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