Tag: nadeen payne

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

2021 NBL1 North wrap: Round 7

NATIONAL Basketball League (NBL)1 Round 7 took place over the weekend, with plenty of big clashes making headlines this week.

Women’s

Southern District Spartans defeated Rockhampton Cyclones

It was a triumphant win for the Southern District Spartans on Sunday afternoon, as they caused an upset win against Rockhampton Cyclones. Rockhampton got the first points on the board thanks to a two-point shot from Mikayla Watkinson, but a burst of shots at the basket saw the Spartans snatch the lead. A timeout was called by Rockhampton, leading to a three-point jumpshot. But it was a steal from the Spartans which saw Southern District continue to keep a hold of the ball during the first period. The second term quickly approached with the scores standing at 39-10 in favour of the Spartans. One of two free throws made by the Cyclones allowed the Spartans to continue their dominant run during this period. As a result of missed shots at the basket for the Cyclones, the current lead holders powered on with highlights that included a two-point jumpshot and all free throw shots at the basket being made. In the third period, once again Southern District Spartans were unstoppable as Rockhampton continued to trail behind. The game saw its third timeout called, this time from the Spartans. The Cyclones started seeing more points on the board by the end of the third period, however it was not enough for them to break their opponents from holding onto the lead. An intense battle between the Spartans and the Cyclones, with both teams fighting for the win. But despite best efforts, the Cyclones were no match for Southern District who saw their scores hit triple digits as a result of a two-point shot from Rebecca Haynes. Multiple shots at the basket saw points on the board for Cyclones, yet it was too late as Southern District Spartans bagged the win by 73 points.

Nadeen Payne was among Southern District’s best players in the game. The young gun bagged an impressive 23 points along with six rebounds and two assists. Maddison Rocci (22 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Madelyn Willey (16 points, nine assists and five rebounds) were also dominant for the Spartans. Tori Rouse and Brandi Leal both scored nine points and were among best on court for Rockhampton.

Rockhampton Cyclones failed to secure a win against the Northside Wizards, losing by 14 points as well as losing against the Brisbane Capitals by 30 points. Logan Thunder came out on top against the Gold Coast Rollers by 45 points, as Ipswich won by 19 against Red City. South West Metro defeated Northside Wizards by 20 points. Sunshine Coast Phoenix went down by 21 points to Mackay Meterorettes, who also defeated USC Rip City by 34 points.

Results:
Northside Wizards defeated Rockhampton Cyclones (78-64)
Brisbane Capitals defeated Rockhampton Cyclones (84-54)
Logan Thunder defeated Gold Coast Rollers (106-61)
Ipswich Force defeated Red City Roar (81-62)
South West Metro Pirates defeated Northside Wizards (80-60)
Mackay Meterorettes defeated Sunshine Coast Phoenix (83-62)
Southern District Spartans defeated Rockhampton Cyclones (117-43)
Mackay Meterorettes defeated USC Rip City (94-60)

Men’s

USC Rip City defeated Mackay Meteors

USC Sports Stadium held the enthralling match between Rip City and the Mackay Meteors, which saw USC with the home ground advantage winning by 17 points. Both sides saw points go up on the board during the first period, as a mix of two-point shots and free throws shaped up the exciting contest. Despite a two-point shot from USC’s Kyle Zunic, Meteors’ clutch of the lead was kicked off after a string of shots as scores remained in their favour for majority of the first term. A three-point jump shot from the Meteors fired up the side with momentum as they continued to dominate the scoreboard in the opening minutes of the second term. But as Mackay powered through, a persistent Rip City were quickly closing the margin. The Meteors continued to dominate the scoreboard, but eventually dropped the lead as the scores went 37-36 the way of Rip City. Following Tanner Krebs‘ two free throws both being made, USC sparked a scoring frenzy as they powered through the third period and kept a tight hold onto the lead. A new page had turned for Rip City as the Mackay Meteors now trailed behind in the game as the third period concluded. Missed opportunities at the basket were costly for Mackay, as Rip City were well in front by the final period. The fourth term saw two timeouts which both were called by the Meteors. USC took advantage of Mackay’s missed opportunities at the basket as they fired with multiple three-point jump shots. A two-point shot were made by Mackay in the dying minutes of the fourth term, but came too late as USC managed to steal the win away.

Rip City’s dominant performance was as a result of multiple star players. Tanner Krebs showcased a strong front and was among the best on court for Rip City with 34 points. He also had 13 rebounds to his name. Also impressing for the winning side was Isaiah Tueta who scored 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Despite his side’s loss, Harrison Froling (15 rebounds, four assists) was a standout for Mackay, contributing 29 points. Christopher Cedar (six rebounds, two assists) and Emmanuel Malou (ten rebounds, one assist) were also important for the Mackay Meteors as they scored 21 and 17 points respectively.

Rockhampton Rockets fell short of the win against Northside Wizards by six points, and also went down to Brisbane Capitals by 22 points. Logan Thunder defeated Gold Coast by eight point as Ipswich Force came out on top by 37 points, while falling short of the win was the Northside Wizards against South West Metro. Mackay Meteors however found success winning by nine points against Sunshine Coast Phoenix and Southern District Spartans had a win on the cards as they defeated the Rockets by 27 points.

Results
Northside Wizards defeated Rockhampton Rockets (99-94)
Brisbane Capitals defeated Rockhampton Rockets (108-86)
Logan Thunder defeated Gold Coast Rollers (107-99)
Ipswich Force defeated Red City Roar (108-71)
South West Metro Pirates defeated Northside Wizards (94-70)
Mackay Meteors defeated Sunshine Coast Phoenix (102-93)
Southern Districts Spartans defeated Rockhampton Rockets (103-76)
USC Rip City defeated Mackay Meteors (97-80)

NBL1 North wrap: Round 5

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

WOMEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

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

MEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Ray Krause / Cairns Basketball

NBL1 North wrap: Round 2

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

WOMEN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Kieron Place Art and Photography

WNBL20 Season Review – 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.

WNBL Grand final preview: Southside Flyers v. Townsville Fire

IT all comes down to this day with Southside Flyers and Townsville Fire set to lock horns in a do or die grand final battle. Southside will be out for vengeance after falling in last year’s WNBL grand final while Townsville Fire have proven they have nothing to lose and everything to gain after an impressive rise through the ranks this season.

The last time these two sides met was only days ago with Southside getting the last laugh in the first semi-final and claiming an important victory, fuelling them with momentum heading into this clash. Despite having a shorter turn around then their competitors, the Fire have an insatiable thirst for a win and will be keen to provide their fans with plenty of entertainment and make full use of their homecourt advantage. It has been a roller coaster season for both sides but by late this afternoon there will be a new crowned champion with either the Flyers or Fire set to walk away with some nice silverware. A victory here would see Southside claim their first premiership since being rebranded while for Townsville it will mark their fourth premiership in history.

The WNBL minor premiers have a real pep in their step having won every outing against Townsville in the past two seasons but will have their work cut out for them against the Fire who are reinvigorated and have a real sense of momentum after stringing together a couple of strong quarters. It is fair to say that belief is strong in the Townsville unit overcoming an experienced Melbourne Boomers outfit only days ago to make their way to the grand final and give themselves a chance to hold the premiership cup aloft.

Statistically speaking, the Flyers have an insane ability to hit the basket with great accuracy and penetration to constantly keep the scoreboard ticking over, meaning that the Fire will have to be on their a-game in order to limit the opportunities in which Southside have to attack the rim. The Flyers also have the upper hand when it comes to fast break points and ability to convert points from turnovers given the high calibre of players that are able to seize the moment and take charge. Defensively the Flyers also reign supreme amassing 33 more blocks than the Fire while also highlighting their cleanliness and ability to attack the ball with 140 steals compared to 109. Southside have the ability to play with a shared mentality highlighted through their higher assists count 369 to 249.  On the flip side the Fire have proven to be tried and tested performers on the rebounding front able to reel in missed shots time and time again.

When looking at top players in either squad it is hard to go past All-WNBL First team star Liz Cambage who has made a lasting impression and will be eager to once again inflict some pain both on the scoreboard and rebound front in the grand final. The center has an impressive set of averages with 24.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game. She is not alone though with Sara Blicavs a real livewire out on court with her 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists while Rebecca Cole has elevated her workload throughout the season to collect 15 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists each time she steps out on court. The Flyers also have plenty of depth with Leilani Mitchell able to change the course of a game alongside Monique Conti, Aimie Clydesdale and Jenna O’Hea.

The Fire have two key prongs in their unit with Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal the go-to-girls able to light up the court and cause a wave with their impact. Nicholson is a seasoned campaigner that knows how to stand up when it counts and averages an impressive 18.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game. Partner in crime, Heal is coming off a stellar performance and will be hoping to replicate similar feats today with the youngster not afraid to take the game on credit to her averages of 17.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals. Off the bench Townsville have some good support with Zitina Aokuso a handy inclusion with her 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists while Nadeen Payne also brings another element to the contest.

It will be a thrilling contest between the two sides as they battle it out for the most prestigious award and honour in the WNBL. Expect the game to go down to the wire and for each player to throw everything they have at it in order to get their side over the line.

WNBL Preliminary final: Townsville Fire v. Melbourne Boomers

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNBL semi-finals preview

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

UC Capitals v. Melbourne Boomers

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

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

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

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

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

Southside Flyers v. Townsville Fire

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

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

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

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

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

Fire overcome fast-starting Boomers to secure second spot

THE TOWNSVILLE Fire announced themselves as serious finals contenders, downing Melbourne Boomers by six points in an epic contest (70-64). In a fight for top four position, the two sides went head-to-head with the lead ebbing and flowing throughout the game, showcasing what was at stake and the high intensity both sides can bring to the table.

The Boomers got out to a flyer of a start, establishing a seven-point margin at the first break and keeping the Fire to single digits in the opening term. But Townsville showcased its grit and determination, finding a groove in the second term and piling on the pressure to turn the tables on the Boomers, who seemed to have things their own way in the opening period of play. The Fire made light work of Melbourne, notching up 31 points to 17. Things evened out in the second half with both teams establishing their rhythm and unable to be separated, but in the end the Fire had done enough to throw the Boomers and clinch a hard-fought victory.

Accuracy from the field was down for both sides, however the Fire managed to boast a higher percentage – sitting at 42 per cent compared to the Boomers’ 38. The Fire also starred from two point range, converting at a 50 per cent clip in nailing 21 of their 42 attempts, while the Boomers did not have the same luck sitting at 41 per cent. However, when it came to triples, that is where the Boomers impressed nailing eight of their 25 attempts at 32 per cent as opposed to the Fire’s 28 per cent. Shooting statistics aside, the Boomers seemed to have the upper hand in the majority of the other categories; recording a higher rebound count (40-39) and more assists (24-14), highlighting the different way the two clubs go about it on court. They also earned a higher steals and blocks tally (10-7) and (4-2), respectively showcasing their defensive intent but were somewhat costly on the turnover front (16-13).

Lauren Nicholson once again impressed for the Fire, with the guard dropping 23 points at 50 per cent from the field along with four assists, six rebounds and a steal, highlighting her ability to be constantly involved in the action. Teammate Shyla Heal was down on her usual output, only recording the seven points in her 33 minutes on court, however she still managed to have an impact off the boards with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Kate Gaze was another key contributor with 11 points while Zitina Aokuso starred for the Fire with her 16 points at an impressive 87 per cent from the field. Aokuso also managed seven rebounds, six of which were defensive, along with a steal to cap off an impressive performance from the youngster. Nadeen Payne also chimed in for a handy eight points and seven rebounds to help get her side over the line.

There were three main contributors for the Melbourne Boomers who were unable to generate as much impact as they would have liked off the bench, but still had key figures that were able to keep them in touching distance of the Fire. Ezi Magbegor led the charge for Melbourne, with the forward proving to be a menace and recording a team-high 20 points at an all-round 64 per cent accuracy. It did not stop there for her, amassing 10 rebounds to collect another double-double while also picking up three assists and one steal. The ever-reliable captain, Cayla George was the next best with 18 points across her 36 minutes on court, but she did the most damage off the boards with a staggering 17 rebounds which accompanied her three steals, three blocks and four assists. Tess Madgen also contributed for the Boomers knocking back 11 points while also collecting eight assists and four rebounds.

The Fire look ahead to ladder leaders Southside Flyers in the semi-final on Wednesday while Melbourne faces off against the Caps early in the day.

Flyers flex their muscles with convincing win over Caps

Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

It was always going to be an exciting battle between back-to-back premiers UC Capitals and the star studded line-up of Southside Flyers, but in the end it was the latter that prevailed in a convincing performance to run out with a 19-point victory (82-101).  The ladder leaders are building some serious momentum heading into the finals and are clearly primed as premiership favourites, as shown by their dominant performance on Sunday.

It was a high scoring match from the opening minutes of the game with both sides renowned for their attacking mentality and ability to hit the scoreboard with great ease. The Flyers got out to a handy start and did not look like giving up the lead at any stage, continuously pushing to extend their margin. Despite a better quarter in the second from the Caps nailing 23 points to 20, the Flyers still had the momentum and the lead. But they dealt the most damage in the third quarter when they went on a scoring spree, nailing 32 points to 19 to all but seal the deal. The Flyers had a real sense of desperation and urgency in their gameplay and that showed throughout the game, outscoring their opponents in the final term as well.

Scoring proved to be no issue for the Flyers who managed an impressive 51 per cent from the field, nailing 40 of their 77 attempts while the Caps travelled at a 40 per cent conversion rate. Southside starred from downtown, sitting at a whopping 62 per cent in slotting 18 from their 29 attempts, while it was a different story for the Capitals who only managed a mere 26 per cent from outside the arc. When it came to rebounds UC had things all their own way, recoding 47 to 34 to showcase their strength off the boards, but the Flyers seemed to have their number in all the other aspects such as assists (29-23), steals (6-4) and blocks (5-1). The ladder leaders were also cleaner with ball in hand and treasured possession, only notching up 10 turnovers as opposed to 15 while when it came to points in the paint, the Flyers also had the upper hand recording 42 to 28.

Despite being in the losing side there was no shortage of options with the likes of Marianna Tolo leading the way for the Capitals with her 23 points, six rebounds and two assists. The scoring dropped off after her with Jade Melbourne the next closest with 12 points in a strong performance off the bench. Madison Rocci and Kelsey Griffin were both handy options for the Capitals, combining for 21 points, nine rebounds and three assists while Keely Froling also chimed in with 10 points of her own in her 25 minutes on court. Although Mikaela Ruef did not have a profound impact on the scoreboard thanks to her six points, her strength off the board was unquestionable, reeling in 12 rebounds with eight of them defensive.

Six players all managed double figures for the Flyers with Rebecca Cole headlining the side with her 23 points and eight rebounds. Cole took the game by the scruff of the neck and starred while the ever-reliable Liz Cambage continued her merry way with another dominant performance collecting 18 points at 53 per cent and 12 rebounds. Aimie Clydesdale managed to have an influence thanks to her 13 points, two rebounds and six assists as did teammate Leilani Mitchell who just fell short of a double-double with nine rebounds and 14 points. Sara Blicavs dominated off the bench in a stats stuffing performance thanks to her 16 points, six rebounds and five assists haul while Stephanie Blicavs managed 11 points of her own in the win.

Looking ahead, the Flyers prepare for Townsville Fire in the semi-final on Wednesday while the Caps gear up for Melbourne.

Flames end season on a high

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After somewhat of an up and down season for both sides it was the Sydney Uni Flames that got the last laugh, securing a 26-point victory over Adelaide Lightning (86-60). With both teams out of the running for finals it was a matter of pride and determination which the Flames oozed plenty of as they kicked it up a gear in the final term to really ram home the win.

It was an even start to the game with the Flames and Lightning settling into the action and feeling each other out before Sydney found its mojo in the second term and put on the afterburners. Sensing a blowout, Adelaide turned the tables in the third term, going toe-to-toe with the Flames and scoring 18 points apiece, but that was not enough to worry Sydney who still had a handy buffer. The final quarter of action was where things really started to unravel with the Flames attacking the rim with great ease and piling on the scoreboard pressure thanks to their 29 to 14 point term to notch up their fifth win for the season.

Field goal percentage for both sides was down with the Flames converting at 39 per cent while Adelaide managed 35 per cent. The Lightning had better luck when it came to two point range sitting at 42 per cent while Sydney only managed 37 per cent. The roles were reversed when it came to three-pointers with the victors holding the upper hand, nailing eight of their 18 attempts at 44 per cent while the Lightning only managed 24 per cent. The Flames collected more rebounds (48-41), steals (14-7) and had less turnovers (10-20) while when it came to assists Adelaide impressed with 16-12.

Lauren Mansifeld seemed to have her own ball out on court for the Flames, sinking a game-high 31 points in a dominant shooting display from the guard. She also managed four assists and an uncharacteristic three turnovers. Mansfield was well-aided by Alison Schwagmeyer who recorded 16 points but could have had more had she been more accurate from the field, sitting at 33 per cent while also amassing seven rebounds and two assists. Anneli Maley was a commanding force off the backboards, recording a whopping 15 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive while Lauren Scherf plied her trade sinking 11 points in the win.

Although it was not the way the Lightning would have liked for the game to have gone down, there were a couple of key contributors with Steph Talbot once again leading the way. Talbot had a hot hand converting 22 points at 56 per cent while also dragging down 13 rebounds to record yet another double-double. Alex Wilson was the only other player to reach double figures with her 12 points and proved to be a real playmaker with ball in hand, amassing seven assists and a steal. Abigail Wehrung had an influence on the scoreboard, albeit limited, but still managed eight points in her 32 minutes on court.

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

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

Adelaide Lightning

Position: 5th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

Bendigo Spirit

Position: 8th
Wins: 0
Losses: 11th

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

Melbourne Boomers

Position: 3rd
Wins: 7
Losses: 3

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

Perth Lynx

Position: 6th
Wins: 4
Losses: 7

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

Southside Flyers

Position: 1st
Wins: 9
Losses: 2

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

Sydney Uni Flames

Position: 7th
Wins: 3
Losses: 7

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

Townsville Fire

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 4

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

 

UC Capitals

Position: 2nd
Wins: 8
Losses: 3

To make finals?

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

Round 5 fixtures:

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

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

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

Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images