Tag: sarah boothe

NBL1 South Women’s team summary: Kilsyth Cobras

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at Kilsyth Cobras who claimed the inaugural NBL1 title in a sensational year.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 4th (Premiers)
Wins: 14
Losses: 5
Home: 7-3
Away: 7-3

What went right:

  • Won the title – nothing better than that
  • Won 16 of their last 18 games
  • Lauren Nicholson’s season
  • Clean (10.9 turnovers per game the second least overall)
  • Assists (19.8 per game, fourth overall)
  • Rebounds (41.5 per game, second overall)

It was a dream season after a shaky start with the Cobras taking out the 2019 NBL title by winning 16 of the 18 last games. It was a remarkable turnaround from the opening few weeks and really showed what they were capable of. Statistically the Cobras were impressive across the board, but the standout stats were their ball-handling and rebounding. Ranked second overall in total rebounds with 41.5 per game, and fourth overall in assists (19.8 per game), they were able to win the ball defensively and use it well in transition. Additionally, the Cobras did not turnover the ball often, with just 10.9 turnovers per game which ranked as the second least overall. Furthermore, Lauren Nicholson led the way with a huge season that saw her rewarded with All-Star honours, and was a catalyst for the Cobras charge to the title from fourth on the table.

What went wrong:

  • Not much
  • Started the season with three losses in the first four games
  • Only scored more than 100 points once

You can hardly fault a season where a team wins a title and clearly in the end you could not say anything went ‘wrong’ as such. But the areas that could have gone better were the start and potentially averaging more points per game, but both proved not to be an issue by season’s end. The Cobras looked in trouble after five matches, sitting 1-4. They turned it around after that and while they only scored more than 100 once (against Hobart), they restricted their opponents to 70 points or more on all bar two occasions in the regular season.

Top Players:

Lauren Nicholson

Only 25-years-old entering the season, Nicholson is in the prime of her career and it showed on the court this season with a remarkable year. She averaged 25.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game, playing in 20 of a possible 23 games for the season. It was even more impressive that she stepped up in the finals series, guiding her team to victory with plenty of talent alongside her. Averaging 54.4 per cent from the field, 36.9 per cent from three-point range and 83 per cent from the line, it is easy to see why she earned All-Star honours.

Klara Wischer

Ranking second overall in points, Wischer averaged 13.2 per game to go with 7.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1,7 steals per match. She was most effective from inside the arc with 47.9 per cent efficiency, though she was still solid from outside the arc with a 30.8 per cent accuracy. Playing every game of the season, Wischer took to the court 26.4 minutes per game as she was one of six players to average more than 20 minutes a match in an impressive season.

Sarah Boothe

The premier rebounder of the team came close to averaging a double-double from her 21 games. In 24.4 minutes per match, Booth averaged 12.0 points and 9.8 rebounds – 3.5 offensive – to lead the team in both rebounding categories. She also picked up 2.4 assists per game and almost a block as well, providing good service from the field with 50.2 per cent efficiency. The 28-year-old center used her strong frame to advantage each game.

Young Gun:

Kara Tessari

The young gun in the side and one who not only played her part but was a clear standout in the starting team, averaging 29.4 minutes from every game. It might be easy to forget Tessari was just 20-years-old entering the season such was her impact on the year, but she averaged 10.5 points, 3.6 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Tessari is one to watch for the future as she continues to develop alongside experienced names.

Christmas list for 2021:

List retention. Any side that wins a title it is crucial to try and keep the team together and the Cobras are unlike most teams. They relied on a real balanced approach without a couple of players doing all the heavy lifting. Instead, with six players averaging more than 20 minutes and another three reaching double-figure minutes per match, they rotated players well and it proved effective.


The Kilsyth Cobras might have had a rocky beginning to 2019, but by year’s end were the premier team in the competition. Form is everything, and with 16 wins from 18 games to cap off a year after a 1-4 start, that is some kind of momentum. With the confidence gained from 2019, if the Cobras can remain the same and maybe even strengthen their list, then there is no reason Kilsyth cannot challenge for back-to-back titles – even if they are two years apart.

NBL1 South women’s team summary: Bendigo Braves

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at last year’s minor premiers in the women’s competition, Bendigo Braves who fell in the finals series.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 1st (lost in Preliminary Final)
Wins: 19
Losses: 1
Home: 9-1
Away: 10-0

What went right:

  • Ridiculous regular season, only dropping one game
  • 12-game winning streak heading into finals
  • Kelly Wilson’s season
  • Offence (ranked first in two-point field goal percentage and free-throw percentage, and assists, and second for overall points)
  • Disciplined (least personal fouls with 12.7 per game)

Prior to the finals series, it was hard to really find too much of a chink in the Braves’ armour. They finished minor premiers ahead of Geelong comfortably, and even had a big 30-point win over the – albeit understrength – Supercats in the final round of the season. Their only loss of the regular season came in round 11 against the Supercats, and with a 12-game winning streak heading into the finals series, few would have predicted what was to follow in the last few weeks of the competition. Aside from how it ultimately finished, the Braves were a dominant side both at home (9-1) and on the road (10-0) and were the clear standout team when it came to offence. They were ranked the top of the competition in both two-point field goal and free-throw percentage, which ensured they were getting the points whether they were fouled or not. They were also creative in their attack, able to find targets through opposition defences, with neat passes which led to assists – they topped the competition in that statistic as well – whilst remaining disciplined with the least personal fouls per game at just 12.7. In other words, so much went right except August.

What went wrong:

  • The finals series
  • Blocks (ranked 14th overall with just 2.2 per game)

Had this review been up until the end of the regular season, it would be a real head scratcher to find too much wrong with the season. They had only had the one loss to the Supercats and were firing on all cylinders come August. No one would have predicted a shock loss to Kilsyth Cobras in the qualifying final – with the Cobras sneaking into fourth, but Kilsyth racked up a whopping 16 offensive rebounds to five, and beat the Braves at their own assist game (25-22). The finals series by the experienced Lauren Nicholson was out of this world, and the qualifying final was no exception, though Sarah Boothe‘s 21 points and 17 rebounds – eight offensive and nine defensive – is what won the Cobras’ the match. A heartbreaking loss to Geelong on the road in the preliminary final ended the Braves’ chances at a flag, but they could certainly look back on a wonderful season, even if they did not get reward for effort.

Top Players:

Kelly Wilson

An incredibly player who is almost super-human with her endurance, averaging a mind-boggling 38.4 minutes per game in the 40-minute matches. She had almost 350 attempts from the field, and got to the line for 135 free throws, averaging 87.4 per cent for the latter. Finishing the season with 19.3 points, 19.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds, as well as 2.0 steals, it was no surprise to see Wilson named as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the competition. Received a lot of plaudits for her season and deserved it too, with the 34-year-old like a fine wine.

Rebecca Tobin

A rebounding machine, Rebecca Tobin was simply remarkable off the boards, averaging 13.3 rebounds per game, with 9.3 off the defensive end and 4.0 from the offence to try and create second chance points. She also finished the year with 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks in a really consistent season, and would have been in MVP calculations too had it not been for Wilson’s unbelievable season which just topped her and Tobin could only manage the 15 games. Unlike her teammates, Tobin did not try and shoot outside her limits, with the 30-year-old center only making one three-point attempt and mostly using her bigger frame to get to the line to muscle her way in to the basket.

Gabrielle Richards

Richards provided a two-prone attack off the boards with Tobin, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game and coming close to a double double herself. She averaged the 14.1 points and played every game of the season, also picking up two assists and one steal per game. Like Wilson, the 34-year-old was strong and used her bigger body to advantage around the basket, which is what made the Braves such a dominant team with two stars rebounding it so consistently every match.

Young Gun:

Danielle O’Toole

The Braves do not have as much youth as other sides, with their experience leading them to the minor premiership and as a title contender. But with three teenagers named on the list at the start of the season, it was O’Toole who managed to get on court the most with 13 games, albeit with an average of just under five minutes per match. She made up for lost time however, putting up 3.4 points per game, which is almost a point-per-minute. Most impressively, O’Toole looms as a long range shooter, averaging 46.4 per cent from three-point range, sinking 13 of 28 attempts, ranking first for accuracy in the side, and equal fifth for attempts despite much less time on court.

Christmas list for 2021:

Young depth. Bendigo’s core group of players are elite talents, but are still the wrong side of 30 and with another year on, will begin the season with a couple of 36-year-olds and a few more past 30. Tessa Lavey (27-years-old by next year’s season start) looms as the youngest starter, and while some of the teenagers got minutes, it will be about blooding the next group of players to come through the Braves program. Hopefully the veterans will look to go a week longer and push on in 2021 for a strong season.


They came so close to a title in 2019, and will be hungry to go better in 2021. There are questions around the age profile of the group, but with the form they were in for last season, it is hard to doubt them. If anything, a season off might prolong the careers of some of the veterans who earn a much needed rest. Bendigo will be a team to watch and if the list can relatively remain stable, then the Braves will be the team to beat.

2019/20 WNBL season review: Melbourne Boomers

IT was a solid season for the Melbourne Boomers who made it all the way to finals, but fell at the last hurdle against a rampaging University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. While they were strong at home winning seven out of 10 games, their ability to win on the road made them a formidable outfit notching up eight wins. Despite their best efforts it was simply not enough to take the final leap into the grand final.

Ladder: 3rd
Win-loss: 15-6

Before the beginning of the season, Boomer fans were up and about. Coming off a playoff run that ended in the semi finals, Melbourne added a whole lot of talent to the roster in hope to go one better and claim that all elusive premiership. Stella Beck was coming off a noteworthy NBL1 season collecting 10 rebounds a night, making her a handy inclusion in the side. Boomer fans were similarly eager to find out if Americans, Sophie Cunningham and Rachel Brewster, were up for the challenge and ready to guide their side to victory. Both coming out of American colleges, the WNBL would certainly be quite the adjustment. Fans were also looking forward to seeing the development of Antonia Farnworth, who had some much needed experience with the Hawks in the NBL1. Although, one question that was never answered all season was how would Paige Price go in an WNBL game. The six foot tall, 16 year old ‘prodigy’ got moved up to the senior level after a great season in the NBL1 with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. But the rising star only entered one game for limited minutes. With such a fresh roster, the Boomers did have to say goodbye to some key contributors such as former captain Jenna O’Hea, who took her talents to Southside, as well as Stephanie Talbot who departed for the Lightning. Richmond AFLW star Monique Conti left midway through the season to focus on her football club leaving a sizeable hole in their roster considering the impact she had off the bench. They also parted ways with Sarah Boothe and Jazmin Shelley, both in pursuit of playing overseas. 

After just coming short of playing in the grand final, the new faces added a certain level of confidence that the team could get over the line in 2020. Led by one of the most decorated and experienced coaches in WNBL history, Guy Molloy had a challenge on his hands. With O’Hea gone, the team had Madeleine Garrick to look up to as team captain. All season long, the Boomers were in good hands as the two-time WNBL champion could not be left open, draining 52 three pointers. Garrick was a major reason why the Boomers were first for steals in the league, swiping the ball off opponents 1.8 times a night, which was only tied with Cayla George. Ezi Magbegor, George and Cunningham would make up a stellar trio on offence, all averaging over 11 points a game. But Lindsay Allen would be the recognised star of this season. At only five foot eight, Allen starred averaging 14.8 points a night, the team’s most. The Boomers have plenty of depth, with more than one choice on the fast break, but this abundance of options can be costly at times with players looking to share the load rather than just take control. Renowned for their team like mentality it was sometimes their downfall, often over sharing the ball which resulted in turnovers. 

But the Boomer’s might just have their future superstar already.  At only 20-years-old, and standing at six foot four, Magbegor won Youth Player of the Year this season, for her second time. An award handed to the most outstanding young player in the league. The award has been given to the likes of four-time MVP, Lauren Jackson which if that is any indication, means big things ahead for Magbegor who is only at the beginning of her career. The scoring load was evenly shared between their stars as reflected in the league scoreboard with no player making it inside the top 10 points scorers for the season but that did not stop them from marching into finals and snatching one win off eventual premiers, the UC Capitals. Melbourne had a season for the ages and while the finals loss will linger it is fair to say that the Boomers are well and truly building towards something if they can keep that winning momentum going heading into season 2020/21. 

2019/20 WNBL season team preview: Melbourne Boomers

MELBOURNE Boomers might feel like they have some unfinished business heading into the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season after going down to Adelaide Lightning in the semi-finals last season. After a big season which saw Melbourne finish second overall and two wins clear of their opponents, a home loss against the Lightning ended up being costly as they were eliminated in the first stage of finals.

Finished: 2nd (Semi-final loss)
Wins: 15
Losses: 6
Points: 30
Percentage: 108.38%

Last season:

The Boomers were title contenders the entire 2018/19 season and are expected to be so again with minimal changes outside a few big outs. Jenna O’Hea will be a sorely missed player this season, heading down the Eastern to play with Southside Flyers, while Stephanie Talbot has left to join the Lightning. Sarah Boothe and Jazmin Shelley have both departed for overseas contracts. The likes of Monique Conti will benefit from a key role in Melbourne Tigers’ NBL1 season and look to get more minutes on the court in the WNBL, while Lindsay Allen will again be a tough player to stop as the versatile forward-guard will hope to back up her 2018/19 season where she averaged 18.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists from 22 games.

New recruits:

Kiwi, Stella Beck was prominent in the NBL1 with almost 10 rebounds per game and will hope to bring that to the Boomers this season. Antonia Farnworth had some great experience with the Hawks during the NBL1, and like Conti and Beck, will aim to start more games this season. A couple of wildcards are Americans Sophie Cunningham and Rachel Brewster who can replace some of the big omissions, while talented youngster, Paige Price will step up to senior level after a great season in the NBL1 with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. With plenty of youth coming through the Boomers, expect them to get better and better as the season progresses and be one of the title contenders once again despite losing a number of key contributors over the off-season.

Star player:

Lindsay Allen. A real playmaker and scorer, the American might not be the tallest player out there, but her ability to find teammates up the court in space and provide assists is damaging for opposition sides.

Cobras show bite to tame Supercats

KILSYTH Cobras are the National Basketball League (NBL)1 inaugural Women’s champions, taking out the decider against Geelong Supercats by 10 points. The Suprcats only held the lead briefly up by three midway through the first term, but it was all the Braves from there, regaining the lead and then never surrendering from that point on to run out 86-76 victors.

GEELONG SUPERCATS 13 | 18 | 17 | 28 (76)
KILSYTH COBRAS 23 | 28 | 22 | 13 (86)

The Supercats lead 9-6 when Zitina Aokuso made a layup with just over six minutes remaining in the first term, but with nine consecutive points, the Cobras jumped ahead by six with four minutes left on the clock in the quarter. Geelong managed to cut the deficit back to four on a couple of occasions, but the last six points of the quarter went the way of the Cobras to hold a very handy 10-point lead at the break.

Kilsyth ensured it did not take the foot off the pedal in the second term, scoring 12-4 to open the quarter, and by the time Clare Carmac had come off the bench to nail a three-pointer, Kilsyth lead by 21 points. It was the same margin with 29 seconds remaining following two successful Lauren Nicholson free throws, but 12 seconds later, Charlotte Brancatisano managed to cut it back to 20 after one of her two free throws was successful.

Geelong started the third term with a flurry, scoring the first seven points to cut the deficit back to 13. The Cobras were not about to let the lead slip though, as they piled on 17 points to two in a dominant five minute patch to blow the lead out to 28 with less than 15 minutes remaining in the final. Aokuso made a fadeaway shot for the Supercats in the last 70 seconds to make it 15 points, but an Alison Downie jumpshot with 14 seconds remaining made sure the Cobras headed into the final break 27 points ahead.

The game seemed all but over when Nicholson made a successful layup with eight minutes remaining and a 24-point lead on the board, but the Supercats were determined to make a final charge. Led by Ezi Magbegor who was the key reason the Supercats were in the match, Geelong managed to work it back to a 13-point deficit when Sara Blicavs nailed a three-pointer with 150 seconds remaining. The Cobras held firm in the remaining minutes, just scoring the two points to the Supercats’ five, but it was enough to run out victors in the last, and most important game of the year.

Nicholson was best on court with 36 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals, having a shootout with fellow Opal, Magbegor who sank 35 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals for the losing side. Nicholson had more contributors around her on the scoring end, with Klara Wischer (16 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Sarah Boothe (10 points, three rebounds) both reaching double figures, while Alison Downie had 11 rebounds to go with her seven points, three assists and two steals. Aokuso (11 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Jazmin Shelley (11 points, three assists and two rebounds) also reached double-figure points in the match.

NBL1 Women’s Grand Final preview: Geelong Supercats vs. Kilsyth Cobras

BOTH these sides earned their place in the 2019 National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s decider having won both finals – the quarter and preliminary finals – to now face off at the State Basketball Centre on Saturday evening. One of the Geelong Supercats and Kilsyth Cobras will take out the inaugural NBL1 Women’s title, something that will forever be remembered in history.

Geelong deservedly start strong favourites simply because of the amount of star power on the side. Whenever a team has three starting Opals in the line-up, it is hard to ignore. During the season, the Supercats have won 19 of a possible 22 games, and one of those was when they were severely understrength in the final round against minor premiers, Bendigo Braves. That game was the only match the Supercats lost at home with an impenetrable 11 wins from 12 games – including both finals – record. They also finished with eight wins from 10 games on the road. The Cobras have been solid both at home and away, winning eight from a possible 11 games in both facets. In the finals series, the Supercats defeated Ringwood Hawks, then survived a late comeback from the Braves to get up and make the grand final. The Cobras stunned the Bendigo crowd in the qualifying final to down the Braves, before backing up with a nice win over Nunawading Spectres last weekend to move through to the grand final.

The Supercats average 82.1 points per game, compared to the Cobras 78.7 points per game. Defensively, the Cobras marginally shade the Supercats in less points conceded, restricting their opposition to 65.6 points per game, while the Supercats sit at 66.7 points per game. Both teams percentages are high with the Supercats marginally ahead with 123.1 per cent to 120.0 per cent for season 2019. Both these teams have come into form at the right time of year – although the Supercats have been a team to beat for the entire season, with the likes of Ezi Magbegor, Sara Blicavs and Zitina Aokuso all having an impact and combining for 50.7 points and 24.1 rebounds, which is the most by any trio in the league. The Opals contingent will likely have a massive say on proceedings here and are always hard to stop. They also have Jazmin Shelley coming off the bench who has proven to be a really valuable player to provide spark just when they need it. The Cobras have one of the stars of the competition in Lauren Nicholson who averages a massive 24.5 points per game, while American Sarah Boothe averages a double-double with 12.2 points and 10.1 rebounds, and Klara Wischer is not far off with 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds. They have a more even team across the board, but will be team contribution against top-end star talent.



Ezi Magbegor 17.6 PPG | 6.6 RPG | 1.8 APG | 1.7 SPG | 1.6 BPG | 55.1 FG%
Sara Blicavs 16.9 PPG | 8.7 RPG | 3.1 APG | 1.9 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 44.3 FG%
Zitina Aokuso 16.2 PPG | 8.8 RPG | 2.4 APG | 0.9 SPG | 1.1 BPG | 52.9 FG%
Alex Duck 7.9 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 4.4 APG | 1.8 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 40.1 FG%
Isabella Brancatisano 6.1 PPG | 2.9 RPG | 2.9 APG | 0.6 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 34.1 FG%


Lauren Nicholson | 24.5 PPG | 5.8 RPG | 3.4 APG | 1.6 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 48.2 FG%
Klara Wischer | 13.0 PPG | 8.0 RPG | 3.4 APG | 1.6 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 43.8 FG%
Sarah Boothe | 12.2 PPG | 10.1 RPG | 2.5 APG | 0.7 SPG | 0.9 BPG | 47.5 FG%
Kara Tessari | 10.6 PPG | 1.8 RPG | 3.4 APG | 0.8 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 36.8 FG%
Alison Downie | 7.3 PPG | 5.2 RPG | 2.7 APG | 1.8 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 40.3 GF%


Points: 64.7 | 67.6
Rebounds: 31.4 | 30.9
Assists: 14.6 | 15.4
Steals: 6.9 | 6.5
Blocks: 3.5 | 1.9
Field Goal %: 46.6% | 44.1%


1. Will Kilsyth be able to cause a second massive upset in the finals series?
2. Can the Supercats restrict Lauren Nicholson to stop her getting off the chain?
3. How to the Cobras combat the dominant Opals trio of Magbegor, Blicavs and Aokuso?


Geelong Supercats is the team to beat in the game with the Opals trio likely to stretch the Cobras a bit too much. If Nicholson can get off the chain and put in a big game, while Boother and Wischer start to control the boards against their highly fancied opponents, they it is game on. The Cobras managed to get the job done against the Braves in the qualifying final, and are magnificently coached, so an upset could be brewing. In saying that, we will tip the Supercats just purely because of the star power and there is no mistake as to why they have made it this far considering their record the entire year. Geelong is primed for a title and has the ability to snatch it from the jaws of defeat if need be. Everything about this game looms as a blockbuster.

NBL1 Women’s finals review: Preliminary Finals

BOTH Kilsyth Cobras and Geelong Supercats were able to withstand challenges from their opponents in the respective preliminary finals to advance through to the 2019 National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s Grand Final. The Cobras booked a place courtesy of a dominant performance from midway through the second term, while Geelong lead all game and kept composed despite minor premiers’ Bendigo’s best efforts in the final quarter.

KILSYTH COBRAS 22 | 22 | 21 | 17 (82)
NUNAWADING SPECTRES 21 | 14 | 14 | 10 (59)

Kilsyth Cobras have earned a spot in the 2019 NBL1 Women’s decider after a comprehensive 23-point win over Nunawading Spectres at home in their preliminary final clash. The first term saw the Cobras and Spectres going at it only for the home side to nudge ahead by just one goal at the break. Nunawading managed to gain the ascendancy early in the second to regain the lead by two courtesy of a three-pointer by Chelsea D’Angelo four minutes into the term. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was all one-way traffic after that because from the moment Lauren Nicholson sank a three-pointer and Kilsyth lead by that margin midway through the term, the home team did not surrender the lead. Kilsyth lead by as much as 18 points early in the fourth term but the Spectres managed to cut it back to 11 with six minutes remaining in the game. In a remarkable defensive effort over the final six minutes, Kilsyth did not allow Nunawading a score, as they piled on 12 points themselves to run out 82-59 winners. Nicholson was a standout performer with 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while both Klara Wischer (20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists) and Sarah Boothe (14 points, 20 rebounds and five assists) dominated off the boards in what was a mammoth win for the Cobras registering 24 rebounds and 13 assists – seven of which came from Alison Downie who also picked up six rebounds. For the Spectres, D’Angelo top-scored with 13 points, as well as four rebounds, three assists and three steals, wile Maddie Garrick picked up a double-double courtesy of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kathleen Scheer (12 points, eight rebounds and two assists) was the other player who tried her heart out throughout the four quarters, but it was a complete performance from the Cobras who now meet Geelong Supercats in the final.

GEELONG SUPERCATS 25 | 23 | 25 | 10 (83)
BENDIGO BRAVES 18 | 22 | 21 | 19 (80)

Geelong Supercats weathered an almighty comeback from Bendigo Braves to secure a spot in the 2019 NBL1 Women’s Grand Final with a three-point victory. In a game many thought might be the grand final clash, the match lived up to pre-game expectations with Geelong seemingly having the upperhand for most of the contest, but Bendigo did not go down without a fight throwing everything at the Supercats in the final quarter. Geelong never trailed in the game making it a comprehensive victory, as they scored the first five points of the game and took a seven-point lead into quarter time. The Braves made a big charge in the second term to get within a point with just under three minutes remaining, but a nine points to two run late in the half saw the home side win the quarter and extend their lead at half-time to eight. Bendigo could not make much headway into the deficit in the third, getting it as low as seven points with four minutes remaining, but when Zitina Aokuso produced a successful lay-up with 87 seconds left in the quarter, the Supercats were out to a game-high 15-point lead. Trailing by 12 at the final break, Bendigo gradually attacked the deficit to come within five midway through the quarter, but ultimately the Supercats had all the answers with the three-point final margin the closest it had been since the second term. Aokuso scored a team-high 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, well aided by fellow Australian Opals, Sara Blicavs (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Ezi Magbegor (15 points, nine rebounds and four assists). Jazmin Shelley (14 points, four assists) was productive off the bench, wile Alex Duck (10 points, four assists) also achieved a team-high in assists. Rebecca Tobin sank a game-high 23 points, as well as a mind-boggling 20 rebounds, three assists and four steals to be the best player on the court, while Kelly Wilson had a double-double effort with 16 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and two steals. Tessa Lavey (17 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Gabrielle Richards (10 points, seven rebounds and two steals) were the other two Braves to make double figures. Now Geelong head to the decider to face the other side who was able to knock off the minor premiers in the finals, Kilsyth Cobras.

NBL1 Women’s finals preview: Preliminary Finals

THREE of the four top sides have made it through to the penultimate week of finals, but not quite as the script might have planned. The top two sides in Geelong Supercats and Bendigo Braves go head-to-head, while the two underdogs, Kilsyth Cobras and Nunawading Spectres will battle for a spot in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 decider.

Saturday August 10, 7pm
Kilsyth Basketball Stadium

Not many people would have predicted this to be a preliminary final match-up, especially with Kilsyth having the home court advantage in the third week of finals. Many expected Bendigo Braves to continue their remarkable season and knock off the Cobras, but with an upset win by Kilsyth, the Cobras have opened up the finals race. Joining them in the preliminary final is sixth placed Nunawading Spectres who sent Waverley Falcons packing in straight sets after a semi-final win last weekend. Now these two unlikely opponents meet for a spot in the 2019 NBL1 Women’s decider.

In terms of win-loss records, Kilsyth has a 7-3 record at home, and an even better 8-2 away, which was helped by the win at Bendigo last weekend. They did not come into the finals with the best of form, losing in the final round, but that all changed when then they toppled the minor premiers. Nunawading sit at four wins from 11 games both at home and on the road, meaning neither side is particularly favourable with the home court advantage. These sides will clash in a battle of offence vs. defence, as the Spectres are known for putting up some high numbers, whilst Kilsyth is the best defensive side in the competition. The Cobras also have an extra nine percentage points on Nunawading and if percentage is anything to go by, than these sides deserve to be in the Preliminary Finals, ranked third and fourth respectively.

These sides have met twice in season 2019, and sit at one win apiece. It bodes well for the Spectres in this match as the victors on both occasions have come from the away side. In their first meeting back in June, they played at this venue and a powerful opening term by the Spectres saw them race away to a 24-9 quarter time lead. Kilsyth won the remaining three quarters but could not bridge the 15-point gap, going down by seven, 71-78. Kathleen Scheer (24 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine rebounds and three assists) were the Spectres’ best in the win, while Klara Wischer (26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Lauren Nicholson (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) were impressive for the Cobras. Sarah Boothe had a massive 15 rebounds in the defeat, while Rebecca Pizzey and Chelsea D’Angelo both had 13 points to their name for the visitors. In the second match-up only a few weeks ago, Kilsyth came out on top by almost an identical margin, winning 80-72 at Nunawading. They dominated the first half to lead by 17 points at the main break, and while Nunwading hit back to win the second half by nine and could not bridge that gap. Nicholson was best on court in the win, sinking 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Boothe (10 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Wischer (eight points, eight assists) were others who impressed. For Nunawading, Maddie Garrick posted a team-high 25 points and had three steals, while Scheer, Pizzey and Rachel Brewster all recorded 11 points on the night.

The big factors which have shone in those two games and will be closely watched on Saturday night, Kilsyth posted 32 assists to 19 over both games, while rebounds were also in the Cobras’ favour 73-49. In fact, the Spectres recorded just 10 offensive rebounds in the two games, compared to Kilsyth’s 22. The big advantage Nunawading has is its spread of scorers, with anyone able to stand up and play a role, whilst Kilsyth have a couple of starts in Nicholson and Boothe, and players who have been able to assist well. Kilsyth is a side you expect can now advance through to the decider and will be favourites here given the Cobras’ last match.

Sunday August 11, 1pm
Geelong Arena

Much like the other head-to-head, many would not have predicted this as a preliminary final, but rather the match a week later. The top two sides have been the clear standouts this season, dropping just four games between them in the regular season. But it showed how finals is a different ball game, when Bendigo was forced to use its double chance after losing to fourth placed Kilsyth. The Braves then knocked off the Knox Raiders to keep their title hopes alive, while Geelong Supercats defeated Ringwood Hawks to move through to the preliminary final. Unlike in the men’s competition, the women’s finals were all played last weekend, so both sides have had the week’s break, with Geelong having the extra day on Bendigo.

Looking at the win-loss records, Geelong has lost just the one game at home – to Bendigo – while winning eight of the 10 matches on the road. For Bendigo, the only two games the Braves have dropped were at home, as the minor premiers head into the clash with 10 consecutive wins on the road this season. When investigating the breakdown of the sides, it is no surprise to see both teams rated well on both ends with Bendigo ranked second and Geelong fourth offensively, while defensively, the Supercats come in at two and the Braves at three. These sides also have the two higher percentages and the only teams with greater than 120 per cent for the season.

Like the other preliminary finalists, these sides have met twice for a win-loss record of one each. Bendigo’s only regular season loss came at home at the hands of the Supercats back in May, while as already mentioned, Geelong’s only loss at home came a few weeks back against the Braves – albeit understrength. On the first occasion these sides met, Geelong got up by 16 points after a dominant first and third quarter set them aside. The Supercats showed they can match it with the best and have momentum swings, including a 20-point advantage in the third term (36-16). Ezi Magbegor sank 30 points, had 10 rebounds as well as two steals and two blocks, while Sara Blicavs (23 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Jazmin Shelley (26 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also prominent. For the Braves, Kelly Wilson had a remarkable 36 points and nine assists, while Gabrielle Richards picked up a double-double courtesy of 22 points and 12 rebounds, Andrea Wilson had the same amount of rebounds had despite contributing just two points. Tessa Lavey (17 points, six rebounds) and Bianca Dufelmeier (15 points, five rebounds) tried hard, while Supercats Isabelle Bourne and Alex Ducks combined for 22 points 12 rebounds and 11 assists in the victory. In the second game, the Braves never looked like losing against a side missing its three best players running riot over a Geelong outfit minus Magbegor, Blicavs and Shelley on the Braves’ way to a huge 88-58 victory. Gabrielle Turner scored 23 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Richards (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Wilson (21 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and two steals) were again the best, as Wilson collected another 11 rebounds from two points, Rebecca Tobin was also prominent with nine rebounds and nine points, as well as seven rebounds. For the Supercats, Isabella Brancatisano (16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) and Ebony Rolph (15 points, 10 rebounds and six steals) were the two standout players.

How much you can judge the games as a whole is difficult because one was early in the season as teams were finding their best structures and combinations, while the second was where one team was very clearly understrength. Assuming both teams can go in at it full strength, Geelong might have the upperhand being at home and with a vocal crowd backing them. No doubt this could be the game of the season because each team has a number of genuine A-grade stars, as well as some real contributors which makes it a fascinating contest. While Kilsyth did knock off Bendigo in the qualifying final, you would think the Braves are better for it having gone multiple months without tasting defeat. Expect the winner of this game to take out the title as these teams on paper are something else.

NBL1 Women’s finals review: Week 1 and 2

FOUR teams remain in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s competition after the first two weeks of finals were squeezed into a weekend. Kilsyth Cobras’ upset over minor premiers Bendigo Braves was the biggest talking point of the weekend, while Ringwood Hawks went out in straight sets. It means Nunawading Spectres now take on Kilsyth, while Bendigo face Geelong Supercats in what many originally thought could be the grand final clash.


RINGWOOD HAWKS 7 | 23 | 17 | 26 (73)
NUNAWADING SPECTRES 27 | 24 | 27 | 19 (97)

A dominant first term from Nunawading Spectres has sent Ringwood Hawks packing in straight sets, running out 24-point winners in the semi-final clash yesterday. The Spectres piled on 27 points to seven in the opening term which set up the victory, as they extended the lead by as much as 31 points at the final break before the Hawks cut the final deficit to 24 courtesy of a 26-19 last quarter. Megan Mullings was a lone hand for the home side, posting a game-high 29 points and 13 rebounds in a double-double effort, as Cassidy Mihalko and Danni Bone both scored 11 points and combined for eight rebounds and seven assists as the next best. The Spectres had an even spread across the board with Chelsea D’Angelo putting up 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Maddie Garrick topscored with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Kathleen Scheer (13 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two blocks) and Rebecca Pizzey (12 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks) were others who stood out in the win.

BENDIGO BRAVES 26 | 21 | 16 | 19 (82)
KNOX RAIDERS 17 | 21 | 21 | 6 (65)

Bendigo Braves will hope a final term flurry of baskets will set the tone for the Preliminary Final next weekend after bouncing back from a shock Qualifying Final loss. The Braves did not have it all their own way against a plucky Knox Raiders, but did take a nine-point lead into quarter and half-time, before the Raiders cut it back to four by the final break. Luckily for the Braves they settled and took control defensively to restrict the Raiders to just six points in the final term to run away with the 17-point victory. Kelly Wilson led the way with only the second triple-double of the NBL1 Women’s competition this year, recording 13 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in a match-winning effort for the Braves. Tessa Lavey scored 20 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals, while Tess Madgen managed 17 points, six rebounds and two assists. Rebecca Tobin had three steals and seven rebounds to go with her 16 points, while Gabrielle Richards (14 points, 14 rebounds) was also terrific. For Knox, Abbey Wehrung scored 23 points, while Lauren Scherf (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Marena Whittle (10 points, 12 rebounds) picked up double-doubles.


GEELONG SUPERCATS 24 | 21 | 17 | 16 (78)
RINGWOOD HAWKS 12 | 13 | 25 | 13 (63)

Geelong Supercats moved through to the Preliminary Finals with a strong 15-point win over Ringwood Hawks courtesy of a big first half which set up the win. The Supercats posted 45 points to 25 in a dominant first two terms, before Ringwood cut the deficit to a manageable 12 points by the final break. Luckily for the home fans, the Supercats steadied and ran out 78-63 winners in the end. Sara Blicavs was again super with 23 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Ezi Magbegor posted 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in the wing. Zitina Aokuso helped herself to a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Alex Duck had 15 points, four rebounds and a mammoth seven steals. For Ringwood, Mihalko scored an impressive 27 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals, while Mullings picked up a double-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Antonia Farnworth also tried her best with 13 points and four rebounds in the loss.

BENDIGO BRAVES 22 | 20 | 11 | 17 (70)
KILSYTH COBRAS 16 | 17 | 26 | 26 (85)

Kilsyth Cobras have ripped up the NBL1 Women’s script with a stunning come-from-behind win on the road against the almost previously undefeated Bendigo Braves.The Braves dropped just one game in 20 outings during the NBL1 season, and everything looked to be going to plan early with 22 points to 16 in the opening term, then the home team lead by nine at the main break. As if out of nowhere, the Cobras came to the party in the second half, slamming home 26 points to 11 to lead by six at the final break, then put the foot down again with a 26-17 term to run away 85-70 winners to leave the Bendigo crowd stunned. Lauren Nicholson was unsurprisingly the top points scorer with 26, as well as three rebounds, three assists and four steals, but it was Sarah Boothe picking up a double-double (21 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals) who was best on court. Klara Wischer (20 points, eight rebounds and five assists) was also strong across the board, while Alison Downie (12 points, four rebounds and five assists) chipped in to assist the team. For Bendigo the spread was less, with Rebecca Tobin (24 points, 13 rebounds) doing the bulk of the scoring, followed by Wilson (16 points, six rebounds and eight assists), while Richards and Lavey had 12 points each, but combined for just three rebounds and six assists.


NUNAWADING SPECTRES 26 | 24 | 22 | 17 (89)
WAVERLEY FALCONS 12 | 17 | 19 | 13 (61)

Nunawading Spectres produced the basis for their big semi-final win with a commanding 28-point win over Waverley Falcons. They took control from the first buzzer and did not relent until the final one, winning every term by at least three points, and completely dominating the opening half with 50 points to 29 on the board as they headed into the main break. Scheer posted a game-high 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four blocks in the win, while Rachel Antoniadou was busy with 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals in an all-round effort. Pizzey (16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks) and D’Angelo (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were others who stood out. For the Falcons, Kelly Bowen stood up in defeat with 20 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Carley Ernst was the other key scorer with 15 points, seven rebounds five assists and two blocks.

KNOX RAIDERS 21 | 21 | 24 | 20 (86)
DANDENONG RANGERS 16 | 17 | 15 | 17 (65)

Knox Raiders picked up a win in the 2019 NBL1 finals series, downing Dandenong Rangers at the State Basketball Centre by 21 points. It was a dominant win in the end as the Raiders won every quarter on their way to the 86-65 triumph. They lead by five, nine and 18 across the three quarters to put the result beyond doubt and never took the foot off the pedal. Scherf had an equal game-high 22 point as well as 12 rebounds, two assists and a block, while Whittle helped herself to a massive 20 points and 18 rebounds in the win. Wehrung (15 points, three rebounds and three assts) was the other dominant scorer for the Raiders, as Lucy Dawson had seven rebounds to go with her eight points. For the Rangers, Aimie Clydesdale had 22 points and eight assists, while Colleen Planeta recorded another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Taylah Gillam (10 points, three rebounds) was the other player to reach double figures for the Rangers.

NBL1 Women’s Round 15 review: Braves make a statement as Cobras secure fourth

THE final round of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s competition is done and dusted, with the top eight locked up ahead of the start of finals in a fortnight. Bendigo Braves sent a message to the rest of the competition with a comprehensive 30-point win over second placed Geelong Supercats to lock up the minor premiership. The Braves’ only loss had come at the hands of the Supercats, and from the outside it was clear to see they were keen to post a big win. They won all four quarters on their way to victory, albeit against a Geelong side missing Sara Blicavs and Ovie Magbegor. Instead it was Gabrielle Richards (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Kelly Wilson (21 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks) who dominated, while Gabriella Turner (23 points, five rebounds and three assists) also had a say in the proceedings for the winners. In their NBL stars absences, Isabella Brancatisano had her best game to-date, picking up 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Ebony Rolph helped herself to 15 points, 10 rebounds and six steals with both players registering double-doubles.

In the standalone game on Friday night, Waverley Falcons locked up a top eight spot courtesy of a 34-point win over Hobart Huskies to secure the finalists for season 2019. The visiting side also won each of hte four quarters on their way to an imposing 97-63 win over the bottom four side. Renae Mokrzycki had a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds, while Tegan Cunningham (12 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Kelly Bowen (12 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists) was also important in the victory. For the Huskies, Ellie Collins (19 points, two rebounds, three assists and two blocks) was the standout scorer, while Tayla Roberts (10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Kylie McCauley (nine points, seven rebounds and two assists) were both prominent off the boards. Waverley then moved into seventh spot on the table courtesy of a 22-point win over Launceston Tornadoes. Carley Ernst picked up 21 points and nine rebounds in the big win, while Mokrzycki (19 points, nine rebounds), Cunningham (15 points, seven rebounds), Bowen (10 points, nine assists, three steals and 13 rebounds) and Jessica Bygate (11 points, six rebounds) had great presence off the boards and on the scoreboard. Launceston’s Stephanie Gardner topscored for her side with 19 points and four rebounds, while Micah Simpson (16 points), and Sarah O’Neill (14 points, five rebounds) also tried hard throughout the game.

Dandenong Rangers’ weekend saw them just cling onto a finals spot, dropping both games, albeit against top four sides in Kilsyth Cobras (23 points) and Ringwood Hawks (three points) on consecutive days. In the big loss to Kilsyth, it was a slow start of 17 points to the Cobras’ 43 that all but sealed the Rangers’ fate, with Sarah Boothe having a night out by feasting on 28 points and 23 rebounds, shooting at 72.2 per cent from the field, as well as six assists. Clare Camac was the next highest points scorer for the Cobras with 17, as well as five assists and three rebounds, while Alison Downie picked up a double-double thanks to 12 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. For the losers, Colleen Planeta did the bulk of the damage picking up a double-double herself courtesy of 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Rebecca Cole was the next highest scorer (12 points, seven rebounds. In the loss to Ringwood, Planeta again did all she could with 25 points, nine rebounds and three bocks, while Cole recorded 23 points and six rebounds. For the Hawks, they shared the points around as Ella Ogier (16 points, 11 rebounds) was the best of them, ahead of Cassidy Mihalko (15 points, eight rebounds and three steals) and Danni Bone (14 points, nine rebounds and six assists).

A team who enjoyed a much better weekend was Eltham Wildcats, downing Nunawading Spectres by seven points, then toppling Melbourne Tigers by 21. Whilst it was not enough to make finals due to Waverley claiming both wins, the Wildcats finished their season on a high with back-to-back wins to sit ninth on the table. Against Nunawading it was Alice Kunek (27 points, nine rebounds and six assists) who stood tall), but she was joined by Chelsea Schweers (18 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals), Vanessa Panousis (13 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Chelsea Brook (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) as other double-figure scorers. Nunawading had a couple of important scorers, with Maddie Garrick (20 points, six rebounds) leading the way, although Kathleen Scheer (18 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks) was best on the court. Rachel Brewster (13 points, nine rebounds) and Rebecca Pizzey (12 points, nine rebounds) came agonisingly close to double-doubles. In the comfortable win over Melbourne, Schweers had a team-high 23 points, while Margaret Mulligan was the standout with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Kunek (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Brook (15 points, eight rebounds and three steals) were productive for their sides. For the Tigers, Monique Conti finished her consistent season off on the right note with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Kasey Burton (15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals) was the other Tigers’ player who stood tall.

Ballarat Rush also enjoyed a win over Melbourne Tigers on their way to a narrow five-point victory. Chanise Jenkins had 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and four steals in the win, while Olivia Hackmann (19 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Hsi-le Bao (13 points, 10 rebounds) were other Rush players to reach double-figure points. Conti was again the standout for the Tigers with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, while Katie Budgen picked up some of the slack with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals, and Kasey Burton helped herself to a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, as wells four assist, four steals and two blocks.

Knox Raiders finished the season with an on-the-road win against Albury Wodonga Bandits. The Raiders posted a 98-84 victory, winning three of the four quarters to do it comfortably in the end. Abbey Wehrung (22 points, two rebounds, six assists and two steals) and Bec Ott (21 points, five rebounds and four assists) both troubled the scorers quite a bit, while Lauren Scherf picked up a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds). For the Bandits, Jessie Edwards was the top player with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Emilee Harmon (17 points, six rebounds) and Cherise Daniel (15 points, five rebounds) were both productive players on the court.

In the other two games, Southern Sabres suffered two losses to finish off a disappointing season, going down to last placed Diamond Valley Eagles by 19 points, before suffering a narrow one-point loss to Frankston Blues. Diamond Valley’s Shelby Cheslek (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Anneli Maley (21 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and three steals) were dominant against the Sabres’ side, with Rachel Jarry (24 points, nine rebounds and six steals) doing all she could, while Amy O’Neill (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) was the next best. In the narrowest of overtime losses, O’Neill was again prominent for the Sabres, registering 22 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and four steals, while Tenaya Phillips (24 points, five rebounds and three steals) and Ella Batish (20 points, six rebounds) were also busy. For the Blues, Shereesha Richards hauled her side across the line thanks to a mammoth 40-point, 14-rebound and seven-assist game, leading the way ahead of Saraid Taylor (19 points, 10 rebounds) who picked up a double-double as well, while Courtney Wilkins (14 points, seven rebounds) and Taylor Lee (13 points, six rebounds and four assists) were the next best.

Round 15 results:

Hobart Huskies 63 defeated by Waverley Falcons 97
Geelong Supercats 58 defeated by Bendigo Braves 88
Kilsyth Cobras 81 defeated Dandenong Rangers 58
Diamond Valley Eagles 88 defeated Southern Sabres 69
Albury Wodonga Bandits 84 defeated by Knox Raiders 98
Ballarat Rush 84 defeated by Melbourne Tigers 79
Eltham Wildcats 80 defeated Nunawading Spectres 73
Launceston Tornadoes 77 defeated by Waverley Falcons 99
Southern Sabres 96 defeated by Frankston Blues 97
Dandenong Rangers 68 defeated by Ringwood Hawks 71
Melbourne Tigers 72 defeated by Eltham Wildcats 93

Final ladder:

1 Bendigo Braves 19-1
2 Geelong Supercats 17-3
3 Ringwood Hawks 15-5
4 Kilsyth Cobras 14-6
5 Knox Raiders 14-6
6 Nunawading Spectres 12-8
7 Waverley Falcons 11-9
8 Dandenong Rangers 11-9

9 Eltham Wildcats 10-10
10 Albury Wodonga Bandits 9-11
11 Frankston Blues 9-11
12 Ballarat Rush 8-12
13 Melbourne Tigers 8-12
14 Basketball Australia CoE 6-14
15 Hobart HUskies 6-14
16 Southern Sabres 4-16
17 Launceston Tornadoes 4-16
18 Diamond Valley Eagles 3-17

Week 1 finals:

Bendigo Braves vs. Kilsyth Cobras
Geelong Supercats vs. Ringwood Hawks
Knox Raiders vs. Dandenong Rangers
Nunawading Spectres vs. Waverley Falcons