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.

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 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 Week 15 Roundup

A couple of upsets shook things up slightly as the run to the playoffs gets to a very interesting point. There was no such drama for Central Coast though, who remain three games clear atop the Youth League standings.

Bankstown 72 defeated Hornsby 65

Tasmyn Haynes was a one-player wrecking ball against a depleted Hornsby side, scoring over half of Bankstown’s points in a result that, whilst not reviving the Bruins’ season, certainly shook up the playoff race.

Piper Duck helped Hornsby to a quick start, scoring five of the Spiders’ first eight points within two minutes of the opening tip. Early threes from Georgia Gale and Sabrina Zenatti kept Bankstown in touch in the opening minutes before Haynes collected 9 points in the remainder of the opening term. Haynes’ efforts helped Bankstown to a 20-14 lead, which could have been more if not for a couple of late Hornsby baskets from Erica Pitman.

Brittany Pulling started the second quarter with four points for Bankstown, but the three point shooting of Maddie Suprain combined with more points from Pitman saw Hornsby able to tie the game at 28-28 in a low-scoring second quarter. A pair of free throws from Maliame Mafile’O, her only points of the contest, restored Bankstown’s lead to 30-28 in the dying seconds of the half, but the second term certainly belonged to the understrength Spiders side.

Haynes helped Bankstown extend their lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but Hornsby’s shooting from beyond the arc continued to serve them well. Suprain, Pitman, and Serena Waters all knocked down threes, and with three minutes to play in the third term, Hornsby had taken a 40-39 lead. But an astounding 13 points from Haynes in the final 3 minutes of the term restored an 8 point Bankstown advantage with a quarter to play.

Accuracy at the line in the opening stages of the fourth quarter from Pitman and Waters moved Hornsby back within four points at 54-50 with just under 7 minutes to play, before Gale and Haynes kicked Bankstown back into gear. Five points from Haynes and four free throws from Gale pushed Bankstown out to a 63-52 lead with just over five minutes to play, before a pair of Zenatti free throws tacked another two points onto the lead. Hornsby rallied through Pitman and Waters, and when Duck’s basket fell, the score was suddenly 69-65 with 58 seconds to play. However, Hornsby’s best efforts to close the margin completely were unsuccessful, and Zenatti’s three in the final ten seconds secured a 72-65 win for the Bruins.

Tasmyn Haynes dominated proceedings with 41 points for Bankstown, with Sabrina Zenatti adding 13 for the victorious Bruins. In a side missing a number of players, Erica Pitman led Hornsby with 22 points. Serena Waters added 14, whilst Maddie Suprain tallied 12 for the depleted Spiders.

Newcastle 52 lost to Penrith 58

A fast-starting Penrith side barely managed to survive a Newcastle side that dominated the middle of the contest to move to ten wins and move tantalisingly close to securing playoff basketball.

A pair of Meg Creanor threes within a minute of the game’s commencement pushed Penrith to an 8-0 lead in the early stages. Hannah Fox quickly stepped in and ensured that the Panthers wouldn’t extend that lead any further with two quick baskets for Newcastle as the Hunters reduced the lead to 10-8 midway through the term. Penrith were able to put together a run in the final minutes of the quarter to re-establish a solid buffer though, moving out to a ten point lead before Fox’s late basket trimmed the Penrith lead to 23-15 after one quarter.

Dominika Offner knocked down a three to push Penrith out to a 13 point lead early in the second term, but the remainder of the quarter belonged the home team. Eliza Ormsby tallied six points to lead the Hunters on a late charge which kept the game interesting after it seemed as if Penrith were set to run away with things. By halftime, Penrith’s lead was just 5 at 34-29 and the game was back on a knife-edge.

Newcastle continued their charge in the third quarter as Penrith’s scoring simply dried up. Eleven third quarter points from Rachel James were more than the entire Penrith side managed in the term, and with support from a number of players, Newcastle were able to take a 49-44 lead into the final term.

However, it was then the Hunters’ turn to struggle on offence. A Melanie Edwards free throw was their only scoring play of the first seven minutes of the final term, and whilst Penrith weren’t exactly setting the world alight, they did enough to tie things up at 52-52 on Teiarna Offner’s free throws with 2 minutes to play. Natalia Beaumont, who had scored points at regular intervals all afternoon, stepped up with a basket and a late free throw as Penrith moved out to a 56-52 lead in the final minute. Dominika Offner was sent to the line in the final seconds as Newcastle fouled to stop the clock, and nailed both to deliver a vital 58-52 win to the Panthers.

Rachel James was Newcastle’s only player in double figures, scoring all 11 of her points in the third quarter. Four other Newcastle players scored seven or more points, but it wasn’t quite enough as the offence couldn’t produce in the fourth quarter. Natalia Beaumont top scored for Penrith with 15 points, with Dominika Offner adding 14 for the Panthers in a crucial victory.

Norths 70 lost to Illawarra 82

Illawarra secured a vital upset win which, when combined with Hornsby’s loss to Bankstown, saw the Hawks jump the Spiders into a playoff spot and Norths fall a game behind Hills in the chase for second spot.

A close-run opening few minutes saw Eleri Morris light it up for Illawarra with six points in the first six minutes of the contest. Carla Liebenberg had six of her own for Norths, but it was four late points from Alessandra Burke that pushed Norths out to a 19-14 lead after a quarter.

Illawarra showed enough in the opening quarter to suggest that they had something in them to hang with Norths throughout the game, and seven Paige Phillips points early in the term saw the Hawks’ point guard lead her side on a run that tied the game at 26-26. Liebenberg hit back for Norths, but seven consecutive points for Claudia Flynn delivered a 33-32 for Illawarra with just under 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The home side were able to rebound in the final minutes after seeming slightly flat at times in the second quarter, eventually rescuing their lead and holding on for a 36-35 advantage at halftime.

The halftime break may have been the worst thing for a Norths side that didn’t need its momentum broken. Morris and Phillips delivered a veritable blitzkrieg in the opening stages of the second half and suddenly Illawarra were up 53-40 after five minutes and looking to put the game to bed sooner rather than later. The Bears were able to find points here and there in the back end of the quarter, but were rarely able to make anything resembling a dent in the Hawks’ lead, and with Phillips and Flynn firing in the late stages of the term, the lead ballooned to 65-49 with ten minutes to play.

A Maddison Delaney three with seven minutes to play extended Illawarra’s lead to 20, and despite the final quarter efforts of Sarah-Jane Thomas and Alysha Skerritt, the visitors had wrapped this game up early in the fourth quarter. A late run from Norths reduced the margin to 82-70, but the Hawks were never in danger in the fourth quarter.

Paige Phillips led all scorers with 21 points in an exemplary performance for Illawarra. The Hawks’ point guard was supported excellently by Claudia Flynn and Eleri Morris, who each had 19 points as the visitors showcased their offence in a number of ways throughout the contest. Sarah-Jane Thomas top scored for Norths with 13 points, whilst Carla Liebenberg added 11 for the home side.

Liverpool-Macarthur 39 lost to Hills 47

Liverpool-Macarthur gave themselves a puncher’s chance against a Hills side missing Sherrie Calleia, but in the end the Hornets prevailed for an 8 point victory to keep themselves in the box seat for a bye through to the finals weekend.

Renee Muaulu led the home side in the first quarter with six early points as the Razorbacks took an early lead which they managed to hold deep into the opening term. However, Hills scored the last five points of the quarter courtesy of Zoe Burke and Laura Davidson to hold an 11-9 advantage after ten minutes of play.

Liverpool-Macarthur continued to hang tough in the second term as defence reigned supreme leading into halftime. The teams combined for just 11 points in the term, four of which went to the home side as Hills’ attempts to extend their margin were only mildly successful, with the scoreline reading 18-13 at halftime.

Fortunately for the spectators, the third quarter was slightly more eventful. Madison Hare fired in the early stages for Hills as the visitors pushed their lead out to 26-17 before Bianca Carusio scored five points in a row for Liverpool-Macarthur to trim the lead to just four points. Whilst Hills were able to push out the lead once again, a late Rayan Danine three ensured the Razorbacks remained in close contention at 32-27 with a quarter to play.

Hills were able to push their margin back out to eight points early in the final quarter, but Danine and Taylor Muaulu dragged the Razorbacks within two at 35-33 with just under 7 minutes to play. Unfortunately though, that would be as close as the home side would come to their second victory of the season as Hare continued her outstanding day, single-handedly going on a 6-1 run before Rachael Mules knocked down a three to move Hills to a 44-36 lead. That proved to be enough for Hills to secure victory as the teams combined for just six points in the final four minutes or so as Hills ran out 47-39 winners.

Madison Hare was undoubtedly Hills’ star with her 21 points representing nearly half of her team’s total. Rayan Danine and Taylor Muaulu each finished on 12 points for Liverpool-Macarthur in a valiant effort.

Manly 50 lost to Sutherland 71

Sutherland’s season remains on life support but there is still a faint pulse after a 71-50 victory over high-flying Manly. The win took Sutherland to 7-9, and whilst the Sharks will probably have to win out from here to make the playoffs, they at least still stand a chance after the win.

Unfortunately, with no details available for this game, there will be no report. Apparently Maddy Norris hit a bunch of shots in the fourth quarter though, which sounds pretty accurate.

Central Coast 68 defeated Newcastle 55

The basketball edition of the F3 Derby ended with Central Coast ensuring their visitors from the north would not be taking a W home with them with a dominant victory over the 10th placed Hunters. The win leaves Central Coast three wins clear of Hills and Manly with five games to play.

The majority of the first quarter was a close-run affair, and with 90 seconds left the score was still 6-6. However, a late flurry of points from Central Coast, kickstarted by a Lucy Chapman three, saw the home side take a 13-6 lead into the first break.

Newcastle swung things back in their favour slightly, opening the second quarter with the first four points and preventing Central Coast from adding to their tally for the first 2 minutes of the term. But when the Crusaders did finally get the scoreboard ticking over again, they were devastating. Threes from Chapman, Shakera Reilly, and Losalini Katia in the space of a minute or so pushed the Crusaders out to a 22-10 lead and suddenly it was all looking a bit shaky for Newcastle. Hannah Fox led a late charge for the Hunters, but Alessandra Gasparotto countered with some late scoring of her to deliver a 35-20 lead for the Crusaders at halftime.

Reilly put the hammer down in the third quarter, scoring nine points in all as the Crusaders kept their foot on the Hunters’ throat. Despite a number of Newcastle players finding the basket in the third term, the home side’s scoring consistency ensured the lead continued to grow and by the time the term had finished, the lead had ballooned to 52-32 with a quarter to play.

The Hunters put on a far better showing in the final quarter, with Fox, Alison Ebzery, and Rachel James getting amongst the points. However, the Crusaders had little problem putting the game away, finishing with a 68-55 victory to continue their march towards top seeding in the playoffs.

Alessandra Gasparotto led all scorers with 16 points for Central Coast, with Shakera Reilly tallying 14. Lucy Chapman added 12, whilst Losalini Katia and Charlie Evans added 9 apiece. Hannah Fox top scored for Newcastle with 14 points, with Rachel James adding 11 and Alison Ebzery registering 8 points for the Hunters.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 41 points v Hornsby
Erica Pitman (Hornsby) – 22 points v Bankstown
Madison Hare (Hills) – 21 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Paige Phillips (Illawarra) – 21 points v Norths
Claudia Flynn (Illawarra) – 19 points v Norths
Eleri Morris (Illawarra) – 19 points v Norths

Youth League Week 10 Roundup

For the second time in three weeks we have seen a player drop 40 in Youth League as Tasmyn Haynes torched Liverpool-Macarthur in the second half. Elsewhere, Hornsby sprung an upset over Norths to strengthen their finals credentials.

Liverpool-Macarthur 85 lost to Bankstown 91

The points came thick and fast in this one as Liverpool-Macarthur came within striking distance of their second win of the season. However, Tasmyn Haynes ensured Bankstown would escape with the W.

The Razorbacks came out firing and opened up a 15-5 lead within the first five minutes of the contest. Despite a small mid-quarter run from Bankstown, Liverpool-Macarthur increased their lead in the back end of the opening term to see themselves up 27-14 after a quarter.

Bankstown hit back in the opening stages of the second quarter to move within four midway through the quarter, but a post-timeout three pointer for Biancia Carusio put the Razorbacks up 33-26. The home side would hold that lead until halftime, with Kimberley Sepuloni’s free throws right on halftime giving Liverpool-Macarthur a 44-36 lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

Despite the Razorbacks’ excellent first half, Tasmyn Haynes’ third quarter rendered the first twenty minutes of play a mere memory. Five points in the opening minute of the half were just the start of a positively mind-boggling 22 point quarter for Haynes as Bankstown won the third quarter 36-15 to completely flip the script heading into the final term.

The Razorbacks fought back, and by midway through the fourth quarter had trimmed the margin to a solitary point at 77-76 with 5 minutes to play. However, a 12-5 run for Bankstown gave the visitors enough of a cushion to ride out one last charge from Liverpool-Macarthur to secure a 91-85 win.

Tasmyn Haynes was beyond dominant for Bankstown, finishing with 40 points. Georgia Gale and Sabrina Zenatti each provided solid support with 12 points. Four players finished in double figures for Liverpool-Macarthur. Renee Muaulu top scored with 19 points, with Kimberley Sepuloni adding 18 of her own. Bianca Carusio tallied 15 for the home side, and Eloise Faalavaau registered 12.

Box Score

Illawarra 58 defeated Sutherland 56

Maddy Norris continued a remarkable scoring streak, but Illawarra managed to escape with a win in this rivalry matchup.

The match was a close one from the outset. Eleri Morris and Claudia Flynn helped Illawarra to an early six point lead, but it lasted mere seconds as Sutherland tied the game at 14-14 before Morris’ basket in the final minute restored Illawarra’s slender advantage. Five quick points from Brittany Clark to start the second quarter pushed Illawarra ahead by 7, before Flynn cancelled out five points from Sutherland to give the Hawks a healthy 30-20 lead with three minutes remaining in the half. Hannah Clinen and Maddy Norris trimmed that lead momentarily before Flynn knocked down a three to help Illawarra to a 33-25 lead at halftime.

As the third quarter progressed, it looked unlikely that Sutherland stood any chance of getting back into the game. A steady stream of points from Illawarra meant that the margin held steady despite Illawarra finding their way to the basket, before a Hawks’ surge in the final couple of minutes of the quarter saw the home side up 50-34 with a quarter to play.

Enter Maddy Norris. The Sutherland star had played a solid game to this point, but her fourth quarter was simply spectacular. With the Illawarra offence starting to stutter, Norris, backed up by Parrish Leavai and Meredith Hines, set about chipping away at the lead. Within three minutes, the lead was down to 9. When Leavai went to the line and converted a pair with three minutes to play, it was a two point game at 54-52. Clark managed to find the bottom of the basket with a minute to play, before Norris found her way to the line. The NSW Under 20s representative converted both, and then tied the game at 56-56 with 19 seconds to play. A timeout ensued, and Eleri Morris restored Illawarra’s advantage with 13 seconds remaining. Yet another timeout followed, but Sutherland were unable to find the winning basket on the final play of the game, and Illawarra had somehow escaped a fourth quarter implosion with a win.

Norris continued her outstanding season with another 29 points, whilst Parrish Leavai added 10 for the Sharks. Claudia Flynn was excellent for Illawarra with 20 points. Eleri Morris added 16 points, including the game-winner, and Brittany Clark tallied 13 for the Hawks.

Box Score

Central Coast 64 defeated Hills 49

With both sides missing a player to SEABL commitments, this game more or less went according to the script as Central Coast came away with a comfortable win after a tight first half.

Despite missing Charlie Evans, Central Coast were bolstered by the return of Taylor Ferris from college, who hit an early three pointer to give the Crusaders an early 9-4 lead. However, Zoe Burke was lightning in the first quarter for Hills, with her six points keeping the visitors in touch. Despite this, two late baskets from Shakera Reilly pushed the Crusaders’ lead to 21-12 after one quarter of play.

Burke continued to lead Hills with five more points early in the second quarter, and by late in the second quarter the margin was just three as Central Coast’s offence failed to get much going. Scoring just 8 points in the quarter, the Crusaders had allowed Hills right back into the contest at a point where they should have been consolidating their lead.

Central Coast re-established their margin early in the third quarter, and it all came from Losalini Katia. The FIBA Oceania Under 18s all-star scored the first eight points of the second half to move the Crusaders 13 points ahead and break the game wide open. Shakera Reilly continued to add points at regular intervals, and Alessandra Gasparotto chipped in with four points in quick time as Central Coast pushed the lead to 16 points by the end of the third term, aided by Lucy Chapman’s two late three pointers.

Any notions of a Hills comeback were quickly put to bed as the visitors could only add five points in the first four minutes of the final term. Whilst the Crusaders’ offence wasn’t exactly lighting it up, they didn’t need to with Hills unable to eat into the lead. Gasparotto added two pairs of late free throws to put the icing a 64-49 win for Central Coast to keep the side atop the table.

Chapman led Central Coast with 12 points, whilst Shakera Reilly added 11. Losalini Katia and Alessandra Gasparotto each finished with 10, whilst Taylor Ferris added 9 in her return to the team. Zoe Burke was Hills’ only player in double figures, finishing with 14 points.

Box Score

Norths 66 lost to Hornsby 81

Hornsby roared back into finals contention on the back of an upset win over Norths, who sit a game back from top spot.

The first quarter was high scoring but tight for the most part. Tylah Mundine and Serena Waters established an early advantage for Hornsby, but Alessandra Burke hit a couple of quick baskets to swing the game in Norths’ favour. The teams remained within a couple of points until some baskets in quick succession for Nicole Hutchins allowed the Spiders to open up a 26-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Mundine opened the second quarter with a three pointer, but a pair of treys from Charlotte Gorman all but eliminated Hornsby’s lead, with the scoreboard reading 31-30 in the Spiders’ favour after 4 minutes of the second term. Mundine and Kristina Moore helped to restore the Spiders’ advantage, eventually building a 44-34 lead by halftime to hold a handy advantage.

Burke and Carla Liebenberg put a dent in the Hornsby lead early in the third term, but soon enough the Spiders were able to push further ahead. Mundine and Moore continued their excellent outings,  extending Hornsby’s lead to 16. However, as quickly as the lead was pushed out, Norths reeled the Spiders back in. Katerina Diamant hit a couple of shots, and Milly Yates ended the quarter with a basket that saw Hornsby’s lead trimmed to 62-55 with 10 minutes to play.

Hornsby started the final term the better of the two teams, but Norths’ fighting spirit saw them remain within 8 points with five minutes to play. Unfortunately for the Bears, that would be the closest they would get. The Spiders closed the game out with an emphatic 11-4 run which put the game to bed and sealed an 81-66 victory.

Tylah Mundine led Hornsby with an outstanding 24 points. Kristina Moore was also solid with 17, and Serena Waters added 11 for the Spiders. Alessandra Burke top scored for Norths with 14 points, whilst Zara Olsen added 13 and Katerina Diamant tallied 9 for the Bears.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 40 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 29 points v Illawarra
Tylah Mundine (Hornsby) – 24 points v Norths
Claudia Flynn (Illawarra) – 20 points v Sutherland
Renee Muaulu (Liverpool-Macarthur) – 19 points v Bankstown

Youth League Week 8 Roundup

Central Coast and Norths continued on their merry way, whilst Manly bounced back from last week’s loss with a solid win over Hornsby to maintain their position in the standings.

Bankstown 46 lost to Central Coast 93

After last week’s nail biter against Hornsby where they dressed just 6 players for the game, Central Coast returned with an almost complete squad and promptly dished out a 47 point demolition of Bankstown. Despite missing Charlie Evans, who was in Victoria with the Sydney Uni Sparks, the Crusaders still finished with five players in double figures.

The Crusaders opened up a 21-6 first quarter lead on the back of scoring from Jamei Pate, Shakera Reilly, and Losalini Katia, and things changed little going forward. Bankstown were able to hold the margin steady at 15 for the first five minutes of the second quarter, but Pate and then Reilly added points in quick succession and in the blink of an eye the margin had exploded to 25 points. Tasmyn Haynes helped Bankstown cut the lead to 45-22 by halftime, but the game had ceased to be a contest even at this stage.

Alessandra Gasparotto scored eight points in the third quarter, and Losalini Katia added six more as Central Coast continued their crusade to victory. Bankstown’s improved scoring from the second quarter deserted them after halftime, scoring just seven points in the term as Central Coast pushed the lead to 69-29 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter was an offensive showpiece in comparison. The Bruins found a bit of rhythm on offence and were able to tally 17 points for the quarter, but the Crusaders added 24 to their already burgeoning score to run out 93-46 victors in a dominant performance.

Tasmyn Haynes led all scorers with 19 points for Bankstown, but found little support outside of 9 points from Emily Vuljanic and eight from Javiera Lo-Loyola. Conversely, Central Coast had five players finish the game in double figures. Jamei Pate and Alessandra Gasparotto each finished with 16 points to lead the Crusaders, whilst Losalini Katia was not far behind with 15 points. Shakera Reilly added 12 points and Lucy Chapman tallied 10 as all nine Crusaders players finished with five or more points.

Newcastle 46 lost to Norths 58

An Alessandra Burke masterclass was the difference between the two sides as Norths marched into Newcastle and took the win to maintain their third position in the standings.

A cagey start saw neither team able to gain the ascendancy in the early stages, and Newcastle took a 12-10 lead into the first break. The game remained tight in the second quarter, despite Alessandra Burke dropping in 9 points. Burke’s ability to get to the line was a feature, as she finished with 6 points from the charity stripe for the term. Despite Burke’s impressive scoring, Newcastle found points from enough sources to actually take a 3 point lead late in the half before Norths knotted things up at 25-25 by halftime.

Katerina Diamant scored Norths’ first four points of the second half, playing an impressive rear gunner role behind Burke. Diamant’s early points paved the way for Norths to establish a 38-35 lead which would have been 38-32 if not for Rachel James’ three pointer in the dying seconds for Newcastle.

Burke had been solid all game, but the final quarter brought about an onslaught that ended Newcastle’s hopes of victory. A trio of three pointers in the first four minutes of the final term established a seven point lead for the Bears. The visitors continued to edge ahead, and Lana Marov’s three-pointer with just over 90 seconds to play put the Bears up 58-44 and shut the door firmly in Newcastle’s face. A pair of late Rachel James free throws trimmed the lead to 58-46, but the Bears had this one sewn up by that point.

Alessandra Burke’s dominant performance saw her finish with 27 points to lead all scorers by approximately the distance between the two teams’ home courts in Crows Nest and Broadmeadow. Katerina Diamant finished with 11 points to be the only other player in the game to finish in double figures. Melanie Edwards top scored for Newcastle with 9 points as the Hunters finished with 9 players on the scoresheet, but without that swag of points to rival Burke’s output and keep the Hunters in the game down the stretch.

Manly 79 defeated Hornsby 57

Manly came out firing and put Hornsby on the back foot early, allowing the Sea Eagles to establish and then maintain a game-winning margin much earlier in the game than many would have expected.

Tylah Mundine opened the game with a three pointer for Hornsby, but Emilie Krimmer and Faith Bulgin connected from beyond the arc, bookending a Katelyn Castle basket to quickly put Manly 8-3 up and on the offensive. Mundine and Sarah Crisafulli found scoring late in the first quarter, but Manly ended the first quarter up 14-9 and looking dangerous.

A pair of threes from former Hornsby guard Caitlin Keefe to open the second quarter extended Manly’s lead to 11. Despite a barrage of three pointers from Jess Sancataldo, Zale Binge, and Mundine, Manly were able to get looks from far closer to the basket all too often. These close looks combined with a number of offensive rebounds allowed the Sea Eagles to put together a 32-19 lead by halftime, with a number of players contributing.

The Manly offence exploded for 30 points in the third quarter as Hornsby looked increasingly bereft of energy as the game progressed. Faith Bulgin and Katelyn Castle put the Spiders to the sword, and although Hornsby were able to add 23 points of their own, it was far from enough as the final term opened with Manly up 62-42 and the game out of reach for Hornsby.

Jess Sancataldo went on a scoring spree in the final term, tallying 10 points in the fourth quarter alone. However, even with Bulgin and Castle sitting for much of the final term, Manly were still able to extend their margin to run out 79-57 winners and bounce back from last week’s loss to Newcastle.

Jess Sancataldo led all scorers with 18 points, fuelled by her last quarter surge. Tylah Mundine knocked down four shots from beyond the arc to finish with 16 points for the Spiders. Katelyn Castle led Manly with 15 points, whilst Faith Bulgin added 13. Caitlin Keefe returned to haunt her old team with 10 points, including a couple of early threes that broke the game open in the second quarter.

Hills 70 defeated Illawarra 35

With Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips sitting for Illawarra after playing a Championship game immediately before this game, this contest was Hills’ to lose from the outset. However, there was no thoughts of that happening as the Hornets rode out a tough first quarter to put Illawarra to the sword in the back end of the game.

Early scoring from Tyler Vukovcan and Soriah Vos had Illawarra up 14-9 in the early stages and it looked as if the loss of Morris and Phillips may have been a catalyst for the rest of the team to step up. Although that may have been the case, the class of the Hills side soon took over, taking the lead midway through the second quarter and never looking back. However, at halftime the lead was just six at 30-24 and Illawarra were far from out of it.

Or so it seemed. Zoe Burke, Sherrie Calleia, and Madison Hare dominated the third quarter as the home side won the third quarter 25-9 to take a 55-33 lead into the final term, where Hills would hammer home their dominance. Illawarra were unable to score until the final 30 seconds of the term, by which point the game was obviously done and dusted. With a number of Hills players getting amongst the scoring, a 15-2 final term saw the game end 70-35, a scoreline that was perhaps unfair on Illawarra after their first half effort.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 22 points for Hills, and was backed up by 15 points from Madison Hare and 10 apiece from Paris Roditis and Zoe Burke. Soriah Vos was Illawarra’s only player in double figures, finishing with 10 points in an understrength Illawarra side.

N.B.: No details are currently available for Sutherland v Penrith on Saturday or Manly v Liverpool-Macarthur at this time. As I can’t be everywhere at the same time, there will be no report on these games at this time.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 27 points v Newcastle
Sherrie Calleia (Hills) – 22 points v Illawarra
Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 19 points v Central Coast
Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 18 points v Manly
Alessandra Gasparotto (Central Coast) – 16 points v Bankstown
Tylah Mundine (Hornsby) – 16 points v Manly
Jamei Pate (Central Coast) – 16 points v Bankstown

Youth League Week 6 Roundup

Central Coast and Manly remain on top of the standings after wins this week, but Illawarra remain hot on their heels after clinching a thrilling win over Sutherland.

Hills 52 lost to Manly 60

Hills came into this game with the chance to put some pressure on the competition frontrunners, but Manly had other ideas. The Sea Eagles scored the first five points of the game, but Hills quickly regrouped to open up a 16-10 by the end of the opening quarter. The home side managed to maintain a slight margin until deep in the second quarter, before a 7-2 from Manly to end the quarter put the visitors up 28-27 at halftime. The third quarter would see Manly push their lead out to 8 points on the back of points from a variety of options. In a low scoring game, the 45-37 margin looked bigger than it really was, but Hills fought back to tie the game at 47-47 with 2:30 to play after an outstanding defensive effort to open up the fourth quarter. However, that would be the closest that the home side would come to retaking the lead as first Josie Bulman and then Katie Castle were clutch from the line to see the Manly side home 60-52.

Zoe Burke and Madison Hare led all scorers with 16 points apiece for Hills, with Sherrie Calleia chipping in 8 points. Kimberley Hodge, fresh off a SEABL game the night before, led Manly with 14 points, whilst Josie Bulman and Katie Castle also reached double figures, with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Box Score

Newcastle 44 lost to Bankstown 62

With both teams in danger of losing touch with the finals spots with a loss today, it was Bankstown’s big three of Georgia Gale, Sabrina Zenatti, and Tasmyn Haynes who stepped up and ensured Bankstown would move to a 3-4 record with an 18 point win over Newcastle. The Bruins finished the first quarter with a 15-7 lead on the back of a remarkable 9 points from Haynes in the opening term. Whilst Haynes didn’t have quite the same impact in the second quarter, the Bruins continued to extend their lead through other options and by halftime had opened up a 33-20 lead. Melling Patfield and Maddie Nowland led the charge from Newcastle at the offensive end, but the Hunters were simply unable to contain the Bankstown offence, and trading baskets was simply not enough for Newcastle. Bankstown continued to extend their lead in the second half, running out 62-44 winners.

Four players finished in double figures for Bankstown, led by Tasmyn Haynes’ 15 points. Sabrina Zenatti tallied 13 points, whilst Georgia Gale dropped in 12. Brittany Pulling added 11 as these four players tallied 51 of Bankstown’s 62 points. Melling Patfield and Maddie Nowland each had 13 points for Newcastle, but received little support at the offensive end in a tough day for the Hunters.

Box Score

Central Coast 94 defeated Sutherland 60

Central Coast bounced back from their last-start overtime loss to Illawarra in the most emphatic fashion possible, putting Sutherland to the sword in a comprehensive victory. Shakera Reilly and Charlie Evans fired in the first quarter as the Crusaders quickly established a double-digit lead and showed no signs of looking back. A quick 8-0 run from Sutherland may have given the visitors some hope of restoring parity, but the Crusaders soon put paid to that. Evans, Reilly, and Alessandra Gasparotto all scored in quick succession as the margin quickly ballooned to 48-25 by halftime. Although Maddy Norris played another starring role for Sutherland, the Crusaders’ talent all over the court was simply too much for the Sharks to contain. The game became a procession as the margin ticked over the 30 mark, and although the visitors found solid performances from a number of players, Central Coast were simply too good on the day.

Charlie Evans led all scorers with 22 points for Central Coast, with Shakera Reilly not far behind on 20 points. Jamei Pate and Alessandra Gasparotto notched 11 and 10 points respectively as ten Crusaders players got on the scoresheet. Maddy Norris was once again Sutherland’s best with a valiant 21 points, and found solid support from Hannah Clinen, who finished with 12 points. Jaimie Karamihas tallied 10 points, whilst Gabby Turnbull came just shy of finishing in double figures, notching 9 points.

Box Score

Penrith 85 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 51

The defending champion Penrith Panthers have slipped a bit in recent weeks, losing two on the trot to fall to a 2-2 record. However, the Panthers bounced right back this week with an emphatic win over Liverpool-Macarthur. The Razorbacks hung with Penrith in the early stages, but with Natalia Beaumont opening up the game with 8 points in the first quarter, the home side were able to to open up a 20-13 lead after a quarter to give themselves a solid platform to launch from, and launch they did. Beaumont continued her solid game, and Binta Salawu came into her own in the second quarter to help Penrith to a 43-25 lead at halftime. The third quarter saw Penrith put their foot on the opponents’ throat, with Kay Phillips scoring six of her eight points for the game in the third quarter. At 67-35 with a quarter to play, the Panthers were able to cruise in the fourth quarter and wrapped up an 85-51 win.

Natalia Beaumont and Binta Salawu both finished with 19 points to lead Penrith, with Meg Creanor and Meg Jefferson each tallying 9 points to provide solid support. Liverpool-Macarthur finished the game with three players in double figures. Renee Muaulu tallied 13 points, whilst Yasmin Danine and Bianca Carusio notched 12 apiece. However, with only five players getting on the scoresheet for the Razorbacks, there was little support from elsewhere.

Box Score

Sutherland 48 lost to Illawarra 51

The Youth League southern derby was an astoundingly close affair, but it didn’t look as though that would be the case in the first half. Although the first quarter ended 8-4 in Illawarra’s favour, the Hawks extended their lead to 22-10 by midway through the second term and looked set to run away with proceedings, especially as they extended that margin to 34-17 by halftime. However, Maddy Norris and Gabby Turnbull had other ideas. The pair helped lead Sutherland to a 16-5 third quarter which saw the Sharks in with a fighting chance at 39-33 down with ten minutes to play. Continuing to roll on with all the momentum, Sutherland took a 40-39 lead midway through the fourth on the back of baskets from Norris and Turnbull, and maintained a lead into the final two minutes. Enter Paige Phillips for Illawarra. A three pointer saw the Hawks back within two points at 46-44 with just over a minute to play, before the young guard nailed the game winning three with 7 seconds to play, handing the Hawks victory in a thriller.

Box Score

Penrith 64 lost to Norths 66

Norths jumped the Panthers on the table with a last-gasp victory on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, there are no details available on this game, but with a 66-64 scoreline it’s safe to say it was a tight one.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Charlie Evans (Central Coast) – 22 points v Sutherland
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 21 points v Central Coast
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 20 points v Sutherland
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 20 points v Illawarra
Natalie Beaumont (Penrith) – 19 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Binta Salawu (Penrith) – 19 points v Liverpool-Macarthur