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 12 Roundup

Central Coast came up trumps in the top of the table clash to put a noticeable gap between themselves and second-placed Manly, whilst Penrith won both games in their double-header to strengthen their finals credentials.

Newcastle 61 defeated Hills 54

No play by play available for this match.  I can’t be everywhere!

Manly 42 lost to Central Coast 57

No play by play available for this match. I still can’t be everywhere!

Penrith 61 defeated Illawarra 52

A potentially season-changing weekend for Penrith started in the best way possible with a 9 point win over Illawarra in a game that saw both teams missing vital components. With Natalia Beaumont out for the Panthers due to SEABL commitments, and Paige Phillips and Eleri Morris playing in Illawarra’s Championship game at Comets, both teams had holes to fill in the starting lineup.

Despite Beaumont’s absence, Sarah Creanor ensured that the Panthers would get off to an excellent start, scoring 8 points in the first quarter. A tough quarter for the Hawks saw the Panthers take a 17-5 lead into the second quarter as Tyler Vukovcan hit Illawarra’s only shots from the field in the opening 10 minutes of play.

Penrith continued to push the lead out in the early stages of the second quarter as Creanor opened the term with a three before Chloe Bloom and Abbi Williams found their way to the free throw line and converted their opportunities. Mercifully for Illawarra, the shots began to fall later in the second term. Claudia Flynn and Ebony Petre managed to put some points on the board for the visitors and when Maddison Delaney knocked down a three in the final minute of the term, the Panthers’ margin had been trimmed to five. Creanor added two late free throws to move Penrith’s halftime lead to 31-24, but it could have been so much worse for the Hawks, who were down by 15 less than six minutes earlier.

Dominika Offner opened the third quarter with five points for Penrith, and quickly the margin was back into double figures. Flynn and Abby Cartwright managed to add some points for Illawarra, but Bloom and Perlita Fotu-Plaza helped Penrith compile their largest lead of the game at 46-30 with 90 seconds to play in the third quarter. A late basket to Petre brought that back to 46-32, but Illawarra were still in a fairly deep hole going into the final quarter.

However, the understrength Hawks rallied once again. With Penrith able to add just a solitary point to their total in the first five minutes of the fourth, Maddison Delaney’s three-point shooting combined with assistance from Flynn, Petre, and Soriah Vos saw the game poised for a thrilling finish at 47-44 in Penrith’s favour with just under five minutes to play.

With their lead in danger of evaporating completely, Penrith called a timeout which proved to be a stroke of genius. The defending champions broke off a 9-0 courtesy of scoring from Bloom, Creanor, and Williams to move 12 points clear with less than two minutes to play. A quick 5-0 run from Illawarra could have made things dicey in the final minute, but Creanor capped an impressive performance with a three to take the score to 59-49 with 45 seconds to play. Vukovcan added a couple more points for Illawarra, but it was too little, too late and Penrith emerged 61-52 victors.

Sarah Creanor led all scorers with 19 points, and was backed up superbly by Chloe Bloom, Abbi Williams, and Dominika Offner. Bloom tallied 13 points, Williams added 12, and Offner registered an even 10 in the win. Claudia Flynn was Illawarra’s best with 15 points, with Maddison Delaney’s three pointers helping her to 13 points, and Tyler Vukovcan added 10 for the Hawks.

Hornsby 106 defeated Bankstown 70

Hornsby struggled to break free of Bankstown in the early stages, but once they did, they well and truly bolted away to register a comprehensive 36 point win in which six Spiders players registered double figures.

The Bankstown “Big Three” of Georgia Gale, Sabrina Zenatti, and Tasmyn Haynes opened the game with some solid early scoring, but NSW Under 20s representative Jess Sancataldo was simply a class above in the opening stages. Sancataldo notched 11 points in the first 7 minutes of the contest as Hornsby opened up a slight lead. Despite Bankstown’s best efforts, some late scoring from Kristina Moore ensured Hornsby would take a 26-16 lead into the second quarter.

However, the Spiders were unable to really increase this lead by any kind of noticeable amount in the second term. Again, Haynes, Gale, and Zenatti were the scoring leaders for Bankstown, and between them they ensured the Spiders would not blow the Bruins out by halftime. Sarah Crisafulli opened the quarter with four points for Hornsby, and Moore again dropped in a couple of late baskets, but at halftime the margin had grown by just one point to 43-32 in the home side’s favour.

The third quarter was a different beast altogether. Moore and Crisafulli continued to rack up points, whilst Sancataldo returned to scoring form with six points late in the term. Serena Waters also added some late points to keep her own tally ticking over, and despite Zenatti adding a number of baskets for Bankstown, Hornsby’s lead exploded to 73-51 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter continued much in the same vein as Hornsby put their foot on Bankstown’s collective throat. Waters and Sancataldo opened up the quarter with some early points, before young Amy Laws enjoyed a remarkable 10 point fourth quarter after not scoring for the first 32 minutes of the game. Moore continued to keep her total growing, before Madeline Suprain and Piper Duck rounded out an outstanding team performance with points late in the game. In the end, it was the Spiders’ depth that proved the difference. Three players – Gale, Zenatti, and Haynes – accounted for all bar 12 of Bankstown’s points, whereas Hornsby finished with six players in double figures.

Of those six, Jess Sancataldo led the way with 25 points, whilst Kristina Moore followed up her 22 point effort in the earlier Championship game with 23 points here. Serena Waters added 13 and Piper Duck tallied 12, whilst Sarah Crisafulli and Amy Laws added 10 apiece in the rout. Georgia Gale was Bankstown’s best to tally 20 points. Tasmyn Haynes added 19 for the Bruins, whilst Sabrina Zenatti added 16 as the trio did everything they could to keep Bankstown in the hunt.

Norths 72 defeated Sutherland 45

With Manly losing earlier in the day, Norths had the opportunity to put some real pressure on the second-placed Sea Eagles with a win over Sutherland, and that is exactly what the Bears produced in a comprehensive 27 point victory.

With 11 first quarter points, Eastern Illinois commit Lana Marov was the undoubted spark plug for the Norths’ offence in the early stages. Two three pointers within 90 seconds of the opening tip put the Bears on the front foot before Ali Burke added some quick points as Norths set about asserting their dominance on their home floor. With the Sutherland offence unable to get anything of note going, Norths were able to pull away to a 20-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Norths’ offence was not quite as hot in the second quarter, whilst Sutherland managed to improve their scoring after a lacklustre opening term. Maddy Norris opened her scoring midway through the term and quickly added a much-needed seven points for the Sharks as the visitors managed to keep the margin relatively steady for much of the term. Some late scoring from Geena Valos looked as if it may have pushed Norths out to an almost game-winning lead, but Norris quickly hit back to ensure Sutherland were within 14 at halftime with the scoreboard reading 32-18 in Norths’ favour.

If the halftime margin wasn’t at a game-winning level, it certainly was by the end of the third quarter. An eight point third quarter from Milly Yates led the Norths scoring, and despite the continued scoring output of Norris, Sutherland were unable to hold Norths. Marov also added five more points for the Bears as the lead swelled to 50-29 with ten minutes to play.

Norris and Hannah Clinen did what they could in the final term, but the game well and truly belonged to Norths even before the players returned to the court for the fourth quarter. Burke, Yates, and Alysha Skerritt added to the Norths lead, which swelled to 27 by the end of the game as the home side emerged 72-47 victors.

Despite being on the losing side, Maddy Norris led all scorers with 19 points for Sutherland. However, Norris was the Sharks’ only player in double figures, with Gabby Turnbull and Hannah Clinen’s 8 point returns being the team’s next best. Lana Marov’s 11 point first quarter proved to be the major component of her 16 point outing, which led all Norths scorers. Milly Yates tallied 14, whilst Ali Burke added 9 in the Bears’ victory.

Liverpool-Macarthur 44 lost to Penrith 80

Penrith turned a good weekend into a great weekend, making it two wins from two games with a 36 point rout of Liverpool-Macarthur which solidified the Panthers’ position in the finals.

Fresh off a pair of wins in Canberra with the Sydney Uni Sparks, Natalia Beaumont opened the game with Penrith’s first four points before Dominka Offner added five of her own as Penrith began to build a lead. Reprising her role from the day before, Sarah Creanor emerged as the most potent scoring threat for Penrith in the early stages, dropping 8 points in the last 90 seconds of the first quarter to establish a 20-11 lead for the Panthers after ten minutes of action.

Despite some solid outside shooting from Taylor Muaulu, the Panthers continued to build their advantage in the second quarter. Creanor continued to build her personal tally, and received scoring help from just about every Penrith player that touched the ball in the second quarter as the lead continued to snowball. By the time the halftime buzzer had sounded, Penrith’s lead had more than doubled to 39-20, with the visitors showing no signs of slowing down.

Rayan Danine added some early third quarter points for Liverpool-Macarthur, but Penrith were unfazed. Kay Phillips and Abbi Williams added another dimension to the Panthers’ offence by showcasing their offensive prowess in the third term, whilst Creanor continued to enjoy another day out as her scoring continued. A late Muaulu three trimmed the Penrith lead, but the disparity remained between the two teams at 57-34 with a quarter to play.

Offner opened up the final term with a three before Creanor and Beaumont added some late scoring to ensure a dominant Penrith victory. Meg Creanor also tallied a couple of late baskets to finish a solid performance as the Panthers ran out 80-44 victors in a dominant performance.

Sarah Creanor’s 22 points led Penrith for a second time this weekend, with Dominika Offner adding 14. Natalia Beaumont tallied 12 for the Panthers, whilst Kay Phillips added 9. Taylor Muaulu was Liverpool-Macarthur’s only player in double figures with 15, whilst Rayan Danine added 9.

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Cassidy McLean (Newcastle) – 29 points v Hills
Sherrie Calleia (Hills) – 26 points v Newcastle
Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 25 points v Bankstown
Kristina Moore (Hornsby) – 23 points v Bankstown
Sarah Creanor (Penrith) – 22 points v Liverpool-Macarthur

Youth League Week 9 Roundup

Maddy Norris’ outstanding individual season continued, whilst Losalini Katia and Alessandra Burke both delivered in a Sunday blockbuster between Central Coast and Norths.

Manly 71 defeated Newcastle 55

A back-and-forth first half gave way to a third quarter Manly run which set up the home side for what became a comfortable win.

Three pointers from Katelyn Castle, Antonia Henderson, and Josie Bulman formed the backbone of a lightning start for Manly. The Sea Eagles quickly established a 14-4 lead, but Newcastle were undeterred. Eight quick points from Maddison Nowland across the back end of the first quarter and the start of the second gave the Hunters a lead that they would hold until the back end of the second term. Some quick scoring from Castle helped Manly regain the advantage, one which they would hold until halftime, taking a 28-25 lead into the locker room.

Manly opened the second half the stronger of the two teams, and established a 14 point margin with 3 minutes to play in the third quarter as Newcastle were unable to get much of anything going on offence. Fortunately for the Hunters, they were able to go on a bit of a run to end the third quarter to stay within ten at 49-39 with a quarter to play.

However, save for a minute or so with the scoreline reading 52-44, the Hunters would get no closer to the Sea Eagles. Manly found scoring all over the court, and despite scoring just four points in the last three minutes of action, secured the win early in the final quarter. Katelyn Castle wrapped up the win with a last-second three pointer to give Manly a 71-55 win.

Castle led Manly with 17 points and was backed up solidly by Antonia Henderson and Faith Bulgin, who finished with 10 points apiece. Maddison Nowland was Newcastle’s best with 10 points, with Melanie Edwards falling just a point shy of double figures with 9.

Box Score

Illawarra 56 lost to Penrith 67

It’s been a bumpy start to the season for the defending champion Panthers, but the team from the foot of the mountains returned to .500 ball with an 11 point win over Illawarra, who fell to 4-5 with the loss.

The teams traded blows in the early stages, but a 7-0 run for Penrith midway through the first quarter allowed the visitors to open up a 22-15 lead by the end of the opening term. A comparatively low scoring second quarter followed, but Penrith once again had the better of the period. A 13-9 quarter saw Penrith extend their lead to 35-24, with Illawarra no doubt feeling the effect of Paige Phillips’ absence.

Penrith extended their lead to 15 points by midway through the third quarter, but despite the growing margin, Illawarra remained undeterred and delivered a determined performance to prevent the lead from growing, with the scoreboard reading 58-44 with a term to play.

The Panthers were able to score just nine points in the final term, but it mattered little as the Hawks were only able to score 12 of their own. The final margin of 67-56 was the closest the game had been since early in the third quarter as Penrith eased their way to victory.

Chloe Bloom and Dominika Offner each tallied 16 points for the Panthers to lead the visitors. Eleri Morris continued her role as leader for Illawarra with 12 points, whilst Abby Cartwright chipped in 10 of her own.

Box Score

Liverpool-Macarthur 46 lost to Norths 70

A well-rounded team performance led by a surprise scoring leader delivered a win for Norths as the Bears started their weekend double-header in the best way possible.

Lana Marov found her way to the line on a couple of occasions early in the contest, and her accuracy helped Norths open up an early 10 point lead, with the Bears’ defence stifling Liverpool-Macarthur. A late three pointer from Bianca Carusio improved things slightly for the Razorbacks, but Norths finished the first quarter up 22-8 as Alessandra Burke hit a couple of late shots.

The Razorbacks found some offence through Yasmin Danine and momentarily trimmed the margin to 24-17 in the second quarter, but Norths’ class shone through as seven points in the final three minutes of the quarter from Geena Valos helped the Bears to go up 44-21 by halftime and put the game beyond doubt even at halftime.

The Norths juggernaut slowed slightly in the second half, but whilst their scoring may not have been as prolific as in the first half, their defence certainly was. Holding the Razorbacks to just nine third quarter points, the Bears increased their lead to 58-30 with a quarter to play. Liverpool-Macarthur trimmed the lead slightly in the fourth quarter, but Norths ran out 70-46 victors in a dominant effort.

Sarah-Jane Thomas led Norths with 14 points as the Bears finished with 9 players scoring over 5 points, but just the one in double figures. Renee Muaulu top scored for Liverpool-Macarthur with 13 points, whilst Yasmin Danine added 9 for the Razorbacks.

Box Score

Hornsby 69 lost to Sutherland 84

Hornsby delivered a solid offensive effort, but the Madeleine Norris juggernaut continued to roll on like a freight train, with the NSW Under 20s representative leading Sutherland to victory.

The first quarter was a close-run affair, with eight points from Jess Sancataldo the highlight even as Sutherland ended the quarter up by two after some late scoring from Shyla Heal complemented Norris’ seven first quarter points.

The second quarter opened with Sutherland getting on an early run which allowed them to open up a 9 point lead. Tylah Mundine and Piper Duck helped Hornsby trim the lead back to six, but Norris took control of the back half of the quarter with eight points in the second half of the term as the Sharks broke the game wide open by establishing a 44-29 lead by halftime.

Sutherland scored 12 of the first 14 points of the second half, with Hannah Clinen and Norris the go-to players for early points. Jess Sancataldo continued her outstanding scoring performance with 6 third quarter points, and although Tylah Mundine and Sarah Crisafulli provided support, Sutherland finished the third quarter up 71-47 and with the game well and truly in the bag.

Hornsby did enjoy a better fourth quarter, tallying 22 points in the final term. However, Sutherland were never really challenged, and although the margin was trimmed by 9, the Sharks cruised to an 84-69 win.

Madeleine Norris top scored with a dominant 29 points for Sutherland, whilst Hannah Clinen added 16. Gabrielle Turnbull also chipped in with 12 points for the visitors. Jess Sancataldo top scored for Hornsby with 20, with Tylah Mundine not far behind with 18. Sarah Crisafulli added 12 in an understrength Hornsby side missing Serena Waters and Kristina Moore.

Box Score

Hills 73 defeated Bankstown 63

Tasmyn Haynes and Sabrina Zenatti were once again outstanding for Bankstown, but a solid team effort from Hills proved too strong in the end as the home side secured victory.

A tight first quarter saw the teams trade the lead early, with Bankstown eventually finishing the first quarter up 12-11, with Sherrie Calleia’s late three keeping Hills within a solitary point. The second quarter saw Hills begin to find their groove, and by the midpoint of the period had established a 29-21 lead. That lead wouldn’t last long though, as Bankstown fought back to 33-30 on the back of four quick points from Sabrina Zenatti.

The third quarter saw Hills edge ahead by a few points on several occasions, only to be pegged back by Bankstown each time, with the Bruins tying the game at one point early in the term and then coming within two points with just over a minute to play. With one quarter to play, the score sat at 51-47 in Hills’ favour and all to play for in the final term.

An early 9-3 run to open the fourth quarter put the game firmly in Hills’ hands with six minutes to play. Calleia and Madison Hare took over for the Hornets in the final stages of the game, and although Zenatti knocked down a trio of three-pointers down the stretch, it was not quite enough for Bankstown. A 6-0 run in the last two minutes pushed Hills’ lead from 7 points to 13 and ended Bankstown’s quest for victory as the Hornets secured a 73-63 win.

Tasmyn Haynes top scored with 23 points for Bankstown, with Sabrina Zenatti’s late barrage of threes lifting her to 18 points. Sherrie Calleia and Madison Hare each finished with 17 points for Hills to lead the Hornets to victory. Paris Roditis added 12 for the home side, whilst Laura Davidson chipped in with an even 10.

Box Score

Central Coast 59 lost to Norths 61

Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch was the key to Norths’ win in a thriller against ladder leaders Central Coast, with the Bears storming home from a 15 point third quarter deficit.

Alessandra Burke opened the scoring for Norths, but the star power of Central Coast quickly kicked into gear and established a lead for the home side. Lucy Chapman, Shakera Reilly, and Losalini Katia were all amongst the points in the first quarter for Central Coast, who took a 13-9 lead into the first break despite seven first quarter points from Burke for the visitors.

Norths did just enough in the second quarter to stay in touch, but the Crusaders were looking dangerous as their starters continued to extend the lead, going in at halftime up 26-17 and threatening to break the game open in the third quarter.

Chapman, Katia, and Rachel Williams each found the bottom of the basket in the early stages of the second half to send the Crusaders on a 6-0 run, but Burke’s free throws put a stop to that and suddenly Norths found some momentum. Geena Valos and Alysha Skerritt both hit shots, and Lana Marov nailed a pair from the line to trim the margin to 7 before Katia scored Central Coast’s first basket for two minutes.

However, that simply gave rise to another Norths’ offensive outburst. Burke racked up points at the line with aplomb and found plenty of support as the Bears trimmed the lead back to six by the end of the third quarter. Suddenly, at 46-40, there was a real contest emerging, something that had looked unlikely at 32-17.

Burke and Katia continued their shootout early in the fourth, but when Valos stepped up in support, the game swung the Bears’ way. Burke knocked down a three to give Norths a 55-54 lead with 4:23 to play, but Katia restored the Crusaders’ advantage less than 30 seconds later. Skerritt converted a pair at the line with 2:30 to play, and with the next scoring play coming from the same source a minute or so later, Norths retook the lead at 58-57. Once again, Katia hit back for Central Coast, but Burke would have the final say in this one. Drawing a foul in the dying seconds, Burke converted a pair at the line to give the Bears a one point lead with three seconds to play, before hitting another right as the game ended to secure a 61-59 win.

Alessandra Burke led all scorers with 26 points, with Geena Valos providing more than able support with 10 points for Norths. Losalini Katia led Central Coast with 24 points, with Shakera Reilly chipping in 10 of her own for the Crusaders.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 29 points v Hornsby
Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 26 points v Central Coast
Losalini Katia (Central Coast) – 24 points v Norths
Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 23 points v Hills
Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 20 points v Sutherland

2017 Under 18 Nationals Preview

Two teams of outstanding young NSW basketball players will travel to Townsville this week in preparation for the Australian Under 18 Basketball Championships. The NSW Metro side will be attempting to win their first title since 2012, whilst NSW Country will be looking for their first title since going back to back in 2005 and 2006.

The NSW Country side features a mix of players with varying levels of experience, from tournament rookies through to members of last season’s Under 18 team. Paris Forcadilla, Bianca Green, Melanie Kirby, and Kayla McSpadden return from last season’s team, but gone are the Under 17 World Champion trio of Lara McSpadden, Jasmine Simmons, and Cassidy McLean. Stepping up will be three rookies: Lucy Chapman, Ashleigh Fasala, and Abbey Morton, as well as three players from last season’s Under 16 team. Among these are Newcastle’s Isabel Palmer, who averaged 21.56 points in last season’s Under 16 national championships to lead the NSW Country side to 5th place. Serena Waters and Matilda Flood will also make the step up to the Under 18 level having shone at the Under 16 level.

A highly talented 2016 NSW Metro side was struck down by illness, which forced the team to forfeit one of their pool games before eventually finishing the tournament in 11th place. Not one player on the 2017 NSW Metro team has experience at the Under 18 tournament level, but every member of the team has played at the Under 16 level. Interestingly, the team features one player with WNBL experience: Shyla Heal, who played 14 games for the now defunct SEQ Stars in 2015/16. Heal, daughter of Boomers legend Shane, played for Queensland South in the 2015 Under 16 championships, but has since made the move to Sydney and will don the sky blue this year.

Five members of the team are stepping up from last season’s NSW Metro Under 16 side, which reached the championship game before going down to Victoria Metro in the decider. Tatiana Beaumont, Rebekah Dallinger, Meg Jefferson, Gracie Lee, and Sadie Walsh-Gay were all members of that team, with Jefferson averaging 13.44 points per game throughout the tournament.

The side also incorporates four players who last featured at a national championships in 2015. Chloe Bloom, Deanna Kalivitis, Binta Salawu, and Lauryn Walker return to the representative fold as a young team attempts to atone for last year’s disappointment which was admittedly under difficult circumstances.

Both teams, and all others in the tournament, will be out to stop Victoria Metro from winning their fourth consecutive title. The team in navy has won 12 of the last 16 titles, with only NSW Country’s back to back titles in 2005 and 2006 and titles to NSW Metro and Queensland South in 2013 interrupting Victoria Metro’s dominance at this level.

The tournament begins on Saturday, April 8. The full fixture can be found here, with live stats available throughout the tournament.

Listed below are the rosters for each team and their statistics from their last national championship.

NSW Country Under 18 Squad

Name Club Championship PPG RPG APG
Chapman, Lucy Gosford None
Fasala, Ashleigh Coffs Harbour None
Flood, Matilda Bathurst 2016 U16 6.78 7.56 2.11
Forcadilla, Paris Gosford 2016 U18 1.62 3.00 0.88
Green, Bianca Newcastle 2016 U18 6.62 6.50 1.38
Kirby, Melanie Albury 2016 U18 3.00 4.12 0.12
McSpadden, Kayla Newcastle 2016 U18 0.88 2.88 0.25
Morton, Abbey Wagga Wagga None
Palmer, Isabel Newcastle 2016 U16 21.56 5.44 1.11
Waters, Serena Newcastle 2016 U16 6.89 2.11 0.56

NSW Metro Under 18 Squad

Name Club Championship PPG RPG APG
Beaumont, Tatiana Penrith 2016 U16 3.89 5.22 1.11
Bloom, Chloe Penrith 2015 U16 10.44 8.00 0.78
Dallinger, Rebekah Norths 2016 U16 3.67 7.67 2.33
Heal, Shyla Sutherland 2015 U16 10.44 6.00 2.00
Jefferson, Meg Penrith 2016 U16 13.44 9.67 0.44
Kalivitis, Deanna Sutherland 2015 U16 3.22 6.44 0.56
Lee, Gracie Manly 2016 U16 4.56 3.56 2.11
Salawu, Binta Penrith 2015 U16 8.33 4.56 1.78
Walker, Lauryn Manly 2015 U16 3.22 2.56 0.67
Walsh-Gay, Sadie City of Sydney 2016 U16 7.44 4.00 2.44