Tag: shyla heal

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Ladder leaders to do the double

BOTH the Sydney Uni Flames and Southside Flyers are set to play two games in Round 7 with the Flyers hoping to maintain prime position on top of the ladder.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. SyYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Friday, November 29
7:05pm

Bendigo Spirit will be hoping to end their three-game losing streak and get back on the winners list against the Sydney Uni Flames who have also failed to rack up a win in their last two outings, making for an intriguing contest. In fact, the Spirit have not won a game since the start of November and will want stay in touch with the fifth placed Perth Lynx. On the other hand, it is the first of two games for the Flames this round and they will be wanting to get off to a hot start to hopefully leapfrog their opposition up the ladder. Both teams are relatively evenly matched with a mere five points separating their overall points scored tally highlighting just how competitive this game could be.

Alice Kunek has been a key contributor for the Flames averaging 16.9 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds showcasing her impact across the court. Paired with the likes of Colleen Planeta (15 points and 7.4 rebounds) Jessica Kuster (10.8 points, 6.3 rebounds) the Flames have a wealth of stars to choose from to help steer the ship against the higher place Spirit. But the Spirit have some players that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead them to victory with Keely Wilson a class act averaging 10.3 points per game and 6.8 assists. Abigail Wehrung also boasts a healthy percentage from three point range at 45.2 percent and can hit the scoreboard averaging 9.3 points. Tessa Lavey and Shyla Heal can also make a difference for the Spirit.

PERTH LYNX v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Friday, November 29
6:35pm

The Perth Lynx play host to the Southside Flyers in a clash of fifth against first. The Lynx will be hoping to cause a big upset and knock the Southside Flyers off their perch to get them back on level pegging with Adelaide Lightning giving they do not win their match. In the past five games the Flyers have only dropped one match highlighting their skill and teamwork to play both a defensive and attacking game style. Meanwhile Lynx will be aiming to recapture their form from a couple of weeks ago to have a real impact.

There is no denying that Alison Schwagmeyer is a real barometer for the Perth side given her impressive talent under the rim and explosiveness. If she is let off the chains early it will go a long way in helping set her side up for victory with the guard averaging 18.9 points per game along with 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The Flyers have a plethora of options across the court with Sara Blicavs, Leilani Mitchell, Jenna O’Hea, Mercedes Russell and Rebecca Cole all combining to become a formidable force. Russell has taken the competition by storm with her attacking mentality and drive to the basket averaging a double-double thanks to her 15.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. With so many key players it will be hard to maintain all of them and stop them from having an impact.

UC CAPITALS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, November 30
5:05pm

It is a tale of two halves with the Capitals taking on the last placed Townsville Fire who have only managed the one win so far this season. The Fire have been competitive in games but have struggled to maintain any form of consistency or intensity for a full four quarters making it hard for them to win a game. The Capitals have won four games straight and will be keen to keep that streak running but when these two sides met back in Round 2 the Capitals only narrowly scraped through by two points proving that Townsville have what it takes to match it with the best of them, but a lot has changed since then.

Kia Nurse is instrumental for the University of Canberra (UC) credit to her points scoring ability really controlling the airways for her side with an average of 20 points. Partner in crime Kelsey Griffin is another key to the Capitals success with a double-double of 17.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while Keely Froling is not too far behind with 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds. Marianna Tolo should not be underestimated and can turn the heat on at the drop of a hat. Although Townsville do not have the same firepower as their opponents Abby Bishop is no slouch with an impressive average of 20.2 points and 8.5 rebounds, Tess Madgen can also find the net.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, November 30
7:35pm

The second placed Melbourne Boomers can turn on the afterburners when need be and will be hoping to inflict some scoreboard pain on the Sydney Uni Flames to cement their spot on the ladder. It will be the Flames second game for the round and their opposition does not get any easier coming up against a well-rested and raring to go Melbourne Boomers side who will be hoping to keep the scoreboard ticking over and notch up their third consecutive win.

The Boomers can score quickly and have a wealth of players to look to when the going gets tough thanks to their touch of class, experience and basketball nous across the court with the first in line Lindsay Allen. Allen is an excitement machine not afraid to back herself from range or in close shown with her average of 18.4 points per game. Cayla George can also set the court on fire with both her defensive and offensive pressure (14.9 points, 9.3 rebounds) while Ezi Magbegor offers another scoring option. For the Flames the usual suspects in Planeta and Kunek will have to take charge while Tahlia Tupaea can provide a point of difference.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 1
5:05pm

In their second game of the round the Flyers will be hoping to build on their momentum and keep their winning streak alive against the fourth placed Lightning. The Lightning have been relatively inconsistent throughout the 2019/20 season winning four games and losing three but will be hoping to consolidate on their top four position. Expect Lightning to be fresh and buzzing with energy while the Flyers could be sore and fatigued heading into the match-up.

There is no denying that the Flyers are pretty well stacked when it comes to talent meaning the Lightning will have their hands full but Adelaide are not without their own game-changers. American Crystal Langhorne can cause havoc as shown averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds and will have to get on the move if she is to spur her side onto victory. Brianna Turner, Stephanie Talbot and Nicole Seekamp are also filled with skill and scoring prowess making their performance against the Flyers integral. Cole and Mitchell are both able to hit the scoreboard and can be real playmakers with their creative assists.

WNBL Round 5 review: Final three games see UC capitalise in Melbourne

REIGNING premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals made it a weekend away in Melbourne to remember, downing the Boomers on Saturday after also getting the better of the Flyers on Thursday night. They moved to second on the table, while other results on Saturday saw Adelaide Lightning smash Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx win their first game since Round 1 to down the Flames for the second time this season and move to fifth on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) ladder.

Perth Lynx (93) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (74)

Despite a rocky start to the season and having not won since Round 1 – and only against the Flames – Perth’s victory over Sydney Uni moved the Lynx to fifth spot on the table, one of four sides with two or less victories this season and opening up a large gap between the finals-bound places and the rest. The Lynx made their intentions clear early, slamming home 31 points to 15 in the opening term on Saturday night, before extending the half-time lead to 20. They were not going to take the foot off the jugular after the break, adding 22 points to 15 in the third term to end the contest. The Flames managed to grab some important points back in the final term as the Lynx gave plenty of up-and-coming stars a run, but the game was over and they won 93-74. Katie-Rae Ebzery was simply superb for the Lynx, recording a game-high 28 points, four rebounds and two steals, while Lauren Mansfield was a great playmaker thanks to 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Alison Schwagmeyer – while down on her usual point-scoring output – had 10 points, nine rebounds and three steals, as Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle also added 10 points each to the cause. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta stepped up in defeat to sink 23 points and eight rebounds, while Alice Kunek was the only other major scorer with 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. Lauren Scherf had just eight points but helped out around the court with seven rebounds and five assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

Adelaide Lightning (105) defeated Bendigo Spirit (77)

Adelaide ensured it had some breathing space in the top four thanks to a big win over Bendigo Spirit at home. The Lightning added 28 points to 18 in the opening term, then extended the lead to 17 by the main break. They put together a four quarter performance in front of the home crowd at Titanium Security Arena, winning the last two quarters, 23-16 and 25-21 to run away 28-point winners, 105-77. Brianna Turner was the top scorer on the court with 22 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while Stephanie Talbot had 18 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals in a big performance. Chelsea Brook and Lauren Nicholson were busy throughout the game with 16 points apiece with Brook also recording six rebounds. Nicole Seekamp might have had just the 10 points on the board, but came close to a double double, setting up teammates for nine assists on the night. For the losers, Carley Ernst picked up a team-high 17 points and six rebounds, while Shyla Heal tried her hardest off the bench with 16 points and three assists. Kelly Wilson was the other Spirit player to reach double figures in the points column with 15, as well as two rebounds. It was a disappointing night for Bendigo who go into the week’s break having to regroup after the big loss, while Adelaide will head in knowing it is close to the top three sides.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Chelsea Brook (AL)

Melbourne Boomers (76) defeated by UC Capitals (79)

In the final game of the round, UC Capitals took back second spot with a huge 79-76 victory over Melbourne Boomers, completing a season-defining weekend away in Melbourne. Having knocked off the previously undefeated Southside Flyers on Thursday night, the Capitals handed the same fate to the Boomers, starting strongly to open a 10-point lead by quarter time. Melbourne went one better in the second quarter to turn it around and lead by a point themselves courtesy of a 26-15 second term, before extending that to four by three quarter time. The reigning premiers refused to lie down however, forcing their way back into the contest to deliver a 29-22 final term to record a narrow 79-76 victory. Kia Nurse was again the top points scorer with 22, as well as three rebounds and three assists, as Kelsey Griffin did as she pleased with nine rebounds, three assists and five steals to accompany her 18 points in a best on court performance. Marianna Tolo started this week and had 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks, while Olivia Epoupa finished with a productive five rebounds, eight assists and four steals to go with five points. For the Boomers, Lindsay Allen (18 points, six assists) and Sophie Cunningham (18 points, three rebounds and two steals) tried hard throughout the contest, while Cayla George had 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

13 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
12 –
11 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Cayla George (MB)
10 – Brianna Turner (AL)
9 –
8 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF), Abby Bishop (TF)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Keely Froling (UC), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Colleen Planeta (AD), Stephanie Talbot (AL)
5 – Alice Kunek (SU), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS), Kia Nurse (UC)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF), Chelsea Brook (AD)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Sara Blicavs (SF), Ariel Atkins (PL), Lauren Mansfield (PL)

WNBL 2019/2020 Weekend preview: Round 2 – Undefeated sides to tip-off tonight

ROUND 2 of the Women’s National Basketball (WNBL) is set to commence tonight with Perth Lynx, Townsville Fire, Southside Flyers and Bendigo Spirit all playing two games this round as teams jostle to take an early advantage on the ladder.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. PERTH LYNX
Thursday, October 17
7:30pm

The first game of the round will provide plenty of excitement with the third placed Flyers set to face off against the first placed Lynx in a thriller. Both teams are coming off wins and will be riding high making for a hot contest given the stakes. They match up relatively evenly with the Flyers only just nudging ahead with steals credit to their defensive pressure while the Lynx have proved to be damaging off the boards with more rebounds. The Flyers announced themselves as contenders in their inaugural season with a narrow and hard fought win last week and will be looking to keep that ball rolling in Round 2. After a dominant performance, last week Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea will be looking to replicate their form at the rim and cause havoc with their offensive play. Sara Blicavs can also pose a threat for the Flyers with her ability to score and run the court. But Perth are not without star power of their own with Alison Schwagmeyer a real threat to the scoreboard with her nous and read of the play to burst away from the pack and take the shot. Nadeen Payne is also handy across the court meaning the Flyers will have to put some work in to stop her influence.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Friday, October 18
7:00pm

Expect a tight tussle between Townsville Fire and Adelaide Lightning given their ladder positioning. They have differing styles with the Lightning renowned for their ability to post high totals and blow teams out of their water but can fade out of games which the Fire must capitalise on. Fire currently sit sixth on the ladder but could leapfrog Lightning with a win given Adelaide played two games last round and only won the one. Adelaide have had an up and down start to the season and will be seeking to gain some consistency but have proven they have the arsenal to score freely. Lauren Nicholson starred last week with a whopping 39 points while the likes of Nicole Seekamp (28 points), Stephanie Talbot (25 points) and Chelsea Brook (23 points) also flexed their muscles making them a handful for the Fire to maintain. Although Townsville are yet to register a win after falling short last week they will be looking to the likes of recruit Bridget Carleton to lead the way after notching up 20 points in Round 1. Tess Madgen also put her best foot forward last round and will be wanting to repeat her efforts against another tough opponent.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, October 19
5:00pm

In their second game of the round, the Flyers must be on their game if they are to keep their spot in the top four. Despite Sydney being unable to muster up a win in their two games last week expect them to throw everything at their opponents to progress up the ladder. Both sides have a plethora of key players that can tear games apart with a big rebound or timely block making for an intriguing contest. Sydney Flames trio Colleen Planeta, Alice Kunek and Lauren Scherf are all instrumental around the basket with Planeta notching up a staggering 41 points last round credit to her accuracy and ability to back herself from wherever. The Flyers will have to be careful around goal given the Flames ability to gobble up rebounds with 88 compared to 34 while Sydney are also not afraid to share the ball around with more assists than Southside meaning they must shut down their opponents transition down the court. For the Flyers expect O’Hea and Mitchell to stand up while the likes of Louella Tomlinson will be looking to have an influence across the court.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Saturday, October 19
7:30pm

In their second encounter in as many weeks the Boomers will be wanting to extend their winning streak while the Spirit will be hoping to make amends for Round 1. The 15-point win earnt the Boomers second spot on the ladder while it pushed Bendigo to the bottom- something they’ll be wanting to change. The scoring was relatively evenly spread last week with five players from the Boomers all registering double points. Lindsay Allen did the most damage with 19 points and was closely followed Madeleine Garrick with 15 points, meanwhile Ezi Magbegor notched up 13 points and seven rebounds. Despite not getting a wealth of court time Monique Conti also played her part putting up a couple of shots and doing the little things well while Cayla George amassed 12 points and nine rebounds. Spirit trio Shyla Heal, Marte Grays and Demi Skinner all registered 14 points apiece but will be looking to the fringe players to lift their load if they are to get over the top of the Boomers.

UC CAPITALS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, October 20
2:00pm

With a win already under their belts, expect reigning premiers UC Capitals to bring the heat against the Fire and notch up another victory. The Capitals have a wealth of options going forward with Kia Nurse and Kelsey Griffin both dominant and able to score with ease. Nurse made no mistake last round amassing 28 points while Keely Froling is also a viable option for the Capitals. UC currently sit fourth on the ladder and will want to work their way up the ladder with a convincing win over the winless Townsville. Both sides are pretty equal despite the blocks with Capitals racing ahead with six compared to zero highlighting their defensive pressure which could pose an issue for the likes Carleton, Madgen and Darcee Garbin.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. PERTH LYNX
Sunday, October 20
5:00pm

The final game of the round will pit the bottom side against the top. Both sides will have played two games for the round and will be searching for consistency to build their season on. Bendigo may struggle to stop Schwagmeyer who proved pivotal to the scoreboard but will be hoping that Heal, Grays and Skinner can impact the play. Perth have shown they can be damaging on the burst and can convert off turnovers making them a real threat heading into the match-up against the Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019/20 WNBL season team preview: Perth Lynx

ONE of four clear title contenders throughout the 2018/19 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season, Perth Lynx fell in the semi-finals to eventual premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. The Lynx fought hard throughout but were ultimately outclassed by a better outfit over two games, though finishing four games safely inside the top four was a massive credit to the West Australian side’s season. Now they look ahead to 2019/20, bringing in a trio of young local stars to add to the depth of the side that will be without its Most Valuable Player (MVP) from last season.

Finished: 4th (Semi-final loss)
Wins: 13
Losses: 8
Points: 26
Percentage: 103.18%

Last season:

In a side that had plenty of contributors, it was Asia Taylor who stepped up and took out the Lynx’ MVP, as well as being named in the All-Star Five for the competition. She averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals in the competition, returning to the Minnesota Lynx ahead of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season. Along with Taylor, Brittany McPhee was prominent with 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals per game, and she also departed the Lynx to compete in Spain. American, Alison Schwagmeyer has stayed on board, re-signing with the Lynx and hoping to back-up her 14.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 2018/19. Shyla Heal (Bendigo) and Antonia Farnworth (Melbourne) are the other two key departures.

New recruits:

Perth wasted no time bringing in a Bendigo Spirit duo in Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle, with Payne ranked inside the top 20 for points last season, averaging 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists. The Lynx also brought in WNBA players, Imani McGee-Stafford from China and Ariel Atkins from Poland to add international tactical knowledge to the side. Arguably the greatest improvement for the Lynx might come in their depth, signing on three local Lynx Academy players to the roster, with Jewell Williams, Nes’eya Williams and Taylah Burrows giving Perth fans a glimpse into the future.

Star player:

Ariel Atkins is the wildcard, with the Texas local averaging 10.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game for Washington in the WNBA last season, and was named in the WNBA Rookie Team and WNBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2018, before backing up the latter last season.

2019/20 WNBL season team preview: Bendigo Spirit

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

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

Last season:

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

New recruits:

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

Star player:

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

2018/19 WNBL Season Preview

THE 2018/19 WNBL season is set to be the most exciting yet, with many big names taking to the court. We previewed each team in the lead-up to the highly anticipated season.

Pic: Matt King/Getty Images

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING

The Lightning just missed out on finals last season, finishing fifth with 11 wins and 10 losses.

Guard, Nicole Seekamp was the star of the season, winning Adelaide’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award with an average of 13.9 points, 5.1 assists and 4.19 rebounds. The Lightning have been able to retain Seekamp, as well as a host of other important players such as forward, Lauren Nicholson, who won the Defensive Player of the Year award, former Hume City Bronco, Colleen Planeta and 17 year-old exciting forward, Chelsea Brook.

Adelaide has also welcomed a number of big recruits, including Tall Fern’s Penina Davidson. Davidson comes into the side with a wealth of experience, thanks to her four-year tenure at the University of California. Speaking of America, the Lightning have added two WNBA players to their roster in Kayla Alexander and Nia Coffey. Alexander hails from the Indiana Fever and was a former San Antonio Stars (now known as Las Vegas Aces) player. Coffey also was also drafted to the San Antonio Stars, picked fifth in the overall draft.

The combination of strong international talent combined with exciting home-grown talent could earn Adelaide a finals berth this season.

 

BENDIGO SPIRIT

The Bendigo Spirit endured a difficult 2017/18 season, finishing on the bottom of the table with four wins and 17 losses.

The Spirit has certainly gone to work in the off-season, recruiting a number of exciting players. This includes seven-time WNBL winner, Natalie Hurst, former Melbourne Boomer, Courtenay Wragg and Canadian international, Jamie Scott. Scott has spent some time at the Washington Mystics in the WNBA and played for Oregon State University in the NCAA.

Bendigo has also been able to keep 19 year-old star, Kara Tessari, who has been averaging almost 15 points a game in the SEABL. Reigning club MVP, Nadeen Payne will also return to the line-up for the 2018/19 season.

The Spirit’s young and exciting list could propel a rise up the table in the 2018/19 season.

 

DANDENONG RANGERS

The Dandenong Rangers finished seventh in the 2017/18 season with seven wins and 14 losses.

Exciting news emerged in the off-season for centre, Tayla Roberts, as she was recruited by North Melbourne’s AFL Women’s team. Roberts will be juggling both sports after a stellar season in the SEABL, where she averaged a career-best 20.1 points. The Rangers have also retained forward, Carley Mijovic, veteran, Amelia Todhunter and forward, Sara Blicavs. Blicavs is currently rehabbing her ACL injury and will be a key player for the side if she can return to the court this season.

The Rangers have added former Melbourne Boomer, Rebecca Cole to their roster for the 2018/19 season. Cole is going into her ninth WNBL season and is coming off a bronze medal in the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup playing for Australia. Cole will be joined by Olympic Opal, Rachel Jarry, who joins the side after being a part of its WNBL development squad in 2007/08. There will also be some international experience in the Rangers roster, with Buffalo Bulls assists record-holder, Stephanie Reid signing on for 2018/19. The Victorian will make her national league debut with the Rangers.

 

MELBOURNE BOOMERS

Despite finishing fourth in the 2017/18 season, the Melbourne Boomers won through to the Grand Final against the Townsville Fire. They ultimately fell short but put in a tremendous effort to push the series to three games.

The Boomers have retained plenty of players from last season, including young stars, Monique Conti and Ezi Magbegor. Experienced powerhouses, Maddie Garrick, Jenna O’Hea, who has been named skipper this season are back, however the Boomers will need to cover the huge loss of Liz Cambage, who has dominated at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and in the WNBA. Cambage was named in the All Star Five after averaging a tournament-high 23.8 points for the Opals. She also broke the record for the highest amount of points scored in a game, and averaged the most blocks and rebounds per game in the WNBA.

In terms of signings, Melbourne has picked up American centre, Sarah Boothe, who hails from Stanford University. Young talent has also featured in Melbourne’s development squad additions, with 17 year-old Leah Santomaggio and 15 year-old Olivia Pollerd earning spots in the side.

 

PERTH LYNX

Perth Lynx is one of the teams to beat this season after ending the 2017/18 season on top of the ladder with 15 wins and six losses. However after missing out on the Grand Final, Perth would be hungry to taste premiership glory this season.

The Lynx has gotten right to work, signing American guard, Brittany McPhee, WNBA young star, Kaela Davis and Australian Under 17s representative, Shyla Heal. Davis made the All-Rookie team in the WNBA while playing for Dallas. Heal is a former captain of Australia, leading the side in the Under 17s Oceania Championship.

Veteran, Toni Farnworth has signed on for the 2018/19 season, and will continue as a co-captain. Farnworth will play her seventh season for the Perth Lynx. Winner of the 2017/18 Coaches Award, Alison Schwagmeyer has also put pen to paper for the 2018/19 season.

 

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES

The Sydney Uni Flames finished second on the ladder in the 2017/18 season with 14 wins and seven losses. The Flames had an equal win-loss record with the title winners, Townsville Fire, but didn’t make it to the Grand Final.

Guard, Susannah Walmsley has re-signed for the 2018/19 season after coming off an impressive season. This will be Walmsley’s third season in the WNBL. She will be joined by another guard in Sarah Graham, who has also signed on for the upcoming season. Alex Wilson and Shanae Greaves join a host of other re-signings, with Sydney retaining many players from the 2017/18 season.

The Flames have also poached Vanessa Panousis, who comes from the Adelaide Lightning. They’ve also latched onto Ohio local, Brittany Smart. Smart played for the Melbourne Boomers in the 2017/18 season and averaged 10.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and .5 assists. American forward, Amanda Johnson has also been recruited to the side.

 

TOWNSVILLE FIRE

Despite finishing third on the ladder with 14 wins and seven losses, the Fire had a brilliant finals series and topped it off with an emphatic win over Melbourne Boomers to take the title.

Townsville certainly has the drive to go back-to-back with four-time WNBL MVP, Suzy Batkovic announcing that the 2018/19 season will be her last. The Fire would love to go all the way to end Batkovic’s remarkable career on a high. Former Under 19 Australian captain, Mikhaela Donnelly has also re-signed in a bid to defend the Fire’s title.

WNBA draftee, Ally Malott has been added to Townsville’s roster for the 2018/19 season. Malott won the Latvian title last year and has also spent time with Washington in the WNBA. Former Under 19 Australian representative, Casey Samuels has also been added to the Fire’s line-up. She has played more than 100 WNBL games and has spent the last two years with the Swans Academy in the AFL.

 

UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA CAPITALS

The University of Canberra (UC) Capitals finished sixth last season with seven wins and 14 losses.

The Capitals have welcomed former Virginia Tech defender, Hannah Young to their 2018/19 roster. Young will be joined by 22 year-old guard, Kristy Wallace. Wallace has spent the last four years playing for Baylor University in Texas, and co-captained the side in her final year of the program.

Nineteen year-old point guard, Maddison Rocci has re-committed to the Capitals after an impressive rookie WNBL season. Keely Froling has also re-signed for a further two years, after previously playing college basketball in Texas.