Basketball On The Internet.

Sponsored by:

AllStar Photos

Specialising in Action, Team and Portrait Photography.


Advertising opportunities available.
Please contact me.

WNBL Wrap 10: Big names take a big beating

THE 2023-24 WNBL season tipped off with bold claims "anyone can beat anyone on any given night". Round 10 certainly reflected that, Lightning bolting from Sydney, Canberra capping Southside, its season on the line Melbourne topping both Southside and Sydney before Perth took the gloss from Adelaide's weekend. 

It was another stark round for preseason championship favourites Southside and Sydney, both clubs losing twice, once apiece to the Boomers but the Flyers then also to Canberra and the Flames to Adelaide.

The losses to Melbourne were huge in the context of the post-season as the Boomers now own the season-series against both rivals, beating Sydney 2-1 and already up 2-0 on Southside.

Defending champion and league leader Townsville remains the only consistent winner, taking out Bendigo in Geelong to sit comfortably at the head of the table.

* * *

MELBOURNE looked to be toast as Mercedes Russell (17 points, 12 rebounds) dominated the keyway, Leilani Mitchell was swishing triples and Southside was on its way to tying the season-series 1-1 with the out-of-sorts and offensively impotent Boomers. 

But Melbourne found its offence in a stunning 25-11 third period and when its defence contained the multi-talented Southside offence to a paltry nine-point final quarter, the Boomers fittingly had locked up the Michele Timms Trophy on the night they celebrated the superstar's contribution to the club.

Trailing 30-41 at halftime and 0-of-12 from 3-point territory, Melbourne was in all sorts of trouble, only guards Jordin Canada (18 points, five assists, seven rebounds, six steals) and Monique Conti (17 points at 57 per cent, four steals) scoring with any consistency. 

Russell and Nyadiew Puoch had seven points apiece as the Flyers flew out 21-14 in the first quarter after leading 19-10. Then Russell added a further seven in the second period, Carley Ernst also using her size to great effect.

Back from the halftime break, Conti scored to open the second half, Canada following suit.

Maddi Rocci thrust a 3-pointer into the books for a 44-34 lead and the Boomers' "comeback" appeared short-lived. At 7:16 in the third, Lauren Jackson completed a three-point play and Southside was 47-34 clear.

Canada broke the 3-point drought for Melbourne, Conti turned a steal into a layup, then Canada grabbed a defensive board to feed Conti another layup and the score was 41-47.

Conti's 3-pointer made it 44-49, then Sara Blicavs - who endured a field goal-free first half - nailed a 3-pointer. And another. And another. And Melbourne was now 53-50 ahead!

Puoch and Rocci offered some resistance but the Boomers took a three-point lead into the last break and never surrendered it.

Russell, who had 14 points in the first half, added three in the last for her 17-point, 12-rebound double-double, but Canada would not let her team lose, Blicavs adding a further three - Melbourne was 6-of-12 from range in the second half - and Penina Davidson's huge contribution off the bench not reflected in her game stats.  

MELBOURNE BOOMERS 67 (Canada 18, Conti 17, Blicavs 14; Hillmon 11 rebs; Canada 5 assts) d SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 61 (Russell 17, Puoch 11, Mitchell 9; Russell 12 rebs; Cole 6 assts) at Melbourne Sports Centre. Crowd: 2,309

PERTH opened strongly in Townsville, jumping out of the box 7-0, Amy Atwell scoring 13 of her game-high 25 points in a first quarter which saw the Lynx lead by 11 and 30-20 until Sami Whitcomb's three trimmed it to 23-30. 

Recovering from the onslaught, Townsville crafted its way back in, although it was a slow process, Anneli Maley's free throws restoring Perth's biggest lead at 39-28 and her jumper doing it again at 41-30.

Courtney Woods' 3-pointer. followed by an active Zitina Aokuso scoring and Steph Reid sticking two freebies meant the Fire worked their way back to within striking distance.

Whitcomb and Cassie Brown baskets tied the game at 48-48 and while Maley and Atwell briefly regained the lead for the Lynx, Aokuso and Reid had Townsville ahead 54-52 by halftime.

Aokuso (18 points, 10 rebounds) ignited Townsville again after the interval, Mikaela Ruef (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Woods (18 points, 3-of-5 threes, 7 assists) effective, the Fire's 44-33 boards edge proving important.

Their 26-19 third quarter set the stage, six Fire-fighters scoring in double figures, Miela Goodchild's 5-of-6 threes helping Perth stay in it even as Townsville pulled away. 

TOWNSVILLE FIRE 104 (Ruef 21, Whitcomb 19, Aokuso, Woods 18, Reid 12, Zahui B 11; Aokuso, Ruef 10 rebs; Woods 7 assts) d PERTH LYNX 91 (Atwell 25, Maley 23, Goodchild 22; Maley 8 rebs; Hannan, Atwell 3 assts) at Townsville Entertainment Centre. Crowd: 2,289

ADELAIDE again revealed its ability to beat the league's leading teams when it added Sydney's scalp to its growing list of victims, Liz Tonks with a career-best 15 points at 67 per cent, including a back-breaking 3-of-3 threeballs.

Import Jocelyn Willoughby also enjoyed three 3-point makes in her 13 points as Lightning weathered the Flames' best shots, Cayla George finding her stroke in her hometown and producing an 18-point, 13-rebound double.

Sydney had the game in reasonably safe hands when it produced a 22-11 third period to boast a 55-47 lead going into the home stretch.

Instead Lightning delivered arguably its best single quarter of the season - or very close to - going 27-12 to leave no doubt the Flames were out.

Willoughby had Adelaide's first five points of the fourth, Brianna Turner (8 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists) and Izzy Borlase further cutting into the deficit.

From 57-60, Adelaide exploded in a 13-2 run to lead 70-62, threes by Tonks and Willoughby huge in swinging the momentum.

Lightning had the lead out to 10 before an Emma Clarke three for Sydney made the scoreline appear more acceptable.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 74 (Tonks 15, Brazel, Borlase 14, Willoughby 13, Bourne 10; Turner 12 rebs; Turner 6 assts) d SYDNEY FLAMES 67 (Richards 21, George 18, Clarke 14; George 13 rebs; Nicholson 8 assts) at Adelaide 36ers Arena. Crowd: 964

SOUTHSIDE's depth, size and experience were expected to again overwhelm plucky Canberra but come the last quarter, it was the Caps who, after hanging around all game, pulled away from the faltering Flyers.

A 9-0 run in the first period allowed the Flyers to establish a 20-14 lead but Alex Sharp (17 points at 75 per cent, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal) and Jade Melbourne (17 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) were not about to let this one slip.

By halftime the Capitals were within four, but a 21-14 third period set them on the road. Expecting a Southside revival, instead Canberra produced another 24-17 quarter, its 17 offensive rebounds and 46-40 boards edge significant.

So too was the return of Alex Bunton who had eight points at 100 per cent and six boards in 20 positive minutes.

Flyers warrior Lauren Jackson, with 16 points at 54 per cent in 20 minutes, led a struggling offence which connected on just 3-of-15 long range missiles. 

UNI of CANBERRA CAPITALS 75 (Sharp, Melbourne 17, Potter 14; Melbourne 11 rebs; Melbourne 5 assts) d SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 65 (Jackson 16, Rocci 14, Cole 12; Russell 8 rebs; Cole 6 assts) at State Basketball Centre. Crowd: 1,723

THE initial problem at Qudos Bank Arena was that neither Sydney nor Melbourne could buy a basket in the first half, the scoreline of 28-31 more reflective of wayward shooting than stellar defence.

Apart from Sydney import Paige Bradley swishing 3-of-3 threes in the first half, Lauren Nicholson connecting here and there, and Jordin Canada and Naz Hillmon occassionally effective, there wasn't much to like about the first 20 minutes.

Considering Melbourne won shooting at 36 per cent to Sydney's 31, the second half isn't headed for the time capsule anytime soon either.

Tess Madgen was trying too hard for the Flames and ex-Sydney forward Keely Froling similarly overdoing it for Melbourne against her former club.

Cayla George returned to her struggles with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting and Lara McSpadden had a free throw, five rebounds and a turnover to show for her 22 minutes.

In contrast, Hillmon's 14-point, 10-rebound double was instrumental in putting the Boomers into the box seat, Canada's 12 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals also substantial.

Didi Richards grabbing 15 rebounds to accompany three assists, a steal and seven points, could have been an even bigger influence for Sydney had she shown a tad greater foul discipline.

The game was up for grabs when Bradley scored a layup with six minutes left, the Flames trailing 48-50. But Hillmon powered the lead back to four, then Canada iced two free throws and Froling banged in a 3-pointer for 57-48 and Sydney was not making it back. 

MELBOURNE BOOMERS 62 (Hillmon 14, Canada 12, Froling 10; Hillmon 10 rebs; Canada 7 assts) d SYDNEY FLAMES 55 (Nicholson 19, Bradley 13, Richards, George 7; Richards 15 rebs; Madgen, Richards, Bradley 3 assts) at Qudos Bank Arena. Crowd: 3,432

BENDIGO gave a good account of itself for three quarters against defending champion and ladder leader Townsville, reliving the recent past when the two regional teams ruled the league.

But trailing 58-63 at the last break, the Spirit needed a lot to go right to actually claim the Fire and unfortunately for Bendigo fans, not enough did.

It looked promising when Mehryn Kraker and Kelsey Griffin jumped the Spirit to 62-63. But a Zitina Aokuso three-point play followed by a Steph Reid (23 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals) 3-pointer blew it out to 69-62.

A further three from Courtney Woods and Townsville was 72-62 ahead on a 9-0 run which even buckets by Griffin and Alicia Froling did little to deter.

Their buffer re-established, Sami Whitcomb pushed it back to double digits at 79-69 and Cassandra Brown and Reid made it a 14-point break where it stayed for the duration.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE 86 (Reid 23, Brown 17, Aokuso 15, Woods 13, Ruef 11; Ruef 12 rebs; Whitcomb 9 assts) d BENDIGO SPIRIT 72 (A.Wilson 19, Froling 13, Kraker 11; Froling, Griffin 6 rebs; A.Wilson 4 assts) at Geelong Arena. Crowd: 440

EMILY Potter was the story in Perth where the Lynx flexed their muscles to turn Adelaide back by 16 points, the Canadian centre scoring a WNBL career-high 26 points at 64 per cent.

Potter even knocked down a 3-pointer and snatched 11 rebounds, plus two assists and a steal in arguably her best performance of the season.

She needed a big one because although Lightning import Brianna Turner is no longer any sort of real or consistent offensive threat, she still is a boards beast, hauling down 17 rebounds to accompany her three assists, four steals and three blocks. Oh, and four points.

Turner wasn't scoring but Izzy Borlase was, nailing 31 points at 58 per cent before fouling out.

Ahead by nine at halftime, a 31-21 third period set Perth up to record a strong win and continue its unexpected build toward a final four spot and post-season action. 

PERTH LYNX 84 (Potter 26, Atwell 14, Maley 13, Goodchild 10; Potter 11 rebs; Ciabattoni 5 assts) d ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 68 (Borlase 31, Bourne 14, Willoughby 8; Turner 17 rebs; Brazel, Turner 3 assts) at Bendat Basketball Centre. Crowd: 1,042

Jan 7

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.