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