Tag: Zitina Aokuso

2021 NBL1 South Women’s: Round 15

ROUND 15 of the National Basketball League (NBL1) South Women’s played host to a couple of close calls as nine games played out across the weekend. There were a couple of surprise results as second and third dropped games against their lower placed opponents.

The contest between Knox Basketball and Melbourne Tigers went down to the wire in what was a see-sawing affair. But in the end it was the Tigers that managed to swindle the win by a mere six points and cause a huge upset (78-72).

The Raiders raced out of the blocks in the first quarter as the Tigers simply could not but a basket missing their first three attempts of the game. On the other hand, every time Knox got within shooting range they hit the scoreboard as they immediately established a lead. Melbourne started to kick into gear midway through the term, as their shots started to sink but that was short lived. Within the blink of an eye the Raiders pushed out to an eight point lead and did not look done with yet as they continued to put their foot down. As the clock ticked down to the three minute mark Knox were up by 13 points and looked to have the ascendancy.

It was a complete switch up in the second term as the Tigers came out with a point to prove. Struggling to find her groove in the opening stanza Zitina Aokuso came to life, landing the first points of the quarter for Melbourne to get the cogs ticking over. Momentum began to shift in favour of the Tigers towards the latter half of the quarter as they ate into the margin reducing it from 19 points to 10 within a matter of minutes. Not only was Aokuso upping the ante but so too was Monique Conti as the pair combined seamlessly to chip into the deficit. By half time only six points separated the two teams.

That momentum and trajectory continued deep into the third as Melbourne managed 17 points while keeping the Raiders to 10 points. The Tigers drew level with just over three minutes left in the quarter before stealing the lead thanks to a Tylah Hooper triple at the two minute mark. Sensing a win Melbourne pulled out all the stops in the final term as their big name players imposed themselves to keep the Tigers’ noses in front and grind out the win despite Knox working in overdrive to flip the script.

Leah Santomaggio had a hot hand for the Raiders as she drained an impressive 26 points at 63 per cent from the field. She starred from beyond the arc nailing six of her 10 attempts while she also reeled in four rebounds in the loss. Klara Wischer was in fine form slotting 19 points and fell just short of a double-double with her nine rebounds, one assist and one steal. Lucy Dawson managed to chime in with 10 points, five rebounds and a steal for Knox.

For the Tigers, Aokuso led the charge with her 22 points in 36 minutes of play. it did not stop there though as she secured a whopping 14 rebounds – 13 defensive – along with four rebounds and two steals. Conti managed 15 points at a lowly 29 per cent from the field, plus four rebounds, two assists and a steal while Kirsty Wallace also drained 15 points. Isabella Brancatisano finished with eight points and three rebounds to her name in the win.

In other results, the top of the table Frankston Blues continued their winning ways with victory against Sandringham Sabres as the second placed Bendigo Braves fell to Ballarat Rush. Eltham got the chocolates against the Rush while Ringwood reigned supreme against Diamond Valley Eagles. It was a good weekend to be a Ringwood Hawks fan as they also notched up a win against Waverley Falcons as the Cobras managed to claim victory in their sole outing against Dandenong Rangers.

Round 15 results:

Geelong Supercats (90) defeated by Bendigo Braves (98)
Knox Basketball (72) defeated by Melbourne Tigers (78)
Ballarat Rush (63) defeated by Eltham Wildcats (82)
Ringwood Hawks (84) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (74)
Kilsyth Cobras (83) defeated Dandenong Rangers (70)
Bendigo Braves (70) defeated by Ballarat Rush (78)
Waverley Falcons (65) defeated by Ringwood Hawks (74)
Sandringham Sabres (62) defeated by Frankston Blues (75)
Nunawading Spectres (78) defeated by Geelong Supercats (83)

Photo credit: Melbourne Tigers

NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 6

FRANKSTON Blues stand as the only undefeated side in the competition after Knox Raiders suffered a narrow defeat, and the Blues fought back to win their clash with Geelong Supercats in a blockbuster National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s Round 6 of action.

Geelong Supercats (75) def. by Frankston Blues (80)

The rampaging Frankston Blues started off their Round 6 of action in style with a hard-fought five-point win over Geelong Supercats. The confidence-boosting win showed the Blues could get their hands dirty, fighting back from an 11-point deficit at quarter time, to almost completely erase that by the half, and then finish the stronger of the teams to win, 80-75. Darcee Garbin shot 24 points and racked up 14 rebounds in a massive double-double effort, while Tessa Lavey (19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists), Taylah Giliam (18 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Ella Batish (11 points, three rebounds and two assists) all went to work for the winners. The Supercats had a quartet of talents running around on court, with Sarah Elsworthy (19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals) leading the way, Antoinette Emma-Nnopu (18 points, 10 rebounds) picking up a double-double, and both Stephanie Blicavs (14 points, seven rebounds and six assists) and Alex Duck (10 points, seven rebounds and four assists) getting busy.

Nunawading Spectres (81) def. Knox Raiders (78)

A frantic finish where free-throws decided the contest, Nunawading Spectres held on against a brave Knox Raiders outfit to win by three points at home. Leading by five points at half-time, the Spectres were challenged in the second half as the Raiders cut the deficit to just one at the final break before Nunawading held firm in the last to win the term and secure the 81-78 victory against the previously undefeated side. Penina Davidson (20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) and Rachel Brewster (20 points, seven rebounds and two assists) both top-scored for the Spectres, while Izzy Wright (18 points, six assists, four steals and three rebounds) and Louise Brown (10 points, seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks) also impressed. The Raiders had a two-player shooting spree between Klara Wischer (25 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Leah Santomaggio (25 points, three rebounds and two steals) in defeat.

Diamond Valley Eagles (52) def. by Kilsyth Cobras (104)

There was no mercy shown to the home team as a visiting Kilsyth Cobras doubled Diamond Valley Eagles’ score in their clash. The Cobras won by 52 points, and won each quarter by at least 12, including a 35-17 second term, and defensive shutdown of 17-4 in the last quarter on their way to a 104-52 win. Lauren Nicholson returned to NBL1 action as one would expect with the experienced WNBL player putting up 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists against the winless Eagles. Lauren Scherf (18 points, 13 rebounds and three assists), Carly Turner (12 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Abigail Curtin (10 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals) also produced big numbers for the winners. Olivia Bontempelli was again the standalone source of scoring for the Eagles, recording 17 points, four rebounds and two assists, while Ivana Vasiljevic was the next best with 10 points.

Dandenong Rangers (93) def. Hobart Chargers (72)

Delivering Hobart Chargers yet another loss, Dandenong Rangers fought back from a half-time deficit of 11 points to completely shut out the Chargers’ offence on their way to a 21-point triumph. The Rangers restricted the Chargers to just 15 points in the second half, 10 less than their second term and 17 less than their first quarter, whilst piled on 47 points themselves to run away with the 93-72 win. Emilee Harmon (26 points, seven rebounds) and Dallas Loughridge (25 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals) combined for 51 points, while Sherry Glennie (15 points, four steals and three rebounds) was also lively in the win. For the Chargers, Ellie Collins dropped 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the clear best in a losing side, supported well by Kylie McCauley (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Sharna Thompson (16 points, seven rebounds and two assists).

Eltham Wildcats (88) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (92)

Stunning an unbeaten team on the road, Launceston Tornadoes showed they mean business in the NBL1 season, winning 92-88 against Eltham Wildcats to hand the Wildcats their second loss of the season. The Tornadoes did not have it all their own way, but after being level at the final break, managed to secure the win with the 23-19 final term. Kelsey Griffin showed all of her experience for the Tornadoes with 28 points, 15 rebounds and two steals, while Mariah Payne (22 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals), Teyla Evans (18 points, five rebounds) and Micah Simpson (10 points, six assists and two rebounds) also stood up. Anneli Maley dropped an enormous 36 points and 25 rebounds – 17 defensive – on the Tornadoes in a bid to get her team over the line, also picking up four assists in the process. Rebecca Pizzey (11 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Erin Riley (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) were other prominent Wildcats in the loss.

Ringwood Hawks (88) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (68)

Ringwood Hawks handed Albury-Wodonga Bandits another loss, winning all four quarters on their way to a comfortable 20-point win. The Hawks won each quarter by five, four, five and six points to always have that breathing space between themselves and their opponents in order to post the 88-68 win. Funda Nakkasoglu (22 points, nine rebounds and four assists) lead the way for the Hawks, while Marena Whittle (19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks) picked up a double-double and Hope Terdich (12 points, eight rebounds) also stood up in the win. Emma Mahady (21 points, seven rebounds and two steals) was the dominant scorer for the Bandits, while Geralynn Leaupepe (15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Geraldynn Leaupepe (13 points, seven rebounds and two steals) teamed up to be double-trouble for the Hawks despite the loss.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (60) def. Ballarat Rush (48)

In a battle between two teams playing their only match of the round, Mt Gambier Pioneers picked up the victory at home over Ballarat Rush by 12 points. In a low-scoring encounter, the half-time lead of 17 points was all it took for the Pioneers, as the Rush could not claw their way back despite a strong final term of 17-13, losing 48-60. Jasmin Howe (28 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists) was the dominant player for the winners, knocking down six of 10 from long-range. Sherrie Calleia (14 points, eight rebounds and six assists) also looked impressive, whilst Hannah Young was next best with only the five points, but eight rebounds and three assists. For the Rush, Kristy Rinaldi was the only double-digit scorer with 11 points, recording six rebounds and three assists, while both Alicia Froling (eight points, 20 rebounds and two blocks) and Kasey Burton (six points, 14 rebounds, two assists and two steals) might have had forgettable shooting nights, but were enormous off the boards.

Kilsyth Cobras (60) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (87)

Backing up their massive win on the road against Eltham Wildcats, the Launceston Tornadoes made it two from two in Round 6, toppling Kilsyth Cobras by 27 points in a convincing four-quarter win. The Tornadoes won every quarter, with the first term 25-12 making the difference during the 87-60 triumph. Griffin added another double-double to her name with 24 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals, but this time she shared the load with Keely Froling who returned to produce a casual 25 points and 16 rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals. Payne (17 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Evans (10 points, six rebounds and two assists) also produced good numbers. Nicholson tried hard for the Cobras across all 40 minutes, recording 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Scherf had a double-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Turner finished with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in the loss.

Waverley Falcons (63) def. by Bendigo Braves (84)

Grabbing a big win on the road, Bendigo Braves showed just how impressive they could be, downing the Waverley Falcons by 21 points in the team’s only games of the weekend. The Braves took control in the second term with a 29-13 quarter after an even first term, and that set the visitors up for the 84-63 win. Kate Oliver (27 points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Tess Madgen (22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists) both lit up the court with their shooting, while Abigail Wehrung (eight points, seven rebounds and five assists) was busy for the Braves. In defeat, Renae Mokrzycki had 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while Kelly Bowen (seven points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Nyakoang Lok (eight points, six rebounds and two assists) were both prominent off the boards.

Melbourne Tigers (89) def. Nunawading Spectres (66)

Melbourne Tigers grabbed an impressive 23-point win over Nunawading Spectres on Sunday to close out a mixed weekend for the Spectres. After grabbing the tight win against Knox Raiders, the Spectres were not able to stay with the Tigers in the final quarter, tiring out and the fresh team dominated to win the term by 19 points, and the match, 89-66. Monique Conti feasted with an almost triple-double of 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in every minute on court. Also not taking a trip to the bench was fellow WNBL talent Zitina Aokuso (18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks), while Geraldine McCorkell (15 points, six rebounds) and Isabella Brancatisano (five points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) impacted in different ways for the winners. Wright top-scored for the Spectres with 19 points, seven rebounds, three assist and three steals, while Rachel Antoniadou (15 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Davidson (14 points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists) were also prominent scorers on the day.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (67)

Frankston’s dominant unbeaten season rolled out with a 23-point triumph over Albury-Wodonga Bandits. A strong start had the home team 10 points up at the first break, and the 13-point differential in the third term (20-7) really drilled home the point during the 90-67 victory. Garbin shot another 19 points including five of nine from long-range, also recording 10 rebounds and two assists in the process. Giliam (17 points, four rebounds and two assists), Saraid Taylor (15 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Lavey (10 points, six assists and five rebounds) were also prominent in the win. It was no surprise to see Mahady (22 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals) again the best for the Bandits, while both Jade McCowan (14 points, six rebounds) and Charlotte Beavan (10 points, four rebounds) shared around the points in the loss.

Sandringham Sabres (81) def. Hobart Chargers (49)

Hobart Chargers were no match for Sandringham Sabres as the visitors lost their second game of the weekend on Sunday, going down to the Sabres by 32 points at the southern Basketball Stadium. Whilst the final term was even, the damage was done in the first 30 minutes, as the home side piled on a 32-point lead, keeping the Chargers to 12 points or less in each of those terms during the 81-49 victory. Jenna O’Hea (21 points, six rebounds and three assists) was the top-scorer in the win, while Amy O’Neill (17 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals) and Cassandra Hill (15 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also lively. For the Chargers, Thompson (12 points, five rebounds), McCauley (12 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Collins (11 points, eight rebounds and two steals) were again the double-digit scorers.

Picture credit: NBL1

NBL1 South women’s wrap: Round 5

BENDIGO Braves managed to end the winning streak of one side in the Eltham Wildcats over the weekend, but fell short of inflicting the same fate on another one in Frankston Blues, in what was a huge National Basketball League (NBL)1 weekend of action.

Hobart Chargers (84) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (68)

Opening the round up on the Apple Isle, Hobart Chargers claimed a 16-point victory over Diamond Valley Eagles in a battle of two winless sides. The Eagles actually led at half-time by four points, but a dominant second half in favour of the Chargers – which saw them storm home 48-28 – resulted in the home team winning 84-68. Ellie Collins lead the way with 34 points – five of 11 from long-range – 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Madeleine Garrick (23 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists) also stood out, while Tayla Roberts (11 points, three rebounds and three assists) hit double-figure points. Hayley Sparks (19 points, five rebounds and two steals), Imogen Rock (12 points, seven rebounds) and Olivia Bontempelli (10 points, five assists and three rebounds) were among the top-scoring Eagles on the night.

Geelong Supercats (90) def. Melbourne Tigers (82)

The Geelong Supercats managed to breakaway from the Melbourne Tigers in the third term to secure a 90-82 win. The teams were even at half-time, but a 24-11 third quarter in favour of the Supercats put the momentum firmly in favour of Geelong, and whilst the Tigers cut the deficit back by five points, they fell by eight points. Sarah Elsworthy (25 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals) scored the most points in the match, while Alex Duck (18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals), Rebekah O’Donnell (15 points, five rebounds and three assists), Stephanie Blicavs (15 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals) and Antoinette Emma-Nnopu (12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks) all combined for some big numbers. Zitina Aokuso almost recorded a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals, with Monique Conti (22 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Isabella Brancatisano (14 points, two steals) also busy for the visitors.

Bendigo Braves (70) def. Eltham Wildcats (63)

A one-sided first term has aided Bendigo Braves in holding off a fierce Eltham Wildcats outfit and handing the Wildcats their first loss of the NBL1 South season. The Braves piled on 28-8 in the opening term to bolt out to a 20-point lead, but then the Wildcats picked up the slack over the next two quarters, including a 24-9 third term to come within one point at the final break. A 17-11 last quarter saw the Braves secure the 70-63 victory. Tess Madgen (23 points, nine rebounds and five assists) did not spend a minute on the bench in a tireless effort the Braves, while Piper Dunlop (14 points, 13 rebounds and two steals) and Kate Oliver (12 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) both picked up double-doubles. Tess Heal (22 points, eight rebounds and two steals) top-scored, whilst Anneli Maley dominated off the boards for the Wildcats with 27 rebounds, though was inaccurate from the field, shooting two of 12.

Dandenong Rangers (63) def. by Frankston Blues (78)

Frankston Blues became the first side to win six consecutive games, downing Dandenong Rangers by 15 points on the road. Trailing by three points at quarter time, the Blues found their groove in the second term scoring 23-13 to lead by seven at the main break. Frankston also won the last two quarter by four points each to win by 15, 78-63. Darcee Garbin (27 points, nine rebounds and three steals) and Tessa Lavey (22 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and three steals) were the dominant duo once again for the winners, while Ella Batish had seven points, seven rebounds and two assists. Alison Downie (16 points, six rebounds and two assists), Tenaya Sooalo (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Emilee Harmon (12 points, eight rebounds) were the three key Rangers.

Kilsyth Cobras (70) def. by Nunawading Spectres (90)

The Nunawading Spectres leapfrogged Kilsyth Cobras on the NBL1 South ladder with an impressive 20-point victory on the road. The Spectres dominated the first quarter to race out to a 10-point lead, and doubled down in the third term with a 23-8 quarter. Nunawading managed to reduce the final damage by winning the last stanza, but it was still a sizeable 90-70 defeat. Rachel Antoniadou (28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) was the dominant scorer for the winners, whilst Louise Brown (10 points, 14 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Izzy Wright (13 points, six rebounds and three assists) was also strong. Carly Turner (15 points, four steals, two rebounds and two assists) lead the points tally for the Cobras, while Lauren Scherf (10 points, 11 rebounds), and Tia Hay (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists) were equally as busy across the court.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (64) def. by Waverley Falcons (81)

Waverley Falcons produced an impressive 17-point victory over Albury-Wodonga Bandits, coming from a nine-point quarter time deficit to win in emphatic style. After the 24-15 term in favour of the Bandits, the Falcons won the next three quarters by nine, five and 12 points to win 81-64. Kelly Bowen scored a match-high 21 points, as well as 12 rebounds, whilst Renae Mokrzycki also had a double-double of 12 points and 18 rebounds, and Aneta Bandilovska (17 points, four rebounds and two assists) also contributed to the score ticking over. Emma Mahady’s monstrous season rolled on with a huge double-double of 20 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Bandits, while Brodie-Paige Theodore (20 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Jade McCowan (10 points, six rebounds) also notched up double-figure points.

Ringwood Hawks (67) def. Ballarat Rush (50)

Ringwood Hawks won the battle of the two-win sides, defeating Ballarat Rush at home by 17 points, The Hawks got off to a terrific start to lead by 11 points at quarter time, and whilst the second and fourth terms were fairly even, the Hawks beat the Rush by seven points in the third term for an overall 67-50 win. Funda Nakkasoglu (20 points, three assists) lead the way, dropping four of nine from long-range, whilst Marena Whittle (eight points, 12 rebounds, four steals ad two assists) and Demi Skinner (nine points, five rebounds) were also busy. Kasey Burton was the only double-digit scorer for the Rush with 13, as well as 10 rebounds and two steals, whilst Alicia Froling came close to a double-double of nine points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the loss.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (40) def. by Knox Raiders (69)

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder produced a match of a predictable outcome, with the undefeated Knox Raiders winning their fifth game, and handing the Mt Gambier Pioneers their sixth straight loss. Klara Wischer stood out with 15 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists, as Kara Tessari (16 points, three rebounds) and Kiera Rowe (13 points, two rebounds and two steals) also impressed with double-digit points. Jasmine Howe (nine points, five steals and three rebounds) and Sherrie Calleia (nine points, four assists and two steals) both top-scored for their side, whilst Hannah Young racked up 13 rebounds and two steals to go with six points in the loss.

Launceston Tornadoes (103) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (74)

Launceston Tornadoes put together a dominant four-quarter performance to blow away Diamond Valley Eagles by 29 points in the Eagles’ second loss of the round down in Tasmania. Led by an outrageous effort from Keely Froling, the Tornadoes took control from the get-go and powered to a 20-point half-time lead. Whilst the Eagles did managed to break even in the final term, the Tornadoes had already done the damage in the first three quarters. Froling finished with a competition season-high 52 points – 17 of 30 from the field – as well as 26 rebounds – 17 defensive – five assists and four steals. Mariah Payne (26 points, 12 assists and five rebounds) picked up a double-double, while D’Asia Chambers (15 points, four assists, four steals and three assists) also hit double-figure points. Bontempelli topped the points for the Eagles with 20, as well as four assists and two steals, while Sophie Burrows (16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Ashleigh McBean (12 points, six rebounds) were among the other top performers for the losers.

Eltham Wildcats (83) def. Sandringham Sabres (80)

Bouncing back from the loss the day before, Eltham Wildcats won in a thriller over Sandringham Sabres yesterday. The Wildcats trailed by three points at quarter time, then piled on the pressure to lead by five at the main break. After breaking even in the third quarter, the Sabres won the last quarter 25-23 to come close, but fall short, 83-80. Maley was unstoppable again, picking up 17 points and 24 rebounds – 20 defensive – three assists and two blocks, while Heal (18 points, three assists) and Rebecca Pizzey (18 points, nine rebounds and four assists) both troubled the scorers plenty in the win. Jenna O’Hea played her best game o the season thus far, picking up 30 points – four of eight from long-range – 10 rebounds, five steals, two assists and two blocks. Amy O’Neill (16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals) and Rachel Jarry (16 points, five rebounds and two assists) also notched up double-figure points in the narrow loss.

Melbourne Tigers (77) def. Dandenong Rangers (70)

In a battle of two Saturday losers, Melbourne Tigers got up by seven points on Sunday in what was a tight contest. The Tigers skipped out to an eight-point lead at half-time, and whilst the Rangers cut that back to seven by the final break, fell 77-70. Both Aokuso (13 points, 15 rebounds and five assists) and Brancatisano (11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up double-doubles in the win, as Conti (18 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds) top scored once again for the Tigers. Dallas Loughridge had the 20 points, six rebounds and three assists to lead the way for the Rangers, ahead of Sherry Glennie (12 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Makaela Zeldenryk (10 points, three assists) who also hit double-figure points.

Frankston Blues (74) def. Bendigo Braves (64)

Frankston Blues won another game to make it seventh heaven, defeating Bendigo Braves who were coming off a spirited win over Eltham Wildcats. The Blues won every quarter in what was a tight contest, to take home the 10-point win, 74-64. Lavey finished with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Garbin had 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two locks. Saraid Taylor (12 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Taylah Gilliam (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) were the other two key points scorers. The Braves were led by Oliver (19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks), Cassidy McLean (12 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (16 points, four assists and two steals).

Picture credit: NBL1

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Rachel Louise Photography

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 4

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

WOMEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIXTURES:

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

MEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIXTURES:

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

Picture credit: Mick Connolly

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nunawading Spectres (83) defeated Sandringham Sabres (70)

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

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

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

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNBL20 Season Review – Townsville Fire

BESIDES being the most improved team in WNBL20 by a country mile, this season’s hosts, the Townsville Fire performed at an exceptional rate over the entire six weeks, culminating in two All-WNBL team selections, a Coach of the Year, a Sixth Woman and a Youth Player of the Year recipient, as well as a Grand Final opportunity. After receiving the wooden spoon at the start of this year, the Fire improved at a rapid rate and despite missing out on the final piece of silverware will take plenty of positives out of their campaign.

After a busy offseason to say the least, a new look Fire squad took the floor in Mackay during mid-November, to commence the long-awaited season with a determined mindset. This was shown against the Perth Lynx in Townsville’s season-opener as the hub hosts ran away with a 25-point triumph. But it did not take long for the Fire to realise that this season’s competitors were not to be taken lightly, losing their second contest of Round 1 to the defending champion Canberra Capitals (67-78).

Round 2 of the season fixture for the Fire proved to be a pivotal point in the campaign for head coach Shannon Seebohm and her squad, as they had to work their way through a four-game week. After a successful three-point result over the Sydney Uni Flames, Townsville got to test their mettle against the WNBL’s top-contender in the Southside Flyers, but to no avail going down to the league’s benchmark side 89-101. Fortunately for the Fire, they performed well in their remaining games that week against both the Bendigo Spirit twice and the Melbourne Boomers, placing their record at five wins and two losses entering the middle portion of the season.

Going down again to the Flyers to conclude Round 3, Southside proved to be more than a nuisance as the season continued, with Townsville unable to find the solution to slow down the Flyers’ offence. While Seebohm and his side showed lapses throughout their season, it was their ability to repeatedly bounce back from negative results that helped in the long run.

A two-game split in Round 4 against the Lynx (75-84 loss) and the Capitals (84-71 win) put the Fire well within finals eligibility with the last round still yet to be played, but with a top-two seed still hanging in the balance.

Knocking off Adelaide Lightning in convincing fashion 95-66, Townsville now had the chance to steal the second seed in WNBL standings at the end of the season. To get to that goal, the Fire just scraped away with a six-point win over the Boomers and leapfrogged the Melbourne-based side in the process, nabbing the second-seed at the last possible moment.

The Fire found themselves face-to-face with a team they had yet to defeat during the season and one of the most talented domestic line-ups in Australian basketball history, Southside. That streak of defeats to the Flyers unfortunately continued for the Sunshine-State team, going down in the second semi-final of the day 93-106, meaning next up would be a win or go home preliminary final against the Boomers once more.

In a meeting drowned in defence, neither Townsville nor Melbourne would manage to accumulate over 65 points, as shooting efficiency was few and far between. Luckily for the hosts, they kept their noses in front for the majority of the encounter withstanding onslaught after onslaught from the Boomers. Eventually conquering Melbourne 65-62 and setting up the franchise’s first grand final in little more than three seasons.

For all of Townsville’s players, it was a dream come true to compete for a WNBL title in front of their home crowd at Townsville Stadium. But their final hurdle would be the most difficult to combat and overcome, given that the Fire had not been able to beat Southside in any of their three previous meetings throughout the campaign.

Despite having four players reaching double-digit totals in what was for the most part a tightly knitted affair, the Flyers’ marquee players made their presence felt. A near-perfect second half for the Flyers, as well as a performance to remember from Leilani Mitchell would be enough to silence their opponents 99-82 at the final buzzer, ending the Fire’s prominent season and redeeming themselves after last year’s Grand Final failures – breaking the hometown fans’ hearts in the process after a gallant year.

MVP-candidate, member of the All-WNBL First Team and new signing for Townsville, Lauren Nicholson reminded everyone why she is a force to be reckoned with averaging 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Next to her is perhaps one of the biggest success stories this season for another new signing in Shyla Heal. Heal ended her WNBL20 with averages of 16.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists and being named this season’s Australian Youth Player of the Year.

Other standouts included Sixth Woman of the Year, Zitina Aokuso (9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds), Nadeen Payne (8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds) and Megan McKay (7.3 points and 5.9 rebounds).

In a season that could have gone either way because of the major roster changes that were made before the season even began, Seebohm did an exemplary job alongside his coaching staff merging numerous personalities together to work as a collective unit. With Seebohm signing a two-year extension, the future possibilities for this Townsville side are limitless.

Southside Flyers claim premiership glory

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have notched up their inaugural premiership since being rebranded with a 17-point victory over Townsville Fire on Sunday afternoon (99-82). After taking out the minor premiership it was only fitting that the Flyers also walked away with the final piece of the puzzle – a premiership ring – after a dominant 2020 WNBL season. Despite not walking away with the chocolates, the Fire will hold their heads high, pushing the Flyers all the way and enjoying a rapid rise up the ladder throughout the condensed season.

Having met only days before it was always going to be a tough battle and the first quarter was proof of that with neither side able to be separated at the first break sitting at 22 points apiece. Play commenced with none other than Liz Cambage out of the middle however it was Townsville Fire’s Lauren Nicholson that landed the first blow nailing a layup. It was not long before Sara Blicavs made her presence felt converting at the charity strip and evening things up early in the piece.

The Fire pushed out to as much as six points ahead in the first five minutes before the Flyers found their groove and Cambage was subbed out due to foul trouble in the opening few minutes. Rebecca Cole levelled the scores with just over six minutes of play left in the term showcasing just how much of a tight game the fans were in for. This back and forth nature continued for most of the term with both sides trading blows and unable to arrest any sort of momentum given the high pressure nature the game was being played under. Nicholson was playing her part for the Fire leading the charge both off the boards and on the scoreboard while Leilani Mitchell sensed the occasion and stepped up to the plate with a couple of consecutive jump shots.

With scores tied at the first break the Flyers steadily built ahead in the second term opening up a two point lead off the back of some Mitchell magic. The Southside Flyers representative seemed to have her own ball out there, displaying her impressive range and relative accuracy. The term started with Zitina Aokuso hitting a jump shot and stealing the lead for the Fire before Mia Murray also got involved in the action to extend the lead to four points.

But that did not last long with Mitchell and Cole chiming in and playing their part for the Flyers. The lead ebbed and flowed as the Flyers created a handy four point buffer before Townsville once again fought back to reduce the deficit and steal the lead. It was a high intensity term with no player able to catch their breath with  Jenna O’Hea impressing and nailing a triple before Blicavs also added her two cents worth to the tally. Nicholson continued her dominant ways while Stephanie Reid also got busy with a jump shot to get her side back within touching distance.

Two points separated the sides at half-time but it was clear that the Flyers came to play in the third quarter really putting the foot down. Known as the premiership quarter Cambage started to inflict some serious pain with a couple of much needed baskets while Blicavs proved to be a handful. If it was not Cambage attacking the rim it was Mitchell with the two causing chaos and finding the basket with relative ease to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the Fire at bay.

Townsville went three minutes without a score such was the defensive pressure of the Flyers while they managed to slot six points of their own and extend the margin to eight points. Shyla Heal started to get involved in the action nailing a handy jump shot while Aokuso also found the basket moments later but the pattern had started to become clear with the Fire unable to keep up with the steam train that was Southside.

With the silverware in sight it was clear that the Flyers were not about to let go, coming out with a higher level of intensity and real sense of determination. The Fire threw everything they had at the Flyers with Nicholson and Heal combining to cut the margin to nine and cause a couple of scares but that was short lived as the minor premiers held their nerve. Rachel Jarry was in good form and that showed making the most of her free-throws while Mitchell continued to star. Cole had a day out in the final term of play nailing a triple and relishing the opportunity to go to the line while Townsville simply did not have enough firepower to compete.

It is no surprise Mitchell walked away with Player of the Match honours with 31 points, four rebounds and five assists in an impressive showing for the Flyers. Cole also impressed throughout the game with 22 points shooting at 70 per cent from the field while also accumulating three assists, five steals and two rebounds. Cambage was quiet but still had an impact collecting 14 points, five rebounds while Blicavs managed seven points , nine rebounds and three assists.

Nicholson was once again they go to player for the Fire walking away with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Payne also had an impact with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists. Heal was down on her usual output but still managed 11 points and seven rebounds.