah Magic bounced back from a loss in their previous game to move to a 2-1 record and hand Cockburn Cougars their second consecutive loss in a tight seven-point encounter. Mandurah trailed by five points at quarter time and four points at half-time, but then piled on 28-19 in the third term to set up a memorable 88-81 win. Jerami Grace had a night out for the Magic with 33 points – six of nine from three-point range – six rebounds and four steals, while Xavier Garnett-Shaw had 15 point, six rebounds and two assist, and both Ben Smith (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Brian Carlwell (15 points, five rebounds) were prominent in the win. Jaarod Holmes (23 points, five rebounds and three steals) was the best for the Cougars, while Gavin Field (15 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Nic Pozoglou (15 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists) were also impressive in defeat.

Goldfields Giants (103) def. Geraldton Buccaneers (69)

In a battle of two Round 1 losers, Goldfield Giants got on the board with a comfortable 34-point win over Geraldton Buccaneers at home. The Giants won every quarter, and did their best work in the opening half, smashing their opponents in the second term in particular with a 35-13 quarter, eventually leading to an easy 103-69 victory. Deng Kuany (28 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Julian Pesava (25 points, seven rebounds and four assists) did the bulk of the damage for the Giants, while Jerome Reid chipped in with 19 points – five of eight from long-range – and three rebounds. Taine Wattie stood up for the Buccaneers with 19 points – five of eight from three-point range – and two assists, while Mathiang Muo (12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists) collected a double-double and Tomas Dobson (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) also hit double-figure points.

Warwick Senators (96) def. South West Slammers (60)

Warwick Senators turned up the heat on the South West Slammers, running away with a 36-point win. The home team won every quarter in the match, and two of the terms by 11 points, on their way to a 96-60 triumph. Caleb Davis helped himself to 20 points, four rebounds and three assists in the win, whilst Justin King (18 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Cody Ellis (15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks) were also impressive for the Senators. Ngor Nai (15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks) and Cody Hill (14 points, five rebounds and four assists) both did the majority of the scoring for the Slammers, in what was another big loss.

Lakeside Lightning (121) def. East Perth Eagles (60)

Speaking of big wins, Lakeside Lightning showed no mercy against East Perth Eagles to get on the board in season 2021, smashing the Eagles by 61 points. In front of home fans on Saturday night, the Lightning piled on 99 points in the first three quarters as the Eagles only managed the 44 in that time. The final term was a little closer, but the 121-60 result was a huge percentage booster for the Lightning. Corey Shervill (29 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Jack Isenbarger (29 points, three assists and two rebounds) combined for 15 of 20 from three-point range in a long-range shooting spectacular. Kyle Armour (19 points, eight assists) was a key playmaker for the Lightning, while Jarrad Prue only had the two points, but racked up 17 rebounds – eight offensive – along with three assists and two blocks on the night. Matt Vinci (nine points, three rebounds) and Isaac Offereins (nine points, four rebounds) were the equal top scorers for the losers.

Rockingham Flames (65) def. Willetton Tigers (83)

Willetton Tigers survived a mini fightback by Rockingham Flames to secure an 18-point win on the road in a battle of two undefeated 2-0 sides. The Tigers raced out to a 50-27 lead at half-time, though the Flames cut the deficit to six by the next change, only for Willetton to stand up under pressure and win the final term 14-12 and secure the 83-65 victory. Damien Scott (25 points, five steals, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks) did a bit of everything on court, while Michael Vigor picked up a double-double through 24 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Black (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) was also prominent for the Tigers. Brendan Redhead (17 points, three rebounds) was the chief scorer for the Tigers, as Cirkook Makuac Riak (12 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Travis Dumin (11 points, nine rebounds) also had a say off the boards in the game.

South West Slammers (52) def. by Rockingham Flames (91)

Coming off a defeat the night before, Rockingham Flames set the Eaton Rec Centre alight with a dominant 91-52 victory on the road against South West Slammers. The home team was no match for the red-hot Flames, as Rockingham won every quarter, including a 46-21 second half to run away with the 39-point win and sentence the Slammers to their fifth straight loss. Makuac Riak had 20 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Dumin (17 points, eight rebounds) and Callum Beard (11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also prominent. Hill (18 points, two rebounds) and Rhys Barrett (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) hit double-figure points, as Mitchell Keller proved a menace off the boards with 13 rebounds to go with six points and two assists for the Slammers.

Picture credit: Eric Paul Goldie

WNBL20 Season Review – Townsville Fire

BESIDES being the most improved team in WNBL20 by a country mile, this season’s hosts, the Townsville Fire performed at an exceptional rate over the entire six weeks, culminating in two All-WNBL team selections, a Coach of the Year, a Sixth Woman and a Youth Player of the Year recipient, as well as a Grand Final opportunity. After receiving the wooden spoon at the start of this year, the Fire improved at a rapid rate and despite missing out on the final piece of silverware will take plenty of positives out of their campaign.

After a busy offseason to say the least, a new look Fire squad took the floor in Mackay during mid-November, to commence the long-awaited season with a determined mindset. This was shown against the Perth Lynx in Townsville’s season-opener as the hub hosts ran away with a 25-point triumph. But it did not take long for the Fire to realise that this season’s competitors were not to be taken lightly, losing their second contest of Round 1 to the defending champion Canberra Capitals (67-78).

Round 2 of the season fixture for the Fire proved to be a pivotal point in the campaign for head coach Shannon Seebohm and her squad, as they had to work their way through a four-game week. After a successful three-point result over the Sydney Uni Flames, Townsville got to test their mettle against the WNBL’s top-contender in the Southside Flyers, but to no avail going down to the league’s benchmark side 89-101. Fortunately for the Fire, they performed well in their remaining games that week against both the Bendigo Spirit twice and the Melbourne Boomers, placing their record at five wins and two losses entering the middle portion of the season.

Going down again to the Flyers to conclude Round 3, Southside proved to be more than a nuisance as the season continued, with Townsville unable to find the solution to slow down the Flyers’ offence. While Seebohm and his side showed lapses throughout their season, it was their ability to repeatedly bounce back from negative results that helped in the long run.

A two-game split in Round 4 against the Lynx (75-84 loss) and the Capitals (84-71 win) put the Fire well within finals eligibility with the last round still yet to be played, but with a top-two seed still hanging in the balance.

Knocking off Adelaide Lightning in convincing fashion 95-66, Townsville now had the chance to steal the second seed in WNBL standings at the end of the season. To get to that goal, the Fire just scraped away with a six-point win over the Boomers and leapfrogged the Melbourne-based side in the process, nabbing the second-seed at the last possible moment.

The Fire found themselves face-to-face with a team they had yet to defeat during the season and one of the most talented domestic line-ups in Australian basketball history, Southside. That streak of defeats to the Flyers unfortunately continued for the Sunshine-State team, going down in the second semi-final of the day 93-106, meaning next up would be a win or go home preliminary final against the Boomers once more.

In a meeting drowned in defence, neither Townsville nor Melbourne would manage to accumulate over 65 points, as shooting efficiency was few and far between. Luckily for the hosts, they kept their noses in front for the majority of the encounter withstanding onslaught after onslaught from the Boomers. Eventually conquering Melbourne 65-62 and setting up the franchise’s first grand final in little more than three seasons.

For all of Townsville’s players, it was a dream come true to compete for a WNBL title in front of their home crowd at Townsville Stadium. But their final hurdle would be the most difficult to combat and overcome, given that the Fire had not been able to beat Southside in any of their three previous meetings throughout the campaign.

Despite having four players reaching double-digit totals in what was for the most part a tightly knitted affair, the Flyers’ marquee players made their presence felt. A near-perfect second half for the Flyers, as well as a performance to remember from Leilani Mitchell would be enough to silence their opponents 99-82 at the final buzzer, ending the Fire’s prominent season and redeeming themselves after last year’s Grand Final failures – breaking the hometown fans’ hearts in the process after a gallant year.

MVP-candidate, member of the All-WNBL First Team and new signing for Townsville, Lauren Nicholson reminded everyone why she is a force to be reckoned with averaging 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Next to her is perhaps one of the biggest success stories this season for another new signing in Shyla Heal. Heal ended her WNBL20 with averages of 16.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists and being named this season’s Australian Youth Player of the Year.

Other standouts included Sixth Woman of the Year, Zitina Aokuso (9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds), Nadeen Payne (8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds) and Megan McKay (7.3 points and 5.9 rebounds).

In a season that could have gone either way because of the major roster changes that were made before the season even began, Seebohm did an exemplary job alongside his coaching staff merging numerous personalities together to work as a collective unit. With Seebohm signing a two-year extension, the future possibilities for this Townsville side are limitless.

Heal drops 28 as Fire return to Grand Final

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southside torch Fire, advance to second straight Grand Final

IN the WNBL’s new postseason format, the Southside Flyers have earned the first spot in the Grand Final series after a well-fought win against an extraordinarily resilient Townsville Fire squad, taking the contest 106-93. As a result, the Fire compete again in a day’s time against the Melbourne Boomers who eliminated the Canberra Capitals in yesterday’s opening meeting thanks to their second chance seeding.

If you thought the Flyers were going to get off to a hot start, that would be an understatement, as Southside made their opening 10 field goal attempts in front of a raucous Townsville crowd. More surprisingly, however, was that the Fire trailed by just a couple of possessions.

But proficient scoring got better for Southside, knocking down three consecutive threes, stringing together a 14-2 run to finish the side’s 41-point opening quarter and putting themselves ahead of Townsville by 16 in what was perhaps one of the best 10-minute stretches of play in WNBL history. In addition, both Leilani Mitchell and Bec Cole accumulated 11 and 10 points respectively in that time.

Kate Gaze commenced the second quarter with a triple for the Fire, hoping to put a spark in her team’s mindset early on, but who else other than Cole to answer back with a three of her own, immediately shifting momentum back to Southside.

While Townsville did a decent job of slowing Southside’s roll, the task of reducing their deficit was proving to be an even tougher task. Funnily enough though, Townsville showed some real persistence concocting a 13-2 run in the closing stages of the first half and reducing the distance to single figures. Winning the second quarter 27 to 19, Townsville’s impressive spurt before the main break provided the home crowd with some hope at a pivotal point in the meeting.

Back to the Flyers, they had three players over 10 points with Cole and Mitchell leading in scoring with 15 points apiece, whereas Liz Cambage collected her eleventh point shortly before the midway point of the contest. Meanwhile, youngster Shyla Heal (15 points and four assists) was carrying her side’s fightback next to MVP nominee Lauren Nicholson (13 points and five assists) with Townsville holding the swing of the game at half time.

A slower brand of basketball briefly came to the fore in the third, but scoring eventually picked up in the second half. Controlling the play and tempo of the game helped Cheryl Chambers and her team put a double-digit distance between the two opponents once again. However, a Heal buzzer-beater to end the third signalled a pulse in the Fire roster, down 74-86 with a quarter to go.

Townsville showed tremendous resilience against the Flyers all the way through the fourth quarter, but Shannon Seebohm’s unit just could not climb the mountain, getting to within seven points of Southside. But the minor premiers walked away 13-point winners in the end putting up an enormous 106-point total.

Managing a 52 per cent conversion rate, it was Southside’s game to lose and it just was not the Fire’s night on the whole. While Townsville shot the ball more efficiently than their opponents, the Flyers topped the Fire in almost every other category.

Following a massive second half, Cambage ended the night as the game-high scorer with 31 points and 18 rebounds in what was a mammoth effort against the center-combo of Megan McKay and Zitina Aokuso. Additionally, Cole accumulated a massive 22 points in under 28 minutes of play, whereas Mitchell (19 points and 10 assists) and Aimie Clydesdale (12 points and six assists) each put up valuable totals.

Heal (30 points, six assists and six rebounds) and Nicholson (30 points, seven assists and four rebounds) had memorable efforts last night with each All-WNBL selectee compiling team-highs of 30 points each. Aokuso (11 points and six rebounds) was the only other Townsville player with over 10 in the game.

For the second year in the row Southside will suit up in the WNBL’s season-decider on Sunday afternoon, looking to redeem themselves after last season’s season sweep against the Capitals. They await the winner of Friday night’s preliminary final between the Fire and the Boomers with an extended period of rest to their advantage.

Capitals’ reign comes to an end, Boomers advance to prelim

THE three-peat dream for the Canberra Capitals abruptly ended last night as a result of the Melbourne Boomers diligent work on the defensive end, outlasting the reigning premiers 78-68 in Townsville. The win means Melbourne are just one win away from a WNBL Grand Final opportunity.

During the opening five minutes of the game, both sides remained level-headed as the first 20 points of the contest were shared evenly. But the first scoring run went the way of the Boomers, scoring 11 unanswered points to take control of the first period.

Ezi Magbegor’s 10 points in the first was the primary factor that led to Melbourne’s 32-20 lead over the Capitals, but Canberra did not plan on bowing out of their “three-peat bid” after just 10 minutes of play.

As soon as Paul Goriss’s trio of Maddison Rocci, Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo started to click, the Capitals started to earn some success on the floor. Ultimately winning the quarter 15-9 in a more defence-oriented term. Canberra looked to make the elimination final one that would not be decided until the second half, trailing Melbourne by six at the half 35-41.

Magbegor, who went scoreless in the second, headed to half-time with 10 points and three rebounds, while providing much needed consistency inside as the Boomers shot 46 per cent in the first half compared to the Capitals 34 per cent. For the Capitals, Rocci was trying her hand as her team’s main producer with nine points at the half.

Unfortunately for Canberra all of their work from the second quarter was undone in the third, with Melbourne expanding their lead back to 11 points having 10 minutes yet to be played. However, if the Boomers were going to avoid their third-straight semi-final exit in three years, Guy Molloy’s side needed to be on their best form if they were to eliminate the two-time defending champions.

A couple of surprise standouts from each team in the third started to make their imprint on the game, with Boomers’ Izzy Wright holding 11 points and Brittany Smart having 10 of her own at the third intermission.

Even though Canberra limited Melbourne’s scoring early in the fourth, the Capitals were not urgent in their pursuit of points either due to inaccurate shooting and the inability to convert on second-chance opportunities. Drawing back to within eight points with just over two minutes remaining, Canberra tried their best to throw the kitchen sink at Melbourne, while the Boomers made the Capitals sweat for every bucket.

Converting on a fast-break layup following Tess Madgen’s missed bonus free-throws, Smart reduced the deficit to seven. However, two made free throws from Maddie Garrick put the result beyond all doubt in last night’s opener as Melbourne advanced to Friday’s preliminary final while Canberra’s reign in the WNBL came to an honourable end.

Knocking down 44 per cent of their attempts (30-67), the Boomers were able to convert on the majority of their shots while limiting the Capitals to just 68 points, a testament to their moniker of the “League’s Best Defence”. Despite their prominent depth evidenced by their 28 bench points, Canberra now goes home early for the first time in three seasons, with Melbourne emerging superior in various categories such as rebounds, assists and blocks.

Magbegor concluded her performance with a dominant 20-point and 11-rebound double-double effort, while Molloy’s backcourt duo of Garrick (15 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Madgen (13 points, nine rebounds and six assists) proved to be lethal after four quarters. Last and certainly not least, Cayla George dominated on the glass with seven points and 12 rebounds, whereas Wright also notched up 13 points after 40 minutes in her coming out performance of the season.

Although five Capitals players reached double-digit figures, it was not enough to get themselves over the line with Smart leading the way with 15 points off the bench. The WNBL’s sixth highest scorer in Rocci, earned 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds in the loss, while the team’s co-captains in Griffin (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Tolo (10 points and eight rebounds) both made sizeable contributions.

The Boomers will be focusing solely on recovery as they have less than 36 hours to regain their strength in what will be a much-anticipated prelim final on Friday night, bearing in mind the fact that Melbourne are still searching for their first title in more than a decade.

Boomers make light work of Spirit

IN an all-Victorian affair it was the Melbourne Boomers that came out on top against Bendigo spirit claiming a 21-point victory (91-70). The Boomers had control from the opening minute of the game and are building some strong form heading into the back end of the season and heading into finals. The Spirit once again had moments of magic but were unable to keep that intensity at the same level for their full four quarters as they suffered their thirteenth straight loss to round out their 2020 campaign.

A 28 to 17 opening term pretty much told the story as Melbourne seemed to have the ball on a string and Bendigo struggle to find any answers. Scoring somewhat evened up in the second term as Bendigo managed to nail 17 points to the Boomers 21 however that was still enough for Melbourne to continue to build on their already growing lead. That tail continued into the second half with Melbourne outscoring Bendigo 26 to 20 in the third term before it was level pegging’s in the last term but it was a little too late as the damage has already been done.

Shooting percentage was relatively even for both sides, however Melbourne had a higher clip sitting at 48 per cent after converting 38 of their 78 attempts. Bendigo on the other hand had less opportunities to the basket but still managed a 43 per cent conversion rate nailing 28 of their 64 attempts. Two point range seemed to be the sweet spot for the Boomers with 26 of their 46 attempts falling to sit at 56 per cent as opposed to Bendigo who only managed 47 per cent. Melbourne was slightly more accurate from downtown sitting at 37 per cent while Bendigo slotted eight of their 22 attempts at 36 per cent. Melbourne outclassed Bendigo just about on every front recording 45 rebounds to 33, 25 assists to 15, six steals to five and also registered less turnovers for the night with 10 to compared to 14. With the starting five doing majority of the work for Boomers it was the bench depth from Bendigo that seemed to have an impact nailing 36 points compared to 32 however it was still not enough to get them over the line.

The victors had a number of scoring options with five players hitting the double digit mark when it came to point scoring. Stella Beck led the way with 17 points, two rebounds and four assists highlighting her ability to have an impact when on court. Ezi Magbegor was the next best with the youngster impressing in her 20 minutes on court to convert 16 points at an impressive 70 per cent from the field while also amassing eight rebounds and two assists in a strong showing. In her 250th game, Maddie Garrick was also another prominent option on court knocking back 16 points eight assists and five rebounds four of which were defensive while Izzy Wright also chimed in with a handy 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Penina Davidson was the only other Melbourne Boomers player to register double digits recording 10 points and four rebounds for the night in an all round solid team effort.

Scoring proved to be hard to come by for Bendigo however the ever reliable Tessa Lavey was up to the challenge leading her side with 16 points and just falling short of a double-double with nine assists and eight rebounds with all of the rebounds defensive. Carley Ernst failed to make a splash while on court only managing two points in an unusual showing for her however the likes of Mary Goulding stepped up to the plate and secured 12 points and three rebounds. Amelia Todhunter was another that managed to ply her trade notching up 10 points in what was a difficult performance.

The Boomers now look to Townsville on Sunday while the Spirit bid farewell to their season.

Townsville end Lightning’s finals hopes

Shyla Heal in action for Townsville. Picture credit: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Townsville came out with a point to prove, downing Adelaide in convincing fashion by 29 points as they gear up for a finals berth. It is been an up and down season for the Lightning while Townsville have enjoyed a rapid rise up the ladder and once again showcase their ability to score and score quickly in a dominant performance. Although the chances were slim, the loss automatically seals the deal on Adelaide’s fate of playing finals with the Lightning now ruled out in Townsville securing their position in the top four.

The Fire came out with some real heat in the opening minutes of play highlighting their ability both in offence and defence to score and pile on the pressure as shown with the 28 to 11 point opening term. The second quarter was not much better for the Lightning who seemed to be caught on the backfoot only managing 11 points again as their half time total mounted to 22, while the Fire had a whopping 47 creating a handy 25 point buffer. The Lightning well and truly upped the ante in the third term going toe-to-toe with Townsville before once again falling off the boil in the final term.

Townsville oozed an element of composure and most importantly accuracy with ball in hand sitting at an impressive 57 per cent from the field, nailing 40 of their 70 attempts while Adelaide did not have the same luck averaging a mere 39 per cent from the field. The Fire also starred within the arc shooting at a 63 per cent clip while the Lightning were somewhat wayward at 47 per cent. The main difference came from around the perimeter with the victors slotting nine of their 21 attempts at 42 per cent as opposed to Adelaide who struggled to find their radar at 28 per cent. Townsville had the upper hand when it came to rebounds (37-34) and also claimed the ascendancy when it came to assists (19-13).

There were plenty of key contributors for Townsville across the night, none bigger than guard Lauren Nicholson who absolutely starred with her 21 points at 71 per cent accuracy along with her four rebounds, four assists and one block. Megan McKay also found her groove knocking back 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists in a strong showing while Stephanie Reid proved to be an impact player off the bench managing 17 points, two rebounds and three assists. Although down on her lofty standards, youngster Shyla Heal still bobbed up for her moments of magic with 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists to her name while the only player to reach double figures was Courtney Woods who slotted 12 points for the night.

Scoring was hard to come by for Adelaide, with captain Steph Talbot struggling to find her mojo and only walking away with nine points, five rebounds and an uncharacteristic four turnovers. Abigail Wehrung was the leading points scorer for the Lightning sinking 15 at 60 per cent while Marena Whittle also threw her weight around to collect 14 points and five rebounds. Despite only managing two points for the game Louella Tomlinson proved to be a handy option off the boards with five rebounds while Charlie Smith also had an impact with her five boards and four steals.

Townsville are set to lock horns with Melbourne on Sunday while Adelaide have the final game of the home and away season against Sydney Uni Flames.

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.