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

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 14 Roundup

Hills and Illawarra secured vital victories but they had to work for them, whilst an understrength Hornsby fired on offence for a famous victory over Penrith. Meanwhile, Norths and Manly both won as they continue their battle for second place.

Bankstown 60 lost to Hills 65

Both teams found scoring from a variety of sources as no less than seven players reached double figures, but it was Hills who finished the stronger to secure a vital five point victory to remain in a tie for third place with Norths.

The visitors got away to a flying start, opening up a 10-2 lead within 3 minutes of the game’s commencement courtesy of some early baskets from Madison Hare and Anja Kolodziej. The margin held steady through much of the first quarter as Sabrina Zenatti both added early points for Bankstown to counter the three point shooting of Sherrie Calleia and Zoe Burke. The Bruins managed to trim the margin to five, but Hare and Kelsey Curtin pushed Hills’ lead back out to 25-16 by the end of the opening term.

Bankstown hit back in the second quarter as Tasmyn Haynes led the Bruins on a charge which would see the home side outscore Hills 13-4 to open the second quarter. But a well-placed timeout from Hills allowed the visitors to regroup and bounce back in the latter stages of the quarter. Rachael Mules added five points and Kolodziej continued her solid start to the game to keep Hills ahead, but Zenatti converted a pair of free throws in the dying seconds of the half to leave the game on a knife-edge at 38-36.

Hills pushed back out to a six point lead in the early stages of the third term, but Bankstown refused to let the visitors get away as a low scoring quarter dominated by defence ensured that the Bruins would not be able to extend the margin. The margin hovered around the five point mark throughout the third quarter before a late basket from Burke pushed Hills to a 50-44 lead with one quarter to play.

Brittany Pulling brought out her best Isaiah Thomas impression with some outstanding fourth quarter play. Her consistent scoring, backed up by Haynes, not only cut into Hills’ lead but also delivered Bankstown a 58-56 lead before a Hills timeout just after the midway point of the final term. Calleia and Mules both hit shots to restore Hills’ advantage before Burke made it a five point game at 63-58 with 2:17 to play.

Haynes closed the margin to 63-60 with just over 90 seconds to play, but unfortunately for Bankstown that would be their final score of the game. However, with the game teetering on the precipice at 63-60, it would still take a Zoe Burke basket in the dying seconds to seal a vital 65-60 victory for Hills.

Tasmyn Haynes led all scorers with 18 points for Bankstown, and was backed up ably by 15 points from Sabrina Zenatti and 13 points from Brittany Pulling. Madison Hare led Hills with 14 points, whilst Zoe Burke added 13. Anja Kolodziej chipped in 12, whilst Rachael Mules tallied 10 as four players reached double figures for the visitors.

Illawarra 48 defeated Newcastle 45

The battle of the regional cities was a topsy-turvy battle that went right down to the wire at the Snakepit as Illawarra escaped with a win to remain right on the cusp of the playoff spots.

The teams kept pace with each other in the early stages of the first quarter as Illawarra jumped out to a five point lead before Newcastle reeled in the home side in to keep within two with three minutes remaining in the opening term. However, Illawarra were then able to break off a scoring run that gave the Hawks a solid lead after the first quarter. Maddison Delaney and Ebony Petre both hit shots, and Bronte Covington found the basket with a delicious move and kiss off the glass to help the Hawks to a 19-9 lead after one quarter.

Paige Phillips opened the second quarter with her only three of the game to put the Hawks up by 13, but as Illawarra’s offence slowed, Newcastle were able to chip away at the margin. Hannah Fox and Eliza Ormsby helped move the Hunters within 8, countering Illawarra’s Eleri Morris, who added four points for the home side. Despite the Hunters’ efforts, a late basket from Petre ensured the Hawks remained ahead by double-figures with the score reading 30-20 at halftime.

Although Newcastle had chipped away slightly in the second quarter, the third is where the comeback really began. Three free throws were the only scoring Illawarra could muster in the first five minutes of the period as Fox and Alison Ebzery helped push Newcastle within four before Illawarra called a timeout midway through the term. It mattered little as Ebzery continued to punish the Hawks after the stoppage, and when Laura Dick nailed a three in the final minute of the quarter, the Hunters had taken a 37-34 lead which they would hold going into the final quarter.

Newcastle managed to do just enough early in the fourth quarter to maintain a lead, but when Morris knocked down Illawarra’s second three of the game, there was a sense that the momentum was swinging the Hawks’ way and Newcastle called a timeout. Morris was the first to score out of the timeout to tie things up, but Ormsby countered with a basket of her own to restore the Hunters’ lead. Morris and Ebzery traded baskets, and when the Hawks’ Maddison Delaney split a pair at the line, the game was tied at 45-45 with 1:51 to play.

Neither team was able to find their way to points for over a minute before Newcastle took a timeout to set up their offence for what could possibly have been the winning basket. But a steal in the backcourt led to a Maddison Delaney basket to put Illawarra up 47-45. Newcastle managed to get the ball inside on their next possession, but the shot was off-target and Claudia Flynn picked up a trademark tough rebound and was promptly fouled by Ebzery to stop the clock. Flynn split a pair at the line, leaving Newcastle with just over 5 seconds to potentially tie the game with a 3. The Hunters managed to get reasonably close to the three point line, but still required a Hail Mary shot, which fell just short to see Illawarra grab a vital win.

One player from each side finished in double figures, with Eleri Morris and Alison Ebzery each tallying 13 points. Maddison Delaney added 9 for the Hawks, whilst Hannah Fox and Eliza Ormsby tallied 8 apiece for Newcastle.

Liverpool-Macarthur 52 lost to Manly 70

Manly remain in second place after a solid 18 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur that kept the Sea Eagles just ahead of Hills and Norths in the race for a bye to finals weekend.

Opening the game on a 10-0 run quickly put the Sea Eagles on the front foot in the early stages. Antonia Henderson and Faith Bulgin each tallied multiple baskets to set the tone for the remainder of the game as both players starred for the visitors. Emilie Krimmer also chipped in a couple of baskets in the early running, but Eloise Faalavaau and Taylor Muaulu dragged the Razorbacks within three points at 19-16 down after the opening term.

Kimberley Sepuloni opened the second quarter scoring for Liverpool-Macarthur, but a 13-0 run for Manly, led by eight points from Bulgin, put Manly up by 14 midway through the period. Liverpool-Macarthur were able to stem the flow in the second half of the quarter, but unlike the first quarter, they were unable to eat into the margin and the second quarter ended with Manly up 39-26.

Although the Razorbacks were unable to trim the lead in the second quarter, they were able to do just that in the third. Four early points from Rayan Danine provided a solid start for the home side, but things looked less promising when Bulgin and Henderson continued their outstanding days to move Manly into a 49-36 lead after a Krimmer free throw with a minute to play in the quarter. However, the Razorbacks scored the last six points of the quarter with a flurry of points to be just seven points down at 49-42 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter saw things remain fairly stable as early baskets from Krimmer and Henderson were countered by points from the Razorbacks. In a low-scoring term, four points from Renee Muaulu were enough to help see the home side remain within striking distance at 57-49 down with three minutes to play. However, a late flurry from Henderson and Bulgin, with assistance from Caitlin Keefe, saw the Sea Eagles end the game on a 13-3 run which extinguished any hopes of an upset and delivered a 70-52 win for Manly.

Taylor Muaulu led the home side with 12 points, whilst Renee Muaulu and Eloise Faalavaau each chipped in 9 for the Razorbacks. Faith Bulgin led all scorers with 22 points for Manly, with support coming in the form of 17 points for Antonia Henderson and 11 points for Emilie Krimmer.

Sutherland 40 lost to Norths 70

Norths have no choice but to keep winning to hold off Hills and keep the pressure on Manly, and did exactly that with a comprehensive 30 point victory over Sutherland.

The visitors powered ahead in the opening minutes, with four points from Ali Burke helping the Bears to an early 12-4 lead as the Sharks were unable to direct the ball into the basket in the early stages. Despite this, some improved defence and late scoring from Gabby Turnbull and Maddy Norris ensured the Sharks would go into the second quarter down by just five at 14-9 after ten minutes of play.

Threes from Alice Ballhausen and Burke opened the second quarter scoring as Norths looked to re-establish their margin, but a 7-0 run courtesy of points from Brianna Morris, Parrish Leavai, and Deanna Kalivitis ensured the Sharks would not go away quite so easily. Alysha Skerritt helped Norths get out to a 8 point lead, and in a low-scoring quarter, Ballhausen’s three with just under two minutes to play proved to be the final points of the half as Norths took a 27-16 lead into halftime.

Turnbull and Norris combined to give Sutherland the first five points of the second half, but that was where the close contest ended as Norths kicked away. Geena Valos and Charlotte Gorman knocked down threes in amongst scoring from Burke and Skerritt, and whilst Sutherland were able to add points here and there, it was no match for Norths’ now-dominant scoring. An 8-0 run ended the term for the Bears and quickly the score had blown out to 47-27 with a quarter to play.

With the Bears in no mood to slow down, Sarah-Jane Thomas scored a quick six points as Sutherland were able to counter with points of their own, but unable to trim Norths’ lead. Valos and Burke continued to find points throughout the final quarter as Norths added another 10 points to the margin for a dominant 70-40 victory.

Maddy Norris was Sutherland’s only player in double figures, finishing with 11 points, whilst Gabby Turnbull added 7 for the Sharks. Ali Burke was Norths’ top scorer with 16 points, with Alysha Skerritt tallying 12 for the visitors. Geena Valos and Alice Ballhausen also reached double figures, with each adding 10 points in the win.

Penrith 66 lost to Hornsby 81

A Penrith side missing Natalia Beaumont took on a Hornsby side that dressed just six players, but it was the heavily depleted Spiders side that fired on offence for a 15 point victory to move a game ahead of the Panthers and take fifth spot on the ladder.

Penrith scored the first eight points of the game as Dominika and Teiarna Offner each hit threes in the first couple of minutes. The visitors were unfazed though, with Jess Sancataldo scoring 7 of the Spiders’ first 8 points to tie the game at 8-8. Dominika Offner re-established Penrith’s lead, but 9 points from Sancataldo and 5 from Erica Pitman saw Hornsby take a 14-9 lead, something that could have been considered slightly unexpected given the events of the first two minutes.

Sancataldo continued to add to her tally in the second quarter, whilst Maddie Suprain found her range for a couple of threes to open her account. However, a rounded scoring performance from the Panthers which saw a number of players get their names on the scoresheet ensured that the hot-shooting Spiders wouldn’t be able to get too far ahead as the second quarter ended with the Spiders leading 31-25 on the back of a last-second three for Suprain.

Suprain and Sancataldo combined for 12 points in just over 3 minutes to open the second half for the Spiders, and with the home side only able to add four points in response, Hornsby quickly opened up a 43-29 lead. Meg Creanor and Binta Salawu helped drag the Panthers back into the contest before Sarah Creanor trimmed the Spiders’ lead to 51-44 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Despite that, late scoring from Pitman and Sancataldo edged Hornsby’s lead out to 57-44 with a quarter to play.

Dominika Offner added some early points for the Panthers, but Erica Pitman showcased laser-guided accuracy in the final term, adding 11 points for the Spiders to put the Penrith side away. With Sancataldo and Suprain reverting to rear-gunner roles but still hitting their shots, the Spiders cruised to an 81-66 victory.

Dominika Offner led the Panthers with 14 points, whilst Meg Jefferson chipped in at regular intervals to add 11 for the home side. Meanwhile, the Spiders finished with three players contributing over 20 points. Jess Sancataldo led all scorers with 28, Maddie Suprain added 23, and Erica Pitman’s last quarter barraged took her total for the game to 21 in a surprise victory for the understrength Spiders.

Central Coast defeated Liverpool-Macarthur (game not played, awarded to Central Coast)

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 28 points v Penrith
Maddie Suprain (Hornsby) – 23 points v Penrith
Faith Bulgin (Manly) – 22 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Erica Pitman (Hornsby) – 21 points v Penrith
Antonia Henderson (Manly) – 17 points v Liverpool-Macarthur