SOUTHSIDE Flyers are the last team standing in the undefeated race, following a tough seven-point win over state rivals, Melbourne Boomers last night. Rounding out Round 4 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), both teams headed into the clash undefeated, with arguably the most dominant starting fives in the competition. The top-of-the-table clash was earmarked for a week, but it was not until Southside knocked off Bendigo Spirit for the second consecutive round earlier in the weekend that it had become a reality.
The match started with Southside getting the jump on the Boomers, adding 29 points to 24 in the opening term to lead by five at the first break. They extended that lead to eight by half-time as they looked to be more settled and gaining greater control of the contest. By the time it was the last break, the Flyers were 12 points ahead and looking home and hosed. In typical Melbourne fashion however, the Boomers were far from finished, producing their best quarter of the night to post up 18 points to 13. It would not be enough for the home side however, with Southside securing the 81-74 win at the State Basketball Centre.
Mercedes Russell picked up another double double for Southside, putting up 19 points at 100 per cent accuracy and 11 rebounds – eight defensive – as well as three assists, a steal and a block to be the most dominant player for the winners. She enjoyed a great battle with the Boomers’ Cayla George who produced a vintage performance with 22 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block to take it up to Russell in impact, but the result meant the American came away with the last laugh. George’s Opals’ teammates, Sara Blicavs (16 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Jenna O’Hea – who was playing against her former side – (13 points, three rebounds) had their moments, as did Rebecca Cole (14 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals) and Leilani Mitchell (13 points, four assists and two steals).
For the Boomers, Lindsay Allen had 13 points and six assists on the night, while Sophie Cunningham was the other boomer to reach double-figure points with 10, alongside six rebounds, and four assists. Kalani Purcell (six points, five rebounds) and Ezi Magbegor (six points, four rebounds) worked hard on the defensive end. At the conclusion of the game though, the Boomers were too overzealous with 17 turnovers to the Flyers’ 10, as well as 20 personal fouls to 13.
It was hard to pick between George and Russell for the DC Medal votes, with Russell getting the points meaning she now leads the race by one vote to George because of that, while Boomers’ Lindsay Allen – who was equal with them heading into the match, is outright third.
DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Rebecca Cole (SF)
DC Medal Leaderboard:
11 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
10 – Cayla George (MB)
8 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF), Brianna Turner (AL), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Abby Bishop (TF)
4 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Stephanie Talbot (AL), Keely Froling (UC), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Kelly Wilson (BS)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Rebecca Tobin (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Kia Nurse (UC), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Alice Kunek (SU), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Sara Blicavs (SF), Ariel Atkins (PL)