Youth League Elimination Final Roundup

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

Penrith 61 defeated Norths 59

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hills 58 lost to Illawarra 59

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

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

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

Youth League Week 13 Roundup

A combination of a win over Newcastle and other results launched Central Coast into an almost insurmountable lead atop Youth League, whilst Hornsby and Penrith solidified their finals claims. However, Illawarra won both legs of their double-header to creep up on the sixth-placed Spiders.

Bankstown 43 lost to Illawarra 69

Bankstown’s finals hopes hung in the balance going into this game, but Illawarra were far from sympathetic to the Bruins’ cause, establishing an early lead before hammering home their dominance for a 26 point victory in a game that saw just six Bankstown players take to the court.

Led by seven early points from Paige Phillips, Illawarra were able to jump ahead quickly. The visitors put together a 13-4 lead before Tasmyn Haynes was able to rein in the Hawks to a degree with some quick points. However, late scoring from Maddison Delaney and Eleri Morris pushed the Hawks’ lead into double figures and the first quarter ended with Illawarra looking dangerous at 20-9 in front after ten minutes.

Haynes continued to put points on the board for Bankstown in the early stages of the second quarter, but largely played a lone hand as the Bruins were forced to settle for tough looks much of the time. However, Elena Berbeniuk proved to be solid support at times as Bankstown managed to trim the lead to four with two minutes to play in the half. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they would score just two points in those last two minutes as Illawarra finished the half on a 7-2 run which was capped off by Morris’ buzzer-beating deep two which put the visitors up 34-25 at halftime.

If Bankstown had any thoughts of pulling out a third quarter as solid as the second, Claudia Flynn quickly put paid to that. Showing utter dominance on the boards, Flynn came up with no less than four offensive rebounds in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Collecting both her own and her teammates’ misses, Flynn racked up 10 points in the first four minutes of the second half as Illawarra extended their margin to 16 points. With the Bruins only able to add eight points to their tally in the third quarter, Illawarra were able to just about put the game to bed, taking a 53-33 lead into the final term.

Flynn continued her rampant second half with eight more points early in the fourth quarter. The scoring dried up slightly for Illawarra in the latter stages, but the game was over as a contest long before then. With two points to Georgia Gale the only scoring of the final two minutes, Illawarra finished 69-43 winners to all but extinguish Bankstown’s finals hopes.

Claudia Flynn led all scorers with 21 points, with Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips offering support with 10 points apiece. Tasmyn Haynes led Bankstown with 17 points, whilst Elena Berbeniuk added 12 for the Bruins.

Box Score

Manly 49 lost to Penrith 67

Penrith continued to showcase some improved form, tallying their third win in a row to move to 9-6 and further solidify their spot in the top 6 with a comprehensive victory over Manly.

Penrith opened the game with the first five points of the contest, but Faith Bulgin and Caitlin Keefe tallied five points apiece in the first quarter to give Manly a 10-7 lead. Despite this, eight first quarter points for Dominika Offner ensured Penrith would take a 14-12 lead into the second quarter.

Offner and Meg Jefferson opened the second quarter in style for the Panthers as the visitors went on a 10-0 run early in the term to open up a double-digit lead. Antonia Henderson added four points and Emilie Krimmer added a pair of threes, but Manly were unable to slow the Panthers’ scoring enough to completely close the gap. However, a late basket from Rachel Duncan brought the margin back to 36-28 at halftime which put Manly within striking distance.

And strike they did. Duncan, Bulgin, and Henderson all added points early as Manly opened up the second half on a 6-0 run before Meg Creanor converted a pair of free throws to keep the Panthers’ lead intact. Jefferson did the same shortly after and then came up with another two points to push Penrith up by 8 once again. Jefferson would finish the third quarter with 12 points to ensure that Penrith went into the final quarter with a solid 53-41 lead and all the momentum.

A low-scoring fourth quarter saw points hard to come by for both teams, but that suited Penrith just fine. Offner and Jefferson added some more scoring to their burgeoning tallies, and with the Manly offence only able to create eight points in the final term, a late Abbi Williams basket took her tally to double-figures and finished off a 67-49 win for the visitors.

Meg Jefferson top scored with 24 points to lead the Panthers to victory. Dominika Offner added 17 points and Abbi Williams tallied an even 10 as the trio accounted for all bar 16 of the Panthers’ points. Antonia Henderson was Manly’s only player in double figures with 10 points, although Rachel Duncan, Emilie Krimmer, and Caitlin Keefe all finished with 8 points.

Box Score

Hornsby 81 defeated Norths 71

Hornsby picked up a vital win over Norths to stay above .500 and remain in touch with the teams fighting for the second bye into the semi-finals alongside Central Coast.

Hornsby’s high-powered offence went to work in the first term to provide the team with a solid platform from which to work for the rest of the game. Maddy Della Franca scored four early points before Kristina Moore registered 10 and Jess Sancataldo added 8 in a 24 point first quarter for the Spiders. However, Norths remained in touch courtesy of six points from Milly Yates and eight from Ali Burke which saw the first term finish 24-18 in Hornsby’s favour.

Alysha Skerritt earned and converted an and-one to move Norths within three on the opening possession of the second quarter. But five consecutive points from Moore helped move Hornsby out to a 37-25 lead before Yates and Katerina Diamant moved Norths back within 8 shortly after. Serena Waters converted a pair of free throws for Hornsby late in the term, but Burke scored the last four points of the quarter to see the half end 41-35 to the home side.

Burke opened the term with another basket, and when Charlotte Gorman knocked down a three with 6:44 remaining in the third quarter, Norths were on a 13-0 run and suddenly held a 44-41 lead. Waters earned another pair of free throws and promptly knocked down both, before Sancataldo and Moore led the Spiders on a 13-1 run of their own to retake the lead and extend it to a healthy 54-45 margin. Yates, Burke, and Skerritt all added points late on for Norths, but Moore and Waters ensured the lead remained at nine as Hornsby held a 60-51 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Five points from Sarah-Jane Thomas gave Norths another unexpected scoring option, and when Yates and Diamant each tallied baskets just shy of midway through the final term, Hornsby’s lead had been trimmed to 62-60 and suddenly there was a real contest brewing yet again. However, the Spiders kicked again. Della Franca, Sancataldo, and Waters continued their excellent scoring days to move Hornsby out to a 72-62 lead, and this time they would not give up their healthy margin. Burke and Skerritt added more late scoring for Norths, but Moore and Waters tallied some late points of their own to see Hornsby emerge 81-71 winners in a game that was far tighter than the scoreline suggested.

Box Score

Newcastle 50 lost to Central Coast 77

Central Coast continued their charge towards securing the top seed for the finals with a win over Newcastle sending the Crusaders three games clear at the top of the table.

The Crusaders started on an absolute charge, with Rachel Williams and Shakera Reilly each scoring five points in the first three minutes to put the visitors up 12-0 early. Sophie Parente snapped the run with Newcastle’s first points of the game, but Central Coast were undeterred. The ladder leaders promptly broke off another 13-3 run to establish a 25-5 lead after a quarter.

Central Coast’s scoring slowed slightly in the second quarter, with Losalini Katia’s 6 points for the term the highlight of the quarter for the visitors. Newcastle were able to generate more offence than they had been able to muster in the opening term, with Parente tallying five more points as the quarter ended 14-12 in the Hunters’ favour. Despite this, the first quarter onslaught from Central Coast meant that the visitors headed to the locker room leading 37-19.

Reilly and Katia continued to rack up the points in the third quarter as the Crusaders continued to assert their dominance. Grace Kibble and Rachel James each knocked down a three for Newcastle, but Central Coast continued to extend their lead. Melling Patfield added four late points for the Hunters, but the Crusaders still held a 55-29 advantage going into the final term.

Kibble fired for Newcastle on offence in the fourth quarter, registering nine of her 15 points in the final term. Reilly continued to swell her ever-increasing points tally, but Kibble’s efforts ensured the Central Coast lead would not blow out much further than it already had. The fourth quarter finished 22-21 in the Crusaders’ favour to see the visitors emerge 77-50 victors to strengthen their grip on top spot.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 23 points, with Losalini Katia registering 18 and Rachel Williams adding 11. Grace Kibble led Newcastle with 15 points, whilst Sophie Parente also finished in double figures with 10 points for the Hunters.

Box Score

Sutherland 42 lost to Hills 52

A win here for Sutherland would have seen the Sharks jump right into the finals mix, but instead it was Hills strengthening their finals credentials as the Hornets moved to 8-5 with a 10 point win.

The Hornets got out of the blocks quickly, with seven points Madison Hare leading a shared scoring effort which delivered a 16-7 lead first quarter lead for the visitors. With Sutherland’s offence struggling to find open looks, the game was in danger of getting away from the home side early in the piece.

Hills opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run, with Gabby Turnbull the only Sutherland player able to add any points for the Sharks in the early stages of the term. In a low-scoring term, Turnbull scored six of Sutherland’s eight points. Fortunately for the Sharks, Hills were only able to add 11 points to their own total which at the very least meant that Sutherland weren’t entirely out of the contest at 27-15 down at halftime.

Maddy Norris stepped up for the Sharks in the third quarter, starting the term with a pair of threes from the top of the arc to draw the home side within eight at 29-21. The margin remained in single-figure territory for much of the third quarter as Sutherland did their best to make a dent in Hills’ lead. The third quarter ended with the margin at 11 though, with a late Laura Davidson basket putting the visitors up 38-27 with ten minutes remaining.

The fourth quarter belonged to Sherrie Calleia. The Sydney Uni Sparks guard earned and converted two pairs of free throws, before Sutherland were able to trim the margin back to 7 courtesy of baskets from Deanna Kalivitis and Hannah Clinen. Kelsey Curtin brought some swagger to the party for Hills soon after though, hitting a vital three and flicking her wrist on the follow-through as the ball swished through the bottom of the net for good measure. The shot put Hills up 10 with seven minutes to play and proved to be crucial as Hills’ offence could only manage two more points in the next six minutes. The Sharks crept within five with a minute to play, but with Hills able to get the ball to Calleia on inbounds plays and the home side forced to foul, the Hornets’ star was able to showcase her free throw ability. Calleia connected on another four shots from the charity stripe to ice the game for Hills and help deliver a 52-42 win.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 14 points, ten of those coming from the free throw line. Madison Hare added 13 points, and Zoe Burke tallied 10 points in the Hornets’ win. Maddy Norris was Sutherland’s top scorer with 12 points, whilst Hannah Clinen finished with 10 for the Sharks.

Box Score

Bankstown 68 defeated Newcastle 60

After watching their own thin finals hopes fall by the wayside on Saturday, Bankstown then all but delivered the same fate to Newcastle on Sunday with an eight point victory.

Tasmyn Haynes was the star in the early stages for the Bruins, scoring eight points in the first quarter as the home side established an 18-10 lead courtesy of a 9-2 run to end the first quarter. However, the second quarter saw Newcastle score the first five points of the term to move within three points before Haynes returned with a vengeance. An 11-0 run led by 8 points from the Bruins’ star pushed the Bankstown lead out to 29-15 before Hannah Fox snapped the run before the home side could completely blow the game open. The back end of the quarter saw the teams trade baskets to keep the margin hovering around the 13 point mark, with Newcastle getting the lead down to 10 at one point for Bankstown pushed ahead once again. Five late points from Grace Kibble proved to be like gold dust for Newcastle, who managed to stay within 11 as the scoreboard read 36-25 in Bankstown’s favour at halftime.

Haynes continued her onslaught with five points to open the second half before Georgia Gale got in the action with some early scoring of her own as Bankstown quickly pushed their lead out to 47-29. Gale continued to exhibit her scoring prowess throughout the third quarter, whilst for the Hunters it was Fox and Melanie Edwards doing their best to keep their team in the game. Despite this, Bankstown took a 16 point lead into the final term to all but have the game wrapped up with 10 minutes to play.

However, Newcastle were having none of that. The visitors opened the fourth quarter with quick scoring from Laura Dick, Sophie Parente, and Grace Kibble, before a Hannah Fox basket with just under 5 minutes to play put the visitors within seven and suddenly in with a shot at a win. Sabrina Zenatti hit a three shortly after to push Bankstown out to a 64-54 lead, but the next four points belonged to the Hunters and with 1:48 to play, the score read 64-58 in Bankstown’s favour.

Haynes was next to score to extend the margin slightly, and it proved to be enough as Newcastle were only able to score one more basket in the final 90 seconds as Maddie Nowland hit a consolation basket with 5 seconds to go to see the final score read 68-60 in Bankstown’s favour.

Tasmyn Haynes was unstoppable with 29 points for Bankstown, whilst Sabrina Zenatti and Georgia Gale tallied 15 points apiece. Hannah Fox was Newcastle’s only player in double figures with 10 points, whilst Grace Kibble and Maddie Nowland registered 9 points apiece.

Box Score

Illawarra 79 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 38

A good weekend became a great weekend as a second win of the weekend for Illawarra put the Hawks just half a game out of the finals spots after things looked less than promising before this round.

Opening the game on a 19-2 run, Illawarra found scoring from a variety of options in the early stages. Eleri Morris and Soriah Vos both found the bottom of the basket on multiple occasions in the first few minutes, whilst Maddison Delaney, Ebony Petre, Claudia Flynn, and Paige Phillips all chipped in in the early stages as Illawarra asserted their dominance from the outset. Kimberley Sepuloni stopped the rot with a basket with just over 3 minutes to play in the opening term, but five more points from Petre took her to eight for the quarter and helped push Illawarra out to a 24-6 lead after ten minutes of play.

The second quarter was quite symmetrical. Each team had a player score 7 points – Rayan Danine for Liverpool-Macarthur and Maddison Delaney for Illawarra – and each team finished with 16 points as a much-improved effort from the visitors saw the margin hold steady at 18 points through a half of basketball.

However, the third quarter saw Eleri Morris explode on offence for 8 points in 3 minutes to blow the margin out slightly. Sepuloni and Danine did their level best to stop the Illawarra run, but soon enough the margin was approaching the 30 point mark as Tyler Vukovcan added some quick points for the home side. With the score at 61-31 after three quarters, Illawarra had well and truly put the game away with 10 minutes to play.

With that said, the third quarter still had to be played. The scoring slowed, but three consecutive baskets from Paige Phillips late in the game not only shored up her own personal tally, but took Illawarra’s final winning margin past the 40 point mark. With Bianca Carusio’s basket for Liverpool-Macarthur being the only scoring of the final two minutes, the game finished 79-38 in Illawarra’s favour.

Eleri Morris top scored for Illawarra with 19 points, whilst Maddison Delaney added 10 for the home side. Ebony Petre and Tyler Vukovcan each added 9 as eight Illawarra players scored five points or more. Rayan Danine finished with 14 for Liverpool-Macarthur and Taylor Muaulu registered 8 points for the shorthanded Razorbacks, who played just six players.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 29 points v Newcastle
Kristina Moore (Hornsby) – 27 points v Norths
Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 24 points v Hornsby
Meg Jefferson (Penrith) – 24 points v Manly
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 23 points v Newcastle