Tag: mia murray

NBL 1 North wrap: Round 11

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

Men’s:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 11 RESULTS:

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

Women’s:

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 11 RESULTS:

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

NBL1 North: Round 11

ROUND 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL1) North had no shortage of close contests with seven games in the men’s division decided by 10 points or less highlighting just how tight the league is. In the women’s it was somewhat of a different story with a number of blowouts.

Men’s

The battle between the Brisbane Capitals and Rip City went right down to the wire with the game decided by a mere four points. In the end it was the Capitals that got the last laugh 79-75 as they notched up their seventh win of the season and consolidated their spot inside the top four. It was a much closer battle than many anticipated given the ladder standings as Rip City challenged their much higher opponents from the opening minute of play and refused to give up.

Rip City landed the first blow of the game proving that they well and truly came to play but it did not take long for the Capitals fire up and control proceedings. Opening up with a triple to Ben Volkman and then a shot from Ben Wilson established a handy three-point lead. But Rip City were determined to not led the lead balloon as they quickly answered the call signalling this game was going to go right down to the wire. Both sides traded blows for the best part of the first quarter with the biggest lead, five points in favour of Rip City but that was short lived as Brisbane went into quarter-time up by a point.

The second term continued on the same trajectory with neither side able to be separated. Big defensive plays were quickly combatted by impressive attacking forays as the Capitals and Rip City refused to give an inch as both outfits managed 24 points apiece. The third quarter is known as the premiership term for a reason and the Capitals made full use of it, putting the foot down to outscore their opponents 23-20. Despite Rip City coming out with a real fire in the belly in the first few minutes the Capitals rose to the occasion and clamped down in defence while also pouring on the pain in attack. Holding a four-point lead at the final change Rip City were all out of answers and could not compete with Brisbane who had done enough to walk away with the chocolates.

Brisbane had a plethora of players forge ahead and impress with four players hitting double-figures to guide their side to the win. Volkman got busy in his 29 minutes out on court producing 18 points at 67 per cent from the field while he also collected eight rebounds and two steals. Both Wilson and Zachary Carter chimed in with a handy 16 points each with Carter really imposing himself off the boards with his eight rebounds. Wilson had an impact with his four rebounds, three assists and two steals as Nicholas Stoddart was the other player to reach double-digits with his 12 points at a lowly 24 per cent from the field. Jacob Wilson made his presence felt with his eight points and 10 rebounds with eight of them defensive.

For Rip City it was more of a two man show as Eric McAlister and Tanner Krebs did the heavy lifting. McAlister drained an impressive 28 points at 52 per cent from the field while also racking up seven rebounds in what was a complete performance. Krebs finished with 20 points in his 40 minutes of court time and could have had more if he had been accurate from the field. Isaih Tueta was a solid contributor with his 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and steal as teammate Kyle Zunic was the only other player to hit the scoreboard thanks to his eight points.

In other results, it was a good round to be a Gold Coast Rollers fan as they notched up two wins in their respective outings against Ipswich Force and Red City Roar. It was a tight tussle between Cairns Marlins and Sunshine Coast Phoenix with the former securing the win while it was even closer in the battle between South West Metro Pirates and Red City Roar with the former stealing a four point win. Logan Thunder snuck over the line against the Meteors as Northside Wizards recorded a hard-fought three point win over Rip City.

Men’s results

Rockhampton Rockets (93) defeated by Logan Thunder (120)
Ipswich Force (81) defeated by Gold Coast Rollers (102)
Townsville Heat (78) defeated Sunshine Coast Phoenix (60)
Brisbane Capitals (79) defeated Rip City (75)
Cairns Marlins (88) defeated Sunshine Coast Phoenix (82)
South West Metro Pirates (109) defeated by Red City Roar (113)
Mackay Meteors (89) defeated by Logan Thunder (93)
Northside Wizards (100) defeated Rip City (97)
Red City Roar (92) defeated by Gold Coast Rollers (100)
Southern Districts Spartans (98) defeated Ipswich (85)

Women’s

Over in the women’s the battle between Townsville Flames and Sunshine Coast Phoenix was the closest of the round with the match decided by nine points, 56-65. The game was always going to go down to the wire with the two sides sitting fifth and fourth respectively, but a blistering first term of basketball gifted the Phoenix with the upper hand as the Flames were forced to play catch up and could never really hit their stride.

The Phoenix wasted no time asserting their dominance on the game nailing the first four points of the game to immediately push the Flames onto the back foot. Although Townsville tried to wrestle the momentum back in their favour it was to no avail as Sunshine Coast continued to find a way to forge ahead and not break stride. The completely monopolised the play in the mid-part of the first quarter pushing out to as much as 11 points ahead.

Things tightened up in the second quarter but the Flames simply could not do enough to eat into the margin as they went into half-time down by 10 points. Townsville came out of half time with a point to prove quickly reducing the margin to eight points and then five as they generated a wealth of momentum. But the Phoenix were not about to roll over hitting back in the latter stage of the third to steady the ship. That confidence filtered into the final term as they ran home with a nine point win.

Mia Murray was the main source of pain piling on 23 points for Townsville to try and keep her side in the hunt. Her accuracy from beyond the arc was down but she still managed three triples while she also dragged down six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Micaela Cocks was hot on her tail with 15 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal as teammate Stephanie Reid struggled to have her normal impact on the scoreboard with seven points but still managed five rebounds and two steals.

For Sunshine Coast it was Amy Browne that led the way with her 17 points in her 38 minutes on court. Browne also accumulated five rebounds while Kathleen MacLeod was also a handy contributor thanks to her 15 points,  six rebounds – five of which were defensive – seven assists. Jennifer Carden-David was also in fine form producing 11 points and seven rebounds. Rachel McCully and Bianca Abbott both hit the scoreboard with nine and eight points respectively as Abbott also chimed in with nine rebounds and McCully with 10 assists.

Across the round, Logan Thunder claimed a big win over the Cyclones as the Force also toppled the Gold Coast Rollers by 10 points. Brisbane Capitals defeated Rip City as the Phoenix made it two from two with a win against the Cairns Dolphins. Southern District Spartans handed the Force a thumping as the Rollers also dished up a 41 point win against Red City Roar.

Women’s results

Rockhampton Cyclones (41) defeated by Logan Thunder (78)
Ipswich Force (85) defeated Gold Coast Rollers (75)
Townsville Flames (56) defeated by Sunshine Coast Phoenix (65)
Brisbane Capitals (87) defeated Rip City (76)
Cairns Dolphins (68) defeated by Sunshine Coast Phoenix (85)
South West Metro Pirates (93) defeated Red City Roar (54)
Mackay Meteorettes (47) defeated by Logan Thunder (92)
Northside Wizards (86) defeated Rip City (75)
Red City Roar (43) defeated by Gold Coast Rollers (84)
Southern District Spartans (103) defeated Ipswich Force (46)

Photo credit: MOWFOTO

NBL1 North wrap: Round 5

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

WOMEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

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

MEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Ray Krause / Cairns Basketball

NBL1 North wrap: Round 2

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

WOMEN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Kieron Place Art and Photography

NBL1 North wrap: Round 1

NBL1 North division kicked off its 2021 season in style over the weekend, as teams return to action after quite a long offseason.

USC Rip City v Sunshine Coast Phoenix

Women:

The Phoenix showed no signs of rust as they took down Rip City by 19 points at USC Sports Stadium on Thursday night. The Phoenix opened the game in style with a 26-point first quarter, with Rip City unable to match the scoring output and the lead was only extended throughout the match. For the victors, Biancia Abbott was dominant with 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead her side to victory, and teammate Kathleen Macleod poured in 18 points and nine assists. For Rip City, Carlie Smith fought hard with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Men:

The Phoenix were dominant as they crushed Rip City by a whopping 42 points on Thursday night. One sided first, third and fourth quarters told the story, as Rip City could not contain their opponents, who were able to get good looks from wherever they pleased. If the Phoenix can maintain this sort of output, they will prove difficult to overcome as the season progresses. For the Phoenix, Nelson Kahler was outstanding with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and combined well with teammate Darnell Robateau who had 24 points of his own. For USC, Isaih Tueta was the only scorer in double digits with 17 points.

Townsville Flames v Mackay Meteorettes/Meteors

Women:

Townsville pulled off an amazing comeback to defeat Mackay by four points at Townsville StarFM Stadium on Friday night. The Flames trailed by 12 points at the main break with plenty to ponder after being convincingly outplayed after two quarters of action. The second half saw the side flick a switch as they found their rhythm on both ends of the court, with Mia Murray’s three pointer late in the final term giving her side a lead they would eventually defend. For Townsville, Stephanie Reid defeated her shooting woes to pour in 18 points which would prove crucial. For Mackay, Cayla George can hold her head high with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

Men:

Townsville held off a fast-finishing Mackay side to take the win by three points in each side’s first outing of the year. The Flames had a 12-point lead at halftime, as the game pointed toward a blowout, but Mackay fought back to make it just a four point game heading into the final term. They even took the lead late in the game, but Townsville did just enough to walk away with the win after a tense clash. For the winners, Jalen Patton-Croker top scored with 17 points, but it truly was a team driven performance. For Mackay, Emmanuel Malou was nearly the match-winner with 28 points in a strong offensive performance.

Brisbane Capitals v Northside Wizards

Women:

A strong final term sealed the result for the Capitals as they defeated the Wizards by 17 points at Auchenflower Stadium on Saturday. The Wizards were within 10 points heading into the fourth quarter with just the slightest sniff of a comeback, but the Capitals put the pedal to the metal in the fourth to claim an important victory in the first round. For the Capitals, Brooke Blair was a beast offensively, finishing with 23 points as the Wizards’ defenders had no answer. For Northside, Georgia Woolley’s 19 points kept her side in the contest.

Men:

The Brisbane Capitals have opened their 2021 account in style, with a dominant 28-point blowout of the Northside Wizards on Saturday. The Capitals blew the game open in the final quarter to send a message to the rest of the competition that they mean business this season. The Capitals outscored their opponents by 27 points in the second half to put the game well out of reach. For the victors, five players scored over 15 points in a remarkably spread-out performance that will surely scare upcoming opponents. For the Capitals, Cameron Thew was the strongest with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Logan Thunder v Red City Roar

Women:

The Logan Thunder were absolutely ruthless in taking down the Red City Roar, eventually triumphing by a whopping 58 points at Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre on Saturday. Outscoring the Roar by 40 points in the first half alone, the Thunder were scarily good with their ability to constantly find ideal looks at a shot, while the Roar shot terribly for the length of the match. For the Thunder, Ashley Taia was the clear star with 35 points and 10 three pointers in one of the most dominant displays of the weekend.

Men:

The Logan Thunder set up their 18-point win with a clinical first quarter as they took down the Roar at Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre on Saturday night. The Thunder worked their way to a 22-point lead at the end of the first quarter, and the game was quite even for the next three quarters, but the Roar were unable to close the massive gap that was set up in the first term. For the Thunder, Jeremy Kendle was outstanding, finishing with a triple-double of 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the game’s best performer. For the Roar, Darryl Mcdowell-White’s 20 points were crucial in sparking his side’s offensive output.

Cairns Dolphins/Marlins v Mackay Meteorettes/Meteors

Women:

Mackay bounced back from their poor loss to Townsville with an emphatic 42-point victory over the Cairns Dolphins at Early Settler Stadium on Saturday night. Mackay were clinical as they ran over the top of their opponents from the very first bounce, outscoring the Dolphins by 22 in the first term and not looking back from there. For the winners, Chelsea Brook was fantastic, ending the match with 37 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, but just as impressive was teammate Cayla George with 22 points and 20 rebounds. For the Dolphins, Sarah Heard scored 18 points in a promising performance.

Men:

Early Settler Stadium was treated to a thriller on Saturday night, as the Cairns Marlins fell two points short to the Mackay Meteors, who were thrilled to take home their first win of the season following a tough loss to open the year. Meteor Christopher Cedar was the hero, hitting a clutch three pointer with six seconds remaining to give his side the game winning lead in the tense battle. Following a 27-16 first quarter, it looked like the Meteors were going to walk away with an easy win, but the Marlins kept themselves in the contest right up until the final buzzer. For the Meteors, Cedar and Emmanuel Malou combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds as a dynamic duo, while Marlin Anthony Fisher competed strongly all match.

South West Metro Pirates v Southern Districts Spartans

Women:

The Southern Districts Spartans delivered a strong four quarter performance as they took down the South West Metro Pirates to the tune of 29 points at Hibiscus Sports Stadium on Saturday night. The Spartans dominated for the entire game, never giving their opponents a look in at a comeback and will be looking to build on this performance as they resume the 2021 season on the weekend. For the Spartans, Maddison Rocci was fantastic with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a performance that proves that she can truly do it all. For the Pirates, Amanda Johnson was inspirational as she fought her way to 30 points and 18 rebounds.

Men:

The final quarter comeback fell just short as the Spartans held off a fast-finishing Pirates side to claim their first win of the season. The Pirates had the highest scoring term in the final quarter but could not get past the final hurdle, falling just six points short of an inspirational victory. For the Spartans, Josh Derksen was impressive to start the season with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Pirate Kai Woodfall was great with 20 points of his own.

Gold Coast Rollers v Ipswich Force

Women:

The Gold Coast Rollers could not have started their season any better, defeating the Ipswich Force by 24 points at Carrara Stadium on Sunday. The Rollers had remarkable first and fourth quarters, outscoring the Force by 38 points in these two terms as they set up an impressive win with plenty to build on in the upcoming rounds. For the Rollers, Lauren Mansfield led the way with an eye-catching 27-point performance. For the Force, Amy Lewis never gave up as she finished the match with 21 points.

Men:

The closest game of the round was saved for last as the Gold Coast Rollers escaped Carrara Stadium with a one-point triumph over the Ipswich Force on Sunday. Gold Coast’s Jaryd Eustace did not shy away from the big moment, hitting a clutch shot from long range to give his side a one-point lead with six seconds remaining. The Force couldn’t answer, and the Rollers emerged victorious in an absolute thriller. Eustace was the clear hero for the Rollers, shaking off his poor shooting performance to deliver the biggest shot of the game. For the Force, Jason Ralph’s 20-point performance were integral in nearly giving his side the win.

Picture credit: Courier Mail

Southside Flyers claim premiership glory

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have notched up their inaugural premiership since being rebranded with a 17-point victory over Townsville Fire on Sunday afternoon (99-82). After taking out the minor premiership it was only fitting that the Flyers also walked away with the final piece of the puzzle – a premiership ring – after a dominant 2020 WNBL season. Despite not walking away with the chocolates, the Fire will hold their heads high, pushing the Flyers all the way and enjoying a rapid rise up the ladder throughout the condensed season.

Having met only days before it was always going to be a tough battle and the first quarter was proof of that with neither side able to be separated at the first break sitting at 22 points apiece. Play commenced with none other than Liz Cambage out of the middle however it was Townsville Fire’s Lauren Nicholson that landed the first blow nailing a layup. It was not long before Sara Blicavs made her presence felt converting at the charity strip and evening things up early in the piece.

The Fire pushed out to as much as six points ahead in the first five minutes before the Flyers found their groove and Cambage was subbed out due to foul trouble in the opening few minutes. Rebecca Cole levelled the scores with just over six minutes of play left in the term showcasing just how much of a tight game the fans were in for. This back and forth nature continued for most of the term with both sides trading blows and unable to arrest any sort of momentum given the high pressure nature the game was being played under. Nicholson was playing her part for the Fire leading the charge both off the boards and on the scoreboard while Leilani Mitchell sensed the occasion and stepped up to the plate with a couple of consecutive jump shots.

With scores tied at the first break the Flyers steadily built ahead in the second term opening up a two point lead off the back of some Mitchell magic. The Southside Flyers representative seemed to have her own ball out there, displaying her impressive range and relative accuracy. The term started with Zitina Aokuso hitting a jump shot and stealing the lead for the Fire before Mia Murray also got involved in the action to extend the lead to four points.

But that did not last long with Mitchell and Cole chiming in and playing their part for the Flyers. The lead ebbed and flowed as the Flyers created a handy four point buffer before Townsville once again fought back to reduce the deficit and steal the lead. It was a high intensity term with no player able to catch their breath with  Jenna O’Hea impressing and nailing a triple before Blicavs also added her two cents worth to the tally. Nicholson continued her dominant ways while Stephanie Reid also got busy with a jump shot to get her side back within touching distance.

Two points separated the sides at half-time but it was clear that the Flyers came to play in the third quarter really putting the foot down. Known as the premiership quarter Cambage started to inflict some serious pain with a couple of much needed baskets while Blicavs proved to be a handful. If it was not Cambage attacking the rim it was Mitchell with the two causing chaos and finding the basket with relative ease to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the Fire at bay.

Townsville went three minutes without a score such was the defensive pressure of the Flyers while they managed to slot six points of their own and extend the margin to eight points. Shyla Heal started to get involved in the action nailing a handy jump shot while Aokuso also found the basket moments later but the pattern had started to become clear with the Fire unable to keep up with the steam train that was Southside.

With the silverware in sight it was clear that the Flyers were not about to let go, coming out with a higher level of intensity and real sense of determination. The Fire threw everything they had at the Flyers with Nicholson and Heal combining to cut the margin to nine and cause a couple of scares but that was short lived as the minor premiers held their nerve. Rachel Jarry was in good form and that showed making the most of her free-throws while Mitchell continued to star. Cole had a day out in the final term of play nailing a triple and relishing the opportunity to go to the line while Townsville simply did not have enough firepower to compete.

It is no surprise Mitchell walked away with Player of the Match honours with 31 points, four rebounds and five assists in an impressive showing for the Flyers. Cole also impressed throughout the game with 22 points shooting at 70 per cent from the field while also accumulating three assists, five steals and two rebounds. Cambage was quiet but still had an impact collecting 14 points, five rebounds while Blicavs managed seven points , nine rebounds and three assists.

Nicholson was once again they go to player for the Fire walking away with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Payne also had an impact with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists. Heal was down on her usual output but still managed 11 points and seven rebounds.

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.

2020 WNBL Round 3 weekday preview: Lightning returns as Lynx face three games in four days

AFTER a quarantine setback due to State Government rules around the Adelaide Lightning players needing to remain in isolation for another week, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) returns in full starting tonight. Seven games will be played across four days, with Perth Lynx having a heavy three-game schedule, while the Lightning, Bendigo Spirit, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers all play two games. By contrast, Melbourne Boomers only play one game in eight days, while Sydney Uni Flames and Townsville Fire back up with two games over the weekend.

Cairns hub:

Southside Flyers vs. UC Capitals
Sydney Uni Flames vs. Perth Lynx
Perth Lynx vs. Southside Flyers
UC Capitals vs. Perth Lynx

There will be no proper rest for Perth Lynx who face an incredibly tough schedule over the next three days, needing to back up and perform against three opponents in four days. After tonight’s match against Sydney Uni Flames, the West Australian team will only have Tuesday off before descending into back-to-back matches against last year’s grand finalists and current top two sides, Southside Flyers and UC Capitals. The grand final rematch is tonight which is sure to create plenty of interest in the group, while the Lynx and Flames both desperately need a win, because a loss will just about put a line through their season.

The Lynx will need to manage their players perfectly over this week, knowing they get a five-day break following the hectic three-in-four schedule. Katie-Rae Ebzery and Darcy Garbin remain the two crucial players for the Lynx, with Garbin playing every game, and Ebzery missing one thus far in season 2020. Ebzery has put up 17.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 blocks in 2020, hitting 47.1 per cent of her three-point attempts. Garbin has been instrumental off the boards with 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds.

The struggle for the Lynx has been their assist numbers, with Alex Ciabattoni the only other player with two or more assists, averaging two assists and rebounds as well as seven points. Rebounds wise, the Lynx have been able to remain strong, as Alex Sharp (7.2 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (5.2 points, 7.4 rebounds) have provided great coverage in the area. The key will be to somehow overcome the shocking 46-point defeat to the Flyers last week, while the challenges that also come against quality opposition in the Capitals and Flames.

Southside has lived up to its pre-season billing of title favourites, sitting pretty on top of the table with a 4-1 record and its only blemish coming against the Boomers. No doubt defeating the Capitals will be high up on the Flyers’ list of desired achievements having gone down to them in two nail-biting grand finals last season. Liz Cambage has been near-impossible to stop in the center position, averaging 20.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Joining her with more than 15 points per game to her name is Rebecca Cole who has been crucial on the offensive end with 16.6 points and 3.6 assists per game, as well as a high 64.7 per cent from long-range for a 58.8 per cent field goal clip.

There are no shortage of stars in the Flyers’ side though, with the same starting five every match thus far. That includes Jenna O’Hea and Sara Blicavs rounding out the three and four spots. O’Hea is averaging 11.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game, while Blicavs has recorded 14.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 steals. Leilani Mitchell has only managed the 8.6 points, but might be the most crucial player on the court with her transition work, averaging a massive six assists per game as she heads into battle against her former side tonight.

UC Capitals have the two games, facing Perth on Thursday after their grand final rematch tonight. The advantage with the schedule is the fact the Capitals should be ready to go in the blockbuster Monday night fixture, before taking on a tiring Lynx outfit who would have come off a second game the night before. Maddison Rocci has been amazing this season, putting up 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals to cement herself as one of the stars of the competition. Jade Melbourne continues to juggle her Year 12 exams in between being a basketball talent, averaging the 10 points and two rebounds thus far.

The much more experienced Kelsey Griffin has been building off the bench, and perhaps will have her greatest impact tonight, with the Capitals needing every ounce of her ability to get up over the Flyers. She has been averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.3 assists from limited minutes. Keely Froling (11.6 points, 6.8 rebounds), Marianna Tolo (10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Mikayla Ruef (9.2 points, 8.0 rebounds) are the others who remain consistent in the Capitals’ premiership defence.

Sydney Uni seem the more likely side in that bottom three to keep their season alive despite a 1-4 start. They have been more competitive as a whole, with five and three-point losses in Round 2 which hurt the Flames. They now have a chance to really step it up against Perth Lynx who they should beat, and no doubt Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer will have extra motivation to win. Mansfield is averaging 14. points, 5.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, while fellow former Lynx talent Schwagmeyer has averaged 11.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 steals starting every match this season.

Lauren Scherf has been building and getting better as the season wears on, putting up a team-high six points and 1.4 blocks to go with her 13 points. Anneli Maley has also relished the extra time since crossing from the Flyers, showing what she is capable of thanks to 8.6 points, 9.8 blocks and 1.6 steals. Natalie Burton has also contributed strongly with the six points and 4.4 rebounds playing out of that four spot with great success.

Tonight’s winner grabs top spot with the Flyers favoured, but you can never discount the Capitals, while expect both teams, as well as the Flames to end the Lynx’s season this week.

Townsville hub:

Melbourne Boomers vs. Adelaide Lightning
Bendigo Spirit vs. Townsville Fire
Bendigo Spirit vs. Adelaide Lightning

A smaller Townsville hub features the four teams with the Lightning returning and playing two games against Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit, while the Spirit also takes on Townsville Fire in the game that was rescheduled from Sunday. The unknown of this hub is the Lightning, who will be certainly fresh, but whether it is at a point of being rusty, and the Boomers being a tough first-up opponent. They could capitalise on the Boomers’ recent loss to Townsville, while the Fire and Lightning will still be backed in to take care of the winless Spirit.

Starting with the Lightning, in case many might have forgotten given they have not played in eight days, Adelaide claimed two victories in Round 1, defeating the reigning premiers UC Capitals on opening night in a 12-point overtime upset win. They then went on to defeat Perth Lynx by five points in a much closer contest, before being forced back into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia. Technically the Lightning are the only undefeated team in the competition, but will need to play catch-up which means a hectic schedule over the final three rounds.

Steph Talbot was unbelievable in the opening two matches, racking up 27.5 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists to arguably be the player of the competition at that stage. She was well supported by inclusions to the Lightning’s team, Abigail Wehrung (16 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Alex Wilson (13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals). Wilson will take on her former side in the Spirit on Wednesday which provides some extra motivation there. Chelsea Brook (nine points, five rebounds) has provided her usual impact at the five spot and teamed up well with Talbot as the bigs.

The Spirit have really struggled on offence this season, but seemed to find a way to counter their low scoring in the narrow 10-point defeat to Townsville on Saturday. The Spirit has a huge first term before tiring towards the end, but finally hit the 80-point mark (81) after scores of 60, 63, 56 and 65 in their first four games. Carley Ernst (17.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks) and Tessa Lavey (12.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.0 steals) have been the dominant rebounder and playmaker respectively thus far, but they need more support.

Mary Goulding has been building nicely in the later games with 8.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals, while Jennie Rintala is the only other player with more than five points, putting up 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds coming off the bench. By comparison their opponent on Tuesday in Townsville has had no problems scoring, racking up the second most points this season, but also being the second weakest defence behind the Spirit.

Lauren Nicholson (19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists) and Shyla Heal (16.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists) have been the two back court talents that will cause all sorts of headaches, with Heal’s best game coming against the Spirit in that win over the weekend. She will be hoping to produce much of the same, while Zitina Aokuso is ready to tear the competition apart and is up to 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game getting better with every extra minute. Mia Murray (5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds) have been crucial in that area as well.

Meanwhile the Boomers will be hungry for a win tomorrow night following the back-to-back losses in Round 2 against the Capitals and Fire. After starting the season 3-0, including a victory over Southside Flyers, the Boomers went down to the Capitals by 17 points, before suffering their most recent loss to the Fire yesterday, losing by 12. Tess Madgen has been dominant for her new side this season, but has only played the three games after missing two matches with an ankle injury. She has put up 19.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists, joining captain Cayla George (16.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals) as the dominant scorers.

Ezi Magbegor has provided crucial work in tandem with George out of the four and five spots, recording 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks, while Ashleigh Karaitiana and Madeleine Garrick remain busy with nine and eight points per game respectively. They desperately need a win to avoid a three-game losing streak, and given they will have a week off, expect them to leave nothing out on the court, especially with four matches in Round 4, including the Capitals and Flyers.

Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Townsville makes it two wins on the trot

TOWNSVILLE Fire caused a major upset yesterday, downing the Melbourne Boomers by 12 points to make it two wins on the trot (75-87). On the flip side the loss also gifted Melbourne their second consecutive loss after a hot start to the season. Townsville simply could not be stopped outscoring their opponents in every term bar the second to steal the victory and progress up the ladder thanks to their strong outing.

Flying out of the gates with a 30-point term, it was clear the Fire had a real pep in their step attacking the rim with great urgency and potency to set the tone for the remainder of the game. Shyla Heal was the first one to get the ball rolling converting two free throws which ultimately symbolised how the rest of the game unfolded with the youngster stealing the show, amassing 19 points with three pointers included in that total along with four rebounds and a block. Fire managed to control the overall flow of the game, pressing the Boomers and making them work for every single pass while also capitalising on their chances when they arose.

The Fire proved to be more accurate from the field shooting at a 54 per cent clip as opposed to Melbourne who struggled to find their range converting at a lowly 41 per cent. Townsville also had the Boomers’ number from beyond the arc making them pay with a 57 per cent accuracy nailing 11 of their 19 attempts while Melbourne only hit nine of their 26 attempts. Outside of the shooting statistics the Boomers seemed to have the answers reeling in 35 rebounds – two more than the Fire – while they also racked up more goal assists (20-17) showcasing the difference in the way the two sides play. When it came to steals the Boomers also flexed their muscles recording six in comparison to the Fire’s four, however the damage had already been done on the scoreboard with Townsville showcasing their ability to score from turnovers in a heartbeat registering 11 points to four.

There is no denying that Heal played an integral role in the Fire’s win however it was Lauren Nicholson who really paved the way for the side slotting an impressive 24 points, five rebounds and six assists in an all-round dominant performance by the guard. Nicholson was involved in everything, willing her side over the line for their second victory. Nadeen Payne also plied her trade effectively, recording 13 points and shooting at an 80 per cent rate from the field while also managing five rebounds. The only other player to record double digits was captain Mia Murray who showcased her skillset in all facets across the court finishing with 12 points three from four beyond the arc to accompany her four rebounds, three assists and one steal.

Although it was not their day, the Boomers had a couple of standouts with youngster Ezi Magbegor showcasing her class and sheer dominance walking away with 20 points and six rebounds to her name, but could have added more to her tally had she been more accurate sitting at 52 per cent from the field. Cayla George continued her merry way dropping a double-double with her 15 points and 14 rebounds, nine of them defensive while also collecting five assists and three steals. Ashleigh Karaitiana also chimed in with 14 points throughout her 22 minutes on court.

The Boomers will take on Adelaide Lightning in their next clash on Tuesday with the Lightning sitting pretty on top of the ladder while Townsville face Bendigo Spirit who are languishing at the bottom of the ladder with no wins from their five appearances.

Townsville above .500 again, knock off Spirit thanks to third quarter swing

IN the space of about five minutes, the Townsville Fire flipped the script in yesterday’s clash against the Bendigo Spirit, outscoring them by 17 points in the third quarter to ride home their third win of the season 91-81. Meanwhile the Spirit are still searching for the required recipe to win their first game of the campaign, as their losing skid extends to five games.

Bendigo pushed the pace early in the first quarter, getting out to a 17-5 lead halfway through the opening period, which completely dumbfounded the Fire’s defence in the process. This would dominate the headlines in the opening 10 minutes, but six-straight points from Townsville brought the deficit to a more respectable number with some much-needed momentum.

A late And-One from Tessa Lavey repositioned the Spirit with a commanding quarter time lead ahead 26-15, as each of Bendigo’s starters got their names on the scoresheet early on with a 50 per cent conversion rate aiding them.

However, head coach Shannon Seebohm relied on his side’s depth to help will them back into the contest trailing by just four points at one stage in the second. Nevertheless, back-to-back threes from Mary Goulding and Cassidy McLean would sour the Fire’s momentum just a few moments later, re-establishing the double-digit advantage.

Saving the day in the first half for the Fire was Megan McKay, who earned her minutes with her rebounding, totalling six boards through the first two periods along with seven points. Bendigo would conclude the opening half with the lead after two quarters for the first time this season, 47-40, as Lavey led the way with 12 points and six assists while Goulding had herself 13 points as well. Meanwhile, Townsville’s leading scorer in Lauren Nicholson had 11 points throughout all 20 first half minutes.

As Townsville gradually tightened the deficit, Shyla Heal was huge with her mid-range game, knocking down three-straight buckets to pressure the Spirit further and then eventually tally her thirteenth point of the match to put the Fire in front six minutes into the third.

Despite Carley Ernst putting up substantial numbers in the third, Townsville flipped the game on its head and did the same themselves. A 29-11 third quarter for the Fire would reverse the roles for both sides with the score sitting at 69-58 in favour of this season’s hosts. Two early buckets from Bendigo’s duo Lavey and Ernst, provided promising signs early on in the fourth for the Spirit, but the Fire’s tall frontcourt consisting of McKay, Mia Murray and Zitina Aokuso hustled enough in the later stages of the game to fend off Tracy York’s side long enough to get the Fire over the finish line.

A slow start to the game for the Fire was remedied in the second half, allowing them to earn the come from behind win and put their record at three wins and two losses after their hard-fought 91-81 victory. Townsville’s backcourt was instrumental in the win, with Heal being a key contributor against her former side after her 22 points, six rebounds and three assists next to Nicholson’s 20 points and three rebounds. Aokuso also provided a major boost in her 25 and half minutes of play, putting up 21 points and five rebounds.

These performances will need to continue in one way or another as they size up the Melbourne Boomers later today in the second leg of their weekend double-header.

On the other hand, it can easily be argued that yesterday’s efforts from Bendigo involved numerous highlights, a number of those being individual performance like Lavey and Goulding’s 19 points apiece. It also slots nicely next to Ernst’s 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Spirit’s lesser victories in yesterday’s clash put them in good stead for their upcoming meeting on Tuesday against the Fire for a second time, where we will get to see if Coach York changes her tactics in the repeat fixture.

SOUTHSIDE LEVELS PERTH, AWAIT CAPITALS FOR GRAND FINAL REMATCH

Pic: WNBL

ANOTHER impressive wining margin lined the belt of the Southside Flyers last night, as their 12-player roster came back from an early deficit in the opening period to emerge on the other side with another statement win, following a 46-point thrashing of the Perth Lynx, 117-71.

As mentioned, the opening moments of the contest occurred from deep as the first five made field goals from both teams came from three-point range, with Darcee Garbin and Katie Ebzery leading the charge.

With play settling down slightly and the tempo slowing, Perth continued to make their shots count, knocking down their first five attempts from behind the arc, while Liz Cambage did her best to quell the Lynx’s shooting lethality in the opening phase, with 13 points at the first break.

Five triples from Perth and 21 combined points from Garbin and Ebzery helped the Lynx to a 26-21 lead heading into the second, as Flyers captain Jenna O’Hea found early foul trouble. Still, Cambage commenced the second the same way she finished the first by putting the ball in the net, before Stephanie Blicavs tied things up a minute into the second term.

With every minute that went by in the second, the Flyers picked apart Perth’s offence more and more. At the conclusion of the first half, Southside had forced 10 turnovers from the Lynx, which in turn would lead to 18 points from takeaways and a 54-42 lead at the main break.

Even though both teams had shot remarkably well with Southside shooting 50 per cent and Perth shooting 48 per cent, Cambage (19 points and seven rebounds), Sara Blicavs (10 points and four rebounds) and Bec Cole (10 points) were all the major difference makers during the second quarter, as Cheryl Chambers tried her best to slow the production of Garbin (18 points and four rebounds) and Ebzery (13 points and four assists).

Unable to derail the Southside train, Perth’s care of the basketball continued to waver with their turnovers accumulating into the third quarter still. Capitalising on this, Cole increased her statistics while the Flyers’ secondary unit contributed to the blowout third period which saw Southside tally 35 points compared to the Lynx’s 14 and hold a commanding 89-56 lead.

Despite the result being determined prior to the start of the fourth, both coaches saw it suitable to let their younger prospects earn some ample WNBL court time. Both Rebecca Pizzey and Monique Conti impressed in the fourth for the Flyers, while Perth’s Jewel Williams had a couple of memorable moments to add to her night.

Match proceedings would end with Southside winning in rather fashionable form, coming out 46-point victors in the 117-71 demolition of Perth. It was the combined efforts of Cambage (21 points and seven rebounds), Cole (20 points and five assists) and Sara Blicavs (19 points and six rebounds) that accounted for the majority of the Flyers’ success last night, which bodes well for the squad as they get their chance at redemption in Monday’s Grand Final rematch against the Canberra Capitals.

For the Lynx, it was Garbin’s show, following what was a red-hot first quarter which ultimately culminated in a 24-point and seven-rebound outing, whereas Ebzery (13 points and five assists) and Alex Sharp (10 points) added chunks of points to fill out the box score. Perth has a chance to bounce back against the Sydney Uni Flames on Monday as they hope to gain some traction in the mid-table logjam, in a season that could easily slip away from Ryan Petrik’s side if they cannot find positive results soon.

CAPITALS HOLD ON AGAINST RESILIENT FLAMES, EXTEND WINNING STREAK TO FOUR

Pic: WNBL

THE University of Canberra Capitals have solidified themselves as serious contenders in the WNBL this season, after obtaining their fourth win in a row following a scrappy affair against the Sydney Uni Flames, winning by five points 68-63 to close out yesterday’s trio of games.

Little could separate the Flames and the Capitals early on, but the efforts that Anneli Maley made in the opening 10 minutes proved fruitful for Sydney Uni, with the 22-year-old fighting towards seven points and five rebounds in that time. Coupled with Lauren Scherf’s six points, the Flames would pull away at the end of the first quarter leading 23-11 and forcing eight turnovers off of Canberra in the process.

No Capitals players stood out tremendously in terms of scoring during the first half, but rather Paul Goriss’s side spread out the points production after reducing the deficit to just a couple of baskets during the second quarter.

The same could also be said for the Flames, but their method of scoring was slightly different, as they found the majority of their points from either mid-range, the free-throw line or through second chance points, whereas Canberra kept punishing Sydney Uni in the paint with baskets around the rim.

Leading 39-32 at the main break, the Flames shot average at best, converting on 37 per cent from the field, but Katrina Hibbert’s side inherited a huge boost thanks to their 11 free throws (eight more than the Capitals). Furthermore, Lauren Mansfield started to find her stroke with 11 points after two terms.

Things in the third did not start any better for the Capitals, as they fell behind by double-digits. But a strong move by Marianna Tolo and a fast-break And-One by Tahlia Tupaea made the contest a tight one well into the third.

An 11-4 run by the Caps with three minutes remaining in the penultimate period had Canberra nipping at the heels of the Flames in what was shaping up to be a sprint to the finish line, where either side were threatening to take over.

To round off a tumultuous third phase, a beautiful assist and bucket on consecutive possessions from Kelsey Griffin would secure the Capitals a four-point lead with 10 minutes remaining 57-53, and with Maddison Rocci leading the charge submitting 14 points and four rebounds, a win was certainly within view.

Both sides fought tooth and nail in what was a perfect way to finish off yesterday’s fixtures, where plenty of bodies hit the deck, missed shots were contested by multiple individuals and loose balls were jumped on by both teams in hard-nose smash-mouth brand of basketball. But Canberra seemed to be wading away midway through the fourth and Coach Hibbert’s side needed a dramatic boost with less than five minutes remaining.

With 48 seconds remaining, the game hung in the balance for both sides with one point being the difference. Luckily for the defending champions, Griffin was able to force Mansfield’s fourth turnover and again strip Alison Schwagmeyer just 30 seconds later, which cemented the victory for the Capitals after Keely Froling laid up the game-sealing bucket with three seconds left, therefore allowing Canberra to win the contest 68-63 in a down to the wire slugfest. The victory continuing their winning streak to four games.

It was another impressive night for Rocci, who had 17 points and five assists to show for last night’s efforts, as more of Canberra’s contributors from last season added solid performances. Griffin (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) and Froling (15 points, 10 rebounds) provided relief on the boards, while Tolo also tallied 13 points of her own. The Capitals now need to hunker down and prepare for a formidable Southside Flyers squad that is still stinging from their Grand Final defeat last season, a side that has also significantly improved since then.

The Flames had their regular performers on display again, as Scherf led the way in scoring with 19 points. Whereas, Maley had another double-double night with 13 points and 12 rebounds next to Mansfield’s 16 points from 36 minutes on the floor. Sydney Uni now have their own concerns considering they now find themselves on a three-game skid and are tied for second-last with the Perth Lynx, who they face next on Monday in a game that will prove to be crucial regarding the future of the fourth seed.