Tigers hold off Rockets to back up minor premiership with NBL1 Central Women’s title

SOUTHERN Tigers have held off a determined North Adelaide Rockets to win the inaugural National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central women’s division title at St Clair Recreation Centre last night. The Tigers finished on top of the table and won through to the grand final in the most efficient way, with the fifth placed Rockets threatening to cause a massive boilover, filling out the last spot of the finals, but finding a way to win three consecutive do-or-die finals and reach the decider. In the end the best team all year got the job done by 10 points, 87-77.

Southern Tigers started off strongly to power away to a 10-0 lead and then eventually hold a 29-22 advantage at quarter time off the back of a high-scoring opening term. The Rockets managed to hit back in the second term to cut that deficit back to five at the main break, though the Tigers again kept clawing away to win the third quarter 20-16 and lead by nine heading into the last quarter. Needing a big effort to come back and win, the visiting team tried hard but could not make headway and the Tigers won by 10.

The Tigers were far more efficient when shooting, hitting 48.4 per cent of their shots compared to the Rockets’ 32.9 per cent from the field. They also hit two more three-pointers (11-9) for a 42.3 to 30 per cent efficiency. A plus-four advantage in rebounds (44-40), as well as a plus-three in assists (17-14) was key, though the Rockets had five less turnovers (13-18) and more steals (7-4).

Teige Morrell was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the match with a massive double-double. Morrell put up 27 points – 11 of 17 from the field at 64.7 per cent efficiency – as well as 16 rebounds and four assists. Morgan Yaeger managed the next most with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds in the win, whilst Bianca McCalop (12 points, two rebounds) and Denelle Fawcett (11 points, two assists) also scored well. Jemma Thacker (eight points, two rebounds) hit both her three-point attempts for the Tigers, whilst Tara Dodman (three points, five rebounds) was solid off the boards.

For the Rockets, four players had double-figure points including a double-double player. Jess Good‘s remarkable season continued with the recently-drafted Carlton AFL Women’s talent notching up 16 points, 11 rebounds – six offensive – three assists, three steals and two blocks in a complete all-round performance. Taylor Ortlepp played all 40 minutes for 28 points – though scored at 38.1 per cent including two of nine from long-range – as well as six rebounds and four assists. The other two players to reach double-figure points were Tia Bails (13 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Sam Defrancesco (13 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals).

Southern Tigers complete the minor premiership/NBL1 premiership double for the 2021 NBL1 Central women’s season, as North Adelaide Rockets could be proud to have fought from fifth to reach the decider, but ultimately just fell short of an upset.

Picture credit: NBL1

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