Tag: steph reid

NBL1 North wrap: Round 5

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

WOMEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

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

MEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 5 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Ray Krause / Cairns Basketball

NBL1 North wrap: Round 2

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

WOMEN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Kieron Place Art and Photography

Experienced Flyers too good for plucky Fire

AN improving Townsville Fire outfit lost no admirers in their performance against Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) title favourites Southside Flyers, as the latter got up in a an entertaining 12-point victory. Townsville actually led at quarter time before the experience of the Flyers – led by Liz Cambage – took control to score 58 points to 41 in the middle two terms to all but secure the victory. Townsville did outscore Southside in the final term, but ultimately fell short.

It was an even opening term with the Fire winning it by a point to take a lead in their “away” game at home. Many were waiting for the Flyers to click, and it came in the second term, as Southside piled on 32 points to 24 in a high-scoring quarter. They rolled that momentum into the third term, hitting 26-17 and looking good with a 78-62 lead at the final change. The Fire hit back as the Flyers managed the load for everyone to get on the court, but it was just a little too late, going down in the 101-89 loss.

Southside was the more accurate team and it showed in the final result, topping the field goal (54-44 per cent), two-point (60-52 per cent) and three-point (41-28 per cent) accuracy, as well as dominating the assist count. The Flyers tacked up 29 assists to 14 showing their slick offensive transition skills, while still picking up more rebounds (43-39). The Fire had two more steals (6-4), and also two less turnovers (8-10) in what was an incredibly impressive ball-handling display. Townsville were good off the second chance points with 17-10, through in the end, the efficiency of the Flyers was the difference.

Cambage led the way with 31 points at 68 per cent efficiency from the field. She notched up a huge double-double with 13 rebounds – all defensive – as well as four assists and six blocks, feasting on her less experienced or younger opponents. Jenna O’Hea stood tall with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists on the night, as her team shared the points around. Leilani Mitchell (15 points, eight assists), Sara Blicavs (12 points, six rebounds) and Rebecca Cole (11 points, three assists) all hit double-figure points.

For the Fire, Lauren Nicholson was impressive with 21 points and four rebounds, with her partner-in-crime Shyla Heal knocking down 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in an all-round performance. Kate Gaze stepped up for her best game of the season thus far with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists, while Steph Reid (13 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals) and Zitina Aokuso (12 points, eight rebounds and two assists) both came off the bench to have crucial impacts.

The Flyers will now take on Perth Lynx on Saturday night, while Townsville Fire host Bendigo Spirit in the earlier game with both of tonight’s sides expected to win their respective encounters to close out Round 3. The Fire will get a second game the day after against the Spirit in an unusual fixture quirk, but this time as the visiting team.

2020 WNBL Round 1 weekday preview: Mackay and Townsville hubs tip-off as all eight teams commence

IN 2020 the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is a little different compared to usual, with the rounds stretching over more days with extra games. At Draft Central, we will preview the weekday games, followed by the weekend games separately to ensure the permutations in the second half of the round are as accurate as possible.

We tip-off Round 1 with all eight sides competing in the North Queensland hubs, starting in Mackay on Wednesday, and then heading to Townsville on Thursday in what should be a blockbuster opening round of action.

* Game times are local/AEDT

ADELAIDE LIGHTING vs. UC CAPITALS
Wednesday, November 11, 5/6pm (Mackay)

Opening the new season is 2019/20 finalists, Adelaide Lightning going up against reigning premiers, UC Capitals. The Capitals will be keen to retain their title in the 2020 shortened season despite losing a couple of key imports over the off-season. In the absence of volume shooter and league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final Series MVP Olivia Epoupa, the Capitals will have a slightly different starting five heading into the season.

The quartet of Australians crucial to the success fo the Capitals all re-signed with co-captains Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo, and rising stars Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all rejoining the side. Sydney Uni Flames’ Tahlia Tupaea was tipped to be the fifth member of the starting side for coach Paul Gorriss. Along with Tupaea, the Capitals have also brought in former Lightning talents Hannah Kaser and Ashley Taia to add some spice to the mix, as well as up and coming youngster Jade Melbourne.

While the Capitals largely have a known list, the Lightning will be vastly different to the team that fronted up last season. Chelsea Brook, Steph Talbot are the only two expected starters who got on court last season, with Jasmin Fejo predicted to play a key role in 2020. With veteran Lauren Nicholson heading north to Townsville and captain Nicole Seekamp retiring, the Lightning have brought in key player Marena Whittle, and had added talented college graduate Alana Smith but unfortunately injury has ruled her out for the year. Others who have joined returning back to the country include Taylor Ortlepp, Ella Batish and Carlie Smith, as well as WNBL talents Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni Flames), Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Abbey Wehrung (Bendigo Spirit).

The UC Capitals will head in as favourites for the clash coming in as reigning premiers and with more stability in their line-up, but the Lightning will be an exciting team to see how they gel.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Wednesday, November 11, 7/8pm (Mackay)

Two sides that will be keen to build on their 2019/20 season will be Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire who missed out on the post-season finals. The Fire will be no stranger to the weather conditions in the far north, but find themselves the visiting team in this encounter with the Lynx. The Fire have made a number of changes to invigorate their lineup with both young stars and experienced heads joining the team. The Lynx will also look largely different after some off-season changes, including assistant coach Ryan Petrik stepping up to replace outgoing head coach Andy Stewart.

The biggest intrigue of the match will be the changing of colours of Nadeen Payne and Darcee Garbin who effectively were involved in a trade with the players switching allegiances. Payne went from Perth to Townsville, whilst Garbin joined the Lynx from the Fire. Young gun Shyla Heal was the huge signing of the off-season for the Fire, with up-and-comers Megan McKay, Lara McSpadden and Courtney Woods all strengthening the outfit. Steph Reid crossed from Southside Flyers for more court time and enjoyed a strong QSL season, whilst Lauren Nicholson’s arrival from the Lightning added that experience needed at the Fire around the young talent.

The Lynx did not waste any time by announcing veteran and former Lynx star Sami Whitcomb back for the season, but unfortunately she was mutually released for family reasons. The re-signing of Katie Ebzery was as important as any, whilst Garbin was a welcome inclusion. The omissions are going to hurt, with not only Payne going, but Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer heading to Sydney Uni, and Marena Whittle joining Adelaide Lightning. Perth also brought in some local players with Kayla Steindl, Ashleigh Isenbarger and Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard all joining the fray, while Jessie Edwards signed on from the Lightning among a number of other re-signings.

It seems the two sides are at the opposite ends of the off-season success with Townsville bringing in a host of big guns, whilst Perth has lost a number of key players making it tough for the Lynx. With the home state advantage, expect the Fire to start off strongly here.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, November 12, 6/7pm (Townsville)

Tipping off Thursday nights’s action in Townsville, two sides that will believe they can go deep in the finals series go head-to-head. The Melbourne Boomers have kept a relatively strong line-up together, whilst Sydney Uni Flames have bolstered their hopes of pushing into the finals series. Given the losses the Lightning have had, the Flames are a huge chance to force their way into the top four, and alongside Townsville are the other side likely to crack into the finals.

The Boomers announced signing Tess Madgen from Townsville and quickly tied up Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor within the first month of the re-signing period. Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster all followed, with Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich and Rachel Antoniadou stepping up from NBL1 level. Possibly the most underrated signing of the period came in late October with the announcement that Tall Black, Ashleigh Karaitiana would join the side after a big QSL season and she will only strengthen that outfit. The three losses were Monique Conti to the Flyers, Paige Price to Bendigo and Chelsea D’Angelo out with an Achilles injury, but the Boomers are still a formidable unit.

The Flames will be an incredibly different outfit in 2020, possibly four of the starting five coming from other sides. June 24 marked a big day for the Flames, announcing he recruitment of Anneli Maley from Southside Flyers, and even bigger the coup of Lauren Mansfield from Perth Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer followed Mansfield to the Flames, while Kiera Rowe joined Maley in crossing from Southside. The inclusions replaced the likes of Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden who all departed, whilst Turkish-Australian national Funda Nakkasoglu was allowed to sign having dual citizenship being born in Melbourne. Natalie Burton also returned to her home country and will slot straight into the four spot with Lauren Scherf the other key starter for the Flames. Carly Boag (Finland) also returned home to Australia from Europe and will add to the strength of the side.

Melbourne Boomers have the known form and will be favourites in this game, but the Flames have a lot of unknown about them. That can work in their favour once they gel, and could be a dangerous team this season.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Thursday, November 12, 8/9pm (Townsville)

The final game of the first half of the round might be the most anticipated. Not necessarily due to the result, but more so to see the much anticipated starting five of the Southside Flyers. Last year’s runners-up have got enough Opals to open a jewellery shop, and they are favourites for the overall title. Some have suggested it could be the greatest line-up ever assembled, which could well be true which only adds to the pressure and intrigue. Bendigo Spirit will have the toughest assignment up first, with a much more inexperienced lineup compared to the Flyers.

The Spirit lost American Rebecca Tobin who chose to head to Romania, as well as Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide) and Shyla Heal (Townsville) who will all be big losses. They have signed up college returnee Georgia Pineau who should help provide some extra young talent to the team, as well as Amelia Todhunter and Piper Dunlop out of the NBL1 competition. Dunlop is a rising star and one to watch, whilst Mary Goulding has returned from Sweden, and Jennie Rintala crossed over from the Lightning. Paige Price adds some great young talent to the Spirit taking over from Heal, while the re-signings of Alicia Froling, Cassidy McLean and Tessa Lavey were crucial, with the latter also testing herself at AFL Women’s, but will be present in the hub.

Southside Flyers on the other hand went from strength to strength over the off-season. Losing crucial import Mercedes Russell to Turkey due to the no-imports rule, they set about re-signing everybody else. Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale and Rebecca Pizzey all signed on in between a host of incredible signings. Steph Blicavs crossed from Adelaide, Rachel Jarry stepped up from NBL1, and Monique Conti came over from cross-town rivals the Boomers. But by far the biggest both physically and metaphorically was Liz Campage with the WNBA champion the biggest signing of the off-season and turning the Flyers into the standout team. The Flyers did lose a few, with Steph Reid going to Townsville, Louella Tomlinson heading to Adelaide and Kiera Rowe going to Sydney Uni, but the inclusions far outweigh the omissions.

It is hard to look past Southside in any game this season just about, and when they are coming up against an inexperienced Bendigo lineup, the Flyers are comfortably the favourites in this one.

Picture: WNBL

2020 WNBL season preview – Part 2: Finalists to line up for another crack at title

IN the second part of our two-part Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season preview, we look at the four finalists from last year and where they stand. Expect them all to be there at the pointy end, getting stronger over the journey and making it a highly competitive season in 2020.

Southside Flyers

Without a doubt the premiership favourites and team to beat in the WNBL 2020 season. The Southside flyers have not only been able to retain key players, but added some elite talents with a starting five that could well be an international line-up. Over the off-season, they lost Mercedes Russell under the import rule, and then the experienced Louella Tomlinson to Adelaide Lightning. Steph Reid headed to Townsville Fire and both Anneli Maley and Kiera Rowe headed to Sydney Uni Flames.

Whilst those players provided great depth to the club, the Flyers brought in the biggest off-season coup of the lot, signing WNBA talent Liz Cambage to the roster. With Cambage an upgrade on an already elite Russell at the five, then adding in Stephanie Blicavs to join her sister at the club, as well as young gun Monique Conti, the Flyers were literally flying through the off-season. Aside from the inclusions, the Flyers re-signed almost their entire list, with Jenna O’Hea, Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole, Aimie Clydesdale and Leilani Mitchell among the key signings.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

On paper there is littler doubt this team could win it, littered with a ridiculous amount of Opals. Their talent is unmatched and they deserve favouritism.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

The only reason they might not is due to gelling reasons with such star power across the court. It is hard to imagine them struggling, and they will get to the finals alone on talent, but they will have a lot of top stars fighting for minutes which will be the envy of the competition.

CHANGES:

INS: Liz Cambage (International), Stephanie Blicavs (Adelaide), Monique Conti (Melbourne), Rachel Jarry (NBL1)
OUTS: Anneli Maley, Kiera Rowe (Sydney Uni), Steph Reid (Townsville), Louella Tomlinson (Adelaide), Mercedes Russell (International)
RE-SIGNINGS: Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale, Leilani Mitchell, Rebecca Pizzey, Taylah Gilliam, Saraid Taylor, Amy O’Neill

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Bec Cole
Leilani Mitchell
Jenna O’Hea
Sara Blicavs
Liz Cambage

>> Southside Flyers team preview

PREDICTION: 1st-2nd

The Southside Flyers are the team to beat in season 2020, with talent across the entire court. Not only is their starting five ridiculously strong, but even their bench is clearly a class above any others. They are the standout team and it would take a brave person to back against them this season.

UC Capitals

The reigning back-to-back premiers were quick on the trigger to announce a host of re-signings at the start of the off-season to secure their line-up for a crack a at a three-peat. Whilst it was announced early that they would be without their Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final MVP Olivia Epoupa, they were able to secure everyone else. Only young gun Gemma Potter departed the club for College in the United States, whilst the big guns such as co-captains Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all re-signed.

In terms of their inclusions, the Capitals added some extra strength to the line-up with Tahlia Tupaea and Brittany Smart both making the move from Sydney Uni Flames. Hannah Kaser was the other WNBL player to switch allegiances, coming from Adelaide Lightning, while Jade Melbourne took the step up from the AIS and Ashley Taia earned a contract following her QSL season. Abby Cubilo, Alex Delaney and Mikaela Ruef were the other players to re-sign with the reigning premiers.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

They have continuity in their team, they will have a fully fit Griffin and the team knows what it takes to win the title. They have done it twice back-to-back and the team is largely the same minus their couple of imports. If their young guns can step up, they are every chance.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Southside Flyers have brought in some imposing players, while Melbourne Boomers have not got any worse. It will be interesting to see if the Capitals can cover the loss of Nurse and Epoupa this season which will go a long way to determining their fortunes in 2020.

CHANGES:

INS: Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart (Sydney Uni), Hannah Kaser (Adelaide), Jade Melbourne (NBL1), Ashley Taia (QSL)
OUTS: Kia Nurse, Olivia Epoupa, Gemma Potter (International)
RE-SIGNINGS: Marianna Tolo, Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling, Maddison Rocci, Abby Cubilo, Alex Delaney, Mikaela Ruef

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Tahlia Tupaea
Maddison Rocci
Keely Froling
Kelsey Griffin
Marianna Tolo

>> UC Capitals team preview

PREDICTION: 1st-3rd

The UC Capitals are too good not to be there at the pointy end. They are a superb team, and whilst the Flyers will be hard to beat with all their firepower, expect the Capitals to give it a red hot crack and go for a three-peat. If they can play at the level they are capable of, they are the best chance of winning another flag.

Melbourne Boomers

The Melbourne Boomers have gone close the last couple of years, but have not been able to come away with any silverware. Remaining one of the most solid units over the off-season, the Boomers only lost a trio of young guns, whilst picking up a top talent from Townsville. Paige Price (Bendigo), Monique Conti (Southside) and Chelsea D’Angelo (Achilles, released) were the three main departures from the club, with the Boomers always relying on Australian talent, so the import rule did not impact them as much as other sides.

Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor and Kalani Purcell form a dominant four, and throw in the Fire’s Tess Madgen who has made the move to the Boomers, and Guy Molloy will head in with another title-contending unit. Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster re-signed as well as a number of state-league talents, including Tall Black shooter Ashleigh Karaitiana who could prove important coming off the bench.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

The Boomers are a settled unit with very few changes to the side that has challenged the last couple of years. The addition of Madgen is a positive one, and it is hard to see them not at least giving it a crack, even if they do fall short again.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Southside and UC Capitals still have the firepower, though the Boomers might be on par with the Capitals given their losses over the off-season. The Flyers will be hard to beat on paper, but the continuity of the Boomers over a short season might help.

CHANGES:

INS: Tess Madgen (Townsville), Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich, Rachel Antoniadou (NBL1), Ashleigh Karaitiana (QSL)
OUTS: Paige Price (Bendigo), Monique Conti (Southside), Chelsea D’Angelo (Achilles)
RE-SIGNINGS: Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor, Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck, Rachel Brewster

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Maddie Garrick
Tess Madgen
Ezi Magbegor
Kalani Purcell
Cayla George

>> Melbourne Boomers preview

PREDICTION: 1st-4th

The Melbourne Boomers are a tough team to beat, and it will take the best of the Flyers and Capitals to get it done. They are certainly among the top sides in the competition, and whilst the Flyers are deserving favourites, the Boomers have enough talent to step up in big games.

Adelaide Lightning

Even though the Lightning might be lower down on this list, there is genuine hope they can repeat their last two season and make finals. The loss of veteran, Lauren Nicholson would have hurt the Lightning, with Steph Blicavs the other massive out for the Lightning. Both players headed off to the east coast to play with Townsville and Southside, though the one benefit is that Blicavs missed last season due to her pregnancy, so effectively Nicholson is the only starting five net out. The other two that were due to come in but have since had to be released were state league talent Jasmin Fejo (pregnancy) and college graduate Alanna Smith (ankle) who would have provided some excitement. Natalie Hurst (retired), Jessie Edwards (Perth), Jessie Rintala (Bendigo) and Hannah Kaser (UC Capitals) were the others to depart.

The Lightning have brought in some vital experience though, with Sydney Uni’s Alex Wilson expected to slot into the guard spot alongside Perth’s Marena Whittle making that a pretty handy, and most importantly steady duo. Steph Talbot and Chelsea Brook provide some strength and consistency through the forwards, and whilst Brook might start as the five, bringing in another veteran in Louella Tomlinson from Southside means Brook might slide to the four. Abby Wehrung is a pretty handy sixth player, with some impressive state leaguers in Carlie Smith and Ella Batish also joining, and a quartet of international young talents in Taylor Ortlepp, Morgan Yaeger, Brooke Basham and Aimee Brett returning to Australia.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

Despite losing Nicholson and Blicavs, the damage to the team from last season that was effectively done was just Nicholson out, and a mix of youth and experience in. They have enough versatility to get the job done and bringing in veterans helps steady the team and allow them to gel quicker. This season should be more competitive and could allow for some upset wins.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

In a short season it still will take a little time to gel and adding extra talent to the starting five is great, but it will be interesting to see how they fare against the top three teams. They need a lot to go right to knock them off.

CHANGES:

IN: Marena Whittle (Perth), Taylor Ortlepp, Morgan Yaeger, Brooke Basham, Aimee Brett (International), Louella Tomlinson (Southside), Carlie Smith (QSL), Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni), Abby Wehrung (Bendigo), Ella Batish (NBL1)
OUT:  Lauren Nicholson (Townsville), Jessie Edwards (Perth), Jessie Rintala (Bendigo), Steph Blicavs (Southside), Hannah Kaser (UC Capitals), Natalie Hurst (retired)
RE-SIGNED: Steph Talbot, Chelsea Brook

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Alex Wilson
Marena Whittle
Steph Talbot
Chelsea Brook
Louella Tomlinson

>> Adelaide Lightning team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-6th

Overall the Lightning are not to be underestimated. There is every chance they force their way into the four. In a short season with a quick turnaround between games, it will be interesting to see how they first gel, and secondly deal with the body management given some of their older talents. Still an outside contender.

2020 WNBL season preview – Part 1: Bottom four sides looking to force their way into finals.

IN the first of our two-part Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season preview, we take a look at the four teams that missed out on finals last season and where they might land. Both the Townsville Fire and Sydney Uni Flames have made some exciting changes to their line-ups, whilst Bendigo Spirit has remained relatively stable, and Perth Lynx lost a lot of starters making it a challenging year. Here is how they are shaping up for the 2020 season and where we think they might finish.

Townsville Fire

After a season to forget in 2019/20, Townsville Fire will be gearing up to rise off the canvas and up the WNBL ladder. They added some much needed experience to their starting five line-up and it would not be completely irrational to think that last year’s wooden spooners could make the finals. In fairness, the Fire have lost some quality players who were either starters, or getting considerable minutes, with Abby Bishop released mid-season last year, and Bridget Carleton and Julie Vanloo forced out due to the WNBL’s import rule. Darcee Garbin headed to Perth and Tess Madgen moved to Melbourne, but the ins have been just as impressive.

The Fire have brought in experienced guard Lauren Nicholson who could make a deadly combination of experience and youth in the back court with young gun, Shyla Heal. The duo join Perth’s Nadeen Payne as exciting additions to the starting line-up, whilst tall Zitina Aokuso is effectively a new inclusion to the line-up after missing all of last year. Throw in Mia Murray who returns after a two-year stint off and the entire Townsville Fire starting five is brand new. That means they could completely shock everyone, or struggle to gel, but either way it makes it an exciting time. Others who have joined include Southside Flyers Steph Reid and Lara McSpadden from Sydney Uni, whilst Aliza Fabbro and Kate Gaze re-signed with the Fire. Megan McKay, Courtney Woods and Kelsey McDermott have all returned from overseas, whilst Sharna Thompson showed enough in Tasmania’s SBL to be given a shot on a list.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

They have a great blend of youth and experience, and there is enough talent to suggest they could go all the way. Going from wooden spooners to premiers is near-impossible, and they might not have the experience that some do, but the likes of Nicholson, Murray and Payne will be important.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Five starters, five fresh faces. That will be difficult to gel and they get a baptism of fire up first against title favourites Southside Flyers. In a shortened season a lot of the young legs could prove the difference in between making finals and not.

CHANGES:

IN: Shyla Heal (Bendigo), Lauren Nicholson (Adelaide), Nadeen Payne (Perth), Megan McKay, Courtney Woods, Kelsey McDermott (International), Steph Reid (Southside Flyers), Lara McSpadden (Sydney Uni), Sharna Thompson (TAS SBL)
OUT: Tess Madgen (Melbourne), Darcee Garbin (Perth), Bridget Carleton, Julie Vanloo, Abby Bishop (International)
RE-SIGNED: Mia Murray (returns after two seasons), Zitina Aokuso, Aliza Fabbro, Kate Gaze

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Lauren Nicholson
Shyla Heal
Mia Murray
Nadeen Payne
Zitina Aokuso

>> Townsville Fire team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-6th

It is every expectation the Fire avoid the bottom two, and they will be in the mid-table logjam with the Lightning and Flames to try and secure a finals spot. Regardless of where they finish, the Fire could well be the most exciting team in the league with plenty of upside to go with consistency and do not be shocked if they surprise a lot of teams with their run.

Sydney Uni Flames

The Sydney Uni Flames finished sixth last season, but were still five wins outside the top four. Expect that gap to close in 2020, but it will just be how much it can close as to whether or not the Flames can make finals. Sydney Uni still appears to have more about them than the bottom two predicted teams with Bendigo and Perth having either not gained much or lost too much respectively, whilst the Flames have added some talented players to the roster. In terms of their outs, Alice Kunek, Tahlia Tupaea and Jessica Kuster have departed, as have Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden. With a mix of starters and depth gone, the Flames needed to go on a recruiting spree.

They opted to bring in some familiar pairings with Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer from Perth Lynx which was a big coup for the club. Then they recruited Southside Flyers’ duo Anneli Maley and Kiera Rowe with the pair hopeful of seeing more court time this season. A big inclusion was veteran Opal, Natalie Burton who could play at the four or the five working in tandem with the ever-crucial Lauren Scherf. Twins Carly Boag and Christina Boag, and Funda Nakkasoglu also returned from overseas, while Shanae Greaves and Madeleine O’Hehir both re-signed as well. Sherrie Calleia returns coming off an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to rejoin the team.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

There are enough pieces in the team to form a competitive unit, and they have enough of a mix of bigs and smalls to challenge. The back court duo of Mansfield and Schwagmeyer will already have the connections, as will Maley and Rowe, so there will be less time needed to gel on the court.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

The top three teams still seem that touch above, and whilst the net improvement is there, it will still need a lot to go right to cause and upset and claim the title. They are in the hunt, but more of an outsider at this stage.

CHANGES:

IN: Anneli Maley, Kiera Rowe (Southside), Lauren Mansfield, Alison Schwagmeyer (Perth), Funda Nakkasoglu, Natalie Burton, Carly Boag, Christina Boag (International)
OUT: Jessica Kuster (retired), Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smat (UC Capitals), Lara McSpadden (Townsville), Alex Wilson (Adelaide), Alex Kunek (International)
RE-SIGNED: Lauren Scherf (contracted), Shanae Greaves, Madeleine O’Hehir, Sherrie Calleia

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Lauren Mansfield
Alison Schwagmeyer
Anneli Maley
Natalie Burton
Lauren Scherf

>> Sydney Uni Flames team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-7th

The Sydney Uni Flames are one of six teams that could genuinely win it, and they have got a nice balance of talent across the court. It will be tough to upstage the likes of Southside Flyers, but the Flames have been known to cause upsets and could push here.

Bendigo Spirit

Bendigo Spirit has lost a number of crucial players over the off-season with veteran Gabrielle Richards retiring, Rebecca Tobin forced out due to the import rule, Abbey Wehrung heading to Adelaide and young gun Shyla Heal moving to Townsville. Those four outs will sting, but fears for Bendigo’s season may not be that bad considering their re-signings and some handy inclusions.

Centring her team around Carley Ernst, Tracy York brought in Paige Price from Melbourne and Piper Dunlop from the NBL1 to provide the potential lost by Heal’s departure. Add in New Zealand-born forward Mary Goulding and college graduate Georgia Pineau as well as Adelaide Lightning’s Jennie Rintala, and the side has some depth. Cassidy McLean has had an extra 12 months to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, while Demi Skinner, Tessa Lavey and Alicia Froling will all be crucial cogs in the team, with Shelby Britten also an important re-signing.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

Bendigo does have stability despite the outs, and have brought in some up-and-coming talents who have potential. If the seasoned stars can produce, and the inclusions lift, anything is possible.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Just seem that rung below the top few teams on overall talent, though could use the season to also provide vital court time to the young ones coming through. Given they could not crack into finals last season and have lost more than they have gained in terms of known quantity, it will be a challenge.

CHANGES:

IN: Paige Price (Melbourne), Piper Dunlop, Amelia Todhunter (NBL1), Mary Goulding, Georgia Pineau (International), Jennie Rintala (Adelaide)
OUT: Shyla Heal (Townsville), Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide), Rebecca Tobin (International), Gabrielle Richards (retired)
RE-SIGNED: Carley Ernst (contracted), Demi Skinner, Tessa Lavey, Cassidy McLean, Shelby Britten, Alicia Froling

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Amelia Todhunter
Tessa Lavey
Demi Skinner
Alicia Froling
Carley Ernst

>> Bendigo Spirit team preview

PREDICTION: 7th-8th

The Spirit have finished bottom three the past three seasons and it looks likely to continue, though the goal would be to be competitive in every match. York is always looking to bring through the Bendigo youth which will set the Braves up for another successful dynasty like years gone past.

Perth Lynx

The Lynx have had the most challenging off-season with five of their top six players choosing to explore their options in free agency, with four heading to the east coast and WNBA talent Ariel Atkins ruled out due to the import restrictions. It left incoming coach Ryan Petrik a little hamstrung when it came to options, but he has brought in Darcee Garbin from Townsville with some WNBL experience, as well as a host of international young guns returning home.

Unfortunately due to personal reasons and mental health respectively, Sami Whitcomb and Maddison Allen both had to withdraw from the North Queensland hubs which meant the Lynx grabbed some additional players from the WA State Basketball League. The Lynx also signed Emma Clarke late who could well slot right into the starting five, alongside Garbin, captain and Opal Katie Ebzery, and international duo, Alex Ciabattoni and Alexandra Sharp. Though in that scenario the Lynx lack a little height, so Adelaide’s Jessie Williams could provide that as a natural center. They do have the flexibility with local talents in Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard and Ashleigh Isenbarger able to play the four or the five to allow Garbin to remain at the four.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

It would be a backs-against-the-wall effort under new coach and experienced assistant coach Petrik. They have unpredictability on their side and with a lot of college talent, opposition teams will have to adjust to some likely fast-paced an exciting basketball.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

There are too many outs with great experience and the ins, whilst having the potential to reach some impressive levels, there are just too many unknowns at this stage. With some bad luck over the off-season it will be tough for them to challenge the top teams, but expect them to get better as the season rolls on.

CHANGES:

IN: Darcee Garbin (Townsville), Alex Ciabattoni, Alexandra Sharp, Emma Clarke (International), Jessie Edwards (Adelaide), Ashleigh Isenbarger, Kayla Steindl, Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard (SBL)
OUT: Nadeen Payne (Townsville), Lauren Mansfield, Alison Schwagmeyer (Sydney Uni), Marena Whittle (Adelaide), Ariel Atkins (Import/Turkey)
RE-SIGNED: Katie Ebzery, Nes’eya Parker-Williams, Taylah Burrows, Jewell Williams

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Katie Ebzery
Alexandra Sharp
Alex Ciabattoni
Darcee Garbin
Jessie Edwards

>> Perth Lynx team preview

PREDICTION: 6th-8th

It is always tough to put any team last but some side had to land there, and after heartbreakingly missing out on finals last season following their impressive season before, it looks like the Perth Lynx were in for a tough year. Whilst they have brought in some great young talent both local and abroad returning home, the outs hurt plain and simple.

2020 QSL team review: Northside Wizards

IN a series wrapping up the 2020 Queensland State League (QSL) season, we take a look back at each of the 12 clubs in both the men’s and women’s competitions and how they performed across the season. We continue our review series with Northside Wizards that managed to pick up six wins between the two sides.

Men’s:

Position: 10th
Wins: 2
Losses: 9
For: 786
Against: 949

The men’s team started off the season in the best possible fashion, picking up an 11-point win over North Gold Coast Seahawks. From there though, the season fell away picking up just one win in 10 games – a 38-point thrashing over last placed Toowoomba Mountaineers – to finish with a 2-9 record.

Cameron Thew was the standout performer all season and was one of only three players to run out in all 11 games. Thew averaged team-highs in points (15.1) and rebounds (9.2), while also collecting 2.4 assists per game. Jacob Arthur was the other Wizards player to record double-figure points with 10.4 per game to go with 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while James Ringholt (eight games), had 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Others who stood out include Zach Williams-Hook (7.1 points, 4.2 rebounds), Luke Stewart (6.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists) and Mitch Elliott (6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists).

Women’s:

Position: 8th
Wins: 4
Losses: 7
For: 814
Against: 904

The women’s side also kicked off the season with a win against the Seahawks and then proceeded to have heartbreaking losses that could have ultimately changed the course of their year. Single-digit defeats at the hands of RedCity Roar (four points) and Brisbane Capitals (one) either side of a five-point victory over USC Rip City proved the Wizards could have started the season 4-0. Back-to-back wins over Toowoomba Mountaineers and South West Pirates gave them hope to reach the finals with a 4-2 record (could have been 6-0), but they fell away with four losses to finalists in the last four matches to bow out with a 4-7 season record.

Steph Reid was unbelievable all season and one of the big performers for the Wizards. Unfortunately she could only play seven games for Northside, knocking down 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists in an all-round starring role. Courtney Woods also managed the seven games and was instrumental with 25.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, while Regan Turnour-McCarty played every match for 13.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Saskia Gunness (10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds) only played the six games, while Georgia McCarron (5.4 points, 8.7 rebounds) was another who played every game and produced big numbers off the boards.

Picture: Brad Anderson

QSL Women’s Round 10 preview: Top three clash lights up final round

A TOP three clash between Southern Districts Spartans and Brisbane Capitals highlights a massive final round of Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s action this weekend. With seven games on show and only the two teams – Gold Coast Rollers and Ipswich Force – doubling up, it is all or nothing for the sides as they battle to earn a finals spot.

In the second up against third clash, the best offensive side is up against the second best defensive side in what is sure to be a thrilling clash. The Spartans are ranked third defensively themselves, whilst the Capitals rank sixth for points for, but just get it done in low-scoring victories. Brisbane is on a three-game winning streak since going down to the undefeated Logan Thunder by 39 points, claiming a tight three-point win over Gold Coast Rollers before winning by 41 points against top four side RedCity Roar, and 21 points over Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal.

The Capitals have only hit the ton once – 111 against cellar dwellers Toowoomba Mountaineers – but have also restricted their opponents to less than 80 points in all bar the loss to the Thunder (98). The last three matches, the Capitals have conceded a measly 51 points per game. On the other hand, the Spartans had piled on three consecutive tons in the competition, before dropping to 88 points against USC Rip City, though still had a massive 44-point win. With margins of 44 the past two matches, and then 70 and 24 the weeks before that, the Spartans have always had control of their matches. In their only loss of the season, they went within 15 points of Logan Thunder.

Madelyn Willey leads the way for the Spartans this season, dropping 21.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists from her 10 games. They have plenty of contributors across the board however with Natalie Taylor (17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists) and Kalani Purcell (17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists) both prolific. Rebecca Haynes has been dominant off the boards with 11.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, whilst Holly Smith is the other double-digit point-scorer with 12.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

For the Capitals, they have four players with six rebounds per game or more, and they happen to be their highest scorers as well. Georgia Woolley (15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds), Meg Essex (13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds), Madison Woodford (11.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Anna Cameron (8.6 points, 7.6 rebounds) are all hard to stop on the defensive end. They will need to be at their best to try and stem the firepower of the Spartans.

In other matches, Amy Lewis and the fifth placed Ipswich Force will be hoping to take their case up against RedCity Roar and Gold Coast Rollers, with the Rollers also travelling to Toowoomba to see if they can resign the Mountaineers to a winless season. Steph Reid and the Northside Wizards will try and cause a boil over against Mikaela Ruef and her undefeated Logan Thunder side, whilst Maddison Rocci finishes her season with USC Rip City going up against North Gold Coast Seahawks. In the final game of the round, a 10th and 11th placed battle between Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal and South West Metro Pirates should be a tight one.

QSL WOMEN’S ROUND 10 FIXTURES:

Saturday, October 10:

Toowoomba Mountaineers (12th, 0-10) vs. Gold Coast Rollers (6th, 5-4)
Northside Wizards (7th, 4-6) vs. Logan Thunder (1st, 10-0)
Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (10th, 3-7) vs. South West Metro Pirates (11th, 1-9)
North Gold Coast Seahawks (9th, 3-7) vs. USC Rip City (8th, 4-6)
Red City Roar (4th, 7-3) vs. Ipswich Force (5th, 5-4)
Southern Districts Spartans (2nd, 9-1) vs. Brisbane Capitals (3rd, 8-2)

Sunday, October 11:

Gold Coast Rollers (6th, 5-4) vs. Ipswich Force (5th, 5-4)

Picture: Lachlan Nuttall

QSL Women’s Round 9 preview: Ladder defining clash a virtual elimination final

A LADDER-defining clash between sixth placed Ipswich Force and seventh placed Northside Wizards headlines our match of the round heading into Round 9 of the Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s competition. Whilst both sit at 4-4 prior to the round tipping off, the Wizards play the 10th placed Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal and can move to 5-4 and leapfrog the Force ahead of their match. A loss, and the Force will have a game in hand heading into the match despite notching up the same amount of wins (four).

Northside is the visiting team in this encounter and will hope to bounce back after a devastating 14-point loss to Gold Coast Rollers last week putting their finals in doubt after back-to-back wins over Toowoomba Mountaineers and South West Metro Pirates in recent weeks. They come up against a Force side that has been in pretty good form, with a loss to the Spartans three weeks ago the only blemish in the past month. They have claimed wins over the Mountaineers, as well as USC Rip City and North Gold Coast Seahawks in the past two weeks. It was been a real turnaround in form from the Force who started the season with a 1-3 record and can go a long way to securing a finals spot with a win in this encounter.

Amy Lewis has been a vital player for the Force this season off six games, missing last round but has put up 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Supporting her well have been partners-in-crime Catherine Macgregor (16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists) and Rachel Mate (14.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists). The other player to have notched up double-figure points this season from five games is Georgia Ralph (12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists).

For the Wizards, Steph Reid has been working her magic in the competition, putting up 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists, being a real playmaker on the offensive end. The dominant rebounder and point-scoring prowess of Courtney Woods (24.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists)has made a huge difference to the side, while Regan Turnour-McCarty (12.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists) has also had some impressive games. One to watch off the boards is Georgia McCarron who averages more rebounds than points, with 9.1 rebounds to her 6.5 points this season.

The Wizards have the top-end talent with Reid and Woods, and this game could come down to whether or not the Force can nullify their impact as they tend to have the greater depth and have shown that in the past month with three wins from four games.

The other Friday night clash aside from the Wizards taking on Phoenix Teal is Maddison Rocci and her USC Rip City hosting the second placed Southern District Spartans in a must-win clash. Both these sides will have an extended break given it’s a Friday night game, but the evenness of the Spartans line-up – with Madelyn Willey, Natalie Taylor and Kalani Purcell – all able to dominate makes them a hard team to stop. Another team yet to be stopped is top of the table Logan Thunder, having gone nine straight from the season thus far. It will be up to Carleigh Patrick and the Gold Coast Rollers to see if they can find a way to put a dint in the Thunder’s armour with Mikaela Ruef in some ripping form.

In other Saturday games, third placed Brisbane Capitals will hope to keep in touch with the top two when Georgia Woolley and Meg Essex rock up to face the 10th placed Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal with Amy Browne the key player. Meanwhile in another big game, the ninth placed North Gold Coast Seahawks will need to find a way to restrict the damaging duo of international representatives, Ashleigh Karaitiana and Lauren Mansfield for the fourth placed RedCity Roar.

QSL WOMEN’S ROUND 9 FIXTURES:

Friday, October 2:

Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (10th, 2-6) vs. Northside Wizards (7th, 4-4)
USC Rip City (8th, 4-5) vs. Southern Districts Spartans (2nd, 8-1)

Saturday, October 3:

Brisbane Capitals (3rd, 7-2) vs. Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (10th, 2-6)
Logan Thunder (1st, 9-0) vs. Gold Coast Rollers (5th, 5-3)
Ipswich Force (6th, 4-4) vs. Northside Wizards (7th, 4-4)
RedCity Roar (4th, 6-3) vs. North Gold Coast Seahawks (9th, 3-6)

Photo: Brad Anderson

QSL Women’s Round 8 preview: Wizards to roll into town against Gold Coast

A MID-TABLE clash between Gold Coast Rollers and Northside Wizards is set to be the match of the round in the Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s competition. Both sides are delicately poised at four wins from seven matches and as close to the top handful of teams as they are from the bottom handful of teams. In other interesting matchups, third placed Brisbane Capitals take on fourth placed RedCity Roar, and eighth placed Ipswich Force travel to ninth placed North Gold Coast Seahawks.

Three of the other four matches feature a top four side up against a bottom three team with the top of the table Logan Thunder taking on last placed Toowoomba Mountaineers on Saturday, before backing up against the seventh placed USC Rip City on Sunday. Meanwhile second placed Southern District Spartans host 10th placed Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal, while fourth placed RedCity Roar lock horns with 11th placed South Metro Pirates in a warm-up to their huge top four clash on Sunday.

In the Rollers and Wizards clash, there is plenty on the line, with a win keeping in touch with the top four, but a loss potentially seeing them drop a couple of spots. The Wizards are on a two-game winning streak, albeit against the two bottom sides in the Mountaineers and pirates. They came within a point of upsetting Brisbane Capitals a few weeks back, and have also claimed scalps over the Seahawks and USC. They suffered their defeats at the hands of the Roar and Spartans as well as the Capitals, who are all title contenders. Having only travelled three times thus far in season 2020, the Wizards are 1-2 with a host of road games coming up.

After starting the season on fire with a couple of important wins over USC and then the Seahawks, Gold Coast Rollers have won just two of their past five games. Those wins came against Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal and South West Metro Pirates, whilst defeat came at the hands of the Spartans, Roar and Capitals – the identical three to the Wizards. It shows both teams are able to match it with the top teams for the most part, but fall a little short.

The Rollers share the load on offence with Carleigh Patrick leading the way, shooting 16.0 points per game from seven matches, as well as 7.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Not far behind her is Kisha Lee who has proven to be a handful off the boards with 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. Lilly Rotunno (11.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists) and Siarn Woods (10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists) have also been strong this season.

For the Wizards, Steph Reid and Courtney Woods are the two dominant scorers on the side. Both players average 24 points per game and have proven hard to stop on the offensive end, with Reid also averaging 4.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists, whilst Woods has averaged 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Regan Turnour-McCarty is the next highest shooter with 11.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists, while Georgia McCarron‘s 6.7 points and 8.7 rebounds also provides Northside with some support around the basket.

Saturday, September 26:

Logan Thunder (1st, 7-0) vs. Toowoomba Mountaineers (12th, 0-9)
Gold Coast Rollers (6th, 4-3) vs. Northside Wizards (5th, 4-3)
North Gold Coast Seahawks (9th, 3-5) vs. Ipswich Force (8th, 3-4)
RedCity Roar (4th, 5-2) vs. South West Metro Pirates (11th, 1-8)
Southern Districts Spartans (2nd, 7-1) vs. Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (10th, 2-5)

Sunday, September 27:

Brisbane Capitals (3rd, 6-2) vs. RedCity Roar (4th, 5-2)
USC Rip City (7th, 4-4) vs. Logan Thunder (1st, 7-0)

Picture: Brad Anderson