Youth League Semi Final Roundup

Penrith and Central Coast will face off in the grand final after both posted comprehensive semi-final wins. Penrith will go into the grand final looking to go back-to-back, whilst Central Coast will look to atone for last year’s injury-marred finals series and complete what has been a dominant season to this point.

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Central Coast 64 defeated Illawarra 48

Central Coast survived several charges from Illawarra to eventually power to an 18 point victory and secure a spot in Sunday’s Youth League grand final.

The Crusaders shot out to a 14-2 lead early in the piece, with Shakera Reilly shooting the lights out in the opening stages. Mercifully, Illawarra were able to gain some momentum of their own, putting together an 8-0 run to end the quarter on the back of four quick points from Maddison Delaney, leaving the Crusaders holding a 14-10 lead after the opening term.

Illawarra continued their roll into the second quarter, and took a 17-15 lead just shy of midway through the second quarter courtesy of five points from Eleri Morris. However, the Crusaders were quickly sparked into action by the loss of their advantage, and broke off an incredible 15-2 run to end the second quarter. Reilly continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, whilst Taylor Ferris added five points to see the scoreboard read 30-19 in Central Coast’s favour at halftime.

Despite a demoralising back end to the first half for Illawarra, the Kittyhawks returned with a vengeance in the third quarter. With the Crusaders unable to muster much in the way of scoring, Morris and Claudia Flynn dragged Illawarra back into the contest and eventually into a 36-33 lead when Morris knocked down a three midway through the third quarter. But as in the second quarter, Central Coast were reinvigorated by the loss of a lead, with Reilly and Losalini Katia pushing the Crusaders ahead and out to a 50-41 lead with a quarter to play.

Another extended run from Central Coast to start the fourth quarter would put the game beyond doubt, and that is exactly what the Crusaders delivered. A pair of threes from Reilly, contributions from a number of other players, and stingy defence saw the top seeds push their lead out to 62-43 with just under 5 minutes to play. Illawarra tacked on a few late points, but it would be Central Coast who moved into the grand final with a 64-48 win.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 22 points for the Crusaders, with solid contributions from Alessandra Gasparotto, who tallied 14, and Losalini Katia, who added 10 points. Eleri Morris was Illawarra’s only player in double figures with 13 points, with Claudia Flynn adding 8 points and Maddison Delaney tacking on 7 for the Kittyhawks.

Box Score

Manly 46 lost to Penrith 69

Penrith’s charge to a championship repeat continued with a dominant 23 point win over second placed Manly in a replay of last year’s grand final.

The Panthers started the game like a house on fire, jumping out to a 14-3 lead before five minutes had elapsed. Regular scoring leaders Dominika Offner and Meg Jefferson were accurate early, tallying five and seven points respectively in the opening stages. Penrith extended that lead to 18-3 before a late Manly run reduced the margin to 18-8 by the end of the first quarter.

Manly rolled on slightly in the second quarter, trimming Penrith’s lead to 22-16 courtesy of a couple of threes from Katie Castle before Penrith kicked again. Offner kicked things off with a three, and despite more scoring from Castle, the Panthers were able to push the lead back out to double figures to hold a 33-22 halftime lead.

The margin held firm at around the 11 point mark for the opening stages of the third quarter as the teams traded scoring efforts. However, an 8-0 Penrith run midway through the term changed the landscape of the contest as it allowed the Panthers to extend their lead out to 20 points, principally due to scoring from Dominika Offner and Sarah Creanor. A pair of free throws from Josie Bulman reduced the margin to 50-32 with a quarter to play, but the Panthers retained control of proceedings.

Penrith were unable to blow Manly away in the opening stages, but the Sea Eagles were also unable to trim the margin, leaving the game in a state of equilibrium as the result became more and more obvious as time wound down. Another 8-1 run from Penrith to round out the game tied a bow on a 69-46 win as the Panthers continued to give Manly troubles in Youth League finals games.

Dominika Offner led all scorers, tallying 22 points for the Panthers. Meg Jefferson added 16 points, whilst Abby Williams chipped in 9. Katie Castle led Manly with 14 points, with Antonia Henderson adding 11 and Faith Bulgin tallying 10 for the Sea Eagles.

Box Score

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