Tag: Tessa Lavey

2019/20 WNBL Round 15 preview: Capitals and Lightning look to make charge

IT is now or never for the two sides just outside the top two positions on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) ladder with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Adelaide Lightning needing victories if they are to force their way into the favourable finals spots. The season might be over for four teams, but pride is still on the line, and they can still impact the finals series with some upsets in the penultimate round of action.

UC CAPITALS vs. PERTH LYNX
Wednesday, January 22, 7pm
National Convention Centre

The standalone Wednesday night fixture is the re-scheduled Round 12 game between University of Canberra (UC Capitals) and Perth Lynx, which was delayed due to the recent heavy smoke plaguing the nation’s capital three weeks ago. With just two rounds to go, the WNBL deemed it was the right time and safe enough with the forecasted weather, for the game to go ahead. With Perth already scheduled for a Friday night game, the match had to be at least a couple of days earlier hence the Wednesday night time slot. This game will really add an extra element to the WNBL Round 15, with the Capitals able to put pressure on the top two sides. While the points differential means they cannot overtake the Boomers on one win alone, it moves them to within one victory of overtaking them. A loss however, and they could slip to fourth with an upset win for the Adelaide Lightning over Southside Flyers. So far this season the Capitals are 7-1 at home with only the Flyers having found the key to victory, and are coming off two vital wins over the Boomers and Flyers in Round 14. For the Lynx, the season might be over with a three and a half gap deficit to the Lightning, but they are the best of the rest and are the leading side to finish fifth on the table. In the two clashes thus far, the Capitals have got up by comfortable margins of 18 and 17 points in November and December respectively. Kia Nurse is coming off a 33-point game against the Flyers and now averages 20.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while Marianna Tolo has stepped up in the absence of teammates with 14.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in the center, while Maddison Rocci benefited from a step-up in time and role to post 19 points in the Capitals’ win in Round 14. Perth will hope to take greater advantage of a Capitals side missing Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling, with Katie-Rae Ebzery ever-consistent this season, posting 15.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Nadeen Payne (10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals) are the other two Lynx players who have started every match and will be crucial in the match.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. PERTH LYNX
Friday, January 24, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

Backing up from Wednesday night’s game, Perth travels south to meet Bendigo Spirit on Friday night. The Lynx will have a huge chance of collecting a win over the bottom placed side, even though they have struggled on the road with a 2-5 record that could be 2-6 by the game’s tipoff. Bendigo have been much stronger at home than away, winning four of 10 at home whilst not winning a game while visiting. The teams have played twice this season and the last time they met in Bendigo, the Spirit got up by 12 points in a great win. Perth sought revenge in the Round 13 match however, knocking over Bendigo by 19 points in Perth. Neither of these sides can make finals, but a win for the Spirit would move them closer to the Fire with the bottom two sides facing off in the last round, while the Lynx can gain some separation on the bottom three sides. Bendigo has just the two players who are averaging double-figure points with Carley Ernst and Abigail Wehrung recording 12 and 10.9 points per game respectively. Ernst also averages 6.6 rebounds per game, while Wehrung has been an inspiration coming off the bench. The Spirit have had just two players start every game, with Tessa Lavey (9.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists) and Kelly Wilson (8.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.4 steals) providing the best playmaking abilities in the team. For the Lynx, they would love to have Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins both up and firing in the one team, with the American duo providing great support of the boards; McGee-Stafford leading the team with 8.4 rebounds per game.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday January 25, 6pm
Townsville Stadium

Tipping off the Saturday night proceedings, seventh placed Townsville Fire host top two side, Melbourne Boomers in a bid to desperately improve from last round. The Fire were well beaten in both their matches and it does not get any easier here against a genuine title contender. At home the Fire are 3-5, while the Boomers are strong on the road with a 7-3 record and not afraid of winning in front of a hostile environment. On the two occasions the teams have faced off this season, Melbourne got up on both occasions, defeating Townsville by nine points back on October 27, and 16 points two months later. The Fire have missed Abby Bishop since she was mutually released from her contract, with the consistent performer averaging 15.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game from 14 games prior to her departure. In her absence, Darcee Garbin (14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Tess Madgen (12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists) have carried the load, while Bridget Carleton gets around the court and provides great offensive and defensive plays for the Fire. The Boomers have been steadily building over the season with lots of depth coming off the pine, and this game is a chance to try and gain some separation on the Capitals after the Boomers went down to the reigning premiers last week. A win would also move them closer to Southside setting up an unlikely charge for top spot if results go their way. Sophie Cunningham has been impressive of late, averaging 11.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while the towering duo of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor – who combine for 26.8 points and 14.8 rebounds – will also be a handful for the Fire in this game.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Saturday, January 25, 7pm
Dandenong Stadium

The other Saturday night game might be the most touted of the round, with a top four clash on offer and a result that will directly affect the finals make-up. If the Southside Flyers can get up over the Adelaide Lightning, expect the league’s newest rebranded side to take the minor premiership given the two-game gap on the second placed Boomers. At the same time, the Lightning will be almost certainly resigned to fourth spot, and meet the Flyers in the first week of finals, which could well happen anyway. However if the Lightning get up, then it opens the door for all top four sides, with the Lightning keeping the pressure on the third placed Capitals, while the Boomers could be knocking on the door of top spot with the Flyers potentially slipping up. These sides have played twice – both in Adelaide – with the Flyers getting up on December 1 by six points, before the Lightning returned the favour in Round 12 with an 11-point victory in front of home fans to all but lock up a top four spot. Now out at Dandenong, the Flyers are a difficult team to beat, having only lost to the Capitals twice and Sydney Uni once at home. The Lightning are 50 per cent on the road with four wins from eight games, but will have gained confidence from the big win last round. Mercedes Russell has been a star all season for the Flyers, pumping out numbers of 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the center position, well aided by the likes of Rebecca Cole (16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Leilani Mitchell (16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals), while Sara Blicavs has been the side’s top player in the last few weeks. For the visitors, Brianna Turner and Stephanie Talbot continue to create headaches for the opposition, combining for 31 points, 18.5 rebounds and three blocks per game. Lauren Nicholson has also been a consistent contributor for the Lightning, as has Nicole Seekamp who has stepped up in the past month.

UC CAPITALS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, January 26, 5pm
National Convention Centre

Depending on Wednesday and Saturday nights’ results, the UC Capitals could be battling for second spot with a win here against the Sydney Uni Flames. The Capitals need to defeat Perth Lynx and for Townsville to upset Melbourne, which granted is unlikely based on the Fire’s recent form and the Boomers’ ability to get the job done. However if it happens then it opens the door for the Capitals to access second spot with a win, and depending on the other Saturday night encounter between the Flyers and Lightning, might even give the reigning premiers a sniff at top spot. If the Lightning and Fire win, the Capitals could move to within one game of top spot, sitting pretty in second on the WNBL table. However, back-to-back losses this round would see the Capitals drop back below the Lightning in fourth spot. They are 7-1 on the table at home, while the Flames are 3-6 when on the road so they will need to defy the recent season history to cause an upset. The Flames are a much improved side on last year’s wooden spoon effort with Sydney Uni looking safe from that fate again in 2019/20. These teams have played twice this season, with the Flames causing a boilover back on October 27 with a six-point win over the Capitals, before UC clicked into gear a week later with a smashing 25-point victory. Olivia Epoupa is a versatile player who defies her 165cm height to be a real influence off the boards with 8.1 rebounds per game to accompany her 6.7 assists and 3.2 steals in a truly impressive effort. Along with Alex Delaney – who got her first start – and other youngsters in Gemma Potter and Abby Cubillo – who are getting vital time off the bench – the Capitals have plenty of depth to fill in for the injured Griffin and Froling. The Flames have had some strong contributors themselves this season, with Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) leading the way, while Jessica Kuster (12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals) and Alex Wilson (11.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds) have been strong, Lauren Scherf is also building some nice form of late and will be hard to stop in the center.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 14

IN a Draft Central Team of the Week first, our starting five players are made up of just two sides – the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Adelaide Lightning. Both sides had huge wins on the weekend, with the Capitals downing the top two teams, while the Lightning smashed Townsville Fire. In the 10-player Team of the Week, the sides made up 60 per cent of the representatives, with one player from four other sides – Perth Lynx, Sydney Uni Flames, Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers. After disappointing losses, neither Townsville nor Bendigo Spirit had a player in the team this round.

The UC Capitals’ trio of starters are the three that had absolutely remarkable weekends considering the mounting injury toll with star, Kelsey Griffin still out and Keely Froling also injured near the end of the first game. They smashed the Flyers on the road in a stunning performance, and along with the overtime win over Melbourne, earned three players in the Team of the Week. Kia Nurse averaged a massive 28 points, five rebounds and one steal per game on the weekend, joined in the side by two players who posted double doubles. Marianna Tolo makes the side again in center after recording numbers of 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals, while Olivia Epoupa had 11.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 4.0 steals in a huge couple of games.

Adelaide Lightning’s damaging duo of Stephanie Talbot and Brianna Turner round out the side in the starting forward spots. Talbot put up 16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal against the Fire, shooting at 53.8 per cent from the field. Her partner-in-crime Turner had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the big win. Nicole Seekamp also made the bench to make it three for the Lightning, and equal most with the Capitals in the side. The four remaining spots went to players of other sides, with Perth guard Katie-Rae Ebzery and Sydney Uni center Lauren Scherf in the side, as well as forwards from the top two sides in Sara Blicavs and Ezi Magbegor who put out two consistent performances for one win and one loss each.

Among those players in consideration and unlucky not to make the cut were Bendigo duo, Tessa Lavey and Carley Ernst, Townsville duo Tess Madgen and Darcee Garbin, Southside duo Rebecca Cole and Mercedes Russell, Adelaide’s Lauren Nicholson, Perth’s Marena Whittle and Melbourne’s Cayla George.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Olivia Epoupa (UC) – 11.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 4.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 30.8 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 28.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 43.2 FG%
C: Marianna Tolo (UC) – 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.5 blocks, 57.7 FG%
F: Stephanie Talbot (AD) – 16 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steals, 3 blocks, 53.8 FG%
F: Brianna Turner (AD) – 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 31.3 FG%

BENCH:

G: Nicole Seekamp (AD) – 12 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 45.5 FG%
G: Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 46.2 FG%
C: Lauren Scherf (SU) – 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 35.7 FG%
F: Sara Blicavs (SF) – 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 39.3 FG%
F: Ezi Magbegor (MB) – 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 73.9 FG%

WNBL Round 14 review: Capitals make stand with top two scalps

IN what could well be a memorable round in hindsight come the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals series next month, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals have made a stand by knocking off the top two sides. The now-fourth placed Capitals, along with the former-third placed Adelaide Lightning who also had a huge win, showed they are not making up the numbers and would be pushing for a top two spot in the final two rounds.

UC Capitals (76) defeated Melbourne Boomers (75)

The third last round of the WNBL could not have opened with a better game after two genuine title contenders went toe-to-toe until the reigning premiers emerged victorious following a one-point overtime thriller. The UC Capitals had to fight hard against Melbourne Boomers to keep their top two chances alive, sinking the Boomers in the first overtime by a point in what had been a see-sawing match to that point. The Capitals led by six points at quarter time, but the Boomers clawed their way back after that, reducing the margin to five by half-time, and then one by the final break before levelling the scores at the last buzzer. Despite the momentum of the past three quarters being with Melbourne, it was UC that stepped up and won thanks to a basket from an injured Keely Froling with great defence stopping the Boomers in the dying seconds of the match during the 76-75 Capitals’ win. Despite having a broken nose and cheek which was confirmed after the match following a collision with Sophie Cunningham in the fourth term, Froling played out the game posting 12 points, nine rebounds and two assists. She ably assisted the damaging duo of Kia Nurse (23 points, seven rebounds) and Marianna Tolo (22 points, nine rebounds), while Olivia Epoupa picked up eight points 16 rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a ridiculous effort from the French guard. For the Boomers, Cunningham reached a team-high 22 points, while Stella Beck (17 points, four rebounds) and Ezi Magbegor (14 points, four rebounds) were busy, as was Cayla George (eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks). Unfortunately for Froling, she will miss at least three weeks of action, bringing her up to the start of the WNBL finals series.

DC Medal: 3 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 2 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 1 – Kia Nurse (UC)

Adelaide Lightning (77) defeated Townsville Fire (60)

Over in Adelaide, the Lightning consolidated their third spot with an important 17-point win over bottom two side, Townsville Fire. It was a shared effort by the Lightning who burst away after an even first term. Neither team could be split at quarter time, but it was all Adelaide after that as the Lightning piled on 18 points to 11 in the second term and extended that lead to 14 by the final break. They did not stop there, winning the last term 16-13 to run out 77-60 victors in front of their home fans at Titanium Security Arena. Adelaide’s forward duo of Stephanie Talbot (16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Brianna Turner (15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks) again led the way as all starting five members reached double-figure points on the night. Lauren Nicholson (14 points, seven rebounds), Nicole Seekamp (12 points, four rebounds and nine assists) and Kathryn Westbeld (10 points, five rebounds) all provided presences off the boards, as Chelsea Brook got in on the action with eight points of her own off the bench. It was not as evenly spread for the Fire, with Tess Madgen leading the way thanks to 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Darcee Garbin (16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) picked up a double-double after her work rebounding the baskets. Julie Vanloo reached double-figure points with 10, as well as two rebounds and three assists, while Bridget Carleton (six points, six rebounds) and Christina Boag (eight points, six rebounds) tried hard.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AD), 2 – Brianna Turner (AD), 1 – Tess Madgen (TF)

Sydney Uni Flames (62) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (76)

Melbourne bounced back from their heartbreaking one-point loss at the hands of the Capitals to rebound with a 14-point win on the road against Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday night. The Boomers got off to an ideal start in the match, leading by three points at quarter time and then extending the lead out to seven by the main break. Sydney Uni managed to stem the bleeding in the third stanza, but the visitors went all out in the last term, piling on 15 points to eight to run away with the contest, 76-62. Magbegor led from the front with a game-high 25 points, five rebounds and four assists, while George (14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals) and Madeleine Garrick (13 points, four rebounds, seven assists and four steals) picked up some big numbers across the board. Coming off the bench, Monique Conti was busy with six points and four assists in a playmaking role, while Beck also reached double-figure points with 10, accompanying her two rebounds and two blocks. For the Flames, Brittany Smart showed her talent off the bench posting a team-high 18 points as well as three rebounds, while Lauren Scherf‘s dazzling form continued with a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in a huge effort despite the loss. They were the only two players to reach double-figure points as Jessica Kuster (six points, nine rebounds) and Alex Wilson (five points, six assists) both had inaccurate games on the scoring front but worked tirelessly.

DC Medal: 3 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Lauren Scher (SU)

Bendigo Spirit (76) defeated by Southside Flyers (91)

Southside Flyers’ remarkable season continued with a 15-point win over cellar dwellers Bendigo Spirit on the road. Heading into the match these teams were at opposite ends of the ladder and it showed in the first three quarters as the Spirit could not quell the fired-up Flyers. Southside burst out of the blocks to add 24-15 in the first term, and by half-time the margin was a whopping 16 points, The trend continued into the third with a 24-17 term to open up a 23-point advantage before Bendigo gave its home fans something to smile about with a solid final term to cut the deficit back to 15 but fell short 76-91. Rebecca Cole led the way for the Flyers with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Mercedes Russell‘s double-double season continued with 13 points, 12 rebounds and two assists on the night. Also racking up plenty of points were Leilani Mitchell (19 points, three rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Sara Blicavs (18 points, eight rebounds and two assists) in a strong starting five effort. Coming off the bench, Kiera Rowe was efficient with eight points at 75 per cent from the field. For the Spirit, Tessa Lavey was the dominant points-scorer with 20, as well as three rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Carley Ernst (15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks), and Abigail Wehrung coming off the bench (15 points, six rebounds) were also strong. After a big point-scoring effort last round, Shyla Heal only managed the four, but picked up a team-high eight rebounds on the night.

DC Medal: 3 – Rebecca Cole (SF), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Sara Blicavs (SF)

Perth Lynx (95) defeated Townsville Fire (62)

Finals might be out of the question for last year’s fourth placed side, but it did not stop the Perth Lynx making a huge statement at the Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday evening. The Lynx smashed fellow bottom four side, Townsville Fire on the way to a 33-point shellacking in front of home fans, winning three of the four quarters and putting in one of the most dominant 10-minute terms all season. The Lynx led by six points at quarter time and were out to a 13-point lead at the main break. Townsville reeled the home team back in by three to cut the deficit to 10 at the last change before Perth put the foot down in a one-sided affair seeing them slam home 37 points to 14 and blow the game out of the water in a massive 95-62 win. Alison Schwagmeyer came off the bench to lead the way for the winners, posting 21 points and four rebounds, while Marena Whittle (17 points, four rebounds and two assists) also provided great cover when injected into the game. Katie-Rae Ebzery was the Lynx’s best, picking up figures of 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while Lauren Mansfield (14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Nadeen Payne (10 points, six rebounds) also picked up double-figure points. For the Fire, it was Garbin who picked up the points, registering 19 points and five rebounds on the night, while Carleton had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Madgen had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 1 – Marena Whittle (PL)

Southside Flyers (74) defeated by UC Capitals (98)

The Perth-Townsville game was not the only statement made by a WNBL team on Sunday night, with reigning premiers UC Capitals making sure the competition had not forgotten about what they were capable of in season 2019/20. Despite missing both Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling to injury, the Capitals banded together and produced a remarkable performance on the road against the premier team of the competition this season. They made their intentions clear from the get-go with a 30-20 opening term and by half-time, the home crowd was silenced as the Capitals led by a whopping 18 points. While many would have forgiven them for not running out the game given the extra rotations for youth, the Capitals stepped it up, scoring a further 21-14 in the third term to lead by as much as 25 at the final break before Southside managed to get some respect back with a 20-19 final term in what was a horror showing, going down 74-98. Nurse was unbelievable posting a round-high 33 points to go with three rebounds and three assists, while Epoupa (15 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and two steals) and Tolo (13 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) both picked up double-doubles. Maddison Rocci thrived with season-high points of 19, as well as three rebounds and two steals, while Alex Delaney also impressed with 13 points and two rebounds. For the Flyers, Russell had a strong game of 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Blicavs had another good performance of 10 points and eight rebounds. Mitchell (14 points, five assists) was the other prominent scorer for the losing side.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 1 – Marianna Tolo (UC)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

29 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
28 –
27 –  Cayla George (MB)
26 –
25 –
24 –
23 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
22 –
21 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
20 – Brianna Turner (AL)
19 –
18 –
17 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
16 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Alice Kunek (SU)
15 – Kia Nurse (UC)
14 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
13 – Abby Bishop (TF)
12 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Darcee Garbin (TF)
11 – Keely Froling (UC), Leilani Mitchell (SF)
10 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Ezi Magbegor (MB)
9 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), Marianna Tolo (UC)
8 – Carley Ernst (BS), Bridget Carleton (TF), Tess Madgen (TF)
7 – Jessica Kuster (SU), Sara Blicavs (SF)
6 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Rebecca Cole (SF)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS)
3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Tessa Lavey (BS), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Shyla Heal (PL), Mareena Whittle (PL)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Julie Vanloo (TF)
1 –  Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU), Anneli Maley (SF), Stella Beck (MB), Abigail Wehrung (BS), Kathryn Westbeld (AD), Lauren Scherf (SU)

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 14 – Make or break round for Capitals

CLASHES against the top two sides makes Round 14 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) a belter for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. Aside from those couple of thrilling contests, Adelaide Lightning is still looking to keep a step ahead in third, while the Boomers and Flyers hope to solidify their top two spots ahead of finals.

UC CAPITALS vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 17, 7pm
National Convention Centre

Opening up the weekend is a huge top four clash between reigning premiers, UC Capitals and Melbourne Boomers. With a four-game gap between fourth and fifth, the Capitals are secure in the knowledge they will play finals, but will hope to win this game to draw one win closer to the top two Boomers. Finishing fourth means the Capitals will not be able to host two home finals in the series, and will be travelling for the majority of the time – predominantly to Victoria. If they can win, then it leaves the race for second wide open, as the Southside Flyers look to have secured top spot on the WNBL table. In the two previous meetings the teams are one win apiece with the Boomers thrashing the Capitals by 35 points back in Round 3, before the Capitals earned a hard-fought three-point win a couple of weeks later. The Capitals have proven to be near-impossible to beat at home with a 6-1 win-loss record there, though the Boomers are just as impressive on the road with six wins from eight encounters. In the absence of injured star Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling has stood up of late to be a bonafide starter, posting 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, teaming well with the equally impressive Marianna Tolo (13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks). Tolo will be particularly important to try and quell the influence of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor of whom the pair of forward-center’s combining for 26 points and 15 rebounds.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, January 17, 7pm
Titanium Security Arena

Down in South Australia, third placed Adelaide Lightning will be keen to take advantage of the result from the Capitals-Boomers clash and either move one win closer to Melbourne or one win further away from UC. The season is done and dusted for Townsville who sit four and a half games outside of fourth spot. The Fire will still be keen to have a strong finish to the year and push for fifth spot, and back-to-back wins over Round 14 would likely see them achieve that spot, albeit temporarily. The Lightning are fairly strong at home with a 6-3 win-loss record, while the Fire on the road have been shaky to say the least, winning just two of nine attempts this season. Both of the clashes between these sides in the 2019/20 season have been in Townsville with the Lightning easily taking the wins both times thanks to margins of 18 and 26 points respectively. Brianna Turner (16.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) has been a ray of consistency this season, combining well with the all-round efforts of Stephanie Talbot (14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game). Nicole Seekamp has been steadily building in the guard position, while the inclusion of Kathryn Westbeld in replacing Crystal Langhorne as a forward has been a positive one. For the Fire, Abby Bishop has missed the last few games but it has not hurt the Fire who have recorded back-to-back wins and jumped off the bottom of the table. Tess Madgen (12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) have been quite handy for the team over the course of the season.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday, January 18, 5pm
Brydens Stadium

In what will be a quick turnaround for the Boomers, Melbourne heads from the nation’s capital to Sydney for a match against Sydney Uni Flames. A couple of wins could see them draw level with Southside Flyers, but a couple of  losses all but rules them out of a run for top spot. Not only could that be the case, but both third placed Adelaide and fourth placed UC would be on the Boomers case heading into the final two rounds of the season. Sydney Uni have won three of eight at home, while the Boomers are confident on the road and will start favourites despite the short turnaround. Player management will be crucial for the visiting side over the weekend as the Boomers have one eye on the finals series. In the two matches this year, Melbourne has brought home the chocolates on both occasions, winning by 13 points in Melbourne before toppling Sydney Uni by 23 points on the road. For the Flames to win they will need to be at their best, led by Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Jessica Kuster (12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks). Lauren Scherf had a standout game last season and is averaging eight points and eight rebounds per game, and will need another huge one to topple the likes of George and Magbegor. Restricting the Boomers’ bigs will be key to victory, though Sophie Cunningham (11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds) and Lindsay Allen (15.3 points, 4.9 assists) are a couple of Americans who continue to cause headaches for the opposition.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, January 18, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

In the most anticipated one-sided game of the round, top takes on bottom when Southside Flyers travel up the highway to face Bendigo Spirit. The Flyers have had a superb first season in the WNBL after the rebrand from Dandenong Rangers, sitting two games clear with 14 wins from 17 games, while Bendigo has struggled at times with just four wins from 13 games. The one positive heading into this match is the fact that all four of Bendigo’s wins have come at home, though Southside are 8-1 on the road. In their two previous encounters this season – both at home for Southside, the Flyers have won by eight and 13 points. Bendigo’s Carley Ernst is the key rebounder in the side, picking up 6.7 boards a game to accompany her 11.8 points. Kelly Wilson (8.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds) and Tessa Lavey (8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are others who have had strong seasons despite the unfavourable results for the Spirit. The Flyers have had no shortage of contributors, and Mercedes Russell has set the tone as the premier center in the competition, averaging a double-double of 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Rebecca Cole (16.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (15.9 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists) are others have worked hard, playing as important guards in the ladder-leading side.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 19, 2pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

In one of two Sunday games, Perth Lynx play their first game of the round against a Townsville Fire side travelling across the border after their clash against the Lightning on Friday night. The Lynx would need incredibly favourable results to have any chance of making finals, sitting four games outside of the top four with just two rounds remaining. Realistically it is beyond last year’s finalists, though ensuring they do not finish in the bottom two would also be a huge motivation to win this match. The Lynx are 4-5 at home, while the Fire are only 2-7 on the road so expect the Lynx to be favourites without being a sure thing – especially considering Townsville toppled them back on November 2 in Western Australia by five points before Perth sought revenge with a five-point win of their own up in North Queensland. Perth has a number of players who have produced solid performances throughout the year, with an even team performance rather than standout individuals. Katie-Rae Ebzery (15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals) has led the way from the likes of Alison Schwagmeyer (15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.7 points, 4.6 assists). While the Australian cohort of the Fire have been up and about, the international imports in Bridget Carleton (11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Belgian Julie Vanloo (8.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists) have also contributed this year.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. UC CAPITALS
Sunday, January 19, 5pm
Dandenong Stadium

The match of the round could well be the final game of the weekend. The top-of-the-table Southside Flyers make the trip up to Canberra following a night clash with Bendigo Spirit the day before, to take on the UC Capitals in a ladder-defining clash. The Flyers can lock up top spot with a big weekend, while a couple of losses could see the Boomers pounce on top spot. Arguably the Capitals have even more to lose if they go down in their clashes against the top two sides because it would rule them out of a top two spot and a double home final. These sides have played twice this season with the Capitals winning on the road to hand Southside its first loss back in early November, before the Flyers knocked off the Capitals in their only loss at home. While Southside seldom lose at home, the Capitals have shown the formula to do it, and it could be a thrilling contest. The forwards have been good at providing some strong rebounding and point-scoring abilities with the likes of Jenna O’Hea (14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and Sara Blicavs (13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds) leading the way for the Flyers. The Capitals have an equal amount of enviable depth with other starters Kia Nurse (19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds), Olivia Epoupa (7.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists) and Maddison Rocci (7.6 points, 2.5 assists) all crucial in combining for a successful team this season.

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 10 – Flames and Fire need to ignite in pre-Christmas round

IN the final Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) round prior to Christmas, there is plenty at stake for sides, with some last chances to stay in touch with the top four, and the opportunity for top sides to gain a vital advantage over title contenders heading into the new year.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, December 19, 7:00pm
Bendigo Stadium

In a standalone game in Bendigo on Thursday night, two bottom three sides battle it out in what could well be the last chance for these sides to remain in contention for a finals spot. The Spirit will travel up to Canberra the next day to take on the Capitals on Saturday, but will be keen to break their seven-game losing streak with a victory over Sydney Uni Flames. For the Flames, it will be about bouncing back from the disappointing loss to Townsville that resulted in the Flames slipping to sixth on the ladder. Now two and a half games from fourth, the Flames really need to win this one against the last placed side. In their one previous matchup this season, Sydney Uni got up in Bendigo by five points back on November 29. The Spirit hold a 2-4 record at home, while the Flames are only 1-6 when on the road. Bendigo has an even team across the board, with Carley Ernst having a big game last round, and now averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds, while Demi Skinner has shown she can come off the bench or play a role in the starting team, averaging 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds this season. An important player who has been building nicely is Rebecca Tobin, with the forward-centre averaging a double-double of 8.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. For the Flames, Alice Kunek has been a scoring machine this season, averaging 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. American duo, Colleen Planeta (15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds) and Jessica Kuster (12.2 points, 6.6 rebounds) have both been prominent on the attack and off the boards for Sydney Uni. Bendigo has its best chance to win in some time, but Sydney Uni’s only win on the road came in Bendigo, so the Flames will be feeling confident.

 

UC CAPITALS vs. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Saturday, December 21, 5:00pm
National Convention Centre

Coming off the game against Sydney Uni, Bendigo heads to the nation’s capital to face the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals on Saturday evening. In the side’s only other clash this year back in Round 8, the Capitals got up comfortably by 25 points, 91-66. At home, the Capitals are near-unbeatable, losing their first game to ladder leaders, Southside Flyers last round and will be hungry to bounce back and add another win to their current 5-1 home record, the second best of any side this season. The Spirit are yet to win on the road, which does not bode well for the side, with Bendigo needing a massive effort to try and topple the reigning champions in this game. Some Bendigo players that will need to assist those who have been strong this season are guards Tessa Lavey (9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists) and Kelly Wilson (9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists), while American import, Marte Grays (6.8 points, 4.1 rebounds) is another one to keep an eye on. The Capitals have no shortage of talent on the roster, with the scoring machine in Kia Nurse (20.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists) leading the way. The 2018/19 WNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP), Kelsey Griffin had a quiet game last round with just four points, but is averaging a double-double of 16.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Keely Froling has enjoyed a mix of starting and coming off the bench this season, with 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds, while Marianna Tolo has been one of the top centers this season, posting up 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds from 10 games. The UC Capitals will head into the game as heavy favourites and one can only expect they come out on top in this one, especially with what is on the line. However, if Bendigo do not collect a win this round, a line can be put through the Spirit’s finals chances.

 

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. PERTH LYNX
Saturday, December 21, 6:00pm
Townsville Stadium

Heading north on Saturday night, Townsville Fire hosts Perth Lynx in a battle of two sides that grabbed relieving wins on the weekend just gone. Townsville got up over Sydney Uni, while Perth took down Melbourne Boomers. Now travelling to the other side of the country, the Lynx will hope to reverse the result from earlier in the season, when Townsville flew home with the points in a 93-88 win in Perth. At home, Townsville is two wins from five encounters, but Perth has proven to be even more shaky on the road with a 1-5 away record thus far this season. A win for Perth would see the Lynx move to within one and a half games of fourth spot, while a loss for Townsville would seemingly all but rule the Fire out of the finals race. A win however, and the Fire would draw level with Perth and only be points difference away from that fifth spot. Despite a quiet weekend last weekend, Abby Bishop has been the key player for the Fire, averaging 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. A couple of forwards who have really hit their straps over the past month are Darcee Garbin (14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Bridget Carleton (11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists). Add in Tess Madgen (11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists) and the Fire have an underrated quartet of scorers. The Lynx also have an even spread across the board with some great depth on offer, but have been unlucky with many games just not falling their way. Alison Schwagmeyer continues to impress off the boards with 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while Katie-Rae Ebzery is strong across all areas with 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Imani McGee-Stafford failed to score last round, but put up double-digit rebounds, and has averaged 9.5 rebounds per game to accompany her 11.5 points. Lauren Mansfield is the other player flying under the radar, averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Perth will start favourites, but this game will go down to the wire.

 

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, December 21, 7:00pm
Dandenong Stadium

After a game in Bendigo on Thursday night, Sydney Uni turns its attention to the ladder leaders and red-hot Southside Flyers who have only dropped one game in seven at home. The Flyers are yet to lose to anyone outside of the UC Capitals, and they even sought revenge on that debt owed with a win over the Capitals last weekend. The Flames on the other hand remain to look shaky, with last year’s wooden spooners having made noticeable improvement, but are still an outside chance of finals, needing to win at least one game this weekend to remain in the finals race realistically. Victory, and a loss to Adelaide Lightning the next day would move the Flames to within half a game of fourth spot, but a loss – or even worse two losses – and a win to the Lightning could see them drop back to a massive four and a half games behind. The Flyers have had a remarkable season, their first since the rebranding of the Dandenong Rangers. Mercedes Russell has been an overwhelming success, as the American import continues to dominate in center with 16.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Rebecca Cole has proven to be a reliable scorer week-in, week-out averaging 16.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while Sara Blicavs has averaged 6.5 rebounds to go with her 13.8 points. Add in Jenna O’Hea (14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals) and Leilani Mitchell (15.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals), and the Flyers have an impeccable starting five. Every player in the starting side averages at least a steal per game, showing their willingness to run both ways and remain alert throughout the contest. For the Flames, they do have those impressive numbers from the likes of Planeta, Kuster and Kunek, while Alex Wilson (12.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists) is another player continuing to play her role throughout the season. Forward-center, Lauren Scherf (6.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists) is one who always causes headaches around the defensive boards. Southside Flyers will head in as strong favourites in this one, with the Flames’ task made all the more difficult by being on the road.

 

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Sunday, December 22, 5:00pm
State Basketball Centre

In the final game prior to Christmas, Melbourne Boomers will be keen for an early present with a victory over fourth placed Adelaide Lightning. After a loss on the road to Perth Lynx last weekend, Melbourne could maintain second spot with a victory here, though a loss would see them likely drop to third with the UC Capitals facing the bottom side in Bendigo Spirit. The stakes are just as high for Adelaide, a side that has been in some good form over November, sitting fourth, but almost on its own with two games adrift of the Capitals in third, and two and a half games clear of Perth in fifth. A win, and the Lightning ease the pressure on the chasing teams, as well as add pressure on the top three sides, but a loss would hurl them back to the mid-table logjam. At home, Melbourne is 4-2, while the Lightning is 2-3 on the road this season. The last time these side met, Melbourne got the win in South Australia by 14 points back on November 22. Cayla George has been instrumental for the Boomers this season, rarely playing a bad game and posting up 14.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. George and her partner-in-crime in the blocks department, Ezi Magbegor (11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks) deny the opposition scoring chances close to the basket. Lindsay Allen (15.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game) is the leading scorer for the Boomers this season, while Madeleine Garrick (11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals) flies under the radar with solid performances. For the Lightning, the damaging duo of Stephanie Talbot (16.1 points, 8.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals) and Brianna Turner (15.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks) were both phenomenal last round and gone to another level as the season has progressed. Lauren Nicholson is never far from the action, averaging 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while Nicole Seekamp‘s playmaking ability (12.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.1 steals) creates a point of difference within the side. Melbourne will be confident at home in this game, but Adelaide is known to cause upsets, and the Lightning could make a move to head into Christmas with a win on the board.

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 9 – Top three clash to end round on a high

A MASSIVE clash between Southside Flyers and University of Canberra Capitals on Sunday caps off a split round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action which sees the Flyers and Townsville Fire open the round on Friday night, then back up with second games. Plenty is on the line in the other games between Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 13, 7.30pm
Dandenong Stadium

In the opening game of the round, top of the table Southside Flyers host bottom two side, Townsville Fire at Dandenong. The Fire leapt off the bottom of the table last round following a nice win over the now cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit by 14 points. The Fire had won just one of the eight games prior to that victory, and still remain with just two wins from nine games – the complete opposite to Southside enjoying a four-game winning streak for 10-1 ladder leaders. The matchup will be the third time these sides have clashed this year, and the Flyers have unsurprisingly won both, winning by nine points in Round 1 over the Fire, before completely taking control in the second game on November 23, scoring 91-59. Mercedes Russell will once again be a key player in the center for Southside, averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and likely to be the difference on court. Leilani Mitchell (16.2 points and 6.0 assists) and Rebecca Cole (15.9 points and 3.8 assists) have been important in the guard positions for the favourites, while Townsville has had some strong individual performances from its forwards. Abby Bishop has been the shining light in season 2019/20 for the Fire, averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Darcee Garbin is coming off an impressive performance last week and will be hoping to add to her 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and help Townsville cause a huge upset. Both these teams play a second game in Round 9 on Sunday in different states, so management will be key.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Titanium Security Arena

Heading west to South Australia, the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning are narrowly clinging to a finals position at this point of the season, just one and a half games clear of Sydney Uni, and two and a half games clear of Perth and Townsville. Whilst it may seem comfortable, Adelaide is three games away from the top three, and had a couple more losses than any of the sides about it. Having left the door to the top four ajar with a loss to Sydney Uni last week, Adelaide must simply rebound with a victory at home against this season’s cellar dwellers. Bendigo dropped to the bottom of the table with a sixth consecutive loss last weekend, going down to previous ladder carriers, Townsville. With the equal most games played in the league at 11, Bendigo must find a way to flick the switch and make a run from this point, with its season on life support if a change does not happen soon. The positive for Bendigo is that one of its wins did come against Adelaide, getting up by 13 points earlier in the season, before going down by 28 points in a forgettable performance on the road. Stephanie Talbot has been a consistent player for the Lightning this year, posting up 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, sharing the load off the boards with Brianna Turner (14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds). Lauren Nicholson (15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists) has also been prominent as expected, while the introduction of Kathryn Westbeld (11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) over the past three games has helped. The Spirit have one of the most even teams across the board, with no one standout player. Their highest scorer is Tessa Lavey, averaging just 10.7 points, as well as 3.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Kelly Wilson (9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Rebecca Tobin (8.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2,0 assists) are others who have had some seriously dominant moments, but it is just piecing it all together.

PERTH LYNX v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Continuing the trip west down the highway, Perth Lynx host Melbourne Boomers in Western Australia with last year’s finalists season slowly slipping away. The Lynx have to see this as a must-win, losing their past four games and winning just three from 11 to sit two and a half games adrift of fourth spot. The good news for Perth is, two of its wins have come at home, though it has hardly been a fortress, dropping three games at the same time. For the Boomers, the road trip holds no fears, recording four wins from five games when travelling and they only have to look to last week for form when Melbourne got up over Perth by nine points at the State Basketball Centre. The last time these two sides played in Perth was last season, when the Lynx got up by 14 points. Alison Schwagmeyer has been superb for the Lynx this year, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with fellow Americans Imani McGee-Stafford (13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Ariel Atkins (9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds) when they played. Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a reliable option at the guard position, averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. The Boomers have had plenty of contributors across the list, with Cayla George being enormous as one of the bigs, averaging 14.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Lindsay Allen (16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists) are others

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Townsville Stadium

In what will be Townsville’s second game of the round, the Fire will be hoping to burn brighter and faster than their opponents when Sydney Uni Flames come to town. Back-to-back wins for Townsville will be crucial in keeping the faint hope of finals alive, but it will be a tough ask given Sydney Uni have a top four spot on the line with a win. The points difference is too great to immediately leapfrog Adelaide Lightning into a finals position, but the Flames will need to win to keep touch with the top four given the Lightning also play the bottom of the table Bendigo Spirit. These two sides have only clashed the once thus far in season 2019/20 with Sydney Uni getting up by nine points at home on November 7. Last season when the Flames finished on the bottom, Townsville won all three head-to-head encounters and will hope to channel that energy for this game. Aside from Bishop’s impact and Garbin’s recent form, Tess Madgen (11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Bridget Carleton (10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) are the other two Fire players who average double-figure points this season. For the Flames, Alice Kunek averages a team-high 17.9 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Colleen Planeta‘s best is as good as anyone else in the competition with the American posting up 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, slightly more than American teammate, Jessica Kuster. The forward has sank 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but has shot at a deadly 60.2 per cent from the field. Sydney Uni will be favourites in this game, but Townsville has its season on the line in this clash.

UC CAPITALS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 15, 5pm
National Convention Centre (Canberra)

The best game has been saved until last with third placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting top of the table Southside Flyers in the nation’s capital on Sunday evening. The Capitals are the only side to have penetrated the otherwise unflappable defence of the Flyers, winning 91-72 on the road in one of the performances of the year. It gives the Capitals great confidence coming into this clash now they return home, while for Southside, there is perhaps further motivation on top of getting the win by levelling the two teams head-to-head for this season. The Capitals’ starting five is superb, and with the success that has come, they have started blooding some youngsters as well. Kia Nurse (21.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists) is the key scorer, while Kelsey Griffin (17.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals) is once again a Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender. Olivia Epoupa (8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.2 steals) is not a huge scorer but just contributes across all areas, while Gemma Potter has come off the bench every week gaining valuable minutes for future development. A couple of others for the Flyers who have been important up the forward end are Sara Blicavs (14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists) rounding out a strong starting five with Russell, Mitchell and Cole, even with the bulk of the scoring only come from those players. The Capitals depth might see them turn the tables on Southside, and have a six-game winning streak themselves, but one thing is for sure, this game is going to be a cracker.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 8

IN an action-packed weekend of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action, our Draft Central WNBL Team of the Week for Round 8 was difficult to pinpoint. Plenty of players, particularly in the guard position stood tall and produced some memorable individual performances, while a number of forwards also picked up big numbers. Overall, Adelaide Lightning, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers all had two players in our team, while Bendigo Spirit was the only side without a member in the 10-player team.

Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot earned a coveted starting guard position with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and 2.5 blocks in one of the top weekend’s of any player. She was joined in the team by teammate, Nicole Seekamp, while Lauren Nicholson was one of the more unlucky omissions. Also in the starting guard position was high volume shooter, Kia Nurse who poured on 32 points, three rebounds, three assists and one block, joined in the team by regular Team of the Week member, Kelsey Griffin. Starting in the center was Melbourne boomers’ Cayla George who earned the spot rather than a forward position because her effort of 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals was too good to ignore.

Moving onto the starting forwards, Sydney University Flames’ Colleen Planeta and Townsville Fire’s Darcee Garbin had outstanding performances to be their team’s sole nominee in the Team of the Week, but also round out the starting side. Planeta scored 28 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and one assist for the Flames, while Garbin finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal for the Fire. Looking to the bench, Perth Lynx’s Imani McGee-Stafford was named in the guard spot, while Southside Flyers’ duo Mercedes Russell and Jenna O’Hea both make the side in the bench center and forward positions respectively.

Among the other unlucky players to miss out were Melbourne’s Madeleine Garrick and Lindsay Allen, Southside’s Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs, Sydney Uni’s Alice Kunek, Bendigo’s Tessa Lavey, Townsville’s Tess Madgen and UC Capitals’ Marianna Tolo who all came into consideration for a spot in the side.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Stephanie Talbot (AL) – 22.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.5 blocks, 41.7 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 32 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, 57.9 FG%
C: Cayla George (MB) – 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 40.6 FG%
F: Colleen Planeta (SU) – 28 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 55.0 FG%
F: Darcee Garbin (TF) – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 68.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Nicole Seekamp (AL) – 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 36.3 FG%
G: Imani McGee-Stafford (PL) – 12.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 42.9 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 50.0 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 66.7 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) – 22 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%

WNBL Round 8 review: Southside edges out Boomers in top-of-the-table clash

THE top-of-the-table Southside Flyers put distance between themselves and the second seeded Boomers, after edging out Melbourne by seven points in Dandenong, extending their winning streak to four. In terms of streaks, the Capitals increased their winning streak to six and Townsville snapped their losing streak of three games without captain Micaela Cocks, while losses by Perth and Bendigo lengthened their losing streaks to four and six.

Bendigo Spirit (66) defeated by UC Capitals (91)

The opening game of Round 8 saw the WNBL’s most and least in-form teams go head to head in Ballarat, as the Spirit were sporting a four-game losing streak and the Capitals stringing together five consecutive victories prior to Friday’s encounter. From the outset however, it was the Capitals that controlled the game, leading at every break and dominating in all facets of the game. UC took control on the boards as well, earning 10 more total rebounds compared to the Spirit which then transferred to a good scoring output from their starting five. Most impressively, scoring came from Kia Nurse who scored numbers in bunches, finishing with 32 points whilst shooting 7-10 from three-point range. She was assisted by Kelsey Griffin who put a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, alongside Marianna Tolo and her 16 points. For the struggling Spirit, only three players managed to crack double digits with Tessa Lavey (17), Shyla Heal (15) and Gabrielle Richards (14) combining for most of Bendigo’s scoring. Nevertheless, the Capitals ran away with the game by 25 points extending their winning streak to six games hot on the heels of the Melbourne Boomers who sit second in the standings. Another loss was added to Bendigo’s record extending their streak to five with their next contest to come a couple days later against the Townsville Fire.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 1 – Olivia Epoupa (UC)

Adelaide Lightning (79) defeated Perth Lynx (69)

After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Adelaide Lighting were looking to reclaim the title of victor against the Perth Lynx who were in the midst of a similar situation. Both clubs fought hard in what was a battle of strengths and weaknesses as Adelaide punished Lynx inside the key and Perth showed off their prowess from the perimeter. In the end it was the consistency of baskets from close range that won out as Brianna Turner compiled 24 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and five blocks as she put on her best performance of the season so far. With the help of Lauren Nicholson and her 21 points, the Lightning were able to pull away from Perth and earn the first victory of their double-header weekend, while also handing the Lynx their third consecutive loss. Performances worth noting from Perth entailed Imani McGee-Stafford’s double-double (14 points and 11 assists) as well as Katie Ebzery’s respectable 18-point performance where she shot 70 per cent from the field.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 2 – Lauren Nicholson (AL), 1 – Nicole Seekamp (AL)

Southside Flyers (89) defeated Melbourne Boomers (82)

The Round 8 game of the week took place in Melbourne’s South-East as the league’s top teams did battle at Dandenong Stadium. Both the Southside Flyers and the Melbourne Boomers were enjoying sizeable winning streaks leading into their Saturday night clash, with both teams knowing that one of them had to end. Both sides shot the ball well and when shots did not fall, both the Flyers and Boomers were there to grab their misses. The main difference between the sides came down to free-throws, as the Flyers went 22-23 from the line compared to the Boomers who only managed 7-9. This combined with the Flyers elite starting five’s performance, enabled Southside to continue their winning streak to four games, whilst being the first team to reach ten victories and snap the Boomers’ three game winning streak in the process. Southside’s starting side combined for 83 of their 89 points, led by Jenna O’Hea who notched up 22 points and six assists in her side’s victory. Melbourne’s Cayla George was the Boomers’ leading points getter, while also grabbing eight total rebounds. Despite the loss, Melbourne needed to readjust quickly, as they had to take care of a Perth Lynx squad that was also keen for a bounce back win only 24 hours later.

DC Medal: 3 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Sara Blicavs (SF)

Sydney Uni Flames (81) defeated Adelaide Lightning (69)

After Adelaide’s hard-fought win over Perth on Friday night they had their sights set on going two games clear of .500, but in their way were the Sydney Uni Flames who needed to claw their way back into top four contention and a win against the fourth seed itself would be a good first step in achieving that. Colleen Planeta was once again the go-to woman as she dominated around the basket racking up 28 points and 12 rebounds, which was further bolstered by Alice Kunek’s 21 points. The performance by the duo helped facilitate the Flames to halt the Lightning’s intentions and finish off the game with a convincing 12-point triumph. Key scorers for the visiting Lightning were Brianna Turner, who accumulated 19 points as well as seven rebounds and Stephanie Talbot, who put up 18 points and seven rebounds. The Lightning’s loss put them back on a .500 record at five wins and five losses, whereas Sydney Uni now trail the Lightning in the standings by a game and a half as a result of Sunday’s victory.

DC Medal: 3 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 2 – Alice Kunek (SU), 1 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)

Townsville Fire (94) defeated Bendigo Spirit (80)

The Townsville Fire who had up until Sunday, only won one of its opening eight games this season, looked to break that trend and come out victorious at home against the only other team in the competition that was performing worse than themselves, the Bendigo Spirit. With the Fire coming out successful in areas such as field goal percentage, assists and points from turnovers, Townsville was able to capitalise on their opportunities in front of their home crowd, which was desperate for a win. Led by Darcee Garbin, who finished with 27 points and seven rebounds, the Townsville Fire were able to hold off Bendigo for their second win of the season, winning the bout by double-digits. Despite Bendigo succumbing to their ninth loss on the season and cementing their place on the bottom on the ladder, Demi Skinner managed to take 26 points away from the contest. Townsville now hold a record of two wins and seven losses.

DC Medal: 3 – Darcee Garbin (TF), 2 – Tess Madgen (T), 1 – Tessa Lavey (BS)

Melbourne Boomers (72) defeated Perth Lynx (63)

The Boomers were at-risk of slipping to third place behind the UC Capitals who had just won against Bendigo, so the home side knew of the increased importance of the contest. It was a scrappy contest with both sides failing to gain the upper hand early on. Individual performances, points from turnovers and calm nerves from the free throw line proved to be some of the separating statistics in the final game of the round with the Boomers holding the upper hand. Melbourne would outscore the Lynx 18-10 from the line, which would be critical in the side’s nine-point victory over Perth, retaining their rank as second on the WNBL Ladder, trailing only the team that had defeated them the day before. The individual performances from Madeleine Garrick and Sophie Cunningham who both finished with 17 and 15 points each helped to get the Boomers over the line to notch up their eighth win for the season. Garrick was accurate from the free-throw line nailing five from six. McGee-Stafford collected her second double-double for the weekend as she totalled 11 points and 11 rebounds alongside Alison Schwagmeyer who was the Lynx’s top-scorer with 13. The two losses for Perth over the weekend extended their losing streak to four, as they sit a game above Townsville in sixth place.

DC Medal: 3 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Lindsay Allen (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

21 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
20 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
19 – Cayla George (MB)
18 –
17 –
16 –
15 –
14 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
13 –
12 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
11 – Kia Nurse (UC)
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Jenna O’Hea (SF), Colleen Planeta (AD)
9 – Madeleine Garrick (MB),
8 – Abby Bishop (TF), Alice Kunek (SU)
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Sara Blicavs (SF)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS), Jessica Kuster (SU)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Rebecca Cole (SF), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Darcee Garbin (TF), Tess Madgen (TF), Tessa Lavey (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Nicole Seekamp (AL)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU)

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 7

THEY have had differing formlines of late and even this season, but Southside Flyers, Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit finished the weekend with a couple of players in our Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week. In what was another difficult week to narrow down the players to just 10, every other team had at least one nominee with the exception of cellar dwellers Townsville Fire who missed out on a nominee this round.

Bendigo’s duo of Tessa Lavey and Rebecca Tobin both made the starting line-up, with Lavey sinking 16 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, while Tobin was instrumental in center with 8 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and three blocks. Tobin won the stating spot over Mercedes Russell with the Flyers’ center also impressing with a double-double average. Russell was joined on the bench by teammate, Jenna O’Hea.

Melbourne Boomers’ duo Madeleine Garrick and Cayla George also made the starting side, with Garrick a standout guard over the round, posting 26 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals, while George was named as a forward this week with five points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and four blocks. Rounding out the starting side was Team of the Week regular, Kelsey Griffin who had 27 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block over the weekend.

Perth Lynx’s Katie-Rae Ebzery and Adelaide Lightning’s Lauren Nicholson fill out the bench guard spots for Round 7, while forward, Jessica Kuster has been named in the side. They were far from the only contenders however, with a trio of Flyers (Rebecca Cole, Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs), a duo from Sydney Uni Flames (Alex Wilson and Alice Kunek), a duo from Townsville Fire (Julie Vanloo and Abby Bishop), UC Capitals’ Kia Nurse and Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Madeleine Garrick (MB) – 26 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 56.3 FG%
G: Tessa Lavey (BS) – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 36.8 FG%
C: Rebecca Tobin (BS) – 8 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 40.0 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 73.3 FG%
F: Cayla George (MB) – 5 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 16.7 FG%

BENCH:

G; Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 33.3 FG%
G: Lauren Nicholson (AD) – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 38.5 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 20.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 53.8 FG%
F: Jessica Kuster (SU) – 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 76.5 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) – 10.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, 37.0 FG%

WNBL Round 7 review: Southside go two games clear as Capitals earn fifth straight win

THE ladder leading Flyers came away from a successful road trip with big wins against Perth and Adelaide, while the Boomers made sure to get a win against Sydney Uni to keep in touch with Southside in their pursuit of the top spot. Whereas, the Caps extended their winning streak to five in their clash against the Flames and the Spirit dropped their fourth consecutive game.

Bendigo Spirit (75) defeated by Sydney Uni Flames (80)

The Sydney Uni Flames kicked off their double-header weekend in Bendigo with a hard-fought five-point win over the struggling Spirit. While the Flames have also been struggling to climb the ladder this season, Sydney Uni were able to come away with their third win of the season. Four of the top five scorers for the game wore Flames jerseys led by Jessica Kuster who tallied 23 points, 11 rebounds and a couple of blocks. Aiding her was Alice Kunek and Colleen Planeta who finished their games with 15 and 17 points respectively, but the title of main facilitator fell on the shoulders of Alex Wilson who put up 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds. For the Spirit, scoring performances could be found across the team, but the totals put up were nothing to speak too highly of. Bendigo who shot at a sub-par 37.0 percent from the field, only had one player who scored at least 15 points, that being Tessa Lavey who scrambled for her 16 points and 11 assists. The five-point win for the Flames would start their weekend off well leading into their second game against the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday. The loss for the Spirit extends their losing skid to four games slotting them in seventh spot.

DC Medal: 3 – Jessica Kuster (SU), 2 – Tessa Lavey (BS), 1 – Alex Wilson (SU)

Perth Lynx (68) defeated by Southside Flyers (82)

The Southside Flyers continued their stellar form this season, earning their eighth win from nine games after defeating Perth by 14 points. Perth’s bench was able to make a considerable impact as they outscored the Flyers’ secondary unit 30-8, but Southside’s efficiency from the free-throw line (83 percent) and the field (45.6 percent) was enough to counteract the play of the Lynx. Rebecca Cole led the charge for the Flyers with 21 points, three dimes and four rebounds. Other scoring contributors for Southside included Mercedes Russell (16 points), Leilani Mitchell (15) and Jenna O’Hea (13). Alison Schwagmeyer led the points scoring for the Lynx with 16 along with five rebounds. Additionally, Katie Ebzery stood up throughout the match coming away with 14 points, four assists and eight rebounds. The win for the Flyers was the first of both their impressive performances over the weekend, preceding their clash with Adelaide on the trek back home. Whereas, Perth’s loss continues their average form this season signified by their 3-6 record thus far, placing them in fifth position.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Rebecca Cole (SF)

UC Capitals (87) defeated Townsville Fire (78)

A sizeable winning streak is rolling for the UC Capitals as their win against the bottom of the table Townsville Fire continued their winning run of form to five games. On paper the teams were very similar in offence and defence finishing with 35 rebounds. But what the Fire lacked in points around the basket, they made up for in second chance opportunities. The main difference in the game was accuracy, as the Capitals managed to shoot the ball at a 54 percent clip compared to Townsville’s 44 percent. The Caps, led by Kia Nurse and her 24 points, as well as Kelsey Griffin and her 27, knocked six three-pointers in as they were decisive in their victory against a poor shooting Fire outfit. For the Fire, Abby Bishop and Julie Vanloo combined for 43 of Townsville’s 78 points, as well as seven threes between the duo, but the lack of depth in the Fire’s lineup proved to be the downfall for the club that now sits on the bottom of the standings with a 1-7 record. The win for the Capitals ties them in second position with the Melbourne Boomers, who is also on a winning run at the moment.

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

Melbourne Boomers (94) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (81)

Sydney Uni who were hot on the back of their victory against Bendigo on Friday night came into Melbourne looking to steal two Victorian wins in the span of a couple of days, which is something not many teams have done so far this season. The Boomers who have been a deadly opponent so far this season showcased why in the contest. Good ball movement led to high assist totals for the Boomers with 24 for the game compared to Sydney’s 17. In addition, a culmination of points from second chance, points off of turnovers and fast break opportunities for the home team, gave Melbourne the extra ammunition needed to secure the 12-point victory against a solid Flames outfit.  An impressive outing for Madeleine Garrick, who led the Boomers in scoring and three-pointers with 26 points and six bombs from behind the arch. Cayla George was also impressive across all non-scoring statistics with 14 rebounds and eight assists along with four blocks. In addition, young gun Ezi Magbegor notched up 20 points and five rebounds. For the Flames, Kunek was again on target as she pulled out 24 points with five rebounds. The win for the Boomers puts them two wins behind Southside, while extending their winning streak to three games. The Flames slide to sixth.

DC Medal: 3 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Alice Kunek (SU)

Adelaide Lightning (85) defeated by Southside Flyers (91)

Down in Adelaide, the Southside Flyers extended their dominant run so far this season, after edging out the Lightning on their home floor and rounding out a successful double header weekend. The Flyers relied entirely on their starting five to get the job done, with no bench players scoring a single point. At the forefront of the scoring load was Russell, who finished her night with 24 points and 14 rebounds, capping off a spectacular individual weekend. Along with Russell, Sara Blicavs managed to grab a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds through 30 minutes of game-time. Whereas, Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot tallied 25 points and eight rebounds along with a couple of assists in her efforts to keep the Lightning within striking distance. Lauren Nicholson, made her presence known recording a solid 13 points, five assists and seven rebounds for the home side, but ultimately the Lightning could not claw their way back, as the Flyers obtained their ninth win of the season and put the gap between themselves and the second placed Melbourne Boomers to two games. The Lightning from the loss fell back to .500, now sitting on four wins and four losses.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Sarah Blicavs (SF)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

20 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
19 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
18 –
17 – Cayla George (MB)
16 –
15 –
14 –
13 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
12 –
11 –
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
9 –
8 – Kia Nurse (UC), Abby Bishop (TF), Stephanie Talbot (AL),
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Colleen Planeta (AD), Jenna O’Hea (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Madeleine Garrick (MB),  Alice Kunek (SU)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS), Jessica Kuster (SU), Sara Blicavs (SF)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Rebecca Cole (SF)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Tessa Lavey (BS)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU)