Waratah Championship Week 16 Roundup

Just when the playoff picture looked set in stone, Bankstown came up with a win over Norths that shook things up going into the final week of play. Elsewhere, Hornsby rounded out their regular season schedule with a win over Illawarra and Comets secured seventh spot with a win over Hills.

Bankstown 64 defeated Norths 50

A win would have secured second spot for Norths, but instead it will all come down to the final weekend to decide the order of the teams behind Hornsby as Bankstown claimed a vital win to leave the playoff picture still looking a mess even at this late stage.

A low-scoring first quarter saw Norths finally open their account through Kallie Hovatter just over two minutes into the contest. Bankstown quickly countered through Adrianne Bywater, but points remained hard to come by and with 4 minutes remaining in the opening term Bankstown held a 10-4 lead courtesy of four quick points from Casey Samuels. Bankstown continued to grow that lead as the Norths’ offence stuttered, and a late Jaimee Kennedy basket was like gold dust to a Bears side that saw themselves down 15-6 after a quarter.

Hovatter and Kennedy helped lead Norths on a run that moved the visitors within two at 17-15 down early in the second quarter, but Bankstown put together a run of their own to extend their lead to 29-16 with two minutes remaining in the first half. Once again a late Norths basket trimmed the lead at a vital moment, with Eleni Valos’ three in the final minute reducing the Bankstown lead to 29-19 at halftime.

Samuels continued to lead the Bankstown scoring, but Norths were able to to trim the margin to seven and hold it there for a while. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Bears would come as Marjy Grealish came to the fore with 8 third quarter points for Bankstown. There would be no late flourish from Norths in the third quarter though, and with ten minutes to play Bankstown held a very handy 46-32 lead.

Handy doesn’t mean safe though, and with Jaimee Kennedy putting the Norths’ offence on her back, the Bears opened up the final term with 13 of the first 17 points to reduce the margin to 50-45 with still six minutes remaining. Bankstown regrouped though, with Samuels and Briana Maimone re-establishing Bankstown’s cushion to 59-46. Grealish and Maimone chipped in a few more points as time wound down, and with the Norths’ offence unable to secure another big run similar to the one earlier in the quarter, Bankstown secured a game-changing 64-50 win.

Marjy Grealish and Casey Samuels shared the top scoring honours for Bankstown, with each also picking up 13 rebounds to secure double-doubles. Briana Maimone added 13 points on some efficient 5/7 shooting from the field. Jaimee Kennedy also secured a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Norths. Kallie Hovatter also finished in double figures, tallying 11 points and 7 rebounds. However, Norths shot just 25% from the field for the contest, a stark contrast to Bankstown’s 42% mark.

Hornsby 97 defeated Illawarra 57

Hornsby wrapped up their regular season schedule with a 97-57 win over an Illawarra side that was missing spiritual leader and influential point guard Lauren Sparks.

Young stars Tylah Mundine and Serena Waters both knocked down threes in the early stages as Hornsby scored the first 8 points of the game on their way to an early 18-5 lead, with Waters alone responsible for 8 of those. Georgia Ohrdorf registered 8 first quarter points for Illawarra, but Hornsby put the understrength Hawks to the sword in the first quarter, taking a 29-15 lead into the second quarter.

The second quarter was a far tighter affair, with Ohrdorf continuing to star for Illawarra. The Metro State University star added 10 more points to see Illawarra keep pace with Hornsby throughout the term. Darneka Rowe and Olivia Sheehan slowly began to rack up their usual solid points tallies, whilst Tara Kilminster began to come into her own off the bench to help the Spiders extend their lead to 48-31 by halftime on the back of a 19-16 second quarter.

The third quarter was where Hornsby really put the game beyond doubt. Sheehan continued to add to her tally, with veterans Rachel Maenpaa and Alicia Poto also adding to the Spiders’ ever-burgeoning tally. It was a valiant effort from the understrength Illawarra side, but with Hornsby not wanting to ease up in their preparation for finals basketball, the margin grew to 70-38 by the end of the third quarter as the Spiders clicked on offence.

Olivia White provided some more positives for Illawarra in the final quarter, but the Hornsby domination continued. Kilminster and Sancataldo finished off solid games with some late scoring, but with eight Hornsby players scoring 8 points or more, the points were coming from all over. A 27-19 quarter rounded out the 97-57 victory to keep Hornsby on a high going into playoff basketball.

Georgia Ohrdorf led the way for Illawarra with an outstanding 26 point, 14 rebound effort in an overmatched team. Olivia White almost compiled a double-double, tallying 12 points and 8 rebounds. Serena Waters led five Hornsby players in double figures with 20 points on efficient 8/11 shooting, whilst Tara Kilminster was outstanding off the bench to tally 16 points. Jess Sancataldo and Olivia Sheehan also finished in double figures off the bench, with Sancataldo tallying 13 points and Sheehan chipping in 12 points and 9 rebounds. Alicia Poto racked up a 10 point, 11 rebound double-double, and also picked up 5 steals.

Hills 45 lost to Comets 52

Hills were forced to take on Comets without young star Sherrie Calleia, and Comets took advantage despite having just six players available for this game to move to four wins for the season.

A cagey first quarter saw the teams separated by very little throughout the term. Four separate players combined for Comets’ first 8 points, whilst Anja Kolodziej scored four of Hills’ first 8 to leave the teams tied with a minute to play in the opening quarter. Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas dominated the latter stages of the quarter to take her personal tally to six within ten minutes and hand Comets a 12-8 lead to end the first period of action.

The visitors extended their lead to 17-8 early in the second quarter, but baskets from Paris Roditis and Zoe Burke trimmed the margin back to five midway through the term. Emma Claus added some late points for Hills, but a balanced scoring performance from Comets ensured the visitors would maintain the lead, and even briefly extend the margin to double figures before a last-second Andrea Roditis three for Hills saw the quarter end with Comets leading 26-19.

Signs of a comeback from Hills began to emerge in the third quarter, with Madison Hare leading her team with five early points to nudge Hills within a basket at 30-28 down midway through the quarter. Comets edged ahead yet again courtesy of a pair of Lauren Breen buckets, but in a low-scoring quarter, there was little opportunity for either team to create a swing in momentum, leaving the game tantalisingly poised at 36-32 in Comets’ favour with a quarter to play.

The teams traded threes in the early stages before Annie Turner chipped in four consecutive points and Maja Jurlina continued her solid offensive night to push Comets ahead 45-38 with just over five minutes remaining. Hare remained strong for the home side, but Jurlina helped push Comets out to a 50-41 lead with under three minutes to play. Hare and Andrea Roditis dragged Hills back into the contest at 50-45 with 90 seconds to play, but a couple of missed opportunities for the Hornets allowed Pogonza-Dumas to ice the game at the line, which she promptly did to secure Comets’ fourth victory of the season with a 52-45 win.

Maja Jurlina led all scorers with 15 points, but it was on the boards that a number of Comets players excelled. Annie Turner picked up an insane 17 boards to go with 8 points, whilst Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas tallied 8 points and 14 rebounds. Lauren Breen registered 7 points and 9 rebounds. Madison Hare tallied 10 points to lead Hills and also secured 7 rebounds. Emma Claus was also solid on the boards to finish with 9 points and 11 rebounds.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Georgia Ohrdorf (Illawarra) – 26 points v Hornsby
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 20 points v Illawarra
Marjy Grealish (Bankstown) – 18 points v Norths
Jaimee Kennedy (Norths) – 18 points v Bankstown
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 18 points v Norths

Youth League Week 18 Roundup

Sutherland saw their finals chances fall by the wayside without even playing a game as wins to Norths, Penrith, and Hornsby left the Panthers locked into a playoff berth, and Hornsby just barely hanging by a thread and relying on results to go their way next weekend. Elsewhere, Central Coast laid down a marker ahead of the playoffs with a 30 point rout of Manly.

Bankstown 61 lost to Norths 83

A win over Bankstown would go a long way to securing finals basketball for Norths, and despite a cagey start, the Bears were able to secure a win that put them in the box seat for one of the two remaining finals spots.

Tasmyn Haynes, as per usual, was at the forefront of Bankstown’s scoring in the first quarter. It seemed as though every Norths basket was replied to with one from the Bruins guard as Haynes finished the opening term with 14 of Bankstown’s 18 points. Norths, on the other hand, found points from a variety of options, with four points apiece from Milly Yates and Geena Valos accounting for half of the Bears’ 16 first quarter points as Bankstown held a slender 18-16 lead after ten minutes of play.

An incredibly low-scoring start to the second quarter saw Norths open the term on a 6-0 run which lasted for six minutes before Haynes responded to trim the Norths lead to 22-20. Annobel Starr replied with a basket to take her tally to four for the quarter, before Carla Liebenberg tallied five quick points as the visitors began to put a buffer between themselves and Bankstown. Haynes registered a late score for Bankstown, but the halftime score read 34-24 in Norths’ favour, a far cry from the closeness of the opening term.

Bankstown did a far better job of hanging with Norths in the early minutes of the second half. Georgia Gale chipped in a couple of baskets, and soon enough the Norths lead had been trimmed to 47-39. But a surge from the returning Elle Carroll re-established Norths double-digit lead, and with a couple of Bankstown players in foul trouble, the Bears held a 60-47 advantage with a quarter to play.

Norths dominated the opening stages of the last quarter to sledgehammer the final nails into the Bankstown coffin. A 13-0 run to open the term extended the margin to 26 points midway through the term and ensured Norths would give themselves the best possible chance of securing playoff basketball going into the final week of the regular season. Bankstown chipped away at the lead slightly as the match wound down, but Liebenberg secured a couple of trips to the line late in the game to wrap up the 83-61 win.

Tasmyn Haynes top scored with 26 points for Bankstown, but her only real scoring support came in the form of 11 points from Georgia Gale. Norths, on the other hand, finished with four players in double figures. Carla Liebenberg top scored with 19 points, with Annobel Starr registering 15. Elle Carroll chipped in 13 on her return from injury, whilst Milly Yates added 12.

Central Coast 74 defeated Manly 44

Central Coast’s trademark defence was in lockdown mode at Terrigal on Saturday, shutting down the Manly offence for long stretches in a 30 point rout which proved to be a real statement of intent from the Crusaders going into finals.

Each team was on the scoreboard inside the opening minute of the contest, but although Central Coast led 4-2 almost immediately, it would be another couple of minutes before they could extend that lead. Both offences stuttered slightly in the early running, with a few passes failing to find their mark and both defences doing a solid job of disrupting ball movement. Shakera Reilly finally got things moving again with a three which was quickly countered by Faith Bulgin for Manly, who knocked down a three of her own. Bulgin was the undoubted focal point of Manly’s scoring, chalking up 7 of the team’s 10 points in the first quarter in the absence of Sydney Uni Sparks forward Kimberley Hodge. Meanwhile, Alessandra Gasparotto did a solid job of making up for the absence of Sparks guard Charlie Evans, chipping in 7 points for Central Coast as the Crusaders edged out to an 18-10 lead after Lucy Chapman knocked down a late three.

Central Coast scored the first seven points of the second quarter, thanks mainly to some high pressure defence and the scoring of Reilly. It took nearly four minutes, but Manly were able to launch a run of their own as a couple of defensive lapses from the Crusaders allowed the Sea Eagles to take advantage and put together an 8-1 run to draw within eight points at 26-18. Losalini Katia found room around the basket to snap the run, but five more quick points from Antonia Henderson edged Manly back to a 28-21 deficit. The home side certainly enjoyed the better of the final minutes of the half, though. Reilly and Katia proved unstoppable at times in the last two minutes as the Crusaders’ lead quickly blew out to 40-25 by halftime.

Reilly and Katia continued to do the bulk of the scoring for Central Coast in the opening minutes of the third quarter, as the Crusaders’ multiple offensive options proved tough for Manly to defend. Caitlin Keefe knocked down a three for the visitors to stop the rot, but the Crusaders quickly put paid to any idea of a miraculous comeback. Four quick points from Taylor Ferris backed up more scoring from a rampant Reilly, whose final second three pushed the Central Coast advantage out to 59-35 with a quarter to play.

The final quarter saw Central Coast afforded the luxury to get some playing time into the legs some of their lesser-used players, with five-in, five-out substitutions not uncommon for the Crusaders as the game wound down. Emma Tunstead was the main beneficiary of some extra minutes, chipping in four last-quarter points as the game meandered to its inevitable conclusion, with Central Coast chalking up a 74-44 win over one of their championship rivals.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 22 points, whilst Losalini Katia added 20 and Alessandra Gasparotto chipped in 11 for the Crusaders. Caitlin Keefe top scored for Manly with 9 points, whilst Faith Bulgin’s first quarter burst helped deliver her 8 points.

Newcastle 68 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 37

In a game with little hanging on it other than pride and, in Newcastle’s case, potentially finishing above Bankstown for 9th place, it was the Hunters who secured a dominant 31 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur.

Laura Dick fired in the opening stages, scoring six points in the first five minutes to help Newcastle set up an early 14-4 lead. A Taylor Muaulu three and some early free throws from Rayan Danine ensured Liverpool-Macarthur would not be blown out early in the contest, remaining well and truly in touch at 18-11 down after a quarter of play.

Muaulu continued to lead the Razorbacks’ offence in the early stages of the second quarter, but Newcastle slowly started to compile a significant advantage. Seven points in the space of two minutes from Bonnie Frost delivered a 35-20 advantage for the Hunters before a late Kimberley Sepuloni basket trimmed the margin back to 35-22 going into halftime.

Muaulu continued her scoring dominance for the visitors, with five points to start the quarter pulling the visitors back within 8 points. Despite this, it wasn’t long before the home side broke off another extended run, with a 10-0 streak that spanned four minutes or so extending the margin to 22 points and putting the game beyond doubt before the final break with the scoreline reading 52-30 in Newcastle’s favour with a quarter to play.

With a number of players chipping in points throughout the fourth quarter, a total of eleven Newcastle players managed to register a basket, which represented five more players than the understrength Liverpool-Macarthur side even dressed for the game. Using that depth to their advantage, the home side were able to gradually extend their lead past the 30 point mark to secure a 68-37 win.

Laura Dick top scored for Newcastle with 12 points, whilst Bonnie Frost’s second quarter charge helped her to 10 points. Taylor Muaulu led all scorers with 15 points for Liverpool-Macarthur, whilst Kimberley Sepuloni added 11 for the Razorbacks.

Hills 54 lost to Penrith 63

Both teams came into this one down a star, with Hills guard Sherrie Calleia and Penrith post Natalia Beaumont both away in Melbourne with the Sydney Uni Sparks. With the Panthers needing one more win to secure a playoff spot and their final game coming against the ladder-leading Central Coast, this was the defending champions’ chance to secure a finals spot, and they did exactly that with a solid 63-54 win.

Hills started the better of the two teams, establishing a 7-2 lead early in the contest. Penrith were far from rattled though, and quickly overturned the deficit to establish a 12-10 lead midway through the quarter. Madison Hare would have the last say in the opening term though, with her seven points for the quarter helping Hills establish an 18-14 lead through ten minutes.

Hills opened the second quarter with the first five points to further extend their margin to 9 points, but Penrith aren’t a champion team for nothing. The Panthers scored 15 of the next 19 points to take a two point lead, with Dominika Offner and Meg Jefferson setting things up before Tatiana Beaumont rattled home a pair of threes in quick succession. Kelsey Curtin temporarily restored Hills’ lead, but four points from Abbi Williams to end the quarter saw Penrith hold a 33-30 lead at halftime.

Hare continued to be Hills’ main attacking weapon into the second half, but Penrith continued to edge ahead, with Binta Salawu putting the Panthers up 41-34 three minutes into the third quarter. The Panthers’ scoring slowed in the latter stages of the quarter, and a Paris Roditis three which drew Hills within one possession at 43-40 proved to be the only scoring play of the last three minutes or so, setting up a tasty fourth quarter.

The teams were almost inseparable in the early stages of the fourth quarter, with Meg Creanor’s six points for Penrith countered by a more shared approach to scoring from Hills. Nonetheless, the teams remained separated by just four points at 49-45 approaching the final five minutes. Then, suddenly, everything clicked for Penrith. Beaumont knocked down another two threes, stepping up massively in her sister’s absence, whilst Creanor continued to hit her shots as Penrith put together a 12-0 run to put the game beyond doubt at 59-45 with just under 3 minutes to play. Penrith were able to put a late run together courtesy of Zoe Burke and Rachael Mules, but it was too little, too late as the Panthers secured a finishing position of no worse than fifth with a 63-59 win.

Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 16 points, whilst Rachael Mules and Zoe Burke each added 10 for the home side. Tatiana Beaumont stepped up massively in a vital game to finish with 15 points for Penrith, all from beyond the arc. Meg Creanor was accurate in big moments to finish with 11 points, whilst Meg Jefferson tallied 10 for the Panthers.

Hornsby 61 defeated Illawarra 54

Only a win would be enough to preserve Hornsby’s minute finals chances, and that is exactly what they secured with a dominant victory that is not reflected in the seven point margin.

Seven points from Jess Sancataldo had the Spiders flying in the early stages as the home side established a 13-6 lead within seven minutes of play. With Illawarra unable to get much going on the scoring front, a late Maddison Delaney basket was like gold dust to the visitors. Despite this, Hornsby retained a 17-8 lead after a quarter of play, with desperation for victory perhaps fuelling their charge.

Brittany Clark scored the opening points of the quarter to trim Hornsby’s lead to 7, but that was merely a precursor to a 9-0 Hornsby run. With that run extending over a period of nearly five minutes, it was well into the latter stages of the half before Illawarra managed to score again. 26-14 would have been a manageable deficit going into the second half for Illawarra, but Serena Waters had other ideas. Two threes in the final minute or so of the half blew the Hornsby lead out to 18 points and put the game firmly in the Spiders’ hands going into the second half.

In a remarkably low scoring start to the second half, Hornsby could only add 2 points to their halftime score in the first five minutes, whilst Illawarra tallied six points to start the third quarter. Although things were not yet looking dangerous for Hornsby, they very well could have if their inability to find the bottom of the basket continued. However, Sancataldo and Amy Laws stepped up late in the piece to further extend Hornsby’s lead as Illawarra’s scoring dried up. A 9-3 run to end the third quarter pushed the Hornsby lead out to 49-27 with a quarter to play and effectively ended the game as a contest.

Illawarra showed glimpses of their best in the fourth quarter, but it was all in vain. Paige Phillips knocked down a trio of threes to showcase her abilities from beyond the arc, whilst Claudia Flynn accounted for the last ten points of the game to add some respectability to the scoreline. Hornsby, on the other hand, would have been slightly aggrieved at the fact that they could only add 12 points in the final quarter after dominating for so long. Despite this, the Spiders still emerged 61-54 victors. Whilst still reliant on a number of results to go their way next week, Hornsby are still a mathematical chance of making the finals.

Jess Sancataldo led all scorers with 23 points, whilst Serena Waters tallied 13 for the Spiders. Paige Phillips fourth quarter shooting helped her register 15 points, whilst Claudia Flynn’s late-game surge took her personal tally to 12 for the contest.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 26 points v Norths
Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 23 points v Illawarra
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 22 points v Manly
Losalini Katia (Central Coast) – 20 points v Manly
Carla Liebenberg (Norths) – 19 points v Bankstown

Youth League: Crunch Time

Two finals spots remaining. Four teams in the hunt. Six games that matter. To put it bluntly, that’s 64 combinations of results, one of which will decide the two teams that will join Central Coast, Manly, Hills, and Illawarra in the Youth League finals.

So where do we stand? Currently, Penrith appear to have the best chance of making finals, having already secured 10 wins with two games left to play. Norths, Hornsby, and Sutherland have all secured nine wins to this point, but Norths have two games left to play whereas Hornsby and Sutherland have just one game remaining. It looks as if Penrith and Norths are in the box seat, but is anything ever really that simple in basketball?

As you probably could have guessed, absolutely not. There is a wide disparity in the quality of opponents that the four teams will face in the remaining games that could completely flip the script, even at this point.

Fortunately, we have a fancy tool at our disposal that can help: maths! Ok, so it’s not really that fancy, but given the results to this point in the season, we can make a reasonable estimate of each combination of results occurring, and by extension, the chances of each team finishing on a certain amount of wins.

The numbers suggest that Sutherland have a 96% chance of winning their sole remaining game, away to Liverpool-Macarthur. We will then postulate that Sutherland will win that game, and focus on scenarios that include Sutherland finishing on ten wins. That leaves us with 32 combinations of results, each with its own chance of occurring.

(Note: All percentages are based on predictions which are derived from results so far this season and do not take into account player availability or other circumstances which may affect future games. They are in no way intended to be 100% infallible, and are merely estimates intended to provide a guide. Also, working out finals permutations is FUN! But please do not take any of this as gospel or before operating heavy machinery.)

Penrith:

Current Record: 10-8
Remaining Opponents: Hills, Central Coast
Percentage Chance to Make Finals: 48%

With a 10-8 record, Penrith appear to be in the box seat to make finals. However, they come into their final two games as underdogs. The Panthers are about a 37% chance to beat Hills and a 15% chance to beat Central Coast. This equates to Penrith having a 52% chance of finishing on 10 wins, and whilst 25 of the 32 combinations of results involve Penrith finishing in the top six, in only one of these do Penrith finish the season with ten wins. This can be attributed to their poor records against the other teams fighting for playoff berths – they have just one win against Norths, Hornsby, and Sutherland combined, and the only season series they have won is against Norths.

Scenarios:
Win A Game: In regardless of other results. (47% chance of occurring)
Lose Both Games: Would require Norths to lose both of their games and Illawarra to beat Hornsby. (1% chance of occurring)

Norths:

Current Record: 9-9
Remaining Opponents: Bankstown, Newcastle
Percentage Chance to Make Finals: 88%

With games against the lowly Bankstown and Newcastle teams remaining, and reasonably solid season series results against the other teams in the playoff hunt, Norths are sitting pretty as things stand. With their odds of making the finals sitting at an astounding 88%, and a 96% chance of winning at least one game, things are looking good for Norths at this point. However, if somehow they do lose to both Bankstown and Newcastle, their finals chances are dead in the water.

Scenarios:

Win Two Games: In regardless of other results. (65% chance of occurring)
Win One Game: Would miss out if Penrith lose both games and Hornsby beat Illawarra (8% chance of occurring). In with any other combination of results. (23% chance of occurring)
Lose Both Games: Out. (4% chance of occurring)

Hornsby:

Current Record: 9-10
Remaining Opponents: Illawarra
Percentage Chance to Make Finals: 9%

Losing to Sutherland in a nail-biter last weekend proved to be a double blow for Hornsby. Not only did they drop to 9-10 instead of advancing to 10-9, they also lost the season series with the Sharks in the process. As a result, the Spiders now have to beat Illawarra and rely on other results going their way if they are to sneak into the playoffs. The Spiders need the following to occur:

  1. Defeat Illawarra
  2. Penrith lose both of their remaining games
  3. Norths lose at least once

A combination of these three events will give Hornsby a chance at securing playoff basketball. Any other combination would create an unfavourable tiebreak situation for Hornsby and condemn the Spiders to an August without playoffs. Of course, the Spiders would also benefit if Liverpool-Macarthur defeated Sutherland, but relying on that occurring would be fraught with danger to say the very least. With Hornsby playing the nightcap at 7pm on Saturday this coming weekend, their fate may be sealed before their own game even concludes. Conversely, the competition could be far more open by that time as well.

Scenarios:

Defeat Illawarra: Require the aforementioned combination of Penrith and Norths losses to go their way. (9% chance of occurring)
Lose To Illawarra: Out. (50% chance of occurring)

Sutherland:

Current Record: 9-10
Remaining Opponents: Liverpool-Macarthur
Percentage Chance to Make Finals: 55%

With a win in their final game all but assured at this point, and favourable season series results against both Penrith and Hornsby, Sutherland’s chance of making the finals is far higher than you may expect from a team currently out of the playoff places with just one game left to play. Whilst their sole remaining game comes against the bottom team in the competition, Sutherland can also potentially benefit from taking four wins in their six games against the other teams fighting for playoff spots. It is a complicating situation for Sutherland; whilst they will almost certainly rely on tiebreaks to make the finals, they own a lot of those tiebreaks. With regards to those other results, Sutherland will have to avoid a two-way tiebreaker with Norths or a three-way tie-breaker with Norths and Hornsby. Essentially, Sutherland want a situation where Norths do not end up on ten wins and a finals spot remains open, through either Penrith or Norths losing both remaining games. Sutherland own the season series against Penrith and Hornsby, giving them a vital leg-up. But it won’t matter if they don’t get a win and results don’t go their way.

Scenarios:

A total of 14 combinations of the 32 go Sutherland’s way if they beat Liverpool-Macarthur. There is no one silver bullet that either secures or denies the Sharks a finals berth, and they will almost certainly be in with a chance at making finals regardless of the results in this weekend’s games. They just have to hope that they don’t end up in an unfavourable tiebreak situation.

Waratah Championship Week 15 Roundup

The top four teams are locked in after Sutherland and Newcastle’s slim chances fell by the wayside. Norths moved within one win of securing second place, whilst Manly and Bankstown are now set for a thrilling final day showdown to decide their spots on the ladder.

Bankstown 80 defeated Sutherland 71

A win for Bankstown in this game would secure their playoff spot, whilst a win for Sutherland could potentially keep their season alive. As it happened, it was the Bruins who secured victory to lock down a position in the top four.

The first quarter was a remarkably tight affair, with a number of ties and lead changes throughout the opening ten minutes. Sutherland scored the first five points of the game before Casey Samuels tied things up by scoring the Bruins’ first five points. Bankstown eventually secured a 10-7 lead, but Peta Kneen pushed Sutherland ahead 14-10 until a late rally saw Samuels tie things at 14-14. Shelley Bates hit the final basket of the quarter to give Sutherland a 16-14 lead after ten minutes of action.

Ten points for Samuels in the first five minutes of the second quarter helped Bankstown get out to a 26-20 lead before Ellie Gleeson and Marjy Grealish took control of the scoring. Kneen continued to do the bulk of the scoring for Sutherland, but Bankstown put their foot down as the quarter progressed, putting together a 23-11 second term which culminated in a 37-27 halftime lead for the home side.

Samuels continued to have a day out on offence, racking up points in astounding fashion. However, Kneen, as well as Lisa Watkins, kept Sutherland in the hunt as the second half progressed. The pair led Sutherland’s charge as the Sharks trimmed the Bankstown lead to 51-44. Briana Maimone hit back with seven points to end the quarter, but Sutherland did enough to keep the deficit within ten at 58-49 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter started brightly for Sutherland, with scoring from Jane Scrivens and Rachel Herrick trimming the Bankstown lead to 58-54 soon after the start of the final term. Samuels countered with a three for Bankstown, but more scoring for Sutherland meant the game was evenly poised at 63-61 with six minutes to play. Despite dragging themselves back into the contest, Sutherland were undone by a 9-0 Bankstown run late in the quarter that handed the Bruins a 75-63 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Bankstown were hardly in danger at that point, and although Sutherland scored the majority of the points in the dying stages, Bankstown secured the 80-71 win to secure a playoff berth.

Casey Samuels was utterly dominant to finish with 36 points, whilst Briana Maimone added 19 points and 9 assists for Bankstown. Peta Kneen top scored for Sutherland with 21 points, whilst Lisa Watkins added 15 points and 5 assists. Jane Scrivens came just short of completing a double-double for the Sharks, tallying 9 points and 11 rebounds.

Norths 71 defeated Comets 52

Norths also mathematically secured a playoff berth with a win over Comets, knocking Newcastle out of the finals race in the process.

Sydney Uni Sparks guard Serika Shillingsworth opened the scoring with a three, but Norths soon set about securing a lead. Tristan Black and Kallie Hovatter did much of the early scoring before a Taylor Jones three moved the Bears into a 12-7 lead. Tatyanna-Pogonza Dumas found her way to the line and converted a pair, but a late Hovatter lay-up kept the Norths lead at 5, with the scoreboard reading 14-9 in the home side’s favour after a quarter.

The teams traded baskets in the early stages of the second quarter before an 8-0 Norths run capped by four points from Ali Burke pushed the Bears into a 26-13 lead. Samantha Hewitt snapped that run with a three for Comets, but the home side’s dynamic backcourt of Hovatter and Kate Seebohm accounted for the next eight points of the game, with Seebohm picking off passes for fast break lay-ups on two consecutive plays. Rachel Higgisson put a bow on an electric 22-7 quarter with the final basket of the half to hand Norths a 36-16 lead.

Norths’ dominance continued into the second half as the lead ballooned to 40-16 before Shillingsworth knocked down another three. Tristan Black managed to find a bit of room inside to score six points for the quarter, whilst much of Comets’ scoring came from the line courtesy of Megan Cantellano and Pogonza-Dumas. Despite an improved performance from Comets, Norths retained a 51-27 lead through three quarters.

Shillingsworth hit her third three of the afternoon to open the fourth quarter, but it only served as the prelude to another 9-0 Norths run as Burke added five more points to an impressive personal tally for the young guard who was fresh off a Youth League game that finished just twenty minutes before this contest began. Comets put together a solid middle of the quarter, with Maja Jurlina especially impressive in scoring seven points in quick time. Comets won the final quarter 25-20, but the game was well and truly in Norths’ control by that stage, and the Bears ran out 71-52 victors to maintain their hold on second place.

Kallie Hovatter top scored for Norths with 16 points, with support from a number of players. Tristan Black finished with an impressive double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Kate Seebohm added 10 points, 8 assists and 6 steals. Eleni Valos popped up with points at regular intervals to finish with 10 points and 8 rebounds, whilst Ali Burke tallied 9 points in her second game in the space of a few hours. Serika Shillingsworth top scored for Comets with 17 points, whilst Maja Jurlina added 9 points and 8 rebounds. Lauren Breen was solid on the boards to finish with 11 rebounds alongside 7 points.

Manly 80 defeated Hills 56

Manly needed to keep winning to give themselves the best chance of finishing in a favourable finals position, and did that just that against the lowly ranked Hills side.

Rebecca Duke and Belinda Snell got Manly off to a solid start, but the underdog Hills side showed no fear in the early stages, and with Madison Hare starring, the Hornets took a 20-16 lead on the back of mid-quarter 9-0 run. But the Sea Eagles hit back to take a 24-20 lead by the end of the quarter with an 8-0 run of their own.

The generally efficient Manly offence lost its way slightly in the second quarter, and added just seven points to their total, but Hills were unable to punish the home side. Sherrie Calleia tallied four points and Emma Claus added five, but Hills were only able to tally ten points for the quarter. However, this was enough to push the Hornets within a solitary point at 31-30 down at halftime.

The halftime break clearly helped Manly regroup as they proceeded to dominate the third quarter. Kristen Forbes and Candice Trevenna helped put Hills to the sword, with Opals stalwart Belinda Snell also chipping in at times. With Hills going several minutes without scoring on multiple occasions, Manly were able to extend their lead to 51-39 with a quarter to play, putting them in the box seat going into the final term.

Hills’ offence improved in the final quarter, tallying 17 points as Hare and Calleia continued to be the Hornets’ main scoring weapons. But unfortunately for the Hornets, Manly racked up 29 points to roll to an 80-56 win as their experienced core continued to deliver throughout the game against a talented but inexperienced Hills lineup.

Candice Trevenna finished with 14 points for Manly, whilst Kristen Forbes registered a 13 point, 10 rebound double-double and Belinda Snell added 12 points and 8 rebounds. Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 21 points, whilst Sherrie Calleia added 18 points and Emma Claus tallied 11.

Hills 58 lost to Newcastle 74

Even without finals basketball to play for, Newcastle could still finish in a respectable fifth position, and this weekend’s win over Hills appears to have secured that spot, although it took until the final quarter for the Hunters to put away the young Hornets side.

Five different Hunters got their name on the scoresheet in the opening quarter, with Suzy Batkovic and Alison Ebzery leading the way with six points apiece. Kelsey Moss also had a solid start to the day, scoring four of Newcastle’s first six points. Despite some solid early scoring from Emma Claus for Hills, the Hunters jumped out to a 23-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Hills remained unfazed, and stuck with Newcastle throughout the second quarter to keep themselves right in the contest. Anja Kolodziej got Hills rolling, before Madison Hare notched six second quarter points for the Hornets in a solid effort from the home side. Newcastle continued to find scoring principally from Moss and Batkovic, and despite not extending their lead, were still able to maintain a nine point lead, taking a 39-30 advantage into the halftime break.

An 8-2 run provided Newcastle with an excellent start to the second half, and for a time it looked as if Hills were about to be blown away. However, the Hornets slowly chipped away at Newcastle’s lead, with Kolodziej, Claus, and Sherrie Calleia all getting amongst the points. But trailing by nine with just 90 seconds remaining in the quarter, it looked as if Hills would not make any real inroads. Enter Andrea Roditis, who scored the last five points of the quarter to put Hills within four at 53-49 down with a quarter to play.

Hills managed to hang with Newcastle in the opening stages of the last quarter, still trailing by just four with seven minutes to play. Newcastle’s class began to shine through in the latter stages though as a 13-0 run over the course of five minutes secured victory for the Hunters. Calleia added a couple of late points for the Hornets, but the 74-58 win was well and truly in Newcastle’s hands by that point.

Suzy Batkovic dominated for Newcastle yet again, finishing with 27 points and 24 rebounds. Kelsey Moss added 21 points, whilst Alison Ebzery tallied 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Emma Claus registered a double-double for Hills, tallying 16 points and 13 rebounds. Sherrie Calleia added 10 points, whilst Anja Kolodziej picked up 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Illawarra 42 lost to Norths 68

Norths locked Illawarra down, restricting the Hawks to single figures in both of the first two quarters on their way to a comprehensive 26 point victory.

Illawarra opened the scoring through Olivia White, and although Norths scored the next six points of the contest, Illawarra remained in touch in the early stages. The score read 8-7 in Norths’ favour after six minutes, but five consecutive points from Jaimee Kennedy, who had sat out Saturday’s game against Comets, delivered the Bears a 15-7 buffer by the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was remarkably low scoring. Eleni Valos tallied five points in the quarter for the Bears, and that alone was half of the team’s points for the quarter. Even more surprisingly, Valos outscored the entire Illawarra side, who registered just four points for the quarter. Despite the lack of scoring, the Bears were still able to extend their margin to 14 points, taking a 25-11 lead into halftime.

The third quarter brought far more excitement to the table as both offences managed to fire at times. White and Georgia Ohrdorf led Illawarra’s scoring in the early stages and managing to trim the Norths lead to ten points by the midpoint of the quarter. However, Norths hit back in the latter stages of the period, and with scoring coming from a number of players, including Kallie Hovatter and Kate Seebohm, the Bears maintained the 14 point lead they had built, holding a 45-31 lead going into the final quarter.

Norths opened the fourth quarter on a tear, scoring the first 16 points of the quarter to put the game beyond doubt early in the term. Seebohm and Kennedy did the bulk of the damage, with Tristan Black chipping in to help Norths get out to a 61-31 lead. Illawarra managed to trim the margin in the last few minutes of the quarter, but Norths still ran out 68-46 victors.

Jaimee Kennedy top scored for Norths with 19 points, and also added 7 rebounds. Kallie Hovatter chipped in with 13 points, whilst Kate Seebohm completed a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists, and also chipped in 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 blocks to finish just shy of a 5×5 performance. Eleni Valos added 10 points and 7 rebounds, whilst Tristan Black enjoyed a day out on the boards with 12 rebounds to go with her 6 points.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 36 points v Sutherland
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 27 points v Hills
Madison Hare (Hills) – 21 points v Manly
Peta Kneen (Sutherland) – 21 points v Bankstown
Kelsey Moss (Newcastle) – 21 points v Hills

Youth League Week 17 Roundup

Sutherland saved their season with wins over Bankstown and Hornsby, whilst Illawarra secured their finals spot with a win over Norths. With four teams now fighting for two spots, this week’s results certainly set up an interesting final two weeks of the Youth League season.

Bankstown 69 lost to Sutherland 90

Tasmyn Haynes was yet again electric for Bankstown, but the Bruins came up against a Sutherland side fighting for their playoff lives, and it showed as the Sharks fired in the second half to pull away for a 90-69 win.

Sutherland started the better of the two teams, quickly jumping out to a 13-6 lead on the back of two consecutive Meredith Hines three pointers midway through the opening term. Maddy Norris added six first quarter points for the Sharks, but five late points from Tasmyn Haynes kept Bankstown right in touch as the Bruins moved within a point as the first quarter ended 24-23 in Sutherland’s favour.

More scoring from Haynes in the opening stages of the second quarter delivered Bankstown their first lead of the game, but Hannah Clinen countered with Sutherland’s first five points of the quarter. Hines hit yet another three with just under five minutes to play in the half, restoring Sutherland’s advantage, and with Gabby Turnbull also knocking down shots from beyond the arc, the deficit soon became a 47-38 point lead by halftime as Bankstown’s scoring dried up in the latter stages of the second quarter.

Norris scored Sutherland’s first 9 points of the third quarter, with a Sabrina Zenatti three Bankstown’s only resistance. With the score moving along to 56-41 in Sutherland’s favour, the Bruins were forced into a timeout, but Clinen, Norris, and Hines continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Sharks as the third term progressed. Rebekah Fisher chipped in with some late scoring as Haynes’ best efforts for Bankstown were seemingly in vain as a late three from Fisher extended the lead to 74-56 following a third quarter blitzkrieg from Sutherland.

The Sharks’ scoring slowed in the final quarter, but Turnbull and Norris continued to add points here and there for the visitors as they secured their victory. Georgia Gale finished the game with 7 fourth-quarter points for the Bruins to round out a solid game, but it would be the Sharks who finished 90-69 winners to set up a Sunday blockbuster against Hornsby as both teams chase a finals spot.

Tasmyn Haynes led all scorers with 26 points for Bankstown, with support coming in the form of 17 points from Georgia Gale. Maddy Norris led five players in double figures for Sutherland with 24 points. Meredith Hines and Gabby Turnbull added 14 apiece, with 12 of Hines’ points coming from beyond the arc, whilst Rebekah Fisher and Hannah Clinen each tallied 13 points.

Norths 49 lost to Central Coast 59

A Norths team that dressed just six players was always going to be up against it facing Central Coast, but the Bears kept the game close for a significant portion of the game despite the apparent disparity between the two teams on paper.

In a relatively high scoring first quarter compared to the remainder of the game, it was Central Coast who opened up the first significant lead of the game. Losalini Katia, Charlie Evans, and Taylor Ferris were all amongst the points early as the Crusaders opened up a five point lead. Norths were able to hit back slightly, thanks in part to seven first quarter points from Ali Burke, and the opening term ended with Central Coast up 19-15.

Norths carried a bit of momentum into the second quarter, and it showed as the Bears took a 21-20 courtesy of more early scoring from Burke and Katerina Diamant. A quick Central Coast timeout managed to turn things around for the visitors, who put together a 13-2 run to complete the half. Paris Forcadilla and Evans kicked things off, before Katia dropped in four late points as the Crusaders put a bit of distance between themselves and the home side to lead 33-23 at halftime.

Central Coast looked destined to blow things wide open in the third quarter, scoring the first four points of the term to move 14 clear. Two baskets to Annobel Starr were followed by two more for Diamant and soon the margin was cut to 37-31 as the Crusaders’ scoring dried up. Fortunately for the visitors, Rachel Williams earned and converted an and-one opportunity to help Central Coast hold a 42-33 lead with a quarter to play.

Carla Liebenberg had the Norths offence firing down the stretch, scoring six final quarter points. Unfortunately for the Bears though, Central Coast kept their own score ticking over to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the final term, and the final margin of 10 points was the closest Norths would come in the fourth quarter as Central Coast registered a 59-49 win.

Ali Burke led all scorers with 17 points, whilst Carla Liebenberg added 11 for a valiant Norths side. Charlie Evans and Taylor Ferris each finished with 12 points for the Crusaders as seven Central Coast players finished with at least 5 points.

Manly 65 defeated Hills 52

Sherrie Calleia fired for Hills with an outstanding offensive performance, but it was Sydney Uni Sparks teammate Kimberley Hodge who led Manly to victory to hand the Sea Eagles prime position in the chase for the second bye into finals weekend.

In a remarkably low scoring first quarter, Calleia’s four points proved to account for half of Hills’ scoring for the term. Manly fared little better, with a 7-0 run midway through the term accounting for all bar 2 of the Sea Eagles’ first quarter points as the home side held a 9-8 lead after 10 minutes of play.

Fortunately, the second quarter proved to be a far happier time for the offences. A Calleia three pushed Hills out to a 13-9 lead, but Antonia Henderson kickstarted a 7-0 run for Manly that delivered a 16-13 for Manly. Calleia and Madison Hare quickly reestablished a lead for Hills, but the teams would trade the lead throughout the second quarter. A basket from Hodge gave Manly a 22-20 lead, but a Paris Roditis three with just under 2 minutes to play soon had Hills back in front 27-23. A late run from Manly culminated in a Katie Castle basket in the dying seconds of the term, and the teams went into the locker rooms tied at 29-29.

Faith Bulgin opened the third quarter scoring as Manly started the half with a 7-0 run. Calleia returned serve with five consecutive points, before Hodge did exactly the same to maintain Manly’s lead at 40-34 midway through the quarter. Calleia continued to put the Hills side on her back, dragging her team to within two points late in the term before a late Henderson basket gave Manly a 43-39 lead going into the final term.

Things looked destined to be close down the stretch, but Danielle Shepherd clearly had other ideas. 10 points in the first five minutes of the final term saw Manly open up a 9 point lead midway through the quarter. Zoe Burke did her best to trim the lead with a couple of baskets, but Hodge answered with six consecutive points of her own, eventually scoring Manly’s last 10 points of the game as the Sea Eagles remained at arms’ reach throughout the final term, running out 65-52 victors.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 25 points, tallying nearly half of Hills’ total, whilst Zoe Burke added 11 for the Hornets. Kimberley Hodge top scored for Manly with 17 points, whilst Danielle Shepherd and Faith Bulgin added 12 apiece for the Sea Eagles.

Hornsby 89 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 63

Jess Sancataldo returned to the Hornsby lineup and slotted straight in, racking up points almost at will as Hornsby secured a vital 26 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur to keep their finals hopes alive.

The Spiders opened with the first five points of the game, and it wasn’t long before the home side had opened up a significant lead, with seven points from Sancataldo and six from Maddie Suprain quickly establishing a 13-4 lead for Hornsby. Renee Muaulu helped move Liverpool-Macarthur back within six points at 16-10 down, but the shooting of Serena Waters and Sancataldo ensured Hornsby would hold a healthy 24-12 lead after a quarter.

Amy Laws knocked down a pair of shots to open the second quarter as the Spiders moved out to a 37-14 lead, opening the quarter on a 13-2 lead before Muaulu and Yasmin Danine were able to add to the Razorbacks’ tally. Waters finished the second quarter on a tear, eventually tallying 12 points for the term as Hornsby completed the half leading 51-30.

The second half started promisingly for the visitors, with Muaulu and Rayan Danine keeping the Razorbacks’ score ticking over. Hornsby continued to find points from various sources though, with Laws, Suprain, Sancataldo, and Tylah Mundine all contributing in what was a surprisingly even quarter given the events of the first half. In the end, the Spiders were only able to extend their lead by 3 points to 71-47 with a quarter to play.

The procession continued in the final quarter as the scoring remained even. Waters continued to fire for the Spiders, whilst Rayan Danine was the main scoring option for the Razorbacks down the stretch. An 18-16 quarter for the Spiders locked up a 89-63 victory for the home side and gave Hornsby some solid momentum going into Sunday’s must-win game against Sutherland.

Serena Waters led five Hornsby players in double figures with 25 points, whilst Jess Sancataldo added 22. Maddie Suprain tallied 16 points, whilst Tylah Mundine added 12 and Amy Laws registered 11 for the Spiders. Renee Muaulu led Liverpool-Macarthur with 20 points, with support coming in the form of 18 points from Rayan Danine and 10 from Yasmin Danine.

Illawarra 73 defeated Norths 67 (OT)

A tough weekend went from bad to worse for Norths with a second loss in two days, this time falling in overtime to Illawarra.

The Bears got off to a flyer, with seven points in the first six minutes from Geena Valos setting up an 11-4 lead for the visitors. Claudia Flynn hit back with a three to take her own first quarter tally to five, but Ali Burke finished the opening term with a pair of threes that put Norths up 17-7 after a quarter of action and leaving Illawarra slightly behind the eight ball.

Five more points from Burke early in the second quarter countered Illawarra’s attempts at a comeback as Norths maintained a double-digit lead deep into the second quarter. However, Claudia Flynn set about dragging the Hawks back into the game with an exquisite final two minutes, scoring six points as Illawarra finished the half on an 8-0 run to trail 28-24 at halftime.

Flynn and Maddison Delaney nudged Illawarra within two points early in the third quarter, but Burke continued to hit her shots, and with assistance from Milly Yates, kept Norths in the ascendancy with a ten point lead with under 90 seconds to play in the quarter. But once again Illawarra finished the stronger of the two sides, with Delaney and Paige Phillips each hitting a three and Eleri Morris converting a pair from the line to yet again see Illawarra sit within two at 45-43 with a quarter to play.

A final quarter that saw no scoring for the first two minutes eventually saw Illawarra score the first four points of the quarter to take a 47-45 lead with just over six minutes to play. Burke continued to score at will, before Katerina Diamant sank a pair at the line to give Norths a 52-51 lead with just over three minutes remaining. Delaney and Morris handed Illawarra a three point lead, but Diamant came up big with two baskets in 29 seconds as the lead swung back and forth.

An Ebony Petre basket with under a minute remaining put Illawarra up four, but Burke managed to somehow score the final four points of regulation to sneak Norths into overtime after it looked like they had completely squandered their early lead. The Bears’ sharpshooter opened the scoring in overtime, before a 7-0 Illawarra run put Norths on the brink before Burke sandwiched a Maddison Delaney basket with two of her own to bring Norths back within a basket at 69-67. It would be Illawarra, though, that scored the final four points of the contest, and with a 73-67 lead in the final 30 seconds, the Hawks held on for the six point win.

Ali Burke was electric for the Bears, finishing with 37 points despite the result. Milly Yates provided the main scoring support, tallying 11 points. Maddison Delaney top scored for Illawarra with 20 points, whilst Claudia Flynn added 17 and Eleri Morris registered 16.

Hills 48 defeated Newcastle 39

In a low-scoring contest, Hills survived an early score to secure victory against Newcastle and free themselves from any possibility of being involved in a scrap for finals positions in the last couple of weeks of the season.

Newcastle came out firing in the opening stages, scoring the first eight points of the contest before Sherrie Calleia got Hills on the board four minutes into the game. Zoe Burke followed up with a pair of threes for the Hornets, but five points each from Meiling Patfield and Abbey Morris saw the Hunters lead 20-11 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was not quite as electric for Newcastle, but six points from Megan Johnson ensured that Hills would not be able to trim the lead. Despite Calleia and Burke knocking down shots for the Hornets, six points from the UTRGV freshman kept Newcastle ahead 30-21 at halftime and in the box seat.

Hills started the second half with a bang, with some early scoring from Burke as well as Rachael Mules trimming Newcastle’s margin to 32-29 inside the first three minutes of the third quarter. A timeout ensued, after which the Hunters were able to extend their lead to 39-31, but from there, Newcastle’s scoring simply dried up. Hills scored the last six points of the term to draw within two at 39-37 with ten minutes to play.

Madison Hare brought her best in the final term with 8 points in the space of five minutes pushing Hills into a 47-39 lead with five minutes to play. Somehow, the teams combined for just one more point in the entire remaining five minutes, with a late Calleia free throw providing the final scoreline of 48-39 after an 11-0 final quarter for Hills.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 14 points for Hills, with Zoe Burke adding 12 points and Madison Hare’s final quarter charge taking her tally to 10 points for the game. Meiling Patfield top scored for Newcastle with 9 points, with Megan Johnson adding 6 as eight players scored points for Newcastle.

Central Coast 77 defeated Penrith 56

Central Coast opened up an early lead and never looked back, cruising to a 21 point win over Penrith that secured first place in the standings for the Crusaders and also sent Penrith slipping into an unexpected scrap for a finals spot.

The first three minutes saw the teams tied at 5-5, but Central Coast quickly broke off a 12-0 run as Shakera Reilly dominated the early proceedings with 15 points in the opening term. With Charlie Evans finding her way to the line and hitting free throws, the Crusaders established a 25-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Lucy Chapman opened the second quarter with a three before Reilly added two more points to her already remarkable tally as Central Coast extended their lead to 19 before Meg Jefferson helped trim the margin slightly with five quick points. With support from Natalia Beaumont, Jefferson and the Panthers were able to pull themselves back into the contest, trailing by just 10 late in the term before Evans scored the last four points of the quarter to hand Central Coast a 42-28 lead at halftime.

Rachel Williams scored the first five points of the third quarter as the Crusaders extended their lead to 47-28. Dominika Offner did her best to drag Penrith back into the contest, but the Central Coast machine rumbled on to a 20 point lead before Jefferson and Beaumont managed some late points to leave the scoreboard reading 58-42 with a quarter to play.

Beaumont had a solid final quarter for Penrith, registering ten points in the last ten minutes of play. Despite this, the Panthers were unable to mount a comeback as Central Coast continued their charge. Reilly knocked down a couple of threes, and with support from Chapman and Evans, the ladder leaders rolled to a 77-56 win.

Shakera Reilly dominated in parts on her way to 27 points for Central Coast, with Charlie Evans adding 17 points and Rachel Williams registering 10. Natalia Beaumont top scored for Penrith with 20 points, whilst Meg Jefferson added 12 and Dominka Offner tallied 9 for the Panthers.

Sutherland 80 defeated Hornsby 78

Hornsby faced Sutherland in what was a crunch game for both teams. The Spiders got off to a flyer, but the Sharks mounted a late comeback in a must-win game for the home side.

Serena Waters continued her ridiculously impressive scoring form of late with nine points in the opening quarter, accounting for half of Hornsby’s 18 points in the first term. Sutherland employed a more balanced scoring offence on their way to 12 points for the first quarter, with Hannah Clinen’s ability to get to the line a highlight for the home side.

Tylah Mundine and Maddie Suprain connected from beyond the arc, and Jess Sancataldo added to Hornsby’s total as the Spiders extended their lead to 31-14 before a timeout with just over three minutes played in the second quarter. Slowly, Sutherland worked their way back into the game, with Clinen going to work in the paint and Meredith Hines hitting from outside. The home side were able to trim the margin to 8 points, but Hornsby hit back to hold a 42-32 lead at halftime.

Mundine and Amy Laws got Hornsby off to a solid third quarter start as the Spiders moved out to a 15 point lead. A 9-2 run from Sutherland, sparked by Maddy Norris, pulled the Sharks back within 8 points, but that was as close as they would get for a long period as Hornsby picked up points at vital times, with five consecutive points from Laws midway through the term a highlight. Nonetheless, Sutherland remained in the contest at 64-55 down with a quarter to play.

Norris and Clinen fired in the opening stages of the final term, combining for 11 points in the first four minutes of the quarter, but Sancataldo and Waters ensured Hornsby remained ahead, and the Spiders held a 69-66 as a timeout was called midway through the quarter. Waters continued to find the basket, but Parrish Leavai added four quick points and the Sharks’ long charge back into the game had finally reaped benefits, with the home side taking a 74-73 lead. Norris edged the Sharks ahead 76-73, but Hornsby soon tied things up before Clinen put the Sharks ahead 78-76.

Tylah Mundine tied the game at 78-78 with just under a minute to play, but Gabby Turnbull delivered the game-winning shot with just over 30 seconds to play as Hornsby were unable to find a tying or winning shot in the final stages of the game. The 80-78 win kept Sutherland in the finals hunt, and with a game against last-placed Liverpool-Macarthur their sole remaining contest, may have just given themselves a real chance at playing playoff basketball.

Maddy Norris top scored for Sutherland with 27 points, with her major support coming from Hannah Clinen, who finished with 20 points. Parrish Leavai added 13 for the Sharks, whilst Meredith Hines’ three point shooting helped her to 11 points. Serena Waters top scored for Hornsby with her second 25 point performance of the weekend. Jess Sancataldo added 16, whilst Amy Laws and Tylah Mundine each tallied 13 for the Spiders.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 37 points v Illawarra
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 27 points v Hornsby
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 27 points v Penrith
Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 26 points v Sutherland
Sherrie Calleia (Hills) – 25 points v Manly
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 25 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 25 points v Sutherland

Waratah Championship Week 14 Roundup

Hornsby lost their second game of the season on Sunday, but did enough on Saturday to mathematically secure top spot. Newcastle remain clinging to one remaining shred of hope after a win over Sutherland, and Manly secured their finals spot with a nail-biting win over Norths.

Norths 72 lost to Manly 76

Manly couldn’t quite overturn Norths’ advantage in the season series between the two teams, but their win in this game against the Bears did plenty to help the Sea Eagles in their charge to stay ahead of Bankstown and secure a spot in the 2-3 matchup in the semi-finals.

The opening stages saw Norths’ backcourt defence, led by Kallie Hovatter, disrupt the Manly offence on several occasions and soon enough the Bears had opened up a 13-5 lead to force a Sea Eagles timeout. Manly were vastly improved out of the timeout, with Candice Trevenna leading the Sea Eagles’ charge. With Norths managing just three points in the final four minutes of the quarter, Manly were able to tie the game at 16-16 after the opening term.

Opals stalwart Belinda Snell scored the first five points of the second quarter as Manly opened up a 24-16 in the early stages of the term. However, Kate Seebohm hit back with two consecutive baskets of her own to cap an 8-0 run that delivered Norths a 26-24 lead. Despite this, Trevenna and Snell continued to rack up the points and it was only some late scoring from Hovatter and Seebohm that kept Norths close, with the Bears down 35-32 at halftime.

Jaimee Kennedy and Tristan Black were Norths’ main scoring options early in the third quarter, whilst Trevenna and Snell continued to keep things rolling for Manly. With the teams trading baskets throughout the quarter, the game was destined to remain close for the entire term, and it proved as such. Neither team gained anything more than an one-possession lead for the last six minutes of the quarter, with some late three pointers from both sides leaving the game on a knife-edge at 51-50 in Manly’s favour with a quarter to play.

Norths certainly started the faster of the two teams in the final quarter, scoring the first eight points of the term to move into a 58-51 lead as Hovatter scored the first six points of the quarter. Manly called a timeout, and quickly regrouped to tie things at 60-60 with four minutes to play before a pair of free throws from Snell handed Manly the lead. Hovatter and Ali Burke pushed Norths back in front, but it was clear that Manly were far from done. Trevenna and Snell continued to be the story of the day, and it was Snell who went to the line with 21 seconds remaining to attempt to ice the game. As you would expect, the Sydney Uni Flames and Opals legend connected on both to deliver victory to Manly and cement the Sea Eagles’ finals spots.

Kallie Hovatter led all scorers with 31 points, and also finished with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Backcourt partner Kate Seebohm was also on fire offensively, finishing with 19 points and 7 assists, as well as 8 rebounds. Tristan Black and Jaimee Kennedy came close to double-doubles. Black finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Kennedy registered 9 points and 10 boards of her own.

Belinda Snell top scored for Manly with 24 points, and also added an impressive 14 rebounds and 6 assists. Candice Trevenna tallied 22 points, and also picked up 7 assists as the duo led Manly to victory.

Sutherland 57 lost to Newcastle 72

A Sutherland win in this game would both strengthen Sutherland’s finals chances and also extinguish what little chance Newcastle had left, but Suzy Batkovic ensured that Newcastle would live to fight another day with yet another dominant performance from the five-time WNBL MVP.

Neither team’s radar was calibrated quite properly in the opening stages, as a Batkovic free throw over two minutes into the contest proved to be the first scoring play. Both teams quickly settled in after that though, with Newcastle opening up a 9-2 lead before Sutherland stormed back through a couple of Maddy Norris threes to remain just two points behind Newcastle at 13-11 after one quarter of play.

A 10-0 run to start the quarter gave Newcastle a 12 point lead and set Sutherland back on their heels a bit as their usual rebounding and height advantage was negated slightly by the Australian basketball legend playing centre for the opposition. The Sharks were able to stem the flow slightly as the quarter progressed, but Newcastle maintained a healthy advantage as a number of players, including the recently returned Charlotte Bull, knocked down shots. A late three from Norris reduced the margin to a manageable 13 at halftime, with Newcastle leading 39-26 as the teams headed for the locker rooms.

Batkovic scored the first ten Newcastle points of the third quarter, but Sutherland hung with the Hunters in the opening stages of the second half. Unfortunately, at 13 points down, hanging with the opposition will only result in a team having plenty to do in the fourth quarter. The Newcastle lead only moved out another three points in the third quarter, but that still left Sutherland down 57-41 with a quarter to play.

Alison Ebzery opened the fourth quarter with a pair of threes to push the Newcastle lead out to 63-44, and with both teams going on a long scoring drought soon after, the margin hovered around the 20 point mark deep into the final term. Some late three pointers for Sutherland trimmed the lead back to 72-57, but Newcastle had well and truly wrapped up the win several minutes earlier with their start to the final term.

Suzy Batkovic led all scorers with 30 points, and also topped the rebound count with 15. Alison Ebzery chipped in 13 points for the Hunters, whilst Cherub Lum dished out 9 assists to go with her 7 points. Maddy Norris connected on 5 of 6 three point attempts to top score for Sutherland with 15 points. Peta Kneen and Lisa Watkins each added 11 points, whilst Jane Scrivens collected 11 rebounds alongside 8 points for the Sharks.

Hornsby 98 defeated Hills 61

As was the case against Bankstown the week before, Hornsby had just six players available for this game against Hills, but the result was far more pleasing for the Spiders’ faithful this time, with their team cruising to a 37 point win.

The opening stages were remarkably close as the teams traded baskets for the opening few minutes. Hills jumped out to a 10-6 lead midway through the quarter, but the scoring of Darneka Rowe and Alicia Poto moved Hornsby within striking distance before a pair of free throws from Serena Waters ensured the Spiders would hold the lead at the end of the first quarter, with the home side leading 16-14 after ten minutes of play.

The second quarter saw Hornsby begin to assert their dominance and put a bit of distance between themselves and Hills. Whilst Emma Claus regularly knocked down shots for Hills, the balanced offence of Hornsby saw Poto’s scoring supported by Tylah Mundine, Olivia Sheehan, and Tara Kilminster, whose free throws with just under three minutes to play in the half extended the Spiders’ lead to 35-24. Claus briefly trimmed that lead to eight points, but Hornsby maintained a 10 point buffer at halftime with the scoreboard reading 42-32 in the home side’s favour.

Hills came out strongly in the third quarter, and for a time looked as if they might make a real charge at Hornsby. Led by Madison Hare, the Hornets remained with in seven points at 51-44 midway through the third quarter, but ten consecutive points from Serena Waters was just the start of an 18-0 Hornsby run that was not only an exercise in dominance, but ended the game as a contest as Hornsby held a 69-44 lead by the end of the term.

Hare continued to battle for Hills and continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors, but the scoring of Waters, Sheehan, and Mundine proved to be too much in the final term as Hornsby rolled to a 98-61 with a 29-17 final quarter. With Norths losing earlier in the day and Hornsby holding the season series over Norths, Hornsby also mathematically secured top spot for the regular season with the win.

A second half barrage of points saw Serena Waters top score for Hornsby with 26 points at a remarkable 81% clip. Alicia Poto finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists to come close to a triple-double, whilst two Hornsby players completed double-doubles. Tylah Mundine finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Olivia Sheehan registered 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as 5 assists and 4 steals.

Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 25 points and completed a double-double with 11 rebounds. Emma Claus also finished in double figures for the Hornets, tallying 15 points as well as 9 rebounds.

Sutherland 94 defeated Hornsby 60

Hornsby again dressed just six players, but found things much tougher against a Sutherland team in desperate need of a victory to stay in the finals race after Saturday’s loss to Newcastle.

The Sharks started the game on a tear, with the experienced trio of Rachel Herrick, Peta Kneen, and Jane Scrivens lighting it up early before Maddy Norris knocked down a three to take the score to 14-2 just five minutes into the contest. Tylah Mundine and Olivia Sheehan helped to drag Hornsby back into things, with the Spiders finishing the quarter on a 13-6 run to move within five at 20-15 with one quarter in the books.

Threes from Mundine and Tara Kilminster early in the second quarter moved the Spiders within a point of the hosts, and for a few minutes the game remained remarkably close considering the Sharks’ start to the game. However, then came a 16-3 run for Sutherland. With scoring from a variety of options, the Sharks took full advantage of their chance against an understrength Spiders side to open up a 45-28 lead by halftime.

The Spiders were valiant throughout, but with all five starters having played 29 minutes or more just a day prior, it was always going to be tough as the game progressed for the ladder leaders. The Sharks, and particularly Norris and Herrick in the early stages of the third quarter, were hardly in a sympathetic mood though, and continued to pile on the points with a 28-13 term that extended their lead to 73-41 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter was a far closer affair, with some accurate three point shooting from young Serena Waters proving to be a positive for Hornsby in the latter stages of the contest. The final quarter ended 21-19 in Sutherland’s favour to round out a 94-60 win that may have offered little in terms of a window into the future, but kept Sutherland’s season alive going into next week’s must-win game against Bankstown.

Five Sutherland players finished in double figures, led by Peta Kneen, who tallied 18 points and 9 assists. Rachel Herrick finished with 16 points and also collected 15 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Jane Scrivens also finished with a double-double consisting of 15 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Maddy Norris finished with 11 points and Lauren McCaffrey tallied 10 points. Lisa Watkins also finished with 11 rebounds alongside 8 points and 6 assists.

Serena Waters’ fourth-quarter barrage of threes saw her top score for Hornsby for the second time in two days with 16 points. Olivia Sheehan added 14 points and also collected 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double, whilst Tylah Mundine registered 13 points for the Spiders.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Kallie Hovatter (Norths) – 31 points v Manly
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 30 points v Sutherland
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 26 points v Hills
Madison Hare (Hills) – 25 points v Hornsby
Alicia Poto (Hornsby) – 25 points v Hills

Youth League Week 16 Roundup

Manly and Hills locked themselves into finals spots with wins this week, whilst Newcastle provided significant nuisance value with a win over Sutherland that leaves the Sharks requiring a number of results to go their way if they are to make finals.

Norths 65 lost to Manly 66

A nail-biting victory for Manly proved to be a game-changer in the hunt for the best possible finals seeding. The win for Manly kept the Sea Eagles in third place, but Norths tumbled from fourth to sixth with the loss.

The game was close for the entire 40 minutes, with Manly’s early first quarter lead of six points the largest margin of the contest. A couple of early baskets to Danielle Shepherd and Faith Bulgin got Manly off to an excellent start before Kimberley Hodge’s first points of the game pushed the visitors out to an early 11-5 lead. Four quick points from Annobel Starr quickly closed the margin, before Shepherd pushed Manly further ahead once again. Norths certainly finished the stronger of the two teams, with Ali Burke going to the line after being fouled on a three point attempt and converting all three free throws before a late Alice Ballhausen three gave the home side a 19-18 lead to end the opening term.

Hodge was Manly’s scoring leader in the second quarter. The Sydney Uni Sparks forward accounted for half of the Sea Eagles’ points in the period as Manly moved back into the lead in what was a low-scoring second quarter. Burke’s four points were almost also good for half of Norths’ points as a 12-9 scoreline for the term saw Manly hold a 30-28 lead at halftime following Katie Castle’s basket with just under two minutes to play which proved to be the final scoring play of the half.

Norths came out firing in the third quarter, with two three pointers from Burke getting the Bears off to a solid start. But in such a close contest, Manly were always odds-on to keep things close, and although Norths got out to a 40-35 lead at one point, it didn’t last long. Shepherd and Hodge each went two-for-two from the line, and although Burke’s outstanding shooting day continued, the Sea Eagles remained within a point of the home side at 44-43 with a quarter to play.

Four three pointers to open the quarter, three of which came by way of Burke, gave Norths some early momentum in the fourth quarter, but Shepherd and Castle proved that their own radar was just as good, before Hodge rounded out a 10-0 run for Manly which sent the scoreline from 56-51 in Norths’ favour to a 61-56 Manly lead in a matter of a couple of minutes. Burke converted a pair from the line before Hodge converted a three-point play to give Manly a 64-58 lead with two minutes to play.

A late run from Norths moved the score to 66-65, but that is where the scoring would finish as Manly escaped with the win that kept the Sea Eagles in with a chance of securing the first week bye for finals.

Ali Burke was the dominant force for Norths, finishing with 35 of the Bears’ 65 points in an astounding performance that included seven three pointers. Kimberley Hodge top scored for Manly with 25 points, whilst Danielle Shepherd added 16 for the Sea Eagles.

Liverpool-Macarthur 44 lost to Illawarra 77

Illawarra potentially moved within a solitary win of securing finals basketball with a 33 point rout of Liverpool-Macarthur which saw the Hawks move to 10-7.

Despite missing Eleri Morris, the visitors opened the game strongly. A 10-1 run to start the game was led by five points from Claudia Flynn and four from Brittany Clark as Illawarra set about asserting their dominance from the outset. Kimberley Sepuloni scored five straight points for the Razorbacks, but Illawarra soon set off on another run as Maddison Delaney scored seven points in the final 3 minutes of the opening term to help the visitors open up a 23-6 lead by the end of the opening term.

Rayan Danine tallied some early points in the second quarter for Liverpool-Macarthur, but Clark showed a remarkable ability to get to the line to ensure Illawarra maintained a healthy margin deep into the quarter. Abby O’Flynn added a couple of quick baskets midway through the term for the Razorbacks, but some late free throws for Flynn and Delaney allowed Illawarra to extend their lead to 41-19 by halftime and all but secure the game even at that early stage.

Tyler Vukovcan and Paige Phillips were Illawarra’s chief scoring options in the third quarter. Despite a complete absence of scoring for the first few minutes of the quarter, Vukovcan registered 8 points and Phillips chipped in 5 for the Hawks as their lead blew out to to 60-26 by the end of the quarter as the depleted Razorbacks found themselves in foul trouble.

A far better showing from the Razorbacks saw Danine continue to rack up the points as Liverpool-Macarthur won the final quarter 18-17. However, the contest was well and truly over at this point as Illawarra ran out 77-44 winners in a battle of two teams that dressed just six players apiece.

Claudia Flynn led all scorers with 25 points as five Illawarra players finished in double figures. Tyler Vukovcan added 14, Brittany Clark tallied 13, and Maddison Delaney and Paige Phillips registered 12 points apiece. Rayan Danine led Liverpool-Macarthur with 19 points, whilst Kimberley Sepuloni added 14.

Sutherland 61 lost to Newcastle 64

Sutherland’s finals prospects are looking eminently shaky after dropping a nail-biter to Newcastle to fall to 7-10. Newcastle moved to 5-12 with the win, out of the finals race, but definitely providing nuisance value in the final weeks of the regular season.

The opening quarter was a case of swings and roundabouts. Newcastle jumped out to a 7-2 lead on the back of early points from Meiling Patfield before Sutherland blew straight past the Hunters to lead 13-7 after a quarter as Gabby Turnbull scored the final six points of the quarter to follow up five consecutive points from Maddy Norris.

The back-and-forth nature of the contest continued into the second quarter as Newcastle hit right back. Sophie Parente and Georgia Parkes opened the term with four points apiece before Megan Johnson pushed the Hunters out to a 23-18 lead. A timeout ensued midway through the term, but Newcastle kept the pressure on as the half wound down. Sutherland were fortunate that they scored the last four points of the quarter, as Newcastle had earlier extended their lead out to 29-20 with two minutes to play in the half.

Norris continued to lead for Sutherland, as she has done for the entire season, keeping the Sharks within striking distance just as it looked as if Newcastle would start to edge away from the home side. Newcastle were able to establish a 38-28 point lead at one point, but a remarkable finish to the third term from Sutherland saw the home side finish on a 15-5 run to tie the game at 43-43 with a quarter to play.

With Laura Dick providing scoring support, Megan Johnson put the Hunters on her back in the final quarter. Sutherland edged ahead to 54-51 midway through the final term before Johnson put together a remarkable run of scoring. Going on an individual 9-0 run, the UTRGV freshman single-handedly gave the Hunters a 61-54 lead before Norris snapped the run with a basket to pull Sutherland within 5 points. Patfield re-established the 7 point lead before Turnbull and Meredith Hines combined to drag Sutherland within two points with 17 seconds to play.

Laura Dick was fouled to stop the clock and split a pair at the line to give Sutherland a chance to tie the game with the final possession, but the Sharks were unable to find the tying basket and Newcastle escaped with a 64-61 win.

Maddy Norris led all scorers with 25 points, and was supported by 11 points from Gabby Turnbull for Sutherland. Megan Johnson top scored with 22 points for Newcastle, with Laura Dick adding 12 and Meiling Patfield tallying 11 for Newcastle.

Hornsby 57 lost to Hills 76

Hornsby were once again forced to play with an understrength squad, and it hurt them in this loss to Hills, with the 19 point margin a stark contrast to the 75-70 Hornsby win earlier in the season.

Hills looked dangerous early in scoring the opening six points of the contest, but the shooting of Serena Waters in the opening stages ensured Hornsby would not be left behind in the first quarter.  Eleven first quarter points for the Spiders guard accounted for all but 5 points of the team’s scoring as she and Hills’ Zoe Burke engaged in a shootout throughout the first term. Burke tallied 9 points for the visitors in the opening term, who finished the first quarter leading 22-16.

Hornsby used the three ball to their advantage in the second quarter, with Maddie Suprain and Waters the chief beneficiaries. Madison Hare began to make her mark on the contest, but with the Hornsby offence firing, a Waters three with just under three minutes to play erased what was remaining of the Hornets’ lead to tie things up at 37-37. Hills were able to rescue their advantage in the final couple of minutes of the term, but the halftime break still saw the game on a knife-edge at 42-40 in the Hornets’ favour.

Hills set about extending their lead in the third quarter, but Hornsby continued to battle away despite their lack of numbers. Waters continued to do her best to keep the Spiders’ score ticking over, but with Burke finding support from Hare as well as Kelsey Curtin in the third quarter, Hills were able to extend the lead to 56-48 with a quarter to play.

Curtin knocked down a three to open the final term to extend Hills’ lead to 11, and before long a 7-0 to open the quarter had put Hills out of reach midway through the fourth quarter at 65-48. Hornsby rallied, and a Waters three put Hornsby within 12 with 3 minutes to play, but another run to end the game saw Hills’ strength in depth put Hornsby away with a 20-9 final term to emerge 76-57 victors.

Zoe Burke led Hills with 23 points, with support coming in the form of 16 points from Madison Hare and 10 for Kelsey Curtin. Serena Waters led all scorers with 24 points for Hornsby, whilst Maddie Suprain added 13 for the Spiders.

Central Coast defeated Hornsby (game not played, awarded to Central Coast)

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 35 points v Manly
Claudia Flynn (Illawarra) – 25 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Kimberley Hodge (Manly) – 25 points v Norths
Maddy Norris (Sutherland) – 25 points v Newcastle
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 24 points v Hills