Tag: natalie hurst

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #9 – Bendigo breaks road drought

WITH no basketball on for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we continue with number nine, an upset in the final round of the season that meant a lot to the competition’s last placed side.

#9 Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought with win over Townsville Fire

It took until the final round of the year, but Bendigo Spirit finished the 2019/20 WNBL season on a high with a victory against Townsville Fire. Up until that point, Bendigo had not won a road trip all season, and indeed the last victory when travelling was November 18, 2018 when the Spirit triumphed over 2018/19 WNBL wooden spooners, Sydney Uni. That day the team was different, with Natalie Hurst and Rebecca Tobin combining for 11 points each in a low-scoring team effort during the 67-55 victory. This season, Hurst had moved on and Tobin only managed the seven games. Instead it was Carley Ernst leading the way with the forward picking up a double double in the Spirit’s win over Townsville Fire on February 1, some 441 days later.

Ernst led all the major statistical areas, picking up team-highs in points (26), rebounds (10), assists (seven) and steals (two) to spur her team onto victory. Tessa Lavey picked up an equal team-high seven assists to go with 21 points and four rebounds, while former Perth Lynx young gun, Shyla Heal had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists in the win. To show just how much the Spirit had changed in that 15-month period, Abigail Wehrung was the only player to be on court for both away wins. In 2018, she had nine points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while in the most recent victory, she had five points, five rebounds, two assists and one block, but was far more accurate with her field goal percentage. Whilst in the scheme of the season, Bendigo still finished on the bottom of he table and Townsville escaped the wooden spoon, it was a nice way for the Spirit to finish off the season. Credit has to be given to Christina Boag in the loss though, with the Fire talent picking up 22 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in a clear standout performance for her side. Both teams will be looking to rise up the ladder in the 2020/21 season.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought

2019/20 WNBL season review: Adelaide Lightning 

LED by veteran coach Chris Lucas, Adelaide Lightning fell agonisingly short of the big dance, going down by three points to the Southside Flyers in both semi-finals. The Lightning made their case well and truly known in season 2019/20 with some hard fought wins to set them up for a finals berth, but in the end they lacked that final piece of the puzzle to get them over the line.

Ladder: 4th
Win-loss: 12-9

The Lightning made noise early in the offseason, acquiring Stephanie Talbot, a quintessential weapon stripped off the Melbourne Boomers. To accompany Talbot, the Lightning added Crystal Langhorne to the roster who was arguably the most talked about signing felt around the entire league. Fresh off winning a championship in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the two-time WNBA all star matched the expectations in her first game. Scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, while shooting 100 per cent from three-point range. Knee soreness plagued the rest of her season with doctors ruling her out after confirming she aggravated a pre-existing knee injury and would not return for the season forcing Adelaide to dig deep without her. 

Brianna Turner did her best to pick up the slack, leading the team with 16.8 points a game while averaging 10.7 rebounds, second to only Kelsey Griffin of the Capitals (excluding Langhorne). Behind Turner for the Lightning followed Lauren Nicholson with 14.2, Talbot with 13.8 and Nicole Seekamp with 11 points a game. Everyone lifted their load to make up ground Langhorne had left, and they surprisingly were doing just that, winning three of the first four games. A big reason for the teams immediate sense of harmony was because of Seekamp, who was at the top of her game, dishing eight assists a night; a league high. However she was also quite costly with ball in hand, leading the league in turnovers, with 4.2 a game.  Another reason for their post-Langhorne success was the crafty dynamism of Seekamp and Nicholson. One of the most famous pairs in the WNBL, captain Seekamp called their recognised connection “telepathy”, and this season was no different. The duo did a great job leading and pushing the team all the way to the playoffs, but unfortunately what they did on offence did not make up for the team’s shortcomings on defence. Lightning were ranked in the bottom three for steals, which unfortunately did not bode well for playoffs unable to generate enough turnover ball.  

The Lightning also signed Natalie Hurst and Laura Hodges, two 36-year-old veterans to act as role models for the younger players. Their influence was handy for young players like Sarah Elsworthy, Chelsea Brook and even Turner helping to set the tone and standard for the team. But even on the court their significance this season cannot be downplayed. Hurst and Hodges were spectacular late in games in more ways than people notice or at least give credit for. They were never raddled, they knew the right play, and they knew what to say to the younger players to get the best out of them. These are the things a team can only obtain from experienced players. Missing out on that championship banner by the margin they did was painful, but the way this team never stopped fighting after losing what was supposedly their best player in the opening round is commendable. This season should not be looked down upon by Lightning fans. 

2019/20 WNBL season review: Bendigo Spirit

IT was a case of new faces, same story, for the Bendigo Spirit during the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season, with the side fortunate to not finish on the bottom of the ladder after having a few bumps along the way.

Ladder: 7th
Win-loss: 5-16

This season for Spirit was categorised by fresh faces. Recruiting so many players, it was almost a completely new line-up from last year. To go with this brand new roster, the Spirit brought in a brand new coach in Tracey York. But with new faces came the issue of key old names missing, such as 2018/19 leading scorer, Nadeen Payne who left to join the Perth Lynx, along with Marena Whittle. The Lightning acquired Natalie Hurst while the Flyers grabbed Louella Tomlinson, and Jessie Rennie left for the USA. Nevertheless, Spirit was able to bring in Tessa Lavey and Carley Ernst from Dandenong Rangers, Shyla Heal from Perth and Kelly Wilson from Canberra. The Spirit also picked up Kasey Burton from Melbourne, and Marte Grays from the USA as their final piece for what was a chaotic offseason. Yet with so many fresh faces came very little team chemistry as the Spirit finished second last, again. But even with such an uncharted roster, a winning culture would surely be set as long as the team was captained by Wilson, or so was thought. Fresh off winning the NBL1 MVP for the Bendigo Braves, putting together 19.3 points, 10.5 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals a game, the Spirit were optimistic about their chances. But their dysfunction went far beyond a lack of common bond among players.

Rebecca Tobin, Spirit’s best player from last season, looked to have taken her game to the next level when playing in the NBL1, averaging 16.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per game from 15 matches. However misfortune would follow as Tobin was sidelined after a knock to the head during a training session right before the season. Playing just a third of the season, Tobin would only average 8.3 points a game. This would be a massive factor for what was certainly a derailed season. Placing in the bottom two in both steals and blocks per game, while also being second in turnovers, the Spirit simply struggled defensively. The side’s concentration on bringing in new players this season instead of building up last season’s combinations ultimately proved to be their downfall, with the changes on court falling short from expectations.

The Spirit had a very tough schedule to begin the season, playing seven teams that would make the playoff across their first eight games. It was not exactly the fairytale story Gabe Richards wanted to end her career on. A two-time champion who wore the Bendigo Spirit uniform for almost every season the Spirit has been alive in the WNBL, her presence will be sorely missed. However the torch may be in the hands of new recruit, Shyla Heal, who by all standards had a breakout season. Daughter of Australian basketball legend, Shane Heal, Shyla was expected to be a key contributor from the jump, learning from the more experienced players, her role was initially about being the spot up shooter in the offence. But at only 18 years of age, she put the league on notice and led her team in points per game with 12.1. Definitely a player to follow, who will not only be the Spirit’s franchise player, but maybe one day the face of the league.

WNBL Round 2 review: Victorian sides, reigning premiers remain undefeated

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have taken to the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) competition like a duck to water, winning their first three games – including a nail-biter over title contenders Perth Lynx, to head up the table at the end of Round 2. Melbourne Boomers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals also remain undefeated, while Adelaide Lightning bounced back with a win to sit second with two victories from three games.

Southside Flyers (97) defeated Perth Lynx (93)

The WNBL’s newest named side maintained its unbeaten start to the season with an overtime thriller at home against top-of-the-table Perth Lynx. The Southside Flyers raced away to a six-point lead at the main break, before the Lynx cut the deficit to four with a quarter to play. A desperate high-scoring final term saw the visitors draw level at the final buzzer, with overtime needed to settle the result. Southside scored 11-7 in overtime to get home by four points, 97-93. Mercedes Russell turned it on with a clear standout performance for the winners, posting up 18 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and one block in a big performance, while Jenna O’Hea also impressed with 19 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and a mind-boggling six steals. Sara Blicavs (11 points, nine rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (11 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) were also strong in the win, as Rebecca Cole picked up three steals as well as 16 points. Despite the loss, the standout player on the court by far was Alison Schwagmeyer who looked unstoppable with 34 points at 58.3 per cent from the field, as well as 12 rebounds and three assists. Lauren Mansfield was the playmaker in the forward half, picking up nine assists – more than half her team’s total – to go with eight points and three rebounds, while Imani McGee-Stafford (17 points, nine rebounds and four blocks) was also impressive.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Townsville Fire (68) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (86)

A fast-starting Adelaide Lightning flew into second spot on the WNBL ladder with a crushing 18-point win on the road against Townsville Fire. The Lightning struck early with 23 points to 12 in the first term, and by half-time the margin was out to 18. With the final break deficit sitting at 20, the Fire burnt into the lead marginally, winning the final term 20-18, but it was a case of too little, too late. Adelaide shared the points around with six players reaching double figures and contributing all the scores on the board, lead by Brianna Turner (19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks). Stephanie Talbot (18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) contributed across all stat categories, as Lauren Nicholson (15 points, four rebounds), Natalie Hurst (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Nicole Seekamp (11 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals) were also impressive on the night. For the Fire, Abby Bishop (24 points, eight rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (13 points, 10 rebounds) were the only major points scorers with more than half the team’s score and rebounds. Tess Madgen also had a solid night in a losing side with six points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Nicole Seekamp (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (72) defeated by Southside Flyers (85)

The two contrasting starts to the season by these two teams continued, with Southside Flyers’ third consecutive win also marking Sydney Uni Flames’ third consecutive loss. The home side started with promise, level with the equal ladder leaders after one term. Southside took control in the second term, adding 26 points to the Flames’ 20, before Sydney Uni hit back to cut the deficit to just three with a quarter to spare. It was all the Flyers in the final term however, as Southside sank 23 points to 13, to run away with a 13-point win, 85-72. O’Hea led the way for the Flyers, posting 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block, while Russell was once again influential with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Mitchell was dominant across all areas to be a standout at both ends, finishing with 14 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and three steals, while Cole had 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals. For the losing side, Alice Kunek was the top player, dropping 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Jessica Kuster picked up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tahlia Tupaea (15 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Colleen Planeta (14 points, five rebounds and two blocks) were others who stood tall despite the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), 2 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), 1 – Jessica Kuster (SU)

Melbourne Boomers (74) defeated Bendigo Spirit (70)

The Boomers maintained their unbeaten streak to start the season with a narrow four-point win over Bendigo Spirit at the State Basketball Centre. Neither side could be split in the first two quarters, level at both breaks before the Boomers blasted away with a 23-17 third term. Bendigo hit back in the final term, but despite showing spirit they could only cut the deficit by two, going down 70-74. Cayla George was the dominant player on the court, putting in a match-winning performance with 24 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Boomers. Sophie Cunningham (18 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Lindsay Allen (12 points, seven rebounds and six assists) were the other two Boomers to have a real influence on the game. For Bendigo, they also had a trio of standouts, with Kelly Wilson (19 points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals) leading the way. Tessa Lavey (13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Marte Grays (12 points, seven rebounds) were the other players who could hold their head high despite the defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Kelly Wilson (BS), 1 – Sophie Cunningham (MB)

UC Capitals (67) defeated Townsville Fire (65)

In a similar story to the previous week, reigning premiers UC Capitals had to dig deep to overcome the winless Townsville Fire, falling as much as four points behind at the final break before powering home with a 17-11 final term to take home the points. The 67-65 victory showed the Capitals are never out of the contest, having to pull out all the stops to get over the top of their opponents in Canberra. It was no surprise to see Kelsey Griffin on top of things once again, racking up another double-double courtesy of 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Kia Nurse also sank 16 points, two rebounds and three assists. Keely Froling (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) was solid on the scoring front, while Olivia Epoupa picked pockets like the Artful Dodger, racking up a massive seven steals to go with eight rebounds, four assists and 13 points. For the Fire, Bridget Carleton had the most points in the loss, shooting 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists, while Bishop was strong with a double-double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four steals. Micaela Cocks (13 points, five rebounds) and Madgen (10 points, five rebounds) also put up solid numbers.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 1 – Abby Bishop (TF)

Bendigo Spirit (91) defeated Perth Lynx (79)

Bendigo bounced back from the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Boomers the day before to outstay Perth Lynx in an impressive performance. The Spirit trailed by 10 points at quarter time, but took control after that, cutting the deficit to six at half-time and one by the final break. With the game in the balance, the Spirit stepped it up a notch, sinking 26 points to 13 to run away with the contest, 91-79 in a 12-point victory. Carley Ernst put up a massive 29 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win, while Grays (15 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Lavey (12 points, five rebounds and five assists) were impressive, as was Abbey Wehrung (14 points, two rebounds). For the Lynx, three players recorded 15 points apiece, as Nadeen Payne (15 points, two rebounds), Marena Whittle (15 points, three rebounds and two assists) and McGee-Stafford (15 points, nine rebounds and three assists) were the top scorers. Schwagmeyer posted more impressive numbers with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Carley Ernst (BS), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
5 – Cayla George (MB), Leilani Mitchell (SS)
4 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Carley Ernst (BS), Brianna Turner (AL)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Kia Nurse (UC), Mercedes Russell (SF), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Kelly Wilson (BS), Stephanie Talbot (AL)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Abby Bishop (TF), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL)

WNBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 1 – Grand final rematch to round out opening weekend

ROUND 1 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is set to kick off this weekend with all eight teams prepared to do battle. Sydney Uni and Adelaide will both play two games each with the remaining six only playing the one game.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Friday, October 11
7:00pm

The Adelaide Lightning will be hoping to go one better this year and start this season with a bang after falling agonisingly short in the grand final. Last time these two sides met, Adelaide claimed bragging rights and will want to repeat their efforts again this round to start their year on a positive note. Adelaide has done some heavy recruiting during the off-season and will be wanting to leave a lasting impression on the Sydney Uni Flames with the likes of Stephanie Talbot set to have an impact for her new side. Talbot is no stranger to the big stage given her international experience and class across the court making her an exciting prospect. Meanwhile, Natalie Hurst has already proved her worth for Bendigo and will be wanting to fulfil those expectations for the Lightning as soon as possible. After a disappointing 2018/2019 campaign the Sydney Uni Flames will be wanting to assert themselves early and make a name for themselves. Only managing two wins for the year, expect the Flames to come out with a real fire in the belly and take it up to the Lightning with a relatively new look side. Lauren Scherf will be a handy addition for the Flames given her talent and premiership experience while Kim Hodge will have a point to prove after being elevated from Manly.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday, October 12
7:00pm

The Boomers showed plenty of class last season finishing second after a convincing performance, but were unable to carry that momentum through to the finals series and will be hoping to make amends. Expect duo Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor to be electric from the start and dominate with their ability to hit the scoreboard and work up and down the court to cause havoc for the Spirit. Monique Conti will also be handy across the court with both her defensive and offensive pressure. Bendigo had a relatively up and down season only finishing with eight wins but showed glimpses of brilliance and will be striving for more consistency, but will have their work cut out for them up against quality opposition. However, they should not be underestimated after securing some big name gets such as Kelly Wilson from Canberra and Shyla Heal. Both will be hoping to have an immediate impact on the court in their new colours. In the first game last season the Spirit notched up an inspired win and will be drawing on that confidence and knowledge heading into the match-up while the Boomers will be wanting to flex their muscles and reclaim their ascendancy after bowing out early in the finals.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, October 12
7:00pm

With a chance to make history in their inaugural season after replacing the Dandenong Rangers the Southside Flyers have a point to prove and stake their claim on the competition. The new look side offers plenty of unpredictability and spark with a host of marquee players from the Opals such as Sara Blicavs and Jenna O’Hea set to done the Flyers jersey. Joining from the reigning premier, Leilani Mitchell is also another handy addition to the squad making for an enthralling contest but it will ultimately come down to whether or not the Flyers can pull all the A-Grade talent together. Townsville had an inconsistent season unable to build on their momentum but put up some strong performances highlighting their skill on the court and game play to apply pressure. Kate Gaze will be one to watch throughout the match after making the switch from premiers UC Capitals. Gaze will offer that spark up and down the court along with her scoreboard impact while Tess Madgen is pivotal across the court.

PERTH LYNX v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, October 13
1:00pm

With their second game in three days for the Flames, Perth Lynx will be aiming to capitalise on their opportunities and apply plenty of pressure early to tire their opposition. It will be an exciting clash with both sides finishing in the top four last season but unable to claim the silverware. Perth claimed early bragging rights with a strong win over the Flames and continued that winning form against Sydney notching up a four point late in the season. Given the previous results the Flames will be hoping to turn the tables and claim some early ascendancy over the Lynx. The Lynx have bolstered their stocks recruiting the likes of Imani-Gee Stafford and Ariel Atkins who will give them that grunt across the court and options going forward while Bendigo Spirit combo Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle will be hoping to hit the ground running for their new team. Sydney will be wanting to build on their form and forge those connections to establish a strong brand and run rampant. Alice Kunek is deadly around the basket showcasing her range while teammate Alex Wilson will be wanting to impose herself on the contest.

UC CAPITALS v. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Sunday, October 13
5:00pm

With a premiership under their belt, expect UC Capitals to be riding high despite losing a couple of key players across the court. In the grand final rematch the Capitals will be aiming to repeat their efforts while the Lightning will be seeking vengeance. It will be the second game in three days for Adelaide while this marks the first game of the season for the Capitals. Lightning will be looking to the likes of American recruit Brianna Turner to add that element of x-factor along with Nicole Seekamp. Meanwhile, for the Capitals it will be up to Keely Froling and Kelsey Griffin to stand up given both Mikaela Ruef and Mariana Tolo are unavailable. Canadian guard Kia Nurse will be an excitement machine for the Capitals and could cause problems across the court with her clever game play.

2019/20 WNBL season team preview: Bendigo Spirit

A NEW season and a new head coach for Bendigo Spirit, who finished bottom two last season in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). With previous coach Simon Pritchard‘s contract not renewed, the Spirit opted to hire Adelaide 36ers assistant coach, Tracy York to take the club forward. The Spirit have had plenty of changes over the off-season with recruits and departures, in a bid to chance the side’s fortunes for the 2019/20 WNBL season.

Finished: 7th
Wins: 7
Losses: 14
Points: 14
Percentage: 89.15%

Last season:

It was overall a disappointing year for the Spirit, winning just 33 per cent of their games and finishing seventh overall for the WNBL season. Nadeen Payne was the highest points scorer, averaging 13.3 per game to go with her 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists, but she has since departed the club for Perth Lynx, along with Marena Whittle. Natalie Hurst has also moved on to Adelaide and will be a huge loss, while Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Jessie Rennie (USA) have also moved on. With so much change at the club, they will be looking for the inclusions to have an early impact and shape up the season from a strong start.

New recruits:

They spared no expense in going on a huge recruiting drive to build up the Spirit team again, bringing in Tessa Lavey and Carley Ernst from Dandenong Rangers, Shyla Heal from Perth and Kelly Wilson from Canberra. After averaging just the seven points per game last season in the WNBL, but the 4.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists, Wilson had a big year for Bendigo Braves, putting together 19.3 points, 10.5 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals in the NBL1. Ernst (Waverley Falcons) and Lavey (Braves) were equally as influential across the season, and could be quality inclusions this season. Gabrielle Richards was a revelation last season for the Braves in the NBL1, and now has a chance to use her work off the boards (14.1 points and 9.2 rebounds) in the big league. The Spirit also picked up Kasey Burton from Melbourne, and American Marte Grays, while Alicia Froling was signed before being released after an injury mid-year.

Star player:

Rebecca Tobin. While much has been spoken about the comings and goings of the Spirit, Tobin re-signed with the club after entering free agency and will be aiming to build on her performances at the Braves in the NBL1, where she averaged 16.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per game in 15 matches. Last season in the NBL, Tobin averaged 10.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.7. assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks and is a steadying influence in a side where much change has occurred.

NBL1 Women’s Round 13 review: Bendigo Braves make it nine in a row

THE Geelong Supercats cleaned up their first game of the NBL (National Basketball League)1 for Round 13, against the Ballarat Rush – defeating the home side 82-70. The game opened very much in Geelong’s favour (19-10) but took a turn in the second and third with Ballarat snaring consecutive 23-point terms, compared to 19 and 17 for Geelong. Though the Supercats struck back in the fourth with a decisive 27 points to 14, defeating the Rush by 12 points on the road. Zitinia Aokuso recorded a double-double for the Supercats with 24 points, 16 rebounds and four assists. She was supported well by teammates, Alex Duck (18 points, two rebounds and three assists), Isabella Brancatisano (16 points and five rebounds) and Sara Blicavs (13 points and 15 rebounds), who all pulled up strong in the paint. For the Rush, Georgia Amoore was a standout – recording 19 points from 25 minutes in the loss. Hsi-Le Bao managed a double-double in the loss with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Olivia Hackmann (13 points and six rebounds) and Chanise Jenkins (13 points, five rebounds and seven assists) also proved pivotal throughout.

In Ballarat’s second outing, the Rush managed to snare a 72-64 victory against the travelling, Hobart Huskies. The win places Ballarat (thirteenth) one position higher than Hobart (fourteenth) who are nursing consecutive losses in Round 13. Jenkins again proved dominant for the Rush, putting up a double-double with 24 points, four rebounds and 11 assists. Teammate, Lucy Cochrane, also managed a double-double, finishing with 10 points and 15 rebounds alongside Bao who pulled big numbers off the rebound (16). Laura Taylor also impressed from 18 minutes, recording 11 points and five rebounds, with Hackmann (14 points, six rebounds and three assists) also proving impressive. In the loss, Ellie Collins was immense with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists, as was Nikki Greene (14 points and 12 rebounds) who managed a double-double. Despite the result, this game marked a huge improvement for Hobart when compared with their 52-102 loss against the fifth-placed Kilsyth Cobras at home. The Huskies were blitzed in all terms by the visitors, recording a low of seven points to 24 in the third term, with none of their players cracking double-digits on the scoreboard. Lauren Nicholson dropped 40 points, five rebounds and two assists in the win, with Klara Wischer (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Sarah Boothe (11 points, six rebounds and two assists) also proving impressive. For Hobart, Sharna Thompson managed nine points, four rebounds and two assists but only hit two of 11 from the field. Tayla Roberts (eight points and four rebounds) and Collins (nine points, six rebounds and three assists) also proved important.

Kilsyth’s time in Tasmania presented complete success after finishing their second outing in a 85-63 win over the Launceston Tornadoes. The loss marks eight consecutive defeats for the Tornadoes – currently nursing the largest losing streak and the worst home record in the league. Kilsyth continued to build an impressive away record (6-3-0), earning three consecutive wins as we enter Round 14. Guard, Kara Tessari, lifted plenty from her usual 10-point average, snaring 20 points, three rebound and five assists, alongside fellow guard, Nicholson, who recorded 19 points, five rebounds and three assists – slightly under her usual average. For the Tornadoes, Sarah O’Neill was impressive across her 35 minutes, earning 20 points with her teammate, Stephanie Gardner, also impacting with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Following on from their victory over Ballarat which opened the round, the first-placed Geelong Supercats faced the Ringwood Hawks and suffered an uncharacteristic 78-70 loss. The rebounding Hawks proved better at every turn, taking a 41-30 lead into the main break, with Geelong managing a small resurgence in the second half but failed in catching the Hawks by the end of the game. Antonia Farnworth had a huge game with 29 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win. Teammates, Cassidy Mihalko (15 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Megan Mullings (10 points, three rebounds and two assists) also proved pivotal in the win. For the Supercats, Blicavs (20 points, seven rebounds and five assists) had a big performance again, with Aokuso managed a double-double again with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, alongside Ebony Rolph who lifted with 17 points and five rebounds in the loss.

In one of the tightest games of the round, the Eltham Wildcats snared an impressive 84-80 win over the Albury Wodonga Bandits on the road. The game was close from the first whistle, with Albury taking a one-point lead (41-40) lead into the main break before adding just one more point to it by the end of the third term. Eltham kept close throughout – with a 29-23 final term closing them out to snatch a tight win from the Bandits. Alice Kunek was huge in the victory, recording a double-double from 26 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Chelsea Brook (19 points and 11 rebounds) also managed a double-double, with Chelsie Schweers (17 points) and Margaret Mulligan (13 points and seven rebounds) also standing out for the Wildcats. The Bandits had big performers in Natalie Hurst (26 points, four rebounds and three assists), Cherise Daniel (19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists) and Jessie Edwards (16 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) – the two former both managing double-doubles in the loss.

The Frankston Blues hosted their first game for the round, winning 75-69 over the Melbourne Tigers. The Blues led all terms except the last, where they tied 22-22 to take out a six-point victory. The loss drops the Tigers to 12th and puts them in real danger of slipping further. Shereesha Richards dominated for the Blues, recording a double-double with 29 points and 10 rebounds. JoAnna Smith also impressed, lifting from 11-point average to snag 22 points and five rebounds in the win. For the Tigers, Kasey Burton led scoring with a double-double, recording 16 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Teammates, Monique Conti (12 points), Louella Tomlinson (12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) and Brianna Gray (12 points and four rebounds) also proved effective despite the loss.

In a similarly tight affair, the Frankston Blues suffer a loss to cross-town rivals in the Southern Sabres in a 93-98 thriller at Frankston Basketball Stadium. Despite the Blues opened the game with pure dominance, shutting the first term down 32-17 – taking a 51-40 lead into the main break. The Sabres bounced back in the third and fourth terms, outscoring the Blues 57-42 to win the game. Forward, Rachel Jarry, led scoring for the Sabres with 27 points, three rebounds and five assists. Her teammates, Morgan Riley (22 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (11 points, six rebound and six assists) assisting well on both ends in the win. The Blues boasted big performances from Richards (30 points, 12 rebounds and four assists), Smith (25 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Courtney Wilkins (17 points, eight rebounds and four assists).

The Bendigo Braves continued their nine consecutive win streak with a 90-68 victory over the Diamond Valley Eagles. The Braves currently boast the largest streak in the league in second position, and despite being matched well in the first term (24-24), added another victory comfortably with big second (21-10) and third term efforts (25-14). Rebecca Tobin recorded an impressive double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds from just 24 minutes. Her teammates also held up well in the win, with Bianca Dufelmeier (17 points and four rebounds), Tess Madgen (15 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Gabrielle Richards (12 points and eight rebounds) all combining well on the floor. For the Eagles, Shelby Cheslek dominated under the ring, dropping 19 points with 13 rebounds. Alex Wilson (13 points, three rebounds and seven assists) and Hope Terdich (12 points and five rebounds) also assisted well in offence despite a poor result.

The third-placed Knox Raiders have gone down at home against the Nunawading Spectres (84-101) in a high-scoring affair at State Basketball Centre. Despite opening up the first term 27-20, the Knox Raiders were simply outgunned by the Spectres, conceding two 30-point terms for the game. Kathleen Scheer did it all in the victory, amassing 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, coming close to triple-double territory. Maddie Garrick finished similarly with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, alongside teammates, Rachel Antoniadou (18 points, seven rebounds and four assists), Kiera Rowe (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Rebecca Pizzey (13 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) who damaged well on both ends. For the Raiders, Marena Whittle was standout, recording 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists, alongside Maddison Wild who also impressed with 18 points and four rebounds.

In the final game of the round, the Waverly Falcons best cross-town rivals, Dandenong Rangers, in a 77-66 victory. The Rangers kept close at the main break – trailing 38-34 before losing touch in the final term. In the end, the Rangers were let down by weak defence, allowing 28 points from second chances to 10 in the loss. Tegan Cunningham finished just out of double-double territory in the win with 29 points, nine rebounds and two assists, alongside Carley Ernst who snared 14 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. For the Rangers, Rebecca Cole led with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists, followed close by Aimie Clydesdale who had 19 points and three rebounds in the defeat.

Round 13 Results:

Hobart Huskies (52) defeated by Kilsyth Cobras (102)
Bendigo Braves (90) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (68)
Frankston Blues (75) defeated Melbourne Tigers (69)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (80) defeated by Eltham Wildcats (84)
Ballarat Rush (72) defeated Hobart Huskies (64)
Knox Raiders (84) defeated by Nunawading Spectres (101)
Ringwood Hawks (78) defeated Geelong Supercats (70)
Launceston Tornadoes (63) defeated by Kilsyth Cobras (85)
Frankston Blues (93) defeated by Southern Sabres (97)
Waverly Falcons (77) defeated Dandenong Rangers (66)

NBL1 Women’s Round 12 review: Top eight gap widens

THE gap between the top eight and bottom 10 in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition has increased, with Albury Wodonga Bandits’ victory over Frankston Blues, and losses to both Melbourne Tigers and Eltham Wildcats making it a six-point differential between the Bandits and Tigers. The Bandits proved to be more than a handful for the Blues, winning three of their four quarters on the way to a comfortable 22-point victory. Jessie Edwards had a night out with 32 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Cherise Daniel (17 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Emilee Harmon (13 points, nine rebounds and five assists), Emma Mahady (14 points, four rebounds and eight assists) and Natalie Hurst (15 points, two rebounds and five assists) all made it a dominant performance by the Bandits’ starting five outfit. For Frankston, Taylor Lee (24 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Shereesha Richards (21 points, nine rebounds) were the two that stood up in the defeat.

The win was important for the Bandits considering Melbourne had knocked off Launceston Tornadoes the night before. The Tigers came from five points down at half-time to run out eight-point victors courtesy of a 13-point second half advantage. Louella Tomlinson topscored with 28 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and four blocks in a huge effort, while Monique Conti was also impressive with 23 points, three rebounds and two assists, as was Briana Gray (15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks). Stephanie Gardner was the dominant player on the court, sinking 31 points for the home side, while also recording 11 rebounds and four assists. Stella Beck had 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals in the other player to pick up a double-double for the Tornadoes. Melbourne could not have the same luck in the match against Hobart Huskies, ruing a slow start that saw them 13 points down at quarter time, before hitting back but falling five points short in a five-point defeat, 86-81. Kasey Burton was the key scorer for the Tigers in this game with 26 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Molly Matthews had 17 points and six rebounds, and Tomlinson picked up another 11 rebounds to go with her nine points. For the winners, Jennifer Schlott continued her great season with 34 points and six rebounds, while Nikki Greene picked up a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Sharna Thompson (21 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Tayla Roberts (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were the other two players who impressed in various areas of the game.

Ringwood navigated its way through a tough round of fixturing to end the weekend how it had started – in fourth spot. The Hawks knocked off Nunawading Spectres in a thrilling five-point win, before going down to Knox Raiders by just three points in an equally tight contest. In the victory, it was a second half comeback by the visitors, shooting 43 points to 33 after trailing by five at the main break. Cassidy Mihalko led the way with 25 points and a field goal percentage of 71.4, as well as nine rebounds and one steal. Megan Mullings picked up a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Danni Bone was also prolific with scoring, posting 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Rachel Antoniadou was the key scorer for the losers with 18 points, four rebounds and two assists, while Maddie Garrick stepped up to record 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Rebecca Pizzey also picked up a double-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, while Kathleen Scheer (12 points, five rebounds and two steals) was solid. In the tight loss to the Raiders, the Hawks could not quite make the up the six-point quarter time deficit, cutting it back to three by the final break. Mullings did all she could with another double-double thanks to 27 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, while Mihalko (14 points, four rebounds) and Amanda Meinking (11 points, 15 rebounds) were also superb. For the winners, Marena Whittle dominated with 26 points of her own as well as nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Bec Ott (12 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Bree Whatman (11 points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals) were others who finished the game with impressive numbers.

Nunawading recovered from the Ringwood loss to notch up a huge 30-point victory over Diamond Valley Eagles. The visitors never looked like losing the contest, as they had six players record double-figure points. Pizzey (12 points, 11 rebounds) picked up another double-double for the weekend, as did Scheer (12 points, 12 rebounds), while Chelsea D’Angelo was the key playmaker with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds, while Garrick (19 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Antoniadou (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) were also big in the impressive win. For the Eagles, Shelby Chesiek was the standout player with 22 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Hope Terdich had 11 points and six rebounds in the loss. The Eagles also suffered a loss to Ballarat Rush, going down 84-68. Chanise Jenkins (26 points, six rebounds, nine assists and five steals) and Hsi-le Bao (25 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) combined for 51 points in a dominant effort up the scoring end for the Rush, while Olivia Hackmann (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals) was also consistent across the board, and Lucy Cochrane busy off the boards with 11 rebounds – eight defensive. Alex Wilson was the busiest Eagle on the night, picking up 14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Terdich (14 points, six rebounds and three steals), Chesiek (six points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Geraldine McCorkell (12 points, five rebounds and four assists) also tried hard in the match.

The top side had to work for it, but title favourites Geelong Supercats got the job done on the road against Southern Sabres, 66-59. The Supercats did enough in the first half to open up a nine-point lead and hold off the Sabres in the second half on their way to a seven-point triumph. Sara Blicavs (23 points, 12 rebounds and three steals) and Zitina Aokuso (17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals) both picked up double-doubles while Rachel Jarry (13 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists) and Amy O’Neil (14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals were the two standout players from the losing side. In the Sabres’ loss on the road against Waverley Falcons, a disappointing middle two terms led to the visitors going down 82-73. Tenaya Phillips (26 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four steals) was the clear best for the Sabres in the loss, while Jarry was the other prominent scorer with 12 points and seven rebounds. For the Falcons, Kelly Bowen (23 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Tegan Cunningham (17 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up double-doubles, while Renae Mokrzycki helped herself to 15 points, four rebounds and four steals.

In the last couple of games, Kilsyth Cobras kept their top four hopes alive with an important 19-point win over Dandenong Rangers, while Bendigo Braves dominated Eltham Wildcats to make it difficult for the Wildcats to recover for finals. Kilsyth were on fire from the opening term, racing out to a 10-point quarter time lead and were never headed from there, triumphing 80-61. Sarah Boothe posted a double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds as well as four assists and five steals, while Lauren Nicholson was another dominant force for the Cobras, finishing with 23 points, four rebounds and two assists. For the Rangers, Taylah Gillam topscored with 19 points, as well as four rebounds and three assists, while Colleen Planeta helped herself to a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. In Bendigo’s massive 96-60 win over Eltham, the Braves handed the Wildcats their fifth consecutive loss, leaving them two games adrift of the top eight. Rebecca Tobin posted a massive double-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks, while Kelly Wilson (19 points, six rebounds and 14 assists) also collected one. Gabrielle Richards (16 points, seven rebounds) and Tessa Lavey (14 points, four assists and three steals) also impressed throughout the match. Kiara Mountford (16 points, six rebounds), Dyani Ananiev (14 points, three rebounds) and Vanessa Panousis (10 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were the top players for the Wildcats.

Round 12 results:

Launceston Tornadoes 79 defeated by Melbourne Tigers 87
Dandenong Rangers 61 defeated by Kilsyth Cobras 80
Southern Sabres 59 defeated by Geelong Supercats 66
Nunawading Spectres 73 defeated by Ringwood Hawks 78
Eltham Wildcats 60 defeated by Bendigo Braves 96
Hobart Huskies 86 defeated Melbourne Tigers 81
Albury Wodonga Bandits 98 defeated Frankston Blues 76
Ballarat Rush 84 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 68
Diamond Valley Eagles 74 defeated by Nunawading Spectres 104
Knox Raiders 73 defeated Ringwood Hawks 70
Waverley Falcons 82 defeated Southern Sabres 73

NBL1 Women’s Round 11 review: Ringwood Hawks swoop into top four

RINGWOOD Hawks have snatched a top four spot in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s competition, following back-to-back wins over Round 11, and helped by losses to both Kilsyth Cobras and Nunawading Spectres. The Hawks triumphed over Eltham Wildcats and Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE), both by 11 points. In the win over Eltham, it was the first half that set up the victory, moving to a 13-point lead by half-time, before overcoming a challenge in the third term, then settling to run out 85-74 winners. Megan Mullings posted 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the win, while Danni Bone helped herself to 20 points and seven assists, as Cassidy Mihalko also performed strongly (16 points, eight rebounds and two steals). For the Wildcats, there were two players who did the majority of the scoring with Chelsea Schweers (26 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Vanessa Panousis (19 points, six assists) the key players for the home side. In Ringwood’s victory over the CoE, it took a last quarter domination to overcome a determined opposition, trailing by four at the final break before a 23-8 last term saw the home team get over the line, 75-64. Mihalko topscored with 22 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Bone posted up another 20 points, three rebounds and five assists, and Mullings (17 points, nine rebounds and two assists) was prominent again. For the CoE, Lily Scanlon registered 16 points, three rebounds and two steals, while Agnes Emma-Nnopu was the losing side’s best, picking up a double-double thanks to 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as three assists.

The weekend was not a complete loss for the CoE however, with the young up-and-coming side jumping off the bottom of the table courtesy of an upset two-point win over Melbourne Tigers. They controlled play in the first half, opening up a 14-point lead by the main break, and while the Tigers hit hard in the second half, the CoE maintained their composure to post a 66-64 victory. Scanlon was terrific up the scoring end with 20 points, while Sara-Rose Smith (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Emma-Nnopu (12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks) were strong off the boards. Monique Conti was once again the standout for Melbourne, posting a game-high 21 points as well as four rebounds, three assists and five steals, while Louella Tomlinson (17 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and four blocks) picked up a double-double, and Kasey Burton (14 points, five rebounds and two steals) was busy.

After four consecutive losses, Dandenong Rangers’ win against Frankston Blues must have tasted sweet, downing the reborn Blues side by nine points. Colleen Planeta had a mammoth game, picking up a double-double and was everywhere on the court with 38 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals, while Aimie Clydesdale (17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) came close to her own double-double, and Taylah Gilliam (16 points, two rebounds and four assists) was also consistent in the drought-breaking victory. For Frankston, Steph Reid continued her good season form with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Shereesha Richards impressed with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals in the defeat.

Equally important in terms of ladder positioning over the weekend was Waverley Falcons whose season remains with a pulse – albeit a faint one – after downing now cellar dwellers, Diamond Valley Eagles, as well as an upset victory over Nunawading Spectres. In the seven-point win over the Eagles, the Falcons had to come from two points down at the final break to run over the top of the home side and secure the victory in a tight contest. Carley Ernst posted 28 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks in the win, while Tegan Cunningham helped herself to 20 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Alex Wilson (20 points, five rebounds and six assists) was prominent for the Eagles, while it was no surprise to see Anneli Maley (16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals) best on court for the losing side and picking up another double-double. In the huge upset over the Spectres, it was a 17-9 third quarter that set up the 62-52 victory, as Cunningham (16 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals) topscored in the low-scoring victory, while Ernst (13 points, nine rebounds) was the other Falcon to reach double-figure points. Rachel Brewster was the only Spectres’ scorer of note with 18 points – at 70 per cent from the field – as well as seven rebounds and three assists.

At the other end of the table, Knox Raiders’ strong season continued with back-to-back wins in Round 11 in their trip down south to the Apple Isle. They recorded victories over Hobart Huskies (34 points) and Launceston Tornadoes (32) to remind the top two sides of what they are capable of on their day. Against the Huskies, they won every quarter on their way to a big win, led by Lauren Scherf (21 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks) picking up a double-double, as did Marena Whittle (15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks), while Bree Whatman finished the game with 15 points. For the Huskies, Ellie Collins (22 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Tayla Roberts (17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks) were impressive, but had too few help, picking up almost 80 per cent of the team’s points, as well as almost half the rebounds and assists, as well as the only three blocks. Scherf was completely dominant in the Raiders’ massive win over Launceston on Saturday, posting 27 points, 23 rebounds and two assists, while Bec Ott finished with 29 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Stella Beck was the standout player for the Tornadoes, sinking 29 points as well as picking up 13 rebounds, two assists and five steals. The Tornadoes had a rough weekend in terms of fixturing, also going down to the raging machine that is Geelong, losing 89-57. Ezi Magbegor had a game-high 22 points, five rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks in the victory, while Jazmin Shelly was the other high scorer with 20 points, two assists and three steals, as Geelong rotated players around against the bottom four side. Beck (14 points, 10 rebounds and five steals) picked up a double-double, while Brittany Hodges (12 points, five rebounds) did all she could in the loss.

In other results, the weekend was great for Albury Wodonga Bandits fans, while the news was less pleasant for Ballarat Rush supporters as the two sides picked up contrasting results from their two games. The Bandits downed the Southern Sabres, 87-79 in their first game on Saturday, with Molly Rice (18 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks) impressive, as as Jessie Edwards (13 points, eight rebounds), Natalie Hurst (16 points, six assists) and Cherise Daniel (16 points, five rebounds). Rachel Jarry was a lone star for the Sabres, sinking 30 points to go with her 10 rebounds and five assists in a prominent double-double effort. In a 19-point win over Ballarat Rush, the Bandits again shared around the points with Emma Mahady (23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Hanna Zavecz (20 points, 11 rebounds) joining the party as Edwards (26 points, nine rebounds) and Daniel (18 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) were dominant again. Olivia Hackmann stood tall for Ballarat, registering 22 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Hsi-le Bao finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Chanise Jenkins (13 points, eight assists, three rebounds and two steals) was the other Rush player who had an impact in the forward half.

In the Rush’s other game, they went down to second placed Bendigo Braves in a 10-point defeat. Despite leading at quarter time, the Rush could not stop the Braves in the second term, heading into the main break facing an 11-point deficit, and could not recover from there. Kelly Wilson continued her strong season for the Braves, posting 20 points, two rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Rebecca Tobin (18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) was unstoppable off the boards. Gabrielle Richards (13 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was also impressive for the winners, while for the Rush, Bao (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Laura Taylor (11 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were the two standouts. In the other game for Round 11, Nunawading Spectres ended Kilsyth Cobras’ good form of late, knocking them back outside the top four with an important 78-71 victory. The Cobras slipped to seventh such is the evenness of the competition, with the Spectres maintaining sixth after Ringwood leapfrogged the Spectres and Rangers into fourth courtesy of their extra game over the weekend. In Nunawading’s victory, it was Kathleen Scheer who stood tall with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Rebecca Pizzey (13 points, five rebounds and three assists) were also productive. For the losers, Klara Wischer (26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals) laid claim to best-on-court, while Lauren Nicholson was again strong across the game, posting 18 points, five rebounds and two assists despite the defeat.

Round 11 results:

Geelong Supercats 89 defeated Launceston Tornadoes 57
Hobart Huskies 50 defeated by Knox Raiders 84
Melbourne Tigers 64 defeated by Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 66
Dandenong Rangers 86 defeated Frankston Blues 77
Southern Sabres 79 defeated by Albury Wodonga Bandits 87
Bendigo Braves 81 defeated Ballarat Rush 71*
Kilsyth Cobras 71 defeated by Nunawading Spectres 78*
Diamond Valley Eagles 76 defeated by Waverley Falcons 83
Eltham Wildcats 74 defeated by Ringwood Hawks 85
Launceston Tornadoes 63 defeated by Knox Raiders 95
Ringwood Hawks 75 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 64
Ballarat Rush 81 defeated by Albury Wodonga Bandits 100
Nunawading Spectres 52 defeated by Waverley Falcons 62

NBL1 mid-season review: Albury Wodonga Bandits

IN the mid-season break, Basketball Draft Central takes a look at each National Basketball League (NBL)1 team in both the men’s and women’s competition and will analyse how they have performed to date, some of their top performers, and the run home to see if they can make finals. Today we analyse the Albury Wodonga Bandits, with the women on the verge of the top eight, while the men are hoping to finish strong after a mid-season slump.

Men:

Position: 15th
Wins: 5
Losses: 7

Home: 3-3
Away: 2-4
Last 10: 3-7

Points For: 1085
Points Against: 1157
Percentage: 93.8
Points: 15

Summary:

The Albury Wodonga Bandit’s men’s side started the season strongly, but has faded over the past two months, slipping to fifteenth on the table with seven losses in the past 10 games after having a nice run of wins to start the season. They now sit five games behind top spot, and with eight matches remaining would need to win the majority of those to have any chance of making finals. Their percentage has remained intact thanks to some tight games, with Ken-Jah Bosley the big difference on court, averaging 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. But there is some competition with partner-in-crime Torren Jones giving him a run for his money in the best and fairest, playing every game and averaging 20.4 points per game as well as 13.9 rebounds, standing out as a premier player off the boards. The other player worth mentioning so far is Deba George who has been consistent in every game with an average of 17.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game, being the playmaker within the team in the forward half.

The run home:

R10: Bendigo Braves (H)
R11: Southern Sabres (A) | Ballarat Miners (A)
R12: Frankston Blues (H)
R13: Eltham Wildcats (H)
R14: Bendigo Braves (A) | Dandenong Rangers (H)
R15: Knox Raiders (H)

While the Bandits need arguably at least six wins to secure a finals spot, that is easier said than done with a tough draw on the run home. They play five games against top nine sides – including two against ninth placed Bendigo Braves. They do take on Southern Sabres and Knox Raiders, as well as Eltham Wildcats which are all winnable games, but the Bandits will need to take a big scalp or two in the final eight games if they are to squeeze into the top eight.

Women:

Position: 9th
Wins: 6
Losses: 6

Home: 3-3
Away: 3-3
Last 10: 5-5

Points For: 911
Points Against: 917
Percentage: 99.3
Points: 18

Summary:

The Albury Wodonga Bandit’s women’s side is in better shape than the men’s despite having lost their last three games. They too started the season on fire, slipped a little, recovered and have fallen back in the past three games. They have a chance to still make finals however with a more even mid-table than in the men’s. With Geelong and Bendigo the two standout teams, just four games separates third from twelfth meaning there are a number of sides who can still clamber into the top eight. The Bandits have an even contribution at the top, with 11 of the 12 games featuring the same five starters. Cherise Daniel averages 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals, while Natalie Hurst (15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals), Jessie Edwards (15.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists), Emma Mahady (12. points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals) and Emilee Harmon (10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists) have all been strong players in the starting line-up.

The run home:

R10: Bendigo Braves (H)
R11: Southern Sabres (A) | Ballarat Rush (A)
R12: Frankston Blues (H)
R13: Eltham Wildcats (H)
R14: Bendigo Braves (A) | Dandenong Rangers (H)
R15: Knox Raiders (H)

The side has some seriously tough teams in the run home with just one side in the bottom six (Southern Sabres), and four of the final eight games against three of the top four sides. They must win games against Eltham Wildcats (eighth), Frankston Blues (tenth) and Ballarat Rush (twelfth) with those sides in the same boat battling for a top eight spot, turning it into a massive set of games. An upset win against Bendigo Braves next round could reignite the Bandits’ season, while a likely loss could have them two games outside the top eight.