Tag: piper dunlop

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 4

ELTHAM Wildcats have moved to the top of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition ladder following back-to-back wins on the Apple Isle. Nunawading Spectres also won a couple of games to move up the table, while Frankston Blues and Knox Raiders continued their unbeaten runs to the end of Round 4.

Hobart Chargers (75) def. by Eltham Wildcats (88)

Hobart Chargers’ winless start to the season continued when Eltham Wildcats claimed the first of two victories to stand on top of the NBL1 South women’s table. The Wildcats took control early to lead by seven points at the first change, though the Chargers hit back in the second with a dominant 20-11 quarter to grab a two-point advantage into half-time. Just as it looked like the underdogs had the momentum, Eltham found its groove again, piling on 52 points to 37 in the second half to run away with the contest, 88-75. Anneli Maley had another ridiculous effort of the boards with 29 rebounds – only one less than the entire Hobart side – as well as 10 points and three assists. Lily Scanlon (25 points, four assists) and Rebecca Pizzey (21 points, three rebounds) combined for plenty of points in the match while Tess Heal (15 points, three rebounds) also contributed strongly. For the Chargers, Tayla Roberts led the way with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists, shooting at an elite 85.7 per cent from the field – all from inside the arc – while Madeleine Garrick (18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals) did it all, and Ellie Collins (15 points, four rebounds) also stood up in defeat.

Sandringham Sabres (79) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (57)

Sandringham Sabres sentenced Diamond Valley Eagles to another loss with a comfortable 22-point win at home. The Sabres dominated the opening half to win each quarter by eight points, then won the third term by seven to race out to a 23-point three quarter time lead. The Eagles ground out a 15-14 final term, but it was not enough to go down, 57-79. Rachel Jarry (22 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Amy O’Neill (14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals) did a bit of everything, while Jenna O’Hea led the scoring with 24 points, four steals, three assists and two rebounds, and Katie Jewell was a thief all night (seven steals, seven points four rebounds and three assists). Olivia Bontempelli (14 points, six rebounds), Ivana Vasiljevic (13 points, three rebounds) and Jade Dunne (13 points) led the way for the Eagles, as Sophie Burrows (six points, seven rebounds, three steals and two – of her side’s four – assists) tried hard.

Geelong Supercats (78) def. by Nunawading Spectres (81)

Nunawading Spectres started off a good weekend on the road with a narrow win over Geelong Supercats, getting up by three points down the highway. The Spectres trailed at both quarter time and half-time, but dominated the third term 26-14, to take a six-point advantage into the final break. The Supercats won a third quarter of the four in the final term, but it was the previous quarter that proved the difference with the Spectres getting up 81-78. Izzy Wright (23 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) picked up a double-double, while Louise Brown (21 points, seven rebounds and two steals) and Rachel Brewster (16 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks) were really busy, and Penina Davidson (eight points, 11 rebounds) came close to a double-double in the win. Stephanie Blicavs led the way for the losers, picking up 22 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while Aimie Clydesdale (19 points, three assists), Sarah Elsworthy (15 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals) and Sarah O’Neill (15 points, two rebounds) also held their own in the loss.

Ballarat Rush (50) def. by Frankston Blues (61)

Another team winning on the road was Frankston Blues who extended their unbeaten streak in season 2021 to five following a low-scoring 11-point triumph against Ballarat Rush. No side scored more than 16 points in any one term, but it was Frankston that won the first three quarters, then were level in the final term to win 61-50. Tessa Lavey (18 points, six rebounds and six assists) was sensational once again, with Taylah Giliam (14 points, seven rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (11 points, four rebounds, three steals and three blocks) also busy. Claire Constable (14 points, three rebounds) was the only double-figure points scorer for the Rush, while Alicia Froling (six points, 19 rebounds) and Millie Cracknell (eight points, 11 rebounds and three assists) kept their side in the contest with their work off the boards.

Bendigo Braves (83) def. Melbourne Tigers (68)

In a battle of two genuine contenders, Bendigo Braves got the job done at home to secure their fourth win of the season and move to within touching distance of the top four which includes the Melbourne Tigers. The Braves took control in the opening half, piling on 49 points to 33, before the Tigers hit back in the third term to cut the deficit to just five points heading into the last quarter. A strong defensive effort in the fourth term resulted in the Braves scoring 21-10 and winning by 15 points, 83-68. Four players hit double-figure points for the winners, with Tess Madgen (20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals), Abigail Wehrung (18 points, five rebounds and six assists), Kate Oliver (16 points, 11 rebounds, three rebounds and three steals) and Piper Dunlop (13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) contributing three double-doubles between them. Isabella Brancatisano (16 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Monique Conti (16 points, eight rebounds and five assists) top-scored for the Tigers, while Zitina Aokuso impacted off the boards with a match-high 14 rebounds to go with her seven points.

Dandenong Rangers (88) def. Mt Gambier Pioneers (84)

Dandenong Rangers came from behind at quarter time and then held firm in tense moments to win by four points over Mt Gambier Pioneers in a thrilling overtime contest. The Pioneers burst out of the blocks to lead by nine points at quarter time, but then the Rangers stole back the momentum to level the scores by the final break. A 19-apiece final term saw neither team able to win it after four quarters, and then a tight overtime period – which the Rangers won 10-6 – saw the home team get up 88-84 much to the delight of the crowd. Emilee Harmon was the dominant scorer for the Rangers putting up 26 points and collecting nine rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Dallas Loughbridge (19 points, seven assists and three rebounds), Tenaya Sooalo (12 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Alison Downie (nine points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also strong in the victory. For the Pioneers, Jasmin Howe was a dead-eye shooter with five of nine from long-range for a total field efficiency of 61.9 per cent on her way to 35 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Sherrie Calleia (20 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Hannah Young (14 points, seven rebounds) were among the other key players for the pioneers.

Launceston Tornadoes (73) def. by Eltham Wildcats (86)

Eltham Wildcats made it two from two travelling across the Tasman to defeat Launceston Tornadoes by 13 points, 86-73. The teams were evenly matched in the first term, and much like their other Apple Isle adventure early in the round, the Wildcats found themselves trailing early, down by eight points at the half. They halved that deficit by the final break, and then put the foot down in a dominant final term of 23-6 to run out winners for the fifth straight time this season. Pizzey top-scored with 23 points, six rebounds and three blocks, as Maley’s rebounding exploits continued thanks to 19 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, while Heal (17 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Erin Riley (14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals) all stood up in the win. Launceston Tornadoes were led by Keely Froling who capitalised with 23 points and 18 rebounds, well supported by the likes of Mariah Payne (18 points, eight assists) and Teyla Evans (13 points, eight rebounds) in the match.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (78) def. by Kilsyth Cobras (100)

Kilsyth Cobras managed to secured their third win of the season, toppling the winless Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 22 points on the road. The Cobras trailed by five points at quarter time, but blitz the Bandits after that, piling on 34-17 in the second term, and 23-15 in the third quarter to take the game away from their opposition on their way to a big 100-78 victory. Lauren Scherf (30 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) led the way, knocking down five of 10 from long-range. Similarly, Nikita Young (18 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals) hit four of six from three-point range, and Carly Turner (17 points, eight rebounds) nailed three of seven. For the Bandits, it was a two-player show with Emma Mahady doing everything in her power to drag her team across the line, piling on a ridiculous 41 points – including eight of 17 from long-range – as well as three rebounds. Brodie-Paige Theodore was the other key scorer for the losing side, recording 28 points, three rebounds and two assists in the loss.

Ringwood Hawks (69) def. by Knox Raiders (83)

Knox Raiders blitzed Ringwood Hawks in the opening term to set up a memorable 14-point win and claim their fourth victory of the season. The Raiders piled on 32 points to 17 in the first quarter, and then lead by 17 points at the main break. The Hawks hit back to cut the deficit to 10 by the final break, but the Raiders got back on top to win the last quarter 20-16 and salute, 83-69. Marianna Tolo (21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks) was sensational, teaming up with Leah Santomaggio (22 points, three rebounds and three blocks) for the scoring, while Klara Wischer (14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals) almost collected a triple-double, and Chelsea Burns (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks) was also impactful. Marena Whittle was a one-player scoring machine, dropping a ridiculous 38 points – five of six from long-range – as well as 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Her Hawks teammates Jacqueline Trotto (13 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Toni Farnworth (10 points) were the next best in terms of scoring for the losers.

Waverley Falcons (64) def. Geelong Supercats (61)

Piling on more pain to the Geelong Supercats, Waverley Falcons grabbed a narrow three-point win, the same result inflicted on the Supercats the day before. The visiting team lead by three points at the first break and half-time, but a strong second half from the Falcons to just grind out two quarters and win both by six points saw them reverse the deficit into a winning margin, 64-61. Aneta Bandilovska had 26 points, five rebounds and two steals in the win, while Kelly Bowen helped herself to 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Renae Mokrzycki was the other key player for the Falcons, picking up eight points and nine rebounds. Rebekah O’Donnell had a team-high 15 points and 12 rebounds, as well as three assists and two blocks for the Supercats, while Blicavs (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals) and Elsworthy (six points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals) also tried hard.

Melbourne Tigers (106) def. Mt Gambier Pioneers (64)

After both teams suffered losses the day before, it was Melbourne Tigers that came away with the massive 42-point win at home over the Mt Gambier Pioneers. Following a tight first erm, the Tigers put the foot down in the final three quarters to score at least 28 points in each quarter, and restrict the Pioneers to 17 or less on the Tigers’ way to a huge 106-64 triumph. Geraldine McCorkell led the scoring for the winners with 23 points, as well as five rebounds and five assists while Conti came agonisingly close to a triple-double of 22 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and six steals. Isabella Brancatisano had another strong game with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals, while Aokuso finished with nine points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals. Howe had a team-high 20 points, also picking up five rebounds, five assists and three assists, while Young (10 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) collected a double-double and Shakera Reilly managed 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Nunawading Spectres (106) def. Dandenong Rangers (82)

In a battle of two teams who had already picked up a win in Round 4, the Nunawading Spectres went back-to-back thanks to a 24-point triumph over Dandenong Rangers. The Spectres took control from the opening tip-off to lead by 27 points at half-time. Whilst the Rangers managed to win the third term and nullify the contest in the second half, the damage was done, going down 82-106. Wright had 24 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals, with Brewster (22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists) picking up a double-double and Davidson (21 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Brown (20 points, seven rebounds) also prolific in the match. Loughbridge was the top scorer for the Rangers, knocking down 27 points – four from eight from long-range – and having three assists, while Harmon (23 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Sooalo (14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals) were the other two key scorers.

Picture credit: Rachel Louise Photography

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 4

IT is already up to Round 4 in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South competition, and our matches of the round this week feature the 3-1 Bendigo Braves and Melbourne Tigers in the women’s, whilst in the men’s, the undefeated Knox Raiders (3-0) lock horns with the Ringwood Hawks (2-1).

WOMEN’S:

In our NBL1 South women’s match of the round, two sides with 3-1 records go head-to-head in Bendigo Braves and Melbourne Tigers. The Tigers also go on to play the winless Mt Gambier Pioneers on Sunday at home, but first have to make the trek up to Bendigo on Saturday. Both these teams come in with some great form, but it is hard to look past the Tigers who completely dismantled Albury-Wodonga Bandits (48 points) and Diamond Valley Eagles (45), then took care of the Hobart Chargers (22). The big question mark is the fact the Tigers have not beaten a side that has won a game yet, with all three teams having been winless to start the season.

They went and lost to Sandringham Sabres in Round 1 before the Tigers had hit their groove, with the Sabres having now lost their past two games to sit 2-2 heading into Round 4. On the other hand, the Braves have been ultra impressive, winning by 28 points against Dandenong Rangers last week, after overcoming Ballarat Rush in an overtime thriller the day before. Their only loss came in Round 2 with a spirited six-point defeat at the hands of the top of the table Frankston Blues, which was the exact margin the Braves came away with in victory against the Mr Gambier Pioneers in Round 1. On paper, the Tigers form looks better, but in theory, the Braves have played the tougher opponents which makes this set for a ripping showdown.

Looking at the Braves’ side, Tess Madgen has had a brilliant start to the season, with the WNBL star putting up 22.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists, as well as averaging more than a steal per game. After threatening with triple-doubles three consecutive weeks heading into this clash, it would be quite the feat if she could achieve it, especially coming off a blistering competition season-high 43 points (and nine rebounds, nine assists) against the Rangers last week. She has had at least nine rebounds the past three weeks and at least eight assists, showing just how damaging she can be across all facets of the court.

Across the court, Abigail Wehrung is an experienced talent, averaging the 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while Cassidy McLean (6.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Piper Dunlop (7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds) are young guns on the rise in Australian basketball. The crucial cog in the team is center, Kate Oliver who has almost averaged a double-double across four games this season, putting up 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds. In her last game she actually achieved the feat with a whopping 14 rebounds to go with 18 points.

Oliver will need to be at that level when she takes on rising WNBL star, Zitina Aokuso who has been lighting up the NBL1 with 15.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The Townsville Fire talent has been managed to start the season, and since clocking up more than 30 points the past two weeks, has had a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) and then triple double (19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds). She has provided a big-small threat with dual sport start Monique Conti who has been in blistering shooting form, racking up 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

After a quiet Round 1 game – indicative of the overall team performance against the Sabres, Conti has put up 28, 23 and 40 points in her past three games, as well as six, seven and seven assists, whilst also averaging a massive four steals per game, 11 coming in her past two games. Isabella Brancatisano has benefited from Aokuso and Conti being the focal points having moved up from the Supercats this season to put up 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists, also racking up seven steals against the Bandits for an average of two per game this year. Gemma Simon (9.5 points), Geraldine McCorkell (8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Charlotte Brancatisano (3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are among other Tigers doing well this season.

The other massive clash not to be missed will be the Launceston Tornadoes (3-1) up against the Eltham Wildcats (3-0). With the Wildcats having an earlier fixture against the winless Hobart Chargers, it is likely they will head into the clash with four straight wins and hungry to claim one on the road against the Tornadoes. The other non-Victorian side in the Mt Gambier Pioneers will travel to Dandenong Rangers and the Tigers home courts over the weekend, while Albury-Wodonga Bandits host Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) in a bid to get the Bandits’ first win of the season;.

Elsewhere, the undefeated Frankston Blues head up to Ballarat to face the 2-2 Rush, Diamond Valley Eagles will look to get on the board when they travel to the out-of-form Sandringham Sabres, and the undefeated Knox Raiders will head to meet Ringwood Hawks (1-2). Two sides with 1-2 records in Geelong Supercats and Nunawading Spectres will lock horns, with the Supercats having a second fixture – this one on the road – against Waverley Falcons on Sunday, while the Spectres also have a second fixture up against the Rangers on Sunday.

FIXTURES:

Hobart Chargers (0-4) vs. Eltham Wildcats (3-0)
Sandringham Sabres (2-2) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-4)
Geelong Supercats (1-2) vs. Nunawading Spectres (1-2)
Ballarat Rush (2-2) vs. Frankston Blues (4-0)
Bendigo Braves (3-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (3-1)
Dandenong Rangers (1-2) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3)
Launceston Tornadoes (3-1) vs. Eltham Wildcats (3-0)
Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-4) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (2-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-2) vs. Knox Raiders (3-0)
Waverley Falcons (2-2) vs. Geelong Supercats (1-2)
Melbourne Tigers (3-1) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3)
Nunawading Spectres (1-2) vs. Dandenong Rangers (1-2)

MEN’S:

In the men’s competition, the undefeated Knox Raiders travel to The Rings in order to try and extend their record to four games up against the Ringwood Hawks (2-1). In their last start, Knox Raiders destroyed Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 73 points in the largest winning margin of the season. Prior to that, the Raiders picked up wins over Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) by 12 points and Geelong Supercats (1-2) by seven points. Both opponents have shown they could win, so the tight victories were still impressive, but the wiping the floor with the Bandits will give them great confidence coming into this match.

The Hawks on the other hand started the season with a forgettable 31-point loss to Eltham Wildcats (3-0), but have since rebounded with wins over Geelong Supercats (1-2) by 29 points and Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3) by 44 points. The last two weeks have been pretty impressive for the Hawks, and will be really tested against the in-form Raiders, who will be hoping to keep in touch with top of the table Frankston Blues.

Ringwood Hawks have some great depth across their team, starting with big man Adrien Sturt, who is averaging a double-double of 20.0 points and 12.3 rebounds. After narrowly missing out on a double-double in Round 1 (25 points, nine rebounds), Sturt has made up for it with back-to-back double-doubles in Round 2 (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Round 3 (12 points, 16 rebounds) to be a dominant player off the boards. He will team up with Matthew Fennell (14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) in the front court, with center Trevor Latham (7.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) the other big man to pull down boards.

The back court features some talented guards and scoring machines, with CJ Asuncion-Byrd having missed the last game, but averaging 23.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per match. Alongside him, Jack Barry has managed the 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists, to make it a five which is quite threatening to opposition lineups. The Raiders back court features Ben Ayre (15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds) and Jack Roberts (8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds) who have both made promising starts to the season.

In the front court, the Raiders have plenty of depth across the board. Dylan Hare leads the way in terms of points with 14.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists, with Abraham Nyok (11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) the other key player using his time on court wisely with at least seven rebounds per match. Simon Grant has been a reliable source of support on that front, averaging more than seven points and rebounds per game, as well as three assists and steals per game, to be an all-round contributor and has helped the Raiders remain undefeated this season.

In other results, Eltham Wildcats (1-2) make the trek to Tasmania to take on the Hobart Chargers (2-2) and North West Thunder (3-1), while Mt Gambier Pioneers (2-1) face both the Dandenong Rangers (0-3) and Melbourne Tigers (1-3) on the road. The Tigers take on the impressive Bendigo Braves the day before, with the Rangers locking horns with the Nunawading Spectres on Sunday. Albury-Wodonga Bandits is the only side to have lost four games and they come up against the Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) at home this week, with the undefeated Geelong Supercats hosting Nunawading Spectres (2-1) and then travelling to Waverley Falcons (2-2).

In the other remaining matches, two teams with opposite win-loss records in Sandringham Sabres (1-3) and Diamond Valley Eagles (3-1) do battle, while two evenly balanced teams with 2-2 records in Ballarat Miners and Frankston Blues also clash.

FIXTURES:

Hobart Chargers (2-2) vs. Eltham Wildcats (1-2)
Sandringham Sabres (1-3) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (3-1)
Geelong Supercats (3-0) vs. Nunawading Spectres (2-1)
Ballarat Miners (2-2) vs. Frankston Blues (2-2)
Bendigo Braves (3-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (1-3)
Dandenong Rangers (0-3) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (1-2)
North West Thunder (3-1) vs. Eltham Wildcats (1-2)
Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-4) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (2-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-2) vs. Knox Raiders (2-1)
Waverley Falcons (2-2) vs. Geelong Supercats (3-0)
Nunawading Spectres (2-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (0-3)
Melbourne Tigers (1-3) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (2-1)

Picture credit: Mick Connolly

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 3

THREE teams remain undefeated after Round 3 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as Frankston Blues (4-0), Knox Raiders (3-0) and Eltham Wildcats (3-0) stand tall amongst the rest of the competition.

Geelong Supercats (92) def. Waverley Falcons (49)

Geelong Supercats have dominated Waverley Falcons by 43 points in a one-sided affair to open the round. The home team raced out to a 10-point lead at quarter time, and then closed down the opposition’s scoring, capped off with a 29-8 third quarter. A 20-14 final term saw the Supercats finish full of steam as well, winning 92-49. Steph Blicavs dominated with 26 points – four of five from long-range – four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Aimie Clydesdale hit five of 10 from three-point range to finish with 21 points, as well as four rebounds and four assists, while Sarah Elsworthy (17 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Rebekah O’Donnell (11 points, seven rebounds) also stood tall. Renae Mokrzycki (13 points, three rebounds and two assists), Meg Crupi (12 points) and Nyakoang Lok (11 points, five rebounds and two steals) were the double-figure points scorers for the Falcons in the heavy loss.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Launceston Tornadoes (84)

The battle of the undefeated sides lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues triumphing over Launceston Tornadoes by just six points in a thrilling contest. It was a tale of two halves as the home team raced away to pile on 52 points to 38 in the opening half and lead by 14. Launceston hit back in the second half, but could only claw back eight of those 14 points, to go down 90-84. Despite Tessa Lavey having an uncharacteristically poor day shooting (two of 15 from the field and none of nine from long-range for seven points), the dual sport star had 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals to still contribute to the team’s success. Darcee Garbin (23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (20 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) picked up the slack, while Taylah Giliam (16 points, three rebounds) and Samara Hill (12 points, two assists) also stood tall. For the Tornadoes, it was the triple threat that did all the damage to try and keep the side in it, as Keely Froling (30 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) and Kelsey Griffin (14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up double-doubles, and Mariah Payne finished with 28 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Knox Raiders (111) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (38)

The bloodbath of the round well and truly went to Knox Raiders, who showed no mercy in a dominating 73-point shellacking of Albury-Wodonga Bandits. The Raiders never looked like losing with a 67-21 opening half, and then kept the Bandits to as low as seven points in the final term, running out 111-38 victors. Marianna Tolo had a night out with 25 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, while Klara Wischer also picked up a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kara Tessari (18 points, four assists and three rebounds), Kiera Rowe (17 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Leah Santomaggio (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) were others who hit double-figure points for the Raiders. Emma Mahady knocked down 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals in a lone-hand for the Bandits, scoring more than half of the team’s points.

Ballarat Rush (67) def. by Bendigo Braves (74)

Bendigo Braves have come away with an important win on the road against Ballarat Rush, facing a 13-point half-time deficit but turning it around with a dominant second half. The Braves trailed 46-33 at the main break, but then kept the Rush to just 21 points after that, whilst they piled on 41 to secure the narrow seven-point win, 74-67. Tess Madgen led the way, picking up an almost triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kate Oliver (18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Cassidy McLean (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Piper Dunlop (eight points, seven rebounds and two assists) all shone in the win. For the Rush, Alicia Froling was unstoppable off the boards with 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with 14 points, two assists and two blocks, while Kasey Burton (15 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (15 points, five rebounds and three steals) also contributed strongly.

Diamond Valley Eagles (48) def. by Melbourne Tigers (93)

Diamond Valley Eagles’ winless start to the season continued, going down to Melbourne Tigers by 45 points, while the Tigers strung together back-to-back wins. Melbourne won every quarter, getting out to a 25-point lead at half-time to all but seal the deal, then won the second half by 20 points as well to run out 93-48 winners. Isabella Brancatisano (23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists) and Zitina Aokuso (10 points, 13 rebounds and two assists) both racked up double-doubles, as Monique Conti came close to a remarkable quadruple-double of 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and seven steals as a clear best on court. Gemma Simon helped out with 19 points in the Tigers’ win. For the Eagles, Sophie Burrows scored a team-high 12 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Olivia Bontempelli (10 points five rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (10 points, three rebounds) also reached double-figure points.

Eltham Wildcats (87) def. Nunawading Spectres (74)

Eltham Wildcats remained undefeated from three games with a solid 13-point victory over Nunawading Spectres at home. The Wildcats raced out to a 14-point lead at half-time, and built it up to as much as 20 points by the final break, before the Spectres fought it out in the final term to cut the deficit back, but fell short of victory as the home team triumphed, 87-74. Lily Scanlon (24 points, six rebounds and two assists) scored the most points, but Anneli Maley‘s unbelievable season off the boards continued with 19 rebounds – 13 defensive – to go with 15 points. Tess Heal (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals), Rebecca Pizzey (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Shelby Britten (10 points, seven assists, two rebounds and two steals) also hit double-figure points in the win. Penina Davidson was a standout for the Spectres in defeat, picking up 20 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists, while Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine assists and two rebounds) and Rachel Brewster (16 points, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks).

Kilsyth Cobras (75) def. Hobart Chargers (73)

Hobart Chargers fell short of their first victory against Kilsyth Cobras, following a spirited four-quarter effort. The Cobras led by four points at the first break, with the teams tied by half-time. Another strong term from Kilsyth saw them extend the lead out to four again, before the Chargers hit back in the fourth, to even hit the front with 2:24 on the clock, but the Cobras managed to steady and take home the win, 75-73. Lauren Scherf (12 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) and Abigail Curtin (14 points, seven rebounds) were influential, as Briahna Whatman (nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists) came close to a double-double, and Nikita Young (13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) was also handy. Madeleine Garrick was the star for the Chargers, not far off a triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Tayla Roberts (13 points, nine rebounds) and Kylie McCauley (13 points, nine rebounds and five assists), Sharna Roberts (11 points, five rebounds) and Ellie Collins (10 points, eight rebounds) did all the scoring in a losing team.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (45) def. by Ringwood Hawks (89)

A four-quarter performance capped off by a rampant final term put an exclamation mark on the Ringwood Hawks’ victory against Mt Gambier Pioneers. In the Pioneers first game in South Australia this year, they were up against some stiff opposition and the Hawks came to play, leading by 17 points at the final break. No one would have seen the last quarter coming, as Ringwood piled on 35 points to eight in a one-way domination to blow out the final margin to 44 points, 89-45. Funda Nakkasoglu hit a match-high 26 points, as well as five rebounds and three assists, while Marena Whittle (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks) and Demi Skinner (18 points, nine rebounds) were also impressive. For the Pioneers, Hannah Young was the standout thanks to 11 points and nine rebounds, while Shakera Reilly (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Jasmin Howe (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) were others who stood out for the losers.

Bendigo Braves (84) def. Dandenong Rangers (56)

After a win on the road against Ballarat Rush, Bendigo Braves made it back-to-back victories in Round 3 thanks to a 28-point triumph over Dandenong Rangers. The Braves won all four quarters, scoring at least 17 points in every quarter, and keeping the Rangers to 15 or less in three of the four terms to win, 84-56. Madgen feasted on the Rangers with an almost triple-double effort of 43 points – including seven of 13 from long-range – nine rebounds and eight assists, while Oliver (18 points, 14 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Abigail Wehrung (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) was also impressive across the night. For the Rangers, Dallas Loughbridge scored 17 points, five steals and three assists, stepping up with Emilee Harmon (15 points, seven rebounds) and Tenaya Sooalo (14 points, three steals and two rebounds) also having a helping hand despite the loss.

Waverley Falcons (93) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (64)

Another team that made it back-to-back wins for Round 3, whilst also sentencing a league battler to yet another loss were Waverley Falcons, who took care of Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 29 points. The Falcons dominated the first half to race out to a 24-point lead at the main break, though credit to the Bandits who hit back in the third term to cut it to 15 points at the last change and give themselves a sniff. The Falcons quickly got back on top with a 24-10 final quarter and ran out 93-64 winners. Anna Bandilovska (29 points, two rebounds) was the highest points scorer, though Mokrzycki racked up 28 points, 17 rebounds and Kelly Bowen had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in double-double efforts. Mahady was again the key scorer with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists, though she had some support in this match thanks to Charlotte Beavan‘s 16 points and three rebounds – with five of nine triples – and Brodie-Paige Theodore‘s 12 points – nine from the free-throw line – four rebounds and two assists.

Melbourne Tigers (109) def. Hobart Chargers (87)

Melbourne Tigers made it three consecutive wins, and handed Hobart Chargers an 0-4 start to the season with a 22-point victory at home. The Tigers were surprisingly sluggish to start the match and conceded 34 points in the first term to trail by 12 at quarter time, but then stepped up to completely dominate the game and score 87-53 and run out 109-87 winners. Conti had another massive performance of 40 points – eight of 12 from long-range – seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Brancatisano (23 points – five of 11 from long-range – four rebounds and four assists) and Aokuso (19 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and two blocks in a triple-double effort) all dominated. Collins stepped up with 25 points, six rebounds and three assists in the loss, while Garrick (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals), Tayla Roberts (15 points, six rebounds) and Thompson (13 points, three rebounds) were also lively.

Sandringham Sabres (67) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (100)

Closing out the weekend was Launceston Tornadoes bouncing back from their first loss of the season against Frankston Blues, to easily win 100-67 against Sandringham Sabres. The Tornadoes won every quarter by at least eight points in a dominant effort to secure the 33-point victory. Froling had an unbelievable performance of 37 points, 13 rebounds and four steals, one of three players to reach double-doubles, as Griffin (20 points, 12 rebounds three assists and two steals) and Payne (20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) achieved the feat, while Teyla Evans managed the 13 points and four rebounds. Playing their first game of the round, the Sabres’ Amy O’Neill finished with a team-high 20 points, as well as eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. She was complemented by Jenna O’Hea (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Cassandra Hill (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

NBL1 South Womens: Round 2 wrap – Blues standalone with 3-0 record

FRANKSTON Blues stand alone as the only side to record three wins so far in the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as the results played out over the weekend. We recap how each of the games went down and who the top performers were with some one-sided results.

Bendigo Braves (70) def. by Frankston Blues (76)

The first of two wins for the weekend for the Blues saw them claim a narrow six-point victory over Bendigo Braves in a come-from-behind triumph. The Braves raced out to a 21-9 lead at quarter time after a dominant first term, with the Blues clawing their way back to within six points at the final break, before slamming on 24-12 in the last quarter to win, 76-70. Darcee Garbin was again a prolific scorer for the Blues, adding 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a standout performance. She teamed up well with Tessa Lavey (14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals) and Taylah Gilliam (14 points, four rebounds). For the Braves, Abigail Wehrung nailed 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks, though it was Tess Madgen who came agonisingly close to a triple-double of 16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Piper Dunlop (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Kate Oliver (10 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were both impressive for the losers.

Hobart Chargers (61) def. by Ballarat Rush (62)

A two-pointer from Ballarat Rush’s Kasey Burton in the final 30 seconds – and a missed three-point attempt from Hobart Chargers’ Madeleine Garrick helped the Rush grab a one-point thrilling victory at Kingborough Sports Centre. The visitors trailed by five at quarter time, led by one and then four at the next two breaks, then were caught by the Chargers, only to win at the death. Burton had an equal team-high 13 points, as well as six rebounds, but it was the amazing effort of Alicia Froling (10 points, 20 rebounds and five assists) that stood out, while Kristy Rinaldi (seven points, 13 rebounds) also dominated off the boards. Annie Collins had the 13 points and two rebounds to equal Burton on the scoring front. For the Chargers, Garrick finished with a double-double of 19 points – including five of 11 from long-range – and 10 rebounds, while Ellie Collins had 16 points and 15 rebounds in an equally amazing effort. Tayla Roberts came close to a double-double herself picking up 16 points and nine rebounds.

Frankston Blues (78) def. Dandenong Rangers (75)

It was billed as the match of the round, and it certainly lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues moving to 3-0 for the NBL1 South season, defeating Dandenong Rangers by three points. The teams traded blows throughout the match, though the Blues led by 11 points at the final break, before Dandenong hit back with a 23-15 final quarter to get within three points, but fall short, 78-75. Garbin had another outstanding game with 30 points – four of 10 from long-range – and eight assists, while Lavey picked up 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win. Gililam (13 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Saraid Taylor (seven points, 10 rebounds and three assists) were others who stood out. For the Ranges, Gemma Potter was on fire with six triples leading to her 28 points, as well as five rebounds and two assists. Emilee Harmon (23 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Tenaya Sooalo (16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were also busy.

Knox Raiders (82) def. Kilsyth Cobras (70)

Knox Raiders proved too strong for Kilsyth Cobras in their clash at the State Basketball Centre, winning three of the four quarters to post a 12-point win at home. The teams were fairly even at half-time after counter-contrasting first and second terms, with Kilsyth leading by one point. Knox piled on 24-14 after half-time to set up the win, then held on in the final term for the 82-70 victory. Klara Wischer was the star for the Raiders, picking up a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds, as well as three steals and two assists. Marianna Tolo (14 points, seven rebounds) and Kiera Rowe (12 points, five rebounds and four assists) were also busy in the match among a host of other contributors. Lauren Scherf stood tall for the Cobras with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, notching up a double-double while Briahna Whatman (145 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Carly Turner (five points, 10 rebounds and three assists) were also productive.

Sandringham Sabres (72) def. Mt Gambier Pioneers (70)

Sandringham Sabres survived a thriller with a two-point win over the cross-border Mt Gambier Pioneers on Saturday evening. The Sabres held a narrow lead early, and extended it out to as much as 13 points by the final break, before the Pioneers hit back with a massive fourth quarter. The 29-18 term in favour of the visitors would not be enough however, as the Sabres triumphed 72-70. Jenna O’Hea had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win for the Sabres, leading the way from Rachel Jarry (14 points, six rebounds and two steals), Cassandra Hill (10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Amy O’Neill (eight points, six rebounds and two assists). For the Pioneers, Hannah Young racked up an important double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, while Jasmine Howe (15 points, six rebounds) and Shakera Reilly (11 points, eight rebounds) also stood up on both the scoring and rebounding fronts.

Eltham Wildcats (84) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (52)

Eltham Wildcats made it two from two this season in the NBL1 South competition, dominating the Diamond Valley Eagles to win by 32 points. The Wildcats won by nine, seven, nine and seven points in each of the respective four quarters during the 84-52 victory. Anneli Maley had a ridiculous 29 rebounds – 20 defensive – to be unbeatable off the boards, as well as pick up 21 points, two assists two steals. Rebecca Pizzey (11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks), Shelby Britten (16 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals) were also impressive as Chloe Hilderbrand (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Tess Heal (10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points. In a disappointing loss for the Eagles, Teah Reichert picked up a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Imogen Rock (12 points, five steals) and Sophie Burrows (seven points, six rebounds) tried hard.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (68) def. by Melbourne Tigers (116)

Melbourne Tigers were on from the first tip-off as they completely dismantled Albury-Wodonga Bandits in a dominant 48-point win. Storming to a 31-13 lead at quarter time, the Tigers lost the second term by three, but then piled on the points in the second half with 62 points to 29 to run out 116-68 victors. Monique Conti impressed with 28 points, six assists and three steals, teaming up brilliantly with fellow WNBL talent Zitina Aokuso (18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks) doing it all. Isabella Brancatisano (25 points, six rebounds, eight assists and seven steals) was arguably the best on the court, while Melissa Prior (17 points, six rebounds) was also outstanding in the win. The Bandits were led by Emma Mahady (24 points, five rebounds), while Jade McCowan (15 points, three rebounds) and Brodie-Paige Theodore (12 points) reached double-figure points in the loss.

Melbourne Tigers’ Monique Conti puts up a shot. Picture credit: NBL1

Ringwood Hawks (84) def. Geelong Supercats (55)

Bouncing back from a Round 1 loss, Ringwood Hawks proved too much for Geelong Supercats, running out 29-point victors at The Rings on Saturday evening. The Hawks won the first two quarters to stamp their authority on the match and lead by 20 points at the half, before Geelong edged back one point, only for Ringwood to go again and score 22-12 in the final term a for a 84-55 victory. Marena Whittle had a night out with 20 points and 13 rebounds, as well as six assists and two blocks. Funda Nakkasoglu (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals), Hope Terdich (13 points, six rebounds) and Demi Skinner (12 points, four rebounds) also stepped up in the win. For the Supercats, Stephanie Blicavs knocked down 17 points, along with three rebounds and two assists, while Aimee Clydesdale was the other prominent scorer with 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.

Launceston Tornadoes (92) def. Ballarat Rush (61)

Launceston Tornadoes have stormed to a dominant 31-point win over Ballarat Rush to go 2-0 this season, with Keely Froling picking up another huge double-double against her sister. The Tornadoes never looked like losing, winning the first half by 23 points, then the second half by another eight to secure the 92-61 victory. Froling finished with 28 points, 19 rebounds – 17 defensive – five assists and four steals, while Mariah Payne (22 points, five rebounds and six assists) and Teyla Evans (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) were other double-digit scorers. For the Rush, Alicia Froling hit up 27 points, seven rebounds and four blocks to be the best of the losers, while Kasey Burton (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) were both strong.

Nunawading Spectres (83) defeated Sandringham Sabres (70)

Nunawading Spectres bounced back from a Round 1 loss to hand the Sandringham Sabres their first loss in three games. The Sabres took control to lead by six points at half-time, but having already played a game this round, the Sabres tired in the second half as the Spectres ran over the top of them, courtesy of a dominant 44-25 half to win, 83-70. Izzy Wright (21 points, nine rebounds) and Louise Brown (20 points, five rebounds and four assists) did the damage on the scoreboard, with Rachel Antoniadou (18 points, four rebounds and five assists) not far behind. Rachel Brewster (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Penina Davidson (10 points, 10 rebounds) also picked up double-doubles to share the load across the court. O’Hea was again the standout for the Sabres, picking up 27 points and eight rebounds not leaving the court for a second, while Jarry (16 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) and Amy O’Neill (six points, 11 rebounds) were prominent off the boards.

Waverley Falcons (74) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (66)

After their heartbreaking one-point loss last week the Waverley Falcons bounced back to win by eight points against Diamond Valley Eagles, handing their opponents a third consecutive loss in the process. The Falcons were led by Aneta Bandilovska (20 points, two rebounds and two assists) on the scoring front, with Renae Mokrzycki (11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and four steals) recording a double-double. Nyakoang Lok (15 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Kelly Bowen (13 points, five rebounds) were the other double-digit scorers. For the Eagles, Burrows scored a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Jade Dunne (17 points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds) and Olivia Bontempelli (12 points, five rebounds and two locks) were also steadfast in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

2021 NBL1 South Womens: Round 1 wrap – Cobras produce venomous late blow

THERE were a few tight contests amongst a number of one-sided wins as the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South tipped off over the weekend and we run through the women’s division and how the teams fared.

Melbourne Tigers (62) def. by Sandringham Sabres (87)

A second quarter domination from the Sabres was the key to victory against Melbourne Tigers, winning the term by 19 points (25-6), following on from the dominant 25-15 opening term to open up a 50-21 half-time lead. Whilst the Tigers made good inroads in the second half to break even and reduce the deficit by four points, the damage was done during the 87-62 loss. Jenna O’Hea (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Rachel Jarry (22 points, five rebounds and two assists) were sensational for the winners, whilst Amy O’Neill was also handy with seven points and eight rebounds. For the Tigers, Geraldine McCorkell (15 points, four rebounds) and Zitina Aokuso (14 points, five rebounds) stood out, with the latter teaming up well with fellow WNBL talent, and AFLW star Monique Conti (seven points, six rebounds and two steals).

Hobart Chargers (61) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (91)

In the all-Tasmanian battle, Launceston Tornadoes proved far too good for Hobart Chargers despite a dismal third term. The Tornadoes raced out to a 54-26 half-time lead in a one-sided contest, before the Chargers hit back with a 24-9 third quarter, That gave them a sniff at the final break to get to within 13 points of the Tornadoes, but it would be Launceston that would finish the stronger of the sides, powering away with a 28-11 final term and securing a massive 30-point win. Keely Froling was absolutely unstoppable for the Tornadoes, knocking down 42 points at 59.3 per cent from the field, and notching up 22 rebounds – 15 defensive – five assists, three steals and a block in a huge effort. Mariah Payne (16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals) also picked up a double-double, while Teyla Evans (11 points and three rebounds) and D’Asia Chambers (seven points, four rebounds and five assists) were handy. Madeleine Garrick (26 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and Tayla Roberts (18 points, four rebounds) were the two best for the Chargers.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Nunawading Spectres (78)

A strong second term was the difference for Frankston Blues in posting an impressive 12-point win over Nunawading Spectres. The Blues won the second quarter 24-15, gaining the nine-point separation they needed to go on with it, and secure the 90-78 victory. It was a tight game all match, but Darcee Garbin was the key, knocking down 30 points – at 68.6 per cent, as well as six of eight from long-range, and picking up six rebounds and three assists in the process. She teamed up well with fellow WNBL talent Tessa Lavey who returned from the AFLW to pick up 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists having barely missed a beat. Taylah Gillam (11 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Ella Batish (eight points, six rebounds) were the other two to stand out for the home side. Four players hit double-figure points for Nunawading, with Izzy Wright (23 points, four rebounds) the main destroyer, while Penina Davidson (15 points, seven rebounds), Louise Brown (11 points, seven rebounds), Rachel Brewster (13 points, six rebounds) and Rachel Antoniadou (12 points, five rebounds and six assists) all shared it around to no avail.

Knox Raiders (79) def. Geelong Supercats (72)

Knox Raiders have held strong in the second half to bounce back from a second term that swung in the Geelong Supercats favour, to record a narrow seven-point win. The Raiders raced out of the blocks to lead by nine points at the first break, only for the Supercats to cut the deficit to four by half-time. To the Raiders’ credit they stood up in the second half to hold off the visitors and record a 79-72 victory. Leah Santomaggio (22 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Marianna Tolo (20 points, five rebounds and two assists) both had their say on the contest, as Klara Wischer (10 points, 11 rebounds) picked up a double-double and Eliza West (14 points, five rebounds and three assists) was also busy. Sarah Elsworthy topped the Supercats’ scoring charts with 16, as well as picking up eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Stephanie Blicavs (14 points, nine rebounds) and Aimee Clydesdale (15 points, six rebounds and two assists) both stood up in the game, but while the Supercats were strong off the boards (48-40), they struggled in transition (assists 22-13 in Knox’s favour).

Diamond Valley Eagles (65) def. by Dandenong Ranges (79)

Dandenong Ranges have secured an on-the-road win after a momentum-swinging contest against Diamond Valley Eagles. The Rangers took a strong half-time lead of 12 points, but the Eagles would not lie down easily, taking control in the third to cut the deficit to seven by the final break. Sensing the momentum changing, the Rangers got it back on their terms to win the quarter 23-16 and secure the victory, 79-65. Emilee Harmon (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Gemma Potter (14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks) were sensational for the winners, as Tenaya Sooalo (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) also had a day out. Olivia Bontempelli (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (11 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were the two players to hit double-figure points for the Eagles in the loss.

Eltham Wildcats (82) def. Ringwood Hawks (51)

Eltham Wildcats put Ringwood Hawks to the sword after quarter time to run away with an easy 31-point win. The Wildcats burst out of the blocks in the second quarter after the sides were level at the first break, to win the term 23-8. They then went on with it in the next two quarters, winning them 18-11 and 22-13 respectively to secure the 82-51 victory. Anneli Maley brought her own backboard with her, picking up an unheard of 26 points and 26 rebounds – 18 defensive – on her way to best on court honours. Erin Riley (22 points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Lily Scanlon (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) were also sensational on the scoring front, whilst Rebecca Pizzey helped out with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. Funda Nakkasoglu topscored for the Hawks with 13 points and five rebounds, while Hope Terdich (10 points, four rebounds) and Demi Skinner (10 points) both notched up double-figure points.

Kilsyth Cobras (84) def. Waverley Falcons (74)

Kilsyth Cobras have fired late to win in a stunning overtime game against Waverley Falcons. The Cobras trailed by eight points at quarter time, put together a mammoth second term of 29-12 to hit the front by nine, only to see that lead evaporated due to the Falcons’ 23-7 third term. Trailing by seven points at the final break, the Cobras levelled the scores with a 20-13 final term, forcing overtime which they got up in, 16-6 for an overall 84-74 victory. Carly Turner knocked down 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks in a complete game for the Cobras, teaming up well with Lauren Scherf (14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks). Tia Hay (17 points, four steals) and Briahna Whatman (13 points, six assists) was also impressive in the victory. For the falcons, Aneta Bandilovska top-scored with 21 points, as well as three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Renae Mokrzycki picked up a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Nyakoang Lok (13 points, four rebounds) and Jackie Vanderzaag (nine points, seven rebounds and five assists) were also busy.

Albury Wodonga Bandits (61) def. by Ballarat Rush (93)

In arguably the performance of the weekend Ballarat Rush won all four quarters convincingly to defeat Albury Wodonga Bandits by 32 points. The Rush won the quarters by seven, six, 11 and eight points in a comprehensive four-quarter effort to take care of the Bandits on the road, 93-61. Kasey Burton topscored for the Rush with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Claire Constable (18 points including four of nine from long-range, two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (13 points, two rebounds) were also consistent. Millie Cracknell (10 points) also reached double-figure points, while Alicia Froling was busy across the court with nine points, six rebounds and three assists. For the Bandits, they only had two assists for the entire game – both off the hand of Casey Ardern (two points, two rebounds and one steal), with Emma Mahady a lone hand on the scoring front with 26 points, three rebounds and a steal. The next highest scorer was Brodie-Paige Theodore with nine points and four rebounds in less than 17 minutes.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (54) def. by Bendigo Braves (60)

A strong first half has helped set up a win for Bendigo Braves in a low-scoring contest against Mt Gambier Pioneers. After the NBL1 South competition did not go ahead last season, the Pioneers had to wait an extra year for their debut in the league, and they took it right up to the Braves. The visitors got away to a good start with a three-point lead at quarter time and eight by the main break. The Pioneers fought back to cut the deficit to four at the final change, but the Braves steadied to solidify the win, 60-54. Kate Oliver (17 points, seven rebounds) and Tess Madgen (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) both did the bulk of the damage for the winners, whilst Cassidy McLean (seven points, five rebounds and two steals), Piper Dunlop (seven points, four rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (six points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks) were all impressive. Shakera Reilly managed the 16 pints and two rebounds in defeat, while Jasmin Howe also notched up double-figure points with 14 herself. Hannah Young (nine points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Sherrie Calleia (four points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the other Pioneers who contributed across the court.

CBL North West: Braves hit the road with mixed results

ROUND 5 of the Country Basketball League (CBL) North West competition tipped off over the weekend with Bendigo Braves featuring heavily across the men’s and women’s competitions.

NORTH WEST MEN’S:

In the North West Men’s competition, top of the table Bendigo Braves had a mixed bag of results, retaining top spot by two points, but Maryborough Blazers – who have the bye – have two games in hand and remain undefeated. Kyneton Tigers got the win over the Braves to remain in contention for finals, whilst Bacchus Marsh Lions and Castlemaine Cannons both grabbed their second wins of the season by knocking off now-last placed Mildura Heat.

In a highly anticipated clash on Saturday night, Kyneton Tigers got up to defeat Bendigo Braves by 15 points. There were plenty of players who hit the court that night, as Iggy Spiller (15 points), Jai Everitt (12), Carson McSweeney (11) and Thomas Scott (10) all reached double-figure points. Bendigo’s Lachlan O’Brien knocked down 17 points in a match-high scoring effort.

Bendigo bounced back from the Saturday night loss to post a win on Sunday courtesy of a tag-team effort from O’Brien (14 points) and Connor Mayman (13). Steven Bowen (18 points) led the way for Swan Hill Flyers, while Henry Thompson (13) and Torben McFarlane (12) also contributed strongly.

In the other Saturday game, Castlemaine Cannons grabbed their second win by defeating Mildura Heat by 10 points in a bottom three clash. Sam Beks had a day out putting up 34 points in a starring performance, while Aidan Brohm (16) and William Teasdale (10) also hit double-figure points. For the Heat, Ethan Deale (15 points) led the way, while Kyle Newey (13), Tarryn Shaddock (13), Jack Bakewell (11) and Noah Valentich (10) shared it around in the loss.

In Mildura Heat’s second game, they went down by one point to Bacchus Marsh Lions in the longest road trip in the CBL. The Lions went toe-for-toe with the Heat throughout the contest, getting up in a thriller, 54-53. Daniel Jackson top scored for the Lions with 14 points, while Jordan Kirk and Justin Runge finished with 10 in the win. Newey and Nicholas Matulic both scored eight points for the Heat in defeat.

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

Castlemaine Cannons (86) defeated Mildura Heat (76)
Kyneton Tigers (71) defeated Bendigo Braves (56)
Bacchus Marsh Lions (54) defeated Mildura Heat (53)
Swan Hill Flyers (69) defeated by Bendigo Braves (72)

 

NORTH WEST WOMEN’S:

Bendigo Braves broke even across their two matches in a battle of the top three sides to sit second after four games heading into the last fortnight of the regular season. The Braves took down the top of the table Kyneton Tigers, before dropping a match to Swan Hill Flyers the day after in what was a big weekend for the Braves. Back-to-back road trips would have played a part, but the Braves were consistent putting up 55 points on both occasions.

In their eight-point win over Kyneton, Caitlin Richardson led the way with 16 points, while Hayley Harrington (11) and Piper Dunlop (10) also scored into double figures. Adrienne Cameron was a lone scorer for the Tigers, dropping 19 points in the loss, with Amelia Jarvis‘ eight the next highest.

Heading further north to take on Swan Hill, it was Dunlop who stepped up with 21 points to be the star on the day, as Harrington (10) and Brianna Burt (eight) were the next highest scorers. The Flyers shared the points around, with Natasha Kelly (13 points) top scoring, ahead of Arlee Bennett (11) and Madeleine Jeans (10).

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

Kyneton Tigers (47) defeated by Bendigo Braves (55)
Swan Hill Flyers (58) defeated Bendigo Braves (55)

Picture credit: Kyneton Tigers

CBL North West: Round 4 – Winless sides breakthrough for victories

IT was a memorable Round 4 of action in the North West Country Basketball League (CBL) competition as both men’s and women’s sides hit important milestones midway through the season.

NORTH WEST MENS:

Five different CBL North West Men’s sides enjoyed wins in the five matches, as Swan Hill Flyers and Echuca Pirates both went 1-1 from their two matches. Maryborough Blazers and Bendigo Braves set the pace early, and it was the former that got up to go outright on top of the table, while Castlemaine Cannons and Bacchus Marsh Lions both recorded their first wins of the season.

In the top of the table clash, Maryborough Blazers came away with an impressive 24-point win, 68-44 over Bendigo Braves. Lachlan Drummond led the way with 17 points for the Blazers, while Darcy Bond (13), Harry Butler (11) and Jacob Lohmann (10) all contributed strongly. Lachlan O’Brien (12 points) and Trent Leech (11) were the key scorers for the Braves in the loss.

At the other end of the ladder, Bacchus Marsh Lions got on the winners’ list with a 75-57 upset on the road against Kyneton Tigers. Sharing the points around, Colby Pigott and Tyler Collins finished with 13 points apiece for the winners, while Daniel Jackson (12) also did well for the Lions. Kyneton’s top scorers were Thomas Scott (14), Matthew Quinn (12) and Dylan Tunn (11).

Castlemaine Cannons also picked up their first win with an impressive 12-point triumph over Swan Hill Flyers. Aidan Brohm (21 points) led the way throughout the 83-71 victory, well supported by Sam Beks (18), Lloyd Needs (12) and Rhys Brown (11). Henry Thompson (18 points) and Steven Bowden (17) were both strong in defeat for the Flyers.

The Flyers managed to bounce back on Sunday, knocking off the Echuca Pirates by 20 points, 68-48. Bowden (16 points) was again prolific, while Matthew Gardner (15) and Torben McFarlane (10) were also impressive. Staci Richardson (17 points), Liam Tenace (15) and Tyler Phillips (11) all reached double-figures in the Pirates’ loss.

The Pirates had picked up a win the day before however, toppling Mildura Heat by 15 points on the road. Phillips (19 points) led the team during the 59-44 victory, while Richardson (14) and Joshua Hutton (12) also hit double-figure points. Tarryn Shaddock (10 points) was the sole double-digit scorer for Mildura.

ROUND 4 RESULTS:

Castlemaine Cannons (83) defeated Swan Hill Flyers (71)
Kyneton Tigers (57) defeated by Bacchus Marsh Lions (75)
Mildura Heat (44) defeated by Echuca Pirates (59)
Bendigo Braves (44) defeated by Maryborough Blazers (68)
Swan Hill Flyers (68) defeated Echuca Pirates (48)

NORTH WEST WOMENS:

In the CBL North West Women’s competition, Bendigo Braves remained undefeated after their second game, while Mildura Heat and Swan Hill Flyers both knocked off Echuca Pirates in their respective games.

In a bottom two clash, Swan Hill Flyers were able to secure their first win of the season over a fellow winless side, Echuca Pirates. The tight three-point win in front of home fans was thanks to the likes of Natasha Kelly (15 points) and Laura Anderson (10). Georgie Eishold (12 points) was the key scorer for the Pirates in the loss.

The day before the Pirates suffered another heartbreaking defeat on the road, this time to Mildura Heat by just six points. The Heat won 60-54, as Georgia Mayne and Demi Wall both knocked down 12 points apiece, while Ava Zadow managed 10. For the Pirates, Zara Pearson was a one-player show, racking up a round-high 28 points to make up more than half of the Pirates’ 54 points on the day.

In the battle between two undefeated sides, Bendigo Braves won by 24 points over Maryborough Blazers. Madeline Sexton scored a game-high 21 points in the 87-63 victory, while Sharna Appleby (13) and Piper Dunlop (11) both contributed in the victory. For the Blazers, Millie Cracknell (16 points) led the way, while Claire Constable (12) and Claire Blower (10) stood tall despite going down in the match.

ROUND 4 RESULTS:

Mildura Heat (60) defeated Echuca Pirates (54)
Bendigo Braves (87) defeated Maryborough Blazers (63)
Swan Hill Flyers (66) defeated Echuca Pirates (63)

Picture credit: Basketball Victoria

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

Melbourne find late-season form, rout Spirit 84-52

AFTER an even first quarter from both sides, the Melbourne Boomers ran away with Saturday’s only game in the remaining three quarters against the Bendigo Spirit, namely in the middle two periods where last year’s semi-finalists outscored their opponents 42-14, ultimately concluding matters 84-52 and extending their winning streak to four.

Given the Boomers’ red-hot form as of late, it did not shock many when Melbourne opened up the contest with a 7-0 run, which acted as a prelude to what would be a strong initial term for Guy Molloy’s squad.

Despite its opponent’s exceptional start to the game, Bendigo worked its way back into the contest leading into the first break. Backing their duo of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey, who had eight and six points respectively, the Spirit found themselves level with the Boomers 20-20 after 10 minutes of play, one of their best opening periods to date.

Again, the Boomers strung together another sizeable scoring run to start the second, concocting 14-straight points over the opening five minutes of the period and really separating themselves from this season’s likely wooden-spooners after an even first term.

Cayla George made her impact visible in the later stages of the first two quarters, accumulating 13 points, five rebounds and three assists as she led the charge in gaining her side a 38-23 half-time score line.

But with Tracy York’s side converting on just a single field goal in the second, it allowed Melbourne to take control of the contest and secure the driver’s seat in the process, thanks to individual efforts like Ezi Magbegor and Ashleigh Karaitiana’s in the first half.

Putting their advantage over 20 points in the penultimate period, the Boomers run to the finish line became relatively uneventful as they gave their secondary unit an abundance of court time in the second half.

Coach Molloy’s bench held their own to conclude the third, extending their side’s lead to 28 points at the turn of the third with Bendigo totalling just 11 points in the third quarter, and 14 total points over the two middle stanzas.

While the Boomers rested their star players, the Spirit did the same as we got to see some up and coming talent show off their quality from both squads. Melbourne would eventually topple Bendigo by 32 points and stretch their winning streak to four matches.

Quite simply, Melbourne blew Bendigo out of the water following the opening quarter and maintained a substantially high shooting percentage, converting on 41 per cent of its attempts (33/80), whereas the Spirit managed a meek 27 per cent on the night. Additionally, coming out superior on the boards with a plus-24, the Boomers destroyed their counterparts on the glass.

George would only add two more points to her 15 in total, while Penina Davidson made the most of her increased court time with 15 points of her own in almost 16 minutes of game time. Magbegor would finish with a humble 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Izzy Wright (nine points and five rebounds) and Kalani Purcell (nine points and three rebounds) were the team’s next highest contributors.

In a quiet night across the board for the Spirit, not one individual would compile more than eight points by the final buzzer, as Ernst earned her team-high eighth point before half-time and gathered seven rebounds in the process. Demi Skinner rounded out her afternoon with seven points, meanwhile 17-year-old rising star Piper Dunlop tallied a season-best seven points and three rebounds.

Both sides make their returns to the court later today as all eight teams are scheduled to play in Sunday’s Round 4 action. Bendigo will open up proceedings against the Sydney Uni Flames, where the Spirit have only a couple more chances to get into the winner’s column before the season’s end. The Boomers have their work cut out for them when they size up the Southside Flyers, who did not play a particularly good brand of basketball in their last meeting – a memory they will look to rectify this time around. More importantly it will set the tone for both teams with finals play just around the corner.

2020 WNBL Round 1 weekend preview: Flyers and Flames face tough turnaround in opening week

SOUTHSIDE Flyers and Sydney Uni Flames will become the first teams to face off in three games across four days when they double-up on today and tomorrow following their Thursday night clashes. There will be a blockbuster five games across today and tomorrow in order to conclude Round 1 of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action, and then there is no rest for the wicked with Round 2 kicking off on Monday. We preview the two different hubs and their matches:

Townsville Hub:

Bendigo Spirit vs. Sydney Uni Flames
Melbourne Boomers vs. Southside Flyers
Southside Flyers vs. Sydney Uni Flames

Up in Townsville, four teams will need to back-up off a two-day break to face off this afternoon, before the Flyers and Flames go at it again tomorrow. The much talked about Flyers and Melbourne Boomers clash is the pick of the round, with the title favourite Flyers likely to get a tougher resistance than against the Spirit on Thursday whom they smashed by 42 points. The experience gap in that game was clear, but the Boomers have more than enough stars in their own right to worry the Flyers and make them kick up into top gear to get the points.

In their first matches, Melbourne claimed a solid 15-point win over the Flames, before Southside went ham on the Spirit. It would be easy to expect the Flyers to win this game well, and while they should start favourites in every match they play, Melbourne will make life difficult. Both teams looked good in their respective matches, with Southside having more rebounds and assists, but were relatively even across the board. Both are more than capable of picking up second chance points too, which makes them a difficult proposition for any opposition.

The head-to-head of the match has to be Cayla George up against Liz Cambage with the Opal talents likely to have a huge say in the overall result. Cambage was the better performed player in Round 1, picking up 19 points in just 20 minutes, shooting at 63 per cent from the field, as well as five rebounds and two assists. Her free-throw shooting could improve at 50 per cent, but George’s accuracy was well down too with 40 per cent from the field and missing her three triple attempts. She racked up an impressive nine rebounds as well as two assists and two steals. George will also rotate with Ezi Magbegor with either able to play at the four or five, and Magbegor had 16 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double effort. No doubt Magbegor will also have Sara Blicavs for company who racked up 17 points and 12 rebounds in a big first-up effort.

Rotation off the bench will be crucial as the Flyers have to front up the next day with about a 20-hour turnaround from the final whistle on Saturday to the first tip-off on Sunday. With Sydney Uni Flames playing the earlier Saturday game, they will have an extra two hours to rest up for the huge encounter with the likely ladder-leading Flyers who will be hard to stop even if they are a little sore.

Coming away from the loss against Melbourne, the Flames should be relatively happy with their performance. It was not a win, but they pushed one of the top teams all the way. Their almost brand-new looking set-up seemed to go okay, though accuracy really hurt them, averaging just 32 per cent from the field. Lauren Mansfield was the standout with 17 points and seven assists, whilst Lauren Scherf was reliable as ever for 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. The one to watch was the returning Funda Nakkasoglu who helped herself to 12 points, half of which came from the free-throw line, and the other half from two triples. She only shot 2-10 from the field which showed with time she could be a more damaging shooter.

They will not be fancied to beat the Flyers, but should be favourites to take care of a young Bendigo Spirit outfit. Piper Dunlop is a star in the making, with the teenager coming off the bench and holding her own to showcase her accuracy from beyond the arc, nailing a three-pointer in her six minutes on court. Carley Ernst was the only player to really worry the Flyers on the scoreboard, knocking down 16 points and seven rebounds, as they too struggled with their field goal percentage. Alicia Froling was the only player to average more than 50 per cent from the field, and she only had the three attempts, but was crucial off the boards with 11 rebounds.

The Spirit lacked that cohesion and experience going forward, and only had the 12 assists, which they will need a lot more of if they are to upset the Flames. It was a baptism of fire for a new team coming up against a side that was not only so well drilled, but full of international experience. The Spirit managed to get minutes into every player, if Tessa Lavey (18 per cent field goal accuracy) can drop more shots in her next outing, then the Spirit will be a much more damaging outfit.

Prediction: Southside Flyers to win both matches against Sydney Uni Flames and Melbourne Boomers, Sydney Uni to defeat Bendigo Spirit.

 

Mackay Hub:

Perth Lynx vs. Adelaide Lightning
UC Capitals vs. Townsville Fire

All four teams in the Mackay hub will be well rested after playing last on Wednesday night, as they go head-to-head on Sunday. While they will enjoy they break, they will not have it easy for long, with the four teams to then back-up and go on Monday in what will be a 24-hour turnaround. The one exception will be Adelaide Lightning, with the Lightning leaving the Mackay hub to play in Townsville on Tuesday, which the Fire will do once they have completed their home games here.

The Round 1 matches on opening night went different ways, with Adelaide Lightning holding off a fast-finishing University of Canberra (UC) Capitals outfit, while a new-look Townsville Fire made light work of Perth Lynx in a big victory. The Lightning looked in control after three quarters against the reigning back-to-back premiers, but then the Capitals stormed home with a Maddison Rocci layup levelling the scores and forcing the match into overtime. While they trailed by a point at one stage, the Capitals conceded the last 11 points of the game – eight to Steph Talbot – as the Lightning secured the win.

In the other game, Townsville Fire hardly looked like losing, running away with a comfortable 25-point win over Perth. The only question mark will come on the strength of the opposition, because like Bendigo, Perth’s youth and departures over the off-season mean they are likely to be in the bottom two teams in 2020. The Fire could only beat who they could beat, and despite fronting up with a new-look starting team, it seemed to work perfectly, and everyone played their role to suggest the Fire will be a big improver this season.

The Fire and Capitals match is set to be the one of the round, with Kelsey Griffin potentially returning for UC which will add that extra elite talent to the mix. In her absence, Keely Froling dropped 19 points and had four rebounds, whilst Mikayla Ruef racked up 13 points and had six rebounds in an impressive performance. The 40-minute outing for Rocci was telling however, with the young gun dropping 21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals on the opposition. She may well end up going head-to-head with equally exciting young gun Shyla Heal in what could be a matchup to watch.

Both teams have a mix of experience and youth, with Heal recording four rebounds and two assists to go with her 15 points, while Lauren Nicholson notched up 16 points, four rebounds and two assists. No doubt Fire fans would like to see returning young gun Zitina Aokuso used in even more minutes since coming back from a long-term injury, putting up eight points and seven rebounds in a promising return. Expect this game to go right down to the wire, and could come down to if Griffin plays or not, but do not be shocked if Townsville cause an upset, though the Capitals will be favoured.

Adelaide will be highly fancied to move to 2-0 to start their season when the Lightning takes on Perth which will be important ahead of their clash with the Flyers on Tuesday. To grind out an overtime win against such a quality opponent in the Capitals will be vital for the team’s confidence, and it was Talbot who was sensational with 31 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, seven steals and four blocks in the performance of Round 1. No doubt Perth will try and nullify her impact, whilst former Lynx player Marena Whittle will be hoping to put up a good effort after not scoring in her first outing. Abbey Wehrung, Alex Wilson, Chelsea Brook and Louella Tomlinson all hit double-figures though in a team effort.

For Perth, Darcee Garbin was a lone-hand on the scoring front, managing just the 12 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists. She will need a lot of help from her teammates in the second match if they are to cause an upset, with Katie Ebzery always tightly watched, whilst the season is more about getting experience into the young players coming through with a number of College returnees in 2020.

Prediction: UC Capitals to win in a thriller against Townsville Fire, and Adelaide Lightning to get the job done against Perth Lynx.

Picture: WNBL