Grand Final Day Roundup: Three Divisions, Three Thrillers, Three Champions

The neutrals couldn’t have asked for much better on grand final day for Waratah League, with all three women’s grand finals going down to the wire. With two games still yet to be decided in the final minutes and the other going to overtime, it was a day packed with excitement at Maitland.

Youth League: Central Coast 63 lost to Penrith 69

Despite not securing their finals spot until the last possible moment, Penrith somehow conjured a finals series run of form that culminated in back-to-back titles for a Panthers side that managed to spring a grand final upset over Central Coast.

A cagey start from both teams saw the first points not scored until almost two minutes into the fixture, but when the points came, they came thick and fast for Penrith, who scored seven points in 63 seconds to lead 7-0 just over three minutes into the contest. The highly-fancied Central Coast side quickly trimmed the lead to 9-6 through Charlie Evans and Alessandra Gasparotto, but Penrith managed to maintain a slim lead throughout the first quarter. Meg Jefferson used her length advantage to great success, delivering Penrith a 13-10 lead after a quarter, which could have been larger if not for a late Rachel Williams basket for Central Coast.

Threes from Sarah Creanor and Binta Salawu pushed the Penrith lead back out to seven points early in the second quarter as the Central Coast offence was stifled slightly after the break. Fortunately, from a neutral perspective, the Crusaders were able to keep things close thereafter in what turned out to be a low-scoring start to the second quarter. Losalini Katia made the most of some chances around the basket, but Jefferson continued to be a significant influence on the game for Penrith as the first half progressed. Despite the best efforts of Evans and Shakera Reilly, Penrith continued to maintain a decent lead throughout the second quarter, and took a 32-25 lead into the halftime break.

The opening stages of the second half saw the teams trade baskets, but Dominika Offner’s three point shooting prowess came to the fore on the back of Binta Salawu’s outstanding game control at the point, pushing Penrith to a 42-33 lead midway through the third quarter. Evans took control of the scoring for Central Coast in the latter stages of the third quarter, scoring almost at will at times. Despite this, the play of Salawu ensured Penrith would maintain their lead, albeit at a reduced 47-42 margin with a quarter to play.

Needing to trim the margin quickly if they were to secure victory, Central Coast set about their task with aplomb, as Evans and Lucy Chapman helped the Crusaders tie the game at 55-55 midway through the fourth quarter, negating the influence of Natalia Beaumont’s outstanding work in and around the paint for Penrith. However, just as it looked as if Central Coast might kick on and secure win, Tatiana Beaumont was allowed clear room to knock down a three, and a basket from Jefferson soon after changed the complexion of the game, putting Penrith up 60-55 with just under 3 minutes remaining in a nail-biting grand final.

The scoring dried up in the face of timeouts from both teams, before Tatiana Beaumont knocked down another three to extend Penrith’s margin to 8 points and put the Crusaders in a difficult situation with just over a minute to play. Evans was finally afforded a couple of foul calls which had eluded her for the previous 39 minutes, but Penrith managed to return the favour with points of their own, and when Salawu connected on a pair of free throws to extend the margin to six with 14 seconds to play, the game was clearly in Penrith’s hands. Central Coast attempted to find an open three, but time wound down too quickly for their liking and the Panthers survived to secure a 69-63 win and a second consecutive championship.

Binta Salawu was awarded Grand Final MVP after tallying 20 points for Penrith, whilst Meg Jefferson added 12 for the Panthers. However, it was Charlie Evans who led all scorers with 27 points for Central Coast, whilst Losalini Katia tallied 10 for the Crusaders.

Division 1: Bathurst 69 defeated Coffs Harbour 67 (OT)

In a day of thrilling grand finals, the Division 1 Women’s grand final between Bathurst and Coffs Harbour was undoubtedly the most exciting, with the game almost heading into double overtime before the Goldminers secured victory in the extra five minutes.

A low-scoring first quarter saw neither team able to hit double figures until the final seconds as defence reigned supreme. Former Newcastle point guard Sophie Kleeman, looking for her second title in two years after 2016’s Championship title with the Hunters, led a slightly disappointing nine point quarter for Bathurst with four points, whilst it took threes from Jordon Woods and Felicity Cook alongside a basket from Hawaii Pacific University player Jessi Reeves to drag Coffs Harbour to a 12-9 lead after a quarter of play.

The underdog Coffs Harbour side managed to maintain their slender lead in the early stages of the second quarter, and with Emily Crampton knocking down shots here and there, quickly moved out to a 19-12 lead. Bathurst looked sure to be down by a significant margin by halftime, but with Kleeman directing traffic and the experienced Rachel Murray getting to the charity stripe now and again, the Goldminers kept themselves in touch for much of the second term. Disappointingly for Bathurst though, they allowed Coffs Harbour a late run to end the half on the back of some ill-advised offensive plays, and the Suns moved out to a 35-24 lead at halftime.

An early Jordon Woods basket to start the second half pushed Coffs Harbour out to a 13 point lead. However, whatever happened in the Bathurst locker room at halftime had an effect, because Haylee Lepaio and Matilda Flood went to work to trim the lead before Sophie Kleeman nailed a crucial three-pointer which moved the Goldminers within two points at 40-38 midway through the third term as the minor premiers’ class began to shine through. The unfancied Coffs Harbour side refused to lie down though, ensuring they maintained a lead throughout the majority of the third quarter, save for a brief period when the scores were tied, and ensured that they would take a 50-46 lead into what at that time looked to be the final period.

Four fouls from Coffs Harbour before a single point was scored in the fourth quarter changed the complexion of proceedings even if the scoreboard remained the same. Young Bathurst star Olivia Doble, aided by Lepaio, helped Bathurst on a scoring run which could have completely flipped the script if not for five consecutive points from Woods in reply which restored Coffs Harbour’s lead after they briefly lost it in the early stages of the final term. At 59-56 up following a basket from Reeves, the Suns held all the aces, but the Goldminers held the ball. Lepaio managed to get the ball through the hoop with 19 seconds to play, and when Woods split a pair at the line after being fouled to stop the clock, Bathurst had a chance. However, the Goldminers took the sensible option and Matilda Flood managed to put the ball through the bottom of the net to send the game to overtime at 60-60 as Bathurst took the high-percentage shot rather than pin their hopes on a low-percentage three.

Controversy ensued midway through overtime as, with the score at 64-62 in Bathurst’s lead, Murray and Felicity Cook had a bit of a coming together. A common foul was assessed on Cook, whilst Murray picked up the unsportsmanlike foul. Murray missed both free throws, whilst Cook nailed one of her pair, and Coffs Harbour retained possession with the score at 64-63 in the Goldminers’ favour. Laura Bamford-Cleland managed to find the basket to give Coffs Harbour a lead, but Lepaio tied the game at 65-65 by splitting a pair at the line. With neither team especially reliable at the charity stripe, anything could have happened, but Lepaio secured an and-one late in the piece to negate another Bamford-Cleland basket and give Bathurst a 68-67 lead. Coffs Harbour were unable to score, leading to another foul and free throws to Lepaio with 0.3 seconds remaining. Lepaio split the pair, but with no timeouts remaining, a heave from 85 feet was always unlikely to fall, and Bathurst secured the grand final win that their regular season campaign deserved.

Haylee Lepaio’s 20 points secured a Grand Final MVP award for the former Newberry College star,  with three more Goldminers finishing in double figures. Sophie Kleeman added 15 points, whilst Rachel Murray tallied 13 points and young starlet Matilda Flood registered 11 points. Jordon Woods top scored for Coffs Harbour with 19 points, whilst Emily Crampton tallied 10 for the Suns.

Championship: Manly 58 defeated Norths 56

The WNBL experience of Manly’s starting lineup came to the fore in the final stages as the Sea Eagles came from fourth place to secure victory in a thrilling Championship grand final more than worthy of being the final game of a highly competitive season.

Norths certainly got off to a quick start, with Kallie Hovatter sneaking in to pick off Rebecca Duke’s jump-ball win to tally the first points of the game just 5 seconds into the contest. The American guard needed almost two minutes to add to her tally, but nobody else scored any points in the meantime, as the score read Norths 5, Manly 0 after two minutes following a Hovatter three. It wasn’t long before Manly hit back through Belinda Snell and Kristen Forbes to take a 6-5 lead, as the teams then traded short runs to leave the scoreline reading 10-10 after six minutes of action. However, anything that looked as if it may transpire into an extended scoring run was quickly snuffed out by the opposition, and whilst Norths moved out to a 14-10 lead at one point, a late Erin Todd layup delivered Manly an 18-17 lead to end the first quarter.

The score remained close as the second quarter progressed through its opening stages, with a Muffi Loader three proving crucial to Norths in the early minutes. However, Belinda Snell found her groove to find her way to the basket for a lay-up before drawing a foul from Kate Seebohm on a three point shot. The Opals legend hit two of the three free throws to move Manly into a 24-21 lead, and when Rebecca Duke was fouled by Hovatter around the basket, the Sea Eagles lead was out to five. The margin drifted between three and six points for much of the remaining time of the second quarter, with the shooting of Eleni Valos providing an unexpected bounty for Norths. In the end, the lead would remain with the Sea Eagles at 34-30 as the teams headed to the locker room.

A 6-0 run for the Bears to open the third quarter moved the lead into their hands, but once again Manly hit back to tie things up through an Erin Todd drive and lay-up. Todd and Seebohm traded baskets before Valos and Hovatter popped up with baskets to move Norths back into a 44-40 lead. In the lowest scoring quarter of the match, four points would mean plenty, and that is exactly what Manly finished the quarter with as Duke and Sarah White each registered late lay-ups to tie the game at 44-44 with just the fourth quarter remaining.

Razz Muir split a pair at the line to open the final term, before Seebohm hit a three and Muir split another pair of free throws to move Norths into a 49-44 lead. Snell hit back with a lay-up soon after, but a Hovatter drive to the basket saw Norths lead 51-46 with just over six minutes remaining. The American drew a shooting foul on Snell shortly after, and suddenly the Bears were looking good value for their 53-46 lead. However, an extended scoring drought and a Sarah White three were enough to trim the lead back to a manageable 55-52 with 2:31 to play following yet another Snell lay-up for Manly.

With neither team especially clinical from the charity stripe, both teams left points at the line which meant that Snell’s jumper in the final minute moved the scoreline to 56-55 in Norths’ favour. Jaimee Kennedy collected her own rebound on the next Norths’ possession but was forced into a desperation pass which landed in Kristen Forbes’ hands. Manly engineered a possession which, combined with a Norths’ defensive breakdown in the paint, allowed Rebecca Duke a wide open lay-up to hand Manly a 57-56 lead. A Norths timeout followed, and on the ensuing play, Kallie Hovatter came off a screen brilliantly to get to the basket, but Duke came up big for the eighth time in the contest to block the shot. Norths inbounded the ball, but Snell came up with the steal and was fouled in the dying seconds. The Sydney Uni Flames star split the pair, but Norths were left with an unlikely heave as the seconds ticked down. With the Bears unable to get a shot off, Manly were left jubilant, celebrating their first women’s championship in club history with a 58-56 victory.

Belinda Snell picked up the Grand Final MVP award with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists, but Rebecca Duke’s 12 points, 15 rebounds, and massive 8 blocks were arguably just as important. Erin Todd rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 points for the Sea Eagles. Kallie Hovatter top scored with 15 points for Norths, and also picked up 9 rebounds and an impressive six steals. Kate Seebohm tallied 15 points whilst shooting 60% from three point range, and also added 6 assists. Eleni Valos tallied 10 points and 6 rebounds, whilst Jaimee Kennedy and Tristan Black added 9 and 10 rebounds respectively.

Waratah Championship Semi Final Roundup

A 3rd v 4th Waratah Championship grand final awaits us on Sunday afternoon as Manly upset Hornsby and Norths snuck by Bankstown in the semi-finals. Both games were absolute nail-biters, setting up a scintillating championship game.

Hornsby 78 lost to Manly 79

A thrilling encounter between the minor premiers Hornsby and fourth placed Manly ended with the Sea Eagles securing the upset win and progressing to the grand final.

Things looked ominous in the early stages as Manly scored six points in the first 45 seconds of the contest, but Hornsby soon got on the board through a pair of Darneka Rowe baskets. Manly continued to find points through Belinda Snell, but an extended scoring drought for both teams was cut by Hornsby forward Rachel Maenpaa. Snell led Manly on a late run to push the lead to 19-10, but four points from Jess Sancataldo in the dying stages of the opening term helped Hornsby trim the margin to 21-19 after Tylah Mundine’s three in the final seconds of the quarter.

Maenpaa and Sancataldo combined for the first five points of the second term to hand Hornsby their first lead of the contest, and with Rowe knocking down another three, the Spiders put together a solid start of the second quarter, culminating in a 33-27 lead midway through the term. Manly’s offence would not be denied for the entire quarter though, and soon enough the Sea Eagles had cut the margin back to 37-34 courtesy of Kristen Forbes. With the teams trading points, the margin held steady for the remainder of the second quarter, with a late lay-up from Snell keeping Manly within three at 42-39 down at halftime.

A low-scoring third quarter commenced with no scoring for nearly two minutes until Alicia Poto split a pair at the line. Manly enjoyed a far superior few minutes on offence, reestablishing an advantage at 45-43 before Poto and Rowe knocked down threes for Hornsby. The Spiders were able to push their lead out to seven, but in a back-and-forth game such as this, no lead was ever safe, and a late Sea Eagles charge delivered a 54-53 lead by the end of the quarter.

After a strange moment to start the fourth quarter in which Manly’s bench received a technical for having too many players on court, the teams traded baskets in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but it would be Manly who broke out of the rut and put together a run which established a 68-59 lead by midway through the final term in what looked to be a potentially match-winning lead. However, Hornsby, led by Poto, would not be denied. The 2004 Olympian led her side on a charge that dragged the Spiders back into the contest at 73-69 down with just 71 seconds to play. A pair of beautifully executed runners in the lane from Rowe tied the game at 73-73, before Belinda Snell drew the foul call on Jess Sancataldo whilst driving to the basket with 28 seconds to play, promptly knocking down both free throws. The Spiders were unable to score on the ensuing play, and forced to foul, sent Snell to the line again. The Opals stalwart was again perfect at the charity stripe to hand Manly a 77-73 lead, before Liv Sheehan hit a jumper to draw Hornsby within two in the final few seconds. Jess Kelly was the next Manly player sent to the line, but when she hit both, the margin was four points with single digits left on the clock. Poto hit a buzzer-beater from just shy of half-court, but unfortunately for the Spiders the four point line doesn’t exist quite yet, and Manly escaped with a 79-78 win.

Belinda Snell led all scorers with a scintillating 31 points and 14 rebounds to power Manly to victory, whilst Rebecca Duke also completed a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Rachel Maenpaa and Darneka Rowe each registered 18 points for Hornsby, with Maenpaa completing a double-double with 11 rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. Alicia Poto registered 17 points and 8 assists, whilst Tylah Mundine added a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spiders. Jess Sancataldo also registered a solid 6 points and 9 rebounds playing in an unfamiliar frontcourt position.

Bankstown 67 lost to Norths 72

Norths made it a 3rd v 4th Grand Final with an equally nail-biting 72-67 win over Bankstown in the second semi-final.

It was the Bruins who came out firing in the opening term as their accurate shooting in the early stages allowed them to jump out to a double digit lead as the term progressed. The experienced heads of Briana Maimone and Casey Samuels did the majority of the damage in the first quarter as Bankstown conjured a 25-13 lead, with Jaimee Kennedy’s scoring proving to be priceless for a Norths side struggling to stay in touch.

However, as much as Bankstown dominated the first quarter, Norths did the same in the second quarter. The points came slowly for both sides as a combination of lockdown defence and some questionable decisions on offence from both teams stifled the scoring, but Norths were unquestionably the better of the two teams. With Muffi Loader hitting shots with regularity, and the dynamic backcourt duo of Kallie Hovatter and Kate Seebohm chipping in points, the Bears were able to trim the Bruins’ lead to 31-30 by the time halftime arrived courtesy of a 17-6 second quarter.

Seebohm and Hovatter combined to give Norths their first lead since the opening minutes of the contest, and then extend that out to 36-31. With Seebohm hitting three pointers with regularity, it looked as if Norths may get away, but Bankstown regrouped to quickly hit back as Maimone and Samuels continued to provide the bulk of the scoring. The margin hovered around the one-possession mark each way as the quarter progressed, but it would be Bankstown who finished the quarter the better of the two teams. Holding a one point lead at 48-47, the Bruins scored the last four points of the quarter through Maimone and Ellie Gleeson to establish a 52-47 lead with ten minutes remaining.

Jaydene Barnes pushed the Bankstown lead out to seven with the first basket of the final quarter, but from that point scoring became almost an impossibility for the Bruins. The triumvirate of Loader, Seebohm, and Hovatter combined for a game-changing 15-0 run, of which Hovatter tallied ten to put Norths up 62-54 with just over 3 minutes remaining. A pair of Marjy Grealish baskets in quick succession trimmed the margin to four points, and after Loader split a pair at the line, Casey Samuels hit a three and suddenly the score was 63-61 in Norths’ favour with 55 seconds to play.

Seebohm found her way to the line and knocked down a pair, and with the Bruins unable to score on their next possession, Loader was fouled to stop the clock and promptly hit both free throws. Adrianne Bywater hit a three with 17 seconds to play to trim the lead to 67-64, and from there a moment of controversy ensued. Norths called a timeout and the siren went right as the ball was inbounded straight into a Bankstown player’s hands and promptly through the basket. A quick consultation saw the officials award the timeout to Norths, negating the Bankstown basket. The Bears managed to successfully inbound the ball on the ensuing possession, after which Kennedy was fouled and also connected on a pair. Rhiaan Te-Hira’s three with eight seconds to play trimmed the lead to 69-67, forcing Norths to sweat it out a bit. Kennedy was fouled once again to stop the clock and hit the first but missed the second free throw. However, Norths managed to secure the ball, and when Hovatter converted a pair at the line, it tied a bow not only on a fantastic evening for the American, but a thrilling win that saw Norths into the grand final with a 72-67 win.

Casey Samuels led all scorers with 28 points for Bankstown, with the former Sydney Uni Flames player also collecting 8 rebounds. Briana Maimone racked up a 21 point, 11 rebound double-double and also dished out 5 assists. Marjy Grealish was solid on the boards with 9 rebounds alongside 4 points. Kallie Hovatter led Norths with 23 points, whilst Kate Seebohm added 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. Muffi Loader added 13 points and 5 rebounds, whilst Jaimee Kennedy was solid with 9 points and 8 rebounds.

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.

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

Youth League Elimination Final Roundup

You couldn’t have found a closer weekend of Youth League basketball if you tried, with the combined margin of the two elimination finals totalling just three points. In the end, it was Illawarra and Penrith who won out, joining Central Coast and Manly in Maitland next weekend.

Penrith 61 defeated Norths 59

An absolute barn-burner of a game between Penrith and Norths came down to the final possession as the Panthers failed to ice the game at the line but managed to escape with a win that keeps their unlikely tilt at a second straight title alive.

Norths found it tough to find decent looks in the early stages, and deep two pointers from Teiarna Offner and Meg Creanor delivered Penrith the first four points of the contest. Alysha Skerritt quickly found her feet for Norths, and took advantage of Natalia Beaumont’s absence for Penrith, scoring six of Norths’ first eight points of the game to tie things at 8-8 heading into the final minutes of the opening term. However, Penrith regrouped, and with Norths unable to close out Dominika Offner late in the quarter, the Panthers guard knocked down a three for the last scoring play of the quarter to hand her side a 16-10 lead after ten minutes of play.

The quarter time break couldn’t have come at a better time for Norths, and they used the time to regroup as coach Alek Horenko attempted to energise a Bears side that looked slightly flat in the opening term. With the magnitude of the game firmly implanted in their minds, the visitors came out firing in the second term to score the first eight points of the quarter and take an 18-16 lead. With Penrith’s offence stuttering, Norths managed to conjure a 17-6 quarter which delivered the Bears a 27-22 halftime lead, as the likes of Milly Yates and Elle Carroll showed a lot more spark than was on show in the first quarter.

Dominika Offner found her way to the line twice in quick succession to open the third quarter, quickly trimming Norths’ lead to 27-25. Skerritt continued to find success in the paint for the Bears, whilst Yates added a vital six third quarter points in a low-scoring contest. Meg Jefferson also tallied six for Penrith, but Katerina Diamant scored Norths’ last four points of the quarter to see the Bears hold a 43-37 advantage heading into the final term.

Penrith came out stronger in the fourth quarter, and threes to Jefferson and Offner saw the Panthers take a 45-44 lead with just over six minutes to play. A technical foul on the Penrith bench allowed Carroll to tie the game from the line, before Chloe Bloom scored four consecutive points to restore Penrith’s advantage in a topsy-turvy final term. Penrith managed to hold that lead at around the four point mark until another technical foul on the Penrith bench allowed Carroll to trim the lead from the line before Carla Liebenberg split a pair after earning a trip to the charity stripe on the ensuing Norths’ possession. Both teams left points at the line in the final minute, with Charlotte Gorman’s three with five seconds to play trimming the lead to 60-59. Dominika Offner split a pair at the line, leaving Norths five seconds or so to conjure something. Unfortunately for the Bears, Elle Carroll’s last-second attempt fell short to see the Panthers book their ticket to Maitland to take on Manly in the semi-finals.

Chloe Bloom and Meg Jefferson shared top scorer honours with 15 points apiece, whilst Dominika Offner added 13 for the Panthers. Milly Yates led Norths with 14 points in her final game for the Bears before leaving for Saint Mary’s College of California, whilst Alysha Skerritt and Elle Carroll added 12 apiece in a heartbreaking loss for Norths.

Hills 58 lost to Illawarra 59

Hills and Illawarra also combined for a thriller as the home side fell desperately short of securing a comeback win after trailing by double digits midway through the third quarter as the teams played each other for the second time in consecutive weeks.

Hills’ three major offensive weapons combined for all 11 of the Hornets’ points in the opening term, as Madison Hare, Sherrie Calleia, and Zoe Burke each found the bottom of the net in the first quarter. However, Maddison Delaney continued her solid form of recent weeks to tally eight points in the opening quarter, including two three-pointers, to help the Kittyhawks to a 16-11 lead after ten minutes of action.

Brittany Clark knocked down two threes of her own early in the second quarter as Illawarra pushed their lead out to eight, but Calleia and Hare ensured that would be as large as the Kittyhawks’ lead would extend in the short term. Aided by contributions by a number of teammates, the pair helped trim Illawarra’s margin to 27-25 before a late Illawarra run took the margin back out to six points as the scoreboard read 31-25 in the visitors’ favour at halftime.

Four points from Hare early in the third tied the game at 31-31, but threes to Clark and Eleri Morris, followed by a pair of baskets from Claudia Flynn, took Illawarra out to a 41-31 lead with just under 5 minutes remaining in the third term. Hills responded with an 8-0 run of their own, but once again Illawarra finished the quarter the stronger of the two teams to hold a 44-39 lead with a quarter to play.

Tyler Vukovcan chipped in a couple of baskets early in the fourth quarter, but the Illawarra offence sputtered slightly in the early stages of the final term as Hills trimmed the lead to 49-46 on a Rachael Mules three midway through the period. Paris Roditis hit a couple of shots for the Hornets, and when Calleia found the bottom of the net, the home side had tied the game at 53-53 with just over two minutes to play. Somehow, Illawarra managed to regroup to hold a 58-55 lead with 28 seconds to play. Roditis sent Delaney to the line with 9 seconds to play, and the Kittyhawks starlet split the pair to leave Illawarra up 59-55. Zoe Burke hit a three in the dying seconds, but that would be the last scoring play of the game as the Kittyhawks escaped with a 59-58 win to move onto Maitland, where they will face top seed Central Coast.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 17 points for Hills, whilst Madison Hare added 15 for the home side. Four Kittyhawks finished in double figures, led by Brittany Clark’s 13 points. Claudia Flynn and Maddison Delaney added 11 apiece, whilst Eleri Morris chipped in 10 for Illawarra.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Sherrie Calleia (Hills) – 17 points v Illawarra
Chloe Bloom (Penrith) – 15 points v Norths
Madison Hare (Hills) – 15 points v Illawarra
Milly Yates (Norths) – 14 points v Penrith
Brittany Clark (Illawarra) – 13 points v Hills
Dominika Offner (Penrith) – 13 points v Norths

Waratah Championship Week 17 Roundup

Bankstown came up with a final day win over Manly to sneak their way into the 2nd v 3rd semi-final, where they will play Norths, who knocked off Newcastle and hit triple figures in the process.

Manly 59 lost to Bankstown 67

In a game that would ultimately decide the finals placings behind Hornsby, it was Bankstown who first created an astounding lead and then did their level best to throw it away before emerging victorious to secure a spot in the 2 v 3 semi-final v Norths, leaving Manly to face Hornsby in the 1 v 4 matchup.

With Adrianne Bywater, Casey Samuels, and Briana Maimone all proving accurate in their shooting early in the contest, Bankstown opened up a 13-0 lead before Manly finally got on the board through a Kristen Forbes three. It did little to stop Bankstown’s momentum though, as the Bruins continued to fire away through Samuels and Madison Bennett to take a 27-6 lead after the first quarter.

However, the thing about large early leads is that the opposition have plenty of time to chip away at them. That’s exactly what Manly did, as Rebecca Duke found ways to score time and again to move Manly within five points at 32-27 midway through the second quarter. Mercifully for the Bruins, they were able to go on a small run of their own as an Ellie Gleeson basket kick-started some late scoring to ensure Bankstown went to the locker rooms with a double-digit lead at 41-29.

A low-scoring third quarter worked in Manly’s favour as Bankstown’s momentum came to a complete standstill. It took over three minutes for the Bruins to add four points to their halftime total, and with Candice Trevenna joining Duke in a scoring spree, the Sea Eagles trimmed the margin to a solitary point at 45-44 with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter. But once again Bankstown survived with their lead intact as Gleeson and Samuels added some late points to see the Bruins head into the final term up 50-44.

Manly had threatened for the entire second half and tied the game at 50-50 early in the final term. Somehow Bankstown were kicked into gear, perhaps by the apparent urgency of the situation, rattling off the next 8 points of the game to re-establish a reasonable lead with 5 minutes to play. The visitors then extended that lead to 12 with just under 3 minutes to play, and with Manly’s offence unable to fire down the stretch, Bankstown survived to escape with a 67-59 win and secure second place in the standings.

Rebecca Duke compiled an impressive 17 point, 16 rebound double-double to almost drag Manly to victory, whilst Candice Trevenna added 11 points and 7 rebounds. Casey Samuels also finished with a double-double, registering 22 points and 11 rebounds. Ellie Gleeson impressed with 14 points, whilst Briana Maimone tallied 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists to finish just shy of a triple-double.

Norths 103 defeated Newcastle 69

Norths compiled the first 100 point game of the season at the best possible time, hitting some solid offensive form right on the cusp of finals after a few poor shooting games in recent weeks.

An electric first quarter from Norths put the home side on the front foot from the outset, as the Bears hit shots with alarming regularity. Kallie Hovatter and Jaimee Kennedy led the Bears’ scoring in the early stages, and with more than able support from Kate Seebohm, the home side compiled a remarkable 30-12 lead by the end of the opening term, with Suzy Batkovic’s five first quarter points leading Newcastle.

Fortunately for the Hunters, they found a little more success on offence in the second quarter. Batkovic continued to find ways to score, whilst Sydney Uni Flames guard Cassidy McLean hit a number of three pointers to keep Newcastle’s score ticking along. Unfortunately for the visitors though, Norths continued to fly on offence. The backcourt duo of Hovatter and Seebohm continued to dominate proceedings, and with a number of frontcourt options getting the job done in the paint, a high-scoring quarter finished 27-23 in the Bears’ favour to hand the home side a 57-35 halftime lead.

The scoring rampage continued for both teams in the early stages of the second half. McLean and Batkovic continued to deliver for Newcastle, with support coming from Kelsey Moss. Hovatter continued to add to her tally, whilst Muffi Loader added some handy points off the bench for the Bears. Newcastle emerged to win the third quarter 23-21, taking a 78-58 lead into the final quarter.

Norths hammered home their advantage in the final quarter, holding Newcastle to just 11 points in the last ten minutes of the contest. Kelsey Moss was responsible for six of these, giving the Hunters some rare highlights in the final term. Loader and Eleni Valos each ticked their personal tallies into double figures in the final quarter for the Bears, with Kate Golding also afforded a rare extended stint on court to tally some late baskets as Norths emerged 103-69 victors which no doubt helped their confidence leading into finals.

Kallie Hovatter led Norths with 26 points, whilst Kate Seebohm completed a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists. Jaimee Kennedy also registered a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds, whilst Muffi Loader added 14 points and Eleni Valos tallied 11 for Norths. Suzy Batkovic led Newcastle with 27 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Cassidy McLean chalked up 22 points and Kelsey Moss added 12 points and 5 boards.

Comets 47 lost to Sutherland 72

With neither team able to move from their current position in the standings, pride was all that was at stake at this one, and it was Sutherland who emerged as winners in their final game of the season to finish with a respectable but ultimately fruitless 8-8 record.

A blistering start to the game set up an early advantage for the visitors. Starting the game on a 13-0 courtesy primarily of Clare Thomson and Peta Kneen, it was nearly seven minutes before Comets registered their first basket through Nadine Wannous. Fortunately, Comets did keep pace with Sutherland from that point onwards, but still trailed 21-7 after ten minutes of play as Lisa Watkins got in on the act with some late points to end the quarter.

Things went slightly better for Comets in the second quarter, but Sutherland continued to extend their lead. The home side opened the quarter well, with Jaimee Cohen in particular providing some early points. However, as Comets’ scoring tailed off in the latter stages of the quarter, Watkins and Kneen, along with Jane Scrivens, continued to extend Sutherland’s lead. With Comets unable to score for the last 3 minutes of the quarter, the Sharks’ lead grew to 39-19 by halftime.

The home side scored the first five points of the third quarter, but Sutherland were quickly back in the swing of things to maintain their 20 point cushion. Although Serika Shillingsworth went on a tear in the latter stages of the quarter with seven quick points to reduce the margin to something respectable, Sutherland were still holders of a 55-33 lead with one quarter to play.

Maja Jurlina tacked on some late points for Comets, but with the game meandering to its already obvious conclusion, neither team was able to swing the margin too far in their favour, with a mid-quarter flourish from Sutherland seeing the visitors take home a 72-47 victory.

Peta Kneen led all scorers with 23 points for Sutherland, whilst Clare Thomson came close to a double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Lisa Watkins added 16 points, whilst Jane Scrivens collected 16 rebounds and Rachel Herrick chalked up 10 boards. Serika Shillingsworth top scored for Comets with 13 points, with Jaimee Cohen tallying 9 points. Lauren Breen was Comets’ best on the boards with 11 rebounds.

Illawarra 67 defeated Hills 53

Illawarra condemned Hills to the wooden spoon on the very last day of the season courtesy of yet another dominant performance from Georgia Ohrdorf, who accounted for just shy of half of the Kittyhawks’ total.

A depleted Kittyhawks side that dressed only a starting five for the game would have to come out strong, and they did just that. The Kittyhawks, led by some early points from Bronte Covington and Lauren Sparks, hung with Hills in the opening stages before taking an 11-9 lead just shy of four minutes into the contest. Turnovers reigned supreme in the middle portion of the term, but Ohrdorf scored 10 of Illawarra’s final 11 points of the term to establish a 22-17 lead despite the best efforts of Madison Hare and Anja Kolodziej for Hills.

Ohrdorf continued to dominate in the early stages of the second quarter, and with scoring assistance from Eleri Morris, the Kittyhawks continued to extend their margin. An 18-4 run to open the quarter from Illawarra pushed the home side out to a 40-21 lead before some late baskets from Emma Claus helped settle things for a Hills side that struggled to find any scoring for much of the term. Paige Blanton added a couple of late free throws for the Kittyhawks to see their lead extended to 46-27 at halftime.

Hills fared slightly better in the third quarter, scoring the first six points of the second half to give themselves a sniff of a comeback, but Illawarra hit back with an 8-0 run of their own to take the lead past 20 points with five minutes remaining in the term. Andrea Roditis added a couple of quick baskets for Hills, but their scoring charge was definitely felt more in the opening stages of the term. Hills did win the third quarter, but only by a 12-11 margin, leaving Illawarra comfortably ahead at 57-39 with ten minutes remaining.

Illawarra must no doubt have been tiring by this stage, but the Kittyhawks held firm in the final quarter. Whilst their scoring was down, they allowed Hills just two baskets in the first five minutes of the final term to have the game wrapped up well before the final buzzer. A late 10-0 run for Hills added some respectability to the scoreline, but it would be the Kittyhawks who secured their second win of the season to leapfrog Hills in the final standings and hand the Hornets the wooden spoon.

Georgia Ohrdorf led all scorers with a simply masterful 32 points and 16 rebounds in her final game before heading back to Metro State University for her senior year. Lauren Sparks also finished in double figures with 12 points, and also picked up 6 assists and 5 steals. Eleri Morris, Paige Blanton, and Bronte Covington were also solid. Morris finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds, Covington tallied 8 points and 8 rebounds, and Blanton registered 7 points and 9 rebounds. Emma Claus top scored for Hills and also picked up 7 rebounds, whilst Anja Kolodziej picked up 12 points and 5 rebounds. Madison Hare was solid as always, finishing with 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Georgia Ohrdorf (Illawarra) – 32 points v Hills
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 27 points v Norths
Kallie Hovatter (Norths) – 26 points v Newcastle
Peta Kneen (Sutherland) – 23 points v Comets
Cassidy McLean (Newcastle) – 22 points v Norths
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 22 points v Manly

Youth League Week 19 Roundup

Penrith scored a win over a depleted Central Coast to really shake up the final standings at the last possible moment. Manly secured the first round bye with a big win over Bankstown, making a statement in the process.

Norths 51 defeated Newcastle 34

Newcastle may have only travelled to this game with six players, but with Norths missing their only true outside threat, Ali Burke, due to injury, they would have to win this game in the paint as they looked to clinch their finals berth.

Norths got off to the best possible start, chalking up the first six points of the game as former Sydney Uni Flames forward Annobel Starr came up with two early baskets. Newcastle slowly came into the game to trim the margin, but Norths retained a 10-6 lead after a low-scoring quarter in which both teams found it tough to get anything of substance created on offence.

Sarah-Jane Thomas took her personal tally to six early in the second quarter as Norths found the better looks. Meiling Patfield was Newcastle’s scoring leader through the second quarter, but with Katerina Diamant and Elle Carroll finishing a couple of tough looks, it soon looked as if the Bears would break away from the visitors. However, late baskets to Grace Kibble and Hannah Fox saw the Hunters able to trim the Norths’ lead to 24-16.

Newcastle hung with Norths in the early stages of the second half as Patfield continued to add points, but the class of Carroll showed through in the third quarter. 12 points in the term for the recently returned guard was the catalyst for Norths to take a 44-23 lead after three quarters as the Sydney Uni Sparks program member took the game into her own hands to put the game beyond doubt when it had earlier appeared that Newcastle were set for a comeback.

The Hunters put together an 8-1 run early in the fourth quarter, but it was more a case of stopping Norths’ scoring on a number of consecutive occasions than getting quick points, as the scoreline read 45-31 with 4 minutes to play. Whilst more scoring followed, there was very little of it, and Norths ran out 51-34 winners to finish the regular season on 11 wins and secure a finals spot.

Elle Carroll led all scorers with 16 points, whilst Sarah-Jane Thomas, Katerina Diamant, and Annobel Starr each tallied 6 points for the home side. Meiling Patfield led Newcastle with 10 points, whilst Melanie Edwards and Hannah Fox each added 6 for the Hunters.

Illawarra 76 defeated Hills 65

A win in this game wouldn’t be enough for Illawarra to secure the first round bye in the finals, but they could certainly upset Hills’ plans to do so, and with Eleri Morris resembling some sort of fireball, the young Kittyhawks chalked up a 76-65 win.

Morris was on a tear early in the contest, scoring 9 of the game’s first 13 points as Illawarra took an 11-2 lead inside four minutes. Five early points from Paris Roditis kept Hills in the mix early at 12-7, and two late threes from Rachael Mules kept the Hornets’ offence ticking over. However, in the meantime, Tyler Vukovcan and Bronte Covington took the reins from Morris and ensured Illawarra would take a 24-13 lead into the first break.

Mules, as well as Madison Hare, did their level best to keep Hills in touch as the game progressed into the second quarter, but Vukovcan and Covington continued to provide perfect foils for Morris, with the trio leading Illawarra past the half-century mark before halftime with some electric scoring. Paris Roditis added five more points for Hills, but nonetheless, Illawarra held a commanding 51-33 lead at halftime.

With Mules continuing to hit threes, Hills moved back within 11 early in the third quarter before Claudia Flynn found herself at the line three times in quick succession, converting four of her opportunities in the process. The Hornets continued to have the better of the quarter though, with Hare and Mules, backed up by Zoe Burke and Laura Davidson, trimming the Illawarra lead to 61-56 with 90 seconds remaining in the the third quarter. Morris came up with a big three point play with just under a minute to play to push Illawarra out to 64-56, which is how the quarter ended.

Morris and Flynn hit early shots in the fourth quarter for Illawarra, and Hare countered with one of her own, but after six points in a minute, the teams would combine for the grand total of zero points in the next four minutes of play. Hills really needed to be the next team to score, but instead it was Morris extending Illawarra to a 72-58 lead with just under 5 minutes to play. Hare played a lone hand in the dying stages to give Hills a pulse at 74-65 down with two minutes to play, but Morris scored the only basket of the final stages to deliver Illawarra a 76-65 victory.

Eleri Morris was simply scintillating, stuffing the stat sheet with 36 points. Tyler Vukovcan added 12 and Bronte Covington chipped in 11, whilst Claudia Flynn’s ability to get to the line helped her to 10 valuable points. Rachael Mules’ three point scoring helped her to 20 points, with six threes forming the bulk of her points. Madison Hare tallied 18 points for the Hornets, whilst Paris Roditis added 12.

Penrith 65 defeated Central Coast 46

With a few tiebreakers in their favour and facing a depleted Central Coast side in their final game of the season, Penrith came into this one with a chance to jump to third, and they did exactly that with a 19 point win over the ladder leaders despite Natalia Beaumont’s absence.

Although Central Coast were suffering from a lack of numbers, you only need five players to take the court to start the game, and with most of the starting lineup intact, the Crusaders jumped out to an early 9-2 lead courtesy of four early points from Losalini Katia. Dominika Offner quickly put paid to any ideas of the Crusaders getting away from the Panthers though, with two quick threes that delivered Penrith a 10-9 lead. Katia continued to dominate the opening quarter though, and two late Taylor Ferris free throws helped Central Coast to a 15-12 lead after a quarter.

The Panthers opened the second quarter in dominant fashion, with Tatiana Beaumont scoring seven of the first nine points of the term and Penrith unable to get on the board for the first five minutes of the period. Somehow, despite these struggles, Central Coast were not completely blown away by halftime. Katia added five late points to combat the Panthers’ scoring, but the home side retained a 27-20 halftime lead courtesy of an excellent start to the quarter.

The third quarter proved to be Meg Jefferson’s time to shine. Whilst Katia and Rachel Williams combined to score all 10 Crusaders points in the term, Jefferson scored 14 of her own to put Penrith well and truly in the driver’s seat. With teammates chipping in points here and there, Jefferson’s heroics extended Penrith’s lead to 48-30 with a quarter to play.

Four more points to Jefferson opened the final quarter and soon the Panthers had pushed the margin out beyond the 20 point mark. Williams and Ferris did what they could to attempt to trim the lead, and Shakera Reilly added some late points, but with Penrith adding points at regular intervals, the Panthers were able to hold the lead at around 20 points throughout the fourth quarter and secure a 65-46 win to shake up the finals positions as Penrith jumped into third with the win.

Meg Jefferson led all scorers with 24 points, thanks mainly to that third quarter barrage. Tatiana Beaumont added 12, whilst Dominika Offner’s early three point shooting helped her to 9 points. Losalini Katia led Central Coast with 19 points, whilst Rachel Williams finished with 11 points. Taylor Ferris and Shakera Reilly each added 7 for the depleted Crusaders side which still finished well clear atop the table despite the loss.

Liverpool-Macarthur 61 lost to Sutherland 83

In a game with little hanging on it but pride, Sutherland completed a 10 win season but finished narrowly out of the finals after a 22 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur.

Brianna Morris was the one doing early damage for Sutherland, tallying five early points as Sutherland manufactured an early 12-5 lead before Taylor Muaulu and Kimberley Sepuloni hit back for Liverpool-Macarthur. The Razorbacks’ pair combined for 11 points and saw the home side claw back to see the teams tied at 15-15 after a quarter of play.

Bianca Carusio added a couple of baskets early in the second quarter for the Razorbacks, but the class of Maddy Norris quickly shone through. The Sutherland star tallied 9 points in the opening stages of the quarter to help push the visitors out to a 30-20 lead. Carly McLachlan chipped in a few points before Parrish Leavai rounded out what turned out to be a dominant second quarter for the visitors with five late points to see the Sharks take a 42-27 lead into the halftime break.

Although Sutherland continued to extend their lead in the third quarter, Liverpool-Macarthur found a significant positive in the play of debutant Jenarl Faraimo, who hit shot after shot to tally 11 points in the third quarter alone. Norris and Leavai continued to keep the Sharks’ score ticking over, with Meredith Hines also stepping up at times as the Sharks took a 63-42 lead into the final quarter.

The Razorbacks kept pace with Sutherland in the fourth quarter, with a number of players tallying points for the home side in a solid team performance from the depleted Liverpool-Macarthur side. However, the Sharks had this game well and truly sewn up and ran out 83-62 victors in their final game of the season.

Jenarl Faraimo led Liverpool-Macarthur with 24 points, whilst Kimberley Sepuloni and Taylor Muaulu each tallied 12 points and Bianca Carusio added 9 for the Razorbacks. Maddy Norris led all scorers with 27 points, with Parrish Leavai adding 20 for the Sharks. Brianna Morris chipped in 13 for the visitors, whilst Carly McLachlan added 12 as four Sharks finished in double figures.

Manly 79 defeated Bankstown 42

A win for Manly would deliver them the first-round bye, and they secured the win in dominant fashion, locking down the Bankstown offence throughout the contest on their way to a 37 point victory.

Manly didn’t have it all their own way in the early stages as Bankstown proved more than a match for the Sea Eagles. Whilst Katie Castle and Faith Bulgin each started solidly, Tasmyn Haynes and Georgia Gale made a living at the free throw line early in the game to keep the Bruins right on pace with Manly. A run of five points from Antonia Henderson looked as if it might set Manly on a bit of a run, but Sabrina Zenatti’s late three kept Bankstown within a basket at 15-13 down after a quarter.

Manly looked dangerous in the early stages of the second quarter, with Josie Bulman adding a couple of baskets in the opening minutes. However, Bankstown hit back on each occasion until midway through the term. From 22-19 up, Manly went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 11 points and put Bankstown under some real pressure. Brittany Pulling added a late basket for Bankstown, but Manly retained a 30-21 lead at halftime.

Surely not wanting Bankstown to get even a sniff of a comeback, Manly held firm in the opening minutes of the second half before putting the hammer down as the third quarter progressed. A seven point lead quickly became ten, and then rolled past the 15 and 20 point mark. With Castle and Bulman hitting shots with aplomb, the Bruins became almost powerless to stop the Manly side, who conjured a 57-34 lead by the end of the third quarter to have this one in the books with ten minutes to play.

The Sea Eagles weren’t done, though. Bulman continued an outstanding second half on offence, and with Bankstown’s scoring drying up, Manly rolled to a 79-42 lead which secured a first-round bye for finals, allowing the Sea Eagles plenty of preparation for their semi-final in Maitland in a couple of weeks.

No player scored over 15 for Manly, but 11 players contributed, led by Antonia Henderson’s 15 points. Josie Bulman added 14, whilst Katie Castle chipped in 13 for the Sea Eagles. Tasmyn Haynes played an almost lone hand for Bankstown, tallying 17 points for Bankstown to be the Bruins only player in double figures, with Georgia Gale next best with 7 points.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Eleri Morris (Illawarra) – 36 points v Hills
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 27 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Jenarl Faraimo (Liverpool-Macarthur) – 24 points v Sutherland
Meg Jefferson (Penrith) – 24 points v Central Coast
Rachael Mules (Hills) – 20 points v Illawarra

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