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

Waratah Championship Week 10 Roundup

Three blowouts and a thriller would be the best way to describe this week’s action. However, that thriller saw Illawarra pick up their first win of the season, and the blowouts only served to make the race for the finals more interesting.

Hornsby 77 defeated Bankstown 57

Kristina Moore was a class above for Hornsby as the young starlet led the Spiders to a comprehensive 20 point win over Bankstown.

Moore and Darneka Rowe led the offensive assault from the home side in the early stages, but Bankstown came to the Brickpit more than ready to put up a fight. The Bruins took a 4 point lead midway through the opening term courtesy of a pair of threes from former WNBL player Casey Samuels, but Serena Waters finished the quarter with four points in four seconds to put Hornsby up 17-14 after the opening term despite some early foul trouble for star forward Rachel Maenpaa.

Moore scored the first five points for Hornsby in the second quarter as a trend began to emerge. The Spiders moved five points clear at 24-19 before Waters drew a foul on Samuels. The foul was Samuels’ third, and with the Bruins’ star off the court, the game swung even further in Hornsby’s favour. The same Hornsby trio that led the scoring in the opening term continued the assault throughout the second quarter and delivered a double-figure lead for the home side by halftime. A 19-10 quarter in Hornsby’s favour saw the Spiders take a 36-25 lead into the locker room, with the home side in position to really break the game wide open in the second half.

As it happens, that is exactly what occurred in the third quarter. Moore and Rowe continued their outstanding days on the offensive end, and with the Hornsby defence stifling a Bankstown side already hindered by foul trouble, the Spiders continued their march to a 10th straight win. Extending their lead to 18 points by the midway point of the quarter, Hornsby were able to hammer nail after nail into the Bruins’ coffin as the margin blew out to 61-39 with a quarter to play.

As the Spiders gave some of their lesser used players a run in the fourth quarter, the game maintained some sense of equilibrium as the margin hovered around the 20 point mark for the final ten minutes. Samuels was able to add some late points to her tally before committing her fifth and final foul late in the contest, but that had little impact on the contest as Hornsby completed a 77-57 victory to move within one win of mathematically securing a finals berth.

Kristina Moore finished an outstanding game with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Darneka Rowe was also excellent to tally 19 points and 8 rebounds. Serena Waters added 10 points, whilst Alicia Poto came close to yet another double-double, finishing with 11 rebounds and 9 assists to go alongside 6 points. Casey Samuels was Bankstown’s only player to finish in double figures, with 22 points, whilst Marjy Grealish was outstanding on the boards to finish with a game-high 12 rebounds.

Box Score

Newcastle 80 defeated Hills 51

Suzy Batkovic ended her stint at her hometown club with a barnstorming performance as Newcastle ran out comprehensive victors over a valiant Hills side.

The Hunters opened the game on a 13-2 run and never really looked back from there. All five of the home team’s starters tallied points in the first five minutes of the contest as Newcastle set about asserting their dominance in the early stages. Madison Hare was solid for Hills in the early stages, tallying five early points whilst Emma Claus added four as the first quarter ended 22-11 in Newcastle’s favour.

Newcastle stars Batkovic and Cassidy McLean kept things ticking over nicely for Newcastle as the home side continued to extend their margin. Claus, Hare, and Sherrie Calleia helped Hills add 17 points in the second quarter, which in a lot of Waratah League games is a fairly healthy number. However, Newcastle piled on 29 for the term as a number of players provided scoring help to see the Hunters lead 51-28 at halftime.

Things slowed down markedly on the offensive end after halftime, particularly for the home side, although Batkovic continued to dominate in the paint for the Hunters. The five-time WNBL MVP added six of Newcastle’s 19 points for the quarter, with McLean, Cherub Lum, and Kelsey Moss chipping in to extend Newcastle’s margin. Hills were able to hang with the Hunters for the majority of the term, tallying 15 points for the term. However, the Hunters’ margin swelled to 70-43 with a quarter to play.

As the rain lashed down outside, play continued into the fourth quarter. Hare and Calleia each knocked down an early three for Hills, whilst four players combined for ten early points for Newcastle. With five minutes to go, there was a slight delay in proceedings and although the game was able to proceed again shortly after, with the score at 80-51, it was decided by both teams to call the game at this point with the result clearly already decided.

Batkovic led all scorers with 30 points, and also collected 13 rebounds to finish with yet another double-double. Cassidy McLean finished with 16 points, 5 assists, and an incredible 7 steals in an exemplary performance at point guard. Alison Ebzery almost notched a double-double, finishing with 8 points and 9 assists. Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 19 points, with Sherrie Calleia tallying 13 points as the pair finished as Hills’ only double-figure scorers. Emma Claus had an excellent night on the boards to finish with 11 rebounds for the Hornets.

Box Score

Note (5/6/17): It was originally stated in this piece, after talking to players, that this game ended early due to a roof leak. Newcastle Basketball have since released an official statement that this was not the case. Sincere apologies for casting aspersions on the watertightness of Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium’s roof.

Norths 76 defeated Sutherland 52

A tight first quarter gave way to a sterling defensive effort from Norths in the second quarter as the Bears rolled to a 24 point victory which keeps them right on Hornsby’s tail in the chase for top spot.

A slow start for both sides saw the scoreline read 2-2 after three minutes, and a low-scoring game appeared to be on the cards. Mercifully, the scoring improved throughout the rest of the quarter. Bree Delaney’s trio of three-pointers was the highlight for Norths and accounted for almost half of the team’s 19 first quarter points. Sutherland found their points from a number of options, but trailed 19-15 after ten minutes of play.

The Sharks could have used that some offensive output in the second quarter, but instead the visitors were stifled at every turn for most of the second quarter. Things were looking good for Sutherland when they scored the first seven points of the term, but from there, Norths owned the play. Jaimee Kennedy returned with a vengeance after missing last week’s game against Hills, before the backcourt pairing of Kallie Hovatter and Kate Seebohm finished off a comprehensive 14-0 run to end the quarter which put Norths up 33-22 at halftime.

Hovatter extended that run to 16-0 with the opening basket of the third quarter, but things became quite more even in the minutes that followed. Razzearne Muir scored the next six points from Norths to counter Sutherland’s frontcourt scoring from Peta Kneen, Jane Scrivens, and Rachel Herrick, before Eleni Valos knocked down a three for the Bears to push the margin out to 44-31. Young gun Maddy Norris did her best to trim the lead with five quick points, but Hovatter and Muir ensured that Norths would hold on to a significant 54-38 lead going into the final term.

With depth in spades, Norths’ progress to victory could not be slowed in the final quarter. Muffi Loader scored a remarkable 12 points in the final term to all but cover Sutherland’s 14 points for the term, with the former Portland State guard showcasing an exemplary performance in the final period. Despite the best efforts of Rachel Herrick, the Bears were too much for the Sharks on the night, and the home side finished 76-52 victors to move to 7-1.

Loader’s outstanding last quarter effort saw her end the game as equal top-scorer for Norths with Razzearne Muir, with both players finishing with 12 points. Muir also collected 6 rebounds in a solid two-way effort. Kallie Hovatter, Bree Delaney, and Jaimee Kennedy all scored 11 points, with Hovatter’s five steals for the game also a highlight. Tristan Black was a menace on the glass as per usual, collecting an impressive 13 rebounds, whilst Kate Seebohm was solid in all facets to finish with 8 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Rachel Herrick led all scorers with 15 points for Sutherland, and finished with 6 rebounds. Peta Kneen added 11 points, whilst Jane Scrivens was excellent at both ends to finish with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Box Score

Illawarra 61 defeated Comets 59

In what has been a trying season, Illawarra once again faced adversity with the newly arrived Georgia Ohrdorf out for Saturday’s game against Comets. However, the Kittyhawks rallied around each other and secured a thrilling win in a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.

Playing with a short bench, the visitors needed to open the game well to stand a chance of victory, and did exactly that. Despite conceding the first four points of the game, Illawarra quickly established a lead of their own through Paige Phillips and Eleri Morris before Olivia White put the home side to the sword in the back end of the opening term. The Kittyhawks forward scored 7 points in the quarter as Illawarra opened up a 24-15 lead which would have been even larger if not for the play of young Comets star Serika Shillingsworth.

Comets were able to flip the script in the second quarter. The home side trimmed the margin to six on the back of scoring from Samantha Hewitt, Jaimee Cohen, and Stephanie Perch. White quickly hit back with four quick points to move Illawarra out to a ten point lead, but a late run fuelled by a number of trips to the free throw line brought Comets right back into the contest. Shillingsworth found her way to the basket late in the quarter, and the half ended with the game on a knife-edge at 35-33 in Illawarra’s favour.

Having dressed just seven players for the game, it would have been understandable if Illawarra faded in the second half. However, coach John Hargreaves rotated his players intelligently and ensured that the minutes were spread across the team with little impact on the team’s performance. With that said, early in the quarter it looked as if Comets may generate some momentum as three pointers to Perch and Hewitt handed the home side a 39-35 lead after three minutes of play in a low-scoring start to the quarter. Illawarra clawed back their lead with a pair of free throws to White followed by a Sparks three, but Shillingsworth returned fire with a three of her own as the teams traded the lead. Morris and Shillingsworth traded baskets before a late Paige Blanton basket gave Illawarra a crucial 50-47 lead with a quarter of basketball to play.

A low-scoring start to the final quarter saw Eleri Morris hit the first basket of the term nearly three minutes in. It would be another two minutes before Lauren Sparks hit a jumper to put Illawarra up 54-47 and within touching distance of their first win of the season. However, it was never going to be that easy. Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas hit a couple of baskets and with 2 minutes to go the scoreboard read 56-53 in the visitors’ favour.

Sparks and Shillingsworth hit threes within the space of 13 seconds as the final minute commenced. Sparks had another three point opportunity, but missed and Comets grabbed the rebound and called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Shillingsworth drove to the basket to put the home side within a point at 59-58 with 11 seconds remaining. Illawarra took a timeout and Lauren Sparks was immediately fouled on the inbounds pass following the timeout. The Sydney Uni Flames guard was clutch at the line to move Illawarra ahead 61-58.

Shillingsworth attempted a three in the dying seconds, but Tiarna Porter caught just enough of the ball to prevent the shot having any chance of being successful. Rachel Harris committed a foul in the rebounding contest, sending Hewitt to the line. Hewitt hit the first before intentionally missing the second, but a Comets player committed a lane violation attempting to grab the rebound. But with just 0.2 seconds on the clock, it made little difference as Illawarra survived to grab their first win of the season, 61-59.

Two Illawarra players finished with double-doubles in the win. Olivia White top scored with 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, whilst Eleri Morris registered 11 points and 12 boards in an outstanding performance. Lauren Sparks played a solid captain’s knock with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Serika Shillingsworth led Comets with 20 points and 5 rebounds, whilst Samantha Hewitt added 14 points and 9 rebounds.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 30 points v Hills
Kristina Moore (Hornsby) – 24 points v Bankstown
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 22 points v Hornsby
Serika Shillingsworth (Comets) – 20 points v Illawarra
Olivia White (Illawarra) – 20 points v Comets

Youth League Week 11 Roundup

Illawarra and Manly played out a thriller at the Snakepit, whilst Cassidy McLean lit up the Brickpit with an astounding performance as Newcastle secured a vital win over Hornsby.

Illawarra 49 lost to Manly 50

Illawarra almost grabbed a win at home over Manly, but Kimberley Hodge lived up to her “Honey Badger” moniker, completing an outstanding performance by getting Manly over the line at the last moment.

In a game that was tight throughout the majority of the contest, neither team was able to get more than three points ahead in the first quarter of play. Faith Bulgin and Antonia Henderson kicked off Manly’s scoring before Kimberley Hodge scored the Sea Eagles’ last six points of the opening term, countering Eleri Morris and Tyler Vukovcan’s scoring for the Hawks before Bronte Covington tied things up for the home side, and the first quarter ended all knotted up at 14-14.

Illawarra went on a run of sorts to open the second quarter courtesy of a pair of threes from Claudia Flynn which put the home side up 22-16. Hodge continued to pose a threat, but Paige Phillips hit a three of her own with two minutes remaining in the second quarter, which would prove to be the final score of the half as Illawarra enjoyed a healthy 29-19 lead at the main break.

After scoring just five points in the second quarter, Manly must have found some offence in the locker room at half time. Three pointers to Emilie Krimmer and Josie Bulman cut the Illawarra lead to 31-27 early in the piece, but Flynn and Morris ensured the Hawks would not give up their lead so easily. Illawarra pushed the advantage back out to eight points before Hodge added exactly that number of her own consecutively to tie things up at 35-35. Despite this, Illawarra kicked again with a 9-0 run to end the third quarter.

Hodge and Bulgin opened the fourth quarter well for Manly, and Illawarra’s offence began to sputter slightly. Manly made their way back into the contest, trimming the lead to 47-44 with five minutes to play, and then to 49-47 with three minutes to play. Spectacularly, the scoring simply dried up after that. Two minutes came and went before either team put the ball in the basket before Antonia Henderson tied the game at 49-49 with 35 seconds to play.

Josie Bulman drove to the basket on the final play of the game and found Hodge under the basket with a neat pass. Hodge missed from close range, but collected her own miss and was fouled going back up a mere fraction of a second before the final buzzer. Hodge split a pair of free throws, which proved enough to secure victory for Manly.

Hodge led all scorers with 25 points to tally half of Manly’s total in the win, whilst Faith Bulgin chipped in 11 for the Sea Eagles. Eleri Morris and Claudia Flynn shared top honours for Illawarra with 12 points apiece.

Box Score

Sutherland 74 defeated Bankstown 70

Madeleine Norris was at her outstanding best in Youth League once again, leading Sutherland to a vital victory that left them in a three-way tie for the sixth and last finals spot ahead of their Sunday game against Penrith.

Georgia Gale lit it up early for Bankstown, scoring six of the Bruins’ first eight points of the game as the visitors established an early five point lead. A pair of threes from Sutherland star Madeleine Norris countered a pair of baskets from Bankstown offensive weapon Tasmyn Haynes and quickly the margin was back to a solitary point. Sabrina Zenatti found her scoring range late in the first quarter, but a late Hannah Clinen basket ensured Sutherland trailed by just four after a quarter, with the score reading 17-13 in the visitors’ favour.

Zenatti and Gale continued to fire early in the second quarter as Bankstown set about extending their lead, but Norris and Parrish Leavai ensured that the Bruins’ margin wouldn’t get out of hand. However, Tasmyn Haynes continued to hit shots and despite a late three from Norris, Bankstown held a 39-32 lead at halftime.

The start of the third quarter was a reasonably even affair, before Sutherland began to edge their way back into the contest. Finding scoring from a number of players, the Sharks chipped away at the lead until they finally hit the lead at 48-47 with four minutes remaining in the third. That was far from the end of it, though. Scoring the last five points of the quarter, Sutherland put together a 59-52 lead by the time the buzzer sounded, putting the home side in the box seat with 10 minutes to play.

The quarter break gave Bankstown a chance to regroup, and they proceeded to trim the margin back to 60-57 just two minutes into the final term. Leavai and Norris then each managed baskets for Sutherland, and when Gabby Turnbull knocked down a three with six minutes to play, the margin was 67-59. Leavai and Norris added another basket each, and with the lead at 12 with four minutes to play, Sutherland were seemingly charging to victory. However, Bankstown trimmed the margin, and managed to get within four in the final minute. But that was where the scoring ended and the home side managed to hang on for a 74-70 win.

Madeleine Norris led all scorers with 29 points, whilst Parrish Leavai tallied 14 points and Gabby Turnbull added 11 for the Sharks. Georgia Gale was electric for the Bruins, tallying 25 points. Gale was backed up by Tasmyn Haynes and Sabrina Zenatti, who each finished with 17 points.

Box Score

Liverpool-Macarthur 52 lost to Central Coast 83

Central Coast dressed just six players, but when that group includes a FIBA Oceania Under 18s all-star and a number of state representatives, sometimes that’s enough and it showed as the Crusaders dominated Liverpool-Macarthur in a 31 point win.

Despite the final scoreline, the first quarter was a tight-run affair. Renee Muaulu opened the scoring with a three-pointer, but also committed three fouls in quick succession as Central Coast established a five point lead courtesy of a couple of quick baskets from Shakera Reilly. Liverpool-Macarthur trimmed the lead back to 12-11, but a late three from Charlie Evans secured a 15-11 lead for Central Coast after the opening term.

Rachel Williams and Losalini Katia opened up the second quarter scoring for Central Coast, but Liverpool-Macarthur remained in touch. Yasmin Danine kept the home side within four points, but more scoring from Williams and Evans moved Central Coast to a 25-16 lead midway through the second term. Shakera Reilly added to her burgeoning points tally late in the quarter, and the Crusaders went into halftime up 36-23.

The early stages of the third quarter saw Liverpool-Macarthur hang with Central Coast, and when Taylor Muaulu scored a couple of quick baskets, the visitors’ lead had been trimmed to just nine points. However, Central Coast finished the quarter on a remarkable 17-2 run that saw Evans and Taylor Ferris get right amongst the scoring to put the game beyond the home side’s reach at 61-35 after three quarters of play.

The fourth quarter was far closer, with Liverpool-Macarthur ensuring the margin wouldn’t blow out too much more. Ferris kept her personal tally ticking over, whilst Reilly finished off an outstanding performance with some late points to round out a dominant 83-62 win for Central Coast.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 23 points as five Central Coast players finished in double figures. Taylor Ferris registered 17 points, and Sydney Uni Sparks guard Charlie Evans added 16. Rachel Williams tallied 12, with Losalini Katia adding an even 10 for the visitors. Yasmin Danine was the only Liverpool-Macarthur player in double figures, finishing with 13 points.

Box Score

Hornsby 76 lost to Newcastle 81

Cassidy McLean stepped in to give Newcastle’s Youth League team a hand, and it must have been an oversized novelty hand as the Sydney Uni Flames guard dropped 37 to lead the Hunters to victory mere hours after the disappointment of a loss in the team’s Waratah Championship game.

McLean opened the game with Newcastle’s first eight points of the contest, but six points from Kristina Moore ensured the game remained tight throughout the opening term. With both players finding support from numerous teammates, the opening quarter ended with Newcastle holding a slender 16-14 lead.

Nicole Hutchins and Piper Duck helped edge Hornsby ahead in the early stages of the second quarter, but McLean would not be denied at the offensive end. Tallying seven points in a two minute stretch, the Under 17 World Championship-winning point guard led the visitors back into the lead. Hutchins earned and converted an and-one opportunity for the Spiders, and five late points from Moore ensured the home side were right on the Hunters’ tails at halftime, with the visitors holding a 38-37 lead after a half of play.

Moore and Hutchins continued to lead the Spiders’ offence in the third quarter, but seemingly every time the Spiders looked as if they might create a lead, McLean would hit back with some scoring of her own. Late in the third quarter, Maddie Nowland and Alison Ebzery found their range, and soon the Hunters had opened up a sizeable margin, ending the third quarter up 66-57 and in the box seat.

Ebzery pushed the lead to double figures early in the fourth quarter, but Hutchins, Tylah Mundine, and Sarah Crisafulli ensured the Spiders cut that margin back slightly. McLean added four quick points, but Hutchins and Moore created a late 5-0 run for Hornsby that put the home side within three with just under two minutes to play. Melanie Edwards hit a shot for Newcastle just fifteen seconds later, and remarkably there was no scoring in the final 105 seconds of the contest, which meant Newcastle escaped the Brickpit with an 81-76 win which may have just restarted their season’s pulse.

In her final game before leaving for the University of New Orleans, Nicole Hutchins finished with an outstanding 29 points. Kristina Moore added 21 on the back of 22 in the afternoon’s earlier Championship game to round out an excellent day of basketball. However, Cassidy McLean was the undoubted star of the contest with her 37 points. Alison Ebzery provided solid backup with 16 points as both players shook off the disappointment of the Championship game loss to lead the Hunters to victory.

Box Score

Hills 72 defeated Norths 65

Hills used a late run to secure victory over Norths, with the win also seeing the Hornets move into a tie for third with the Bears.

Ali Burke fired early for the Bears with a three, but it was Milly Yates who owned the opening term for Norths. The Saint Mary’s commit scored six points in the first quarter, whilst Zoe Burke hit a pair of early threes to help Hills to a 22-17 lead after the first quarter.

Some early second quarter scoring from Zara Olsen helped Norths trim the lead before Geena Valos and Carla Liebenberg established a narrow lead for the Bears. It was short-lived, however, as Burke and Paris Roditis led Hills on a late run that saw the Hornets secure a 37-35 halftime lead, with Burke’s three point shooting a feature of the opening quarter.

Despite feeling the effects of a Friday night SEABL game and a Championship game played immediately preceding this contest, Hills star Sherrie Calleia made the third quarter her own to maintain the Hornets’ slender margin. Calleia and Ali Burke almost made the term a one-on-one shootout at times. The Hills guard dropped 11 in the term, whilst the Norths star tallied 7 of her own. A late three to Laura Davidson broke a 55-55 tie as time expired in the third quarter to provide Hills with a 58-55 lead with 10 minutes of basketball remaining.

Liebenberg and Lana Marov provided Norths with some early scoring, but Zoe Burke continued to step up with threes at opportune moments to keep Hills in front. A back and forth final term saw Ali Burke connect with 3:20 to play to bring the margin back to 68-63, but Calleia responded by taking her personal tally to 18 and pushing the Hornets’ lead back out to seven with three minutes to play. With neither team able to conjure much of anything on offence in the final three minutes, a potentially exciting ending instead finished with just four more points scored. Zara Olsen’s basket with 1:04 to play brought Norths within seven, but that would be the final scoring play of the game as Hills ran out 72-65 victors.

Sherrie Calleia stepped up in her third game of the weekend to lead Hills with 18 points, with her third quarter performance a sight to behold. Zoe Burke added 17, with all five of her field goals coming from beyond the arc, whilst Paris Roditis added 10 for the home side. Ali Burke top scored for Norths with 13, whilst Carla Liebenberg added 10 for the visitors.

Box Score

Penrith lost to Sutherland (OT)

Madeleine Norris was the hero for Sutherland in overtime with a last-second three-pointer that delivered the Sharks a two-win weekend that further improved their playoff chances. However, with no more details available, that’s about all we can tell you.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Cassidy McLean (Newcastle) – 37 points v Hornsby
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 30 points v Penrith
Nicole Hutchins (Hornsby) – 29 points v Newcastle
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 29 points v Bankstown
Chloe Bloom (Penrith) – 25 points v Sutherland
Georgia Gale (Bankstown) – 25 points v Sutherland
Kimberley Hodge (Manly) – 25 points v Illawarra

At The Turn: Illawarra Kittyhawks

As each Waratah Championship team reaches the halfway mark of their season, Sky Blue Hoops will take a look at their campaign to this point and their chances going forward. In this piece, we focus on the Illawarra Kittyhawks, who are out of finals contention, but still have plenty to play for in 2017.

It’s been a difficult first half of the season for the Illawarra side. The Kittyhawks lost Renae Garlepp, Rachel Lisch, Katina Mandylaris, and Courtney Dean from last season’s team which made the grand final, leaving massive holes in the lineup. With an experienced duo of Lauren Sparks and Olivia White leading a team with a large amount of Youth League players, a slip down the table was always expected in 2017.

However, extended player absences have seen Illawarra’s performances suffer markedly. Lauren Sparks has played just three of the team’s eight games, and Olivia White has played just five. With those two players both out of the side, the Kittyhawks lost their most winnable game of the season to this point, going down 63-51 away to Hills. With a full team on the court, Illawarra did go agonisingly close to defeating Newcastle in the weeks before Suzy Batkovic arrived for the Hunters, going down 67-65.

Safe to say, it hasn’t been a good first half of the season results-wise for Illawarra. However, it would be extremely myopic to simply look at the win-loss column and toss this season away. Tiarna Porter has excelled during a tough stretch to average over 9 points per game, whilst Youth League stars Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips have stepped up for the team at times. Morris is shooting 45% from the field to lead the team in that category, and has finished three games in double figures for points. Phillips is averaging 7.3 points per game, and has also finished in double figures three times. With many Youth League players receiving extended runs in the side, this season could prove to be of massive benefit going forward in the long-term for Illawarra, especially with the potential return of Katherine and Liisa Ups from college in mid-2018.

Looking to the remainder of 2017, the outlook is far more promising for Illawarra, and it stems from the return of Georgia Ohrdorf, who is back from college in the US for the next few months. Ohrdorf dropped 28 points in the team’s 73-64 loss to Sutherland last weekend despite stepping off a plane just eight hours earlier to lead the league in scoring for the week. Sydney Uni Flames guard and spiritual leader of the team Lauren Sparks has also returned to the side to run the offence from the point guard spot. Whilst finals are out of the question this season, the Hawks could yet steal a couple of wins as the season progresses. The June 3rd fixture away to Comets and the home game against Hills on the final day of the season shape to be the team’s best chances to grab that elusive victory, with the team facing a tough road to end the season. It would certainly be fun from a neutral standpoint to see the unfancied Kittyhawks spring an upset or two and put the cat amongst the pigeons in the finals race though!

Youth League Week 10 Roundup

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

Liverpool-Macarthur 85 lost to Bankstown 91

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

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

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

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

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

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

Box Score

Illawarra 58 defeated Sutherland 56

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

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

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

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

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

Box Score

Central Coast 64 defeated Hills 49

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

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

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

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

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

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

Box Score

Norths 66 lost to Hornsby 81

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

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

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

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

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

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

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

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

Waratah Championship Week 7 Roundup

Blowouts were common, but Hornsby and Sutherland made up for it with a thriller at the Brickpit. Elsewhere, Suzy Batkovic dominated to drop 40 on Manly.

Hornsby 84 defeated Sutherland 82

The only close game of the weekend featured a blockbuster of a final quarter in a contest that saw neither team get ahead by more than six throughout the entirety of the game.

The first of those six point leads came just six minutes into the contest. The game was a tight affair to begin with, as Sutherland removed an early Hornsby advantage to take an early lead of their own through a Peta Kneen three. However, four early points from Olivia Sheehan put Hornsby up 15-9. Kneen and Jane Scrivens made a dent in the lead, before Maddy Norris hit a three for the final scoring play of the quarter to put Sutherland up 19-17 to end the first quarter.

A pair of Rachel Maenpaa free throws tied things up for Hornsby early in the second quarter, before the scoring dried up for both teams. Rebecca Black’s basket with 6:37 to play in the half took the score for the quarter to 4-1, but both teams soon found their range. Ashleigh Heal finished the quarter with eight points, whilst Poto notched eight of her own for Hornsby. Olivia Sheehan came up with the last points of the quarter on a last-second basket to move Hornsby within a single point, with the scoreboard reading 41-40 in Sutherland’s favour.

Once again, it took Hornsby a while to find their scoring touch in the third quarter. Tylah Mundine’s lay-up more than two minutes into the term was the Spiders’ first scoring play, but a Poto three soon after gave the Spiders a 45-43 lead. Poto continued to fire for Hornsby, before a Rebecca Black jumper gave the home side a 51-46 lead. Sutherland remained undeterred, with Kneen and Norris tying things up late in the piece before Rachel Herrick’s basket with 7 seconds remaining in the term meant Sutherland would take a 56-54 lead into the final break.

The offence came thick and fast in the final term. Rachel Maenpaa found her range for nine points in the first five minutes of the final term, but the teams continued to trade the lead as Kneen and Lisa Watkins continued to hit their shots, with support from Scrivens and Clare Thomson. Then, as if someone put a lid on the Hornsby basket, the shots stopped dropping for the Spiders. Scrivens and Kneen pushed the Sutherland lead to six, but a Darneka Rowe three with 2:21 to play trimmed the margin to 75-72. A Poto three soon after tied the game at 77-77, and when Rebecca Black found room to finish, the Spiders had quickly turned the game around to lead 79-77 with 71 seconds to play.

Peta Kneen drew a foul with 28 seconds to play to sink a pair of free throws, and Sutherland were back ahead, 82-81. Poto split a pair at the line six seconds later to tie the game, but when Peta Kneen committed an offensive foul, the game was unexpectedly in Hornsby’s hands. Poto drew a foul and split a pair, but a technical foul assessed to Lisa Watkins handed the Spiders an additional shot and possession. Maenpaa sank the last free throw with three seconds to play and Hornsby held on for an 84-82 win.

Alicia Poto’s 29 points capped an outstanding individual effort for the 2004 Olympian, who also finished with 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. Rachel Maenpaa tallied 20 points, whilst Rebecca Black finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds to almost complete a double-double. Peta Kneen’s 24 points led Sutherland, whilst Clare Thomson notched 16 for the Sharks. Jane Scrivens finished with a 10 point, 10 rebound double-double for the visitors.

Manly 62 lost to Newcastle 85

Manly were unable to stop Suzy Batkovic as the Hunters star made up for lost time with a dominant performance after missing the previous game between the two teams.

Without Sydney Uni Flames guard Cassidy McLean, the Hunters found it a little difficult early to find Batkovic in the post, with Rebecca Duke picking up three early steals. This allowed Manly to hang with Newcastle in the early stages, and only a three pointer to Alison Ebzery in the dying seconds of the quarter gave Newcastle a 17-16 after a quarter.

Newcastle quickly found their rhythm in the second quarter and were able to get Batkovic involved with the play. Eight points in the second quarter ensued for the Opals stalwart, with Emily Keith also providing some scoring support as the Hunters opened up a 39-30 lead at halftime.

Although Manly were able to add 20 in the third quarter, the Sea Eagles found themselves in foul trouble with Kristen Forbes and Rebecca Duke forced to play on with the home side dressing only eight players for the game and in danger of having the game slip away from them. Newcastle added 25 more in the third quarter, but the best was yet to come from their star.

Batkovic added 14 points in the final quarter, rounding out an exceptional performance. With Duke and Forbes fouling out of the contest midway through the final term, the Hunters ran roughshod over Manly in the dying stages to complete a 21-12 final term and deliver a crushing 85-62 win.

Batkovic was simply unstoppable and finished with a mind-boggling 41 points and 14 rebounds. Alison Ebzery was also outstanding with a 13 point, 11 rebound, 10 assist triple-double, whilst Emily Keith added 13 points and 8 rebounds. Rebecca Duke finished with 16 points for Manly, whilst Kristen Forbes added 8 points and 9 rebounds.

Illawarra 50 lost to Comets 71

The understrength Illawarra side continued their struggle in a heavy loss to Comets, who moved to a reasonably solid 3-4 record.

The first quarter was generally a close-run affair, with Illawarra preventing Comets from extending an early 10-5 lead as Phoebe Johnson and Bronte Covington knocked down shots to keep the Kittyhawks in close range. Eleri Morris knocked down a pair of free throws, but Georgia Flanigan moved Comets ahead 14-11 at the end of the first quarter with a late jumper.

Illawarra hung with Comets until midway through the second quarter, before Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas and Lauren Breen each added multiple baskets in quick succession to break the game open late in the half. With Illawarra’s offence drying up, a 20-10 quarter in Comets’ favour saw the visitors take a 34-21 lead into halftime and the game firmly in their control.

Illawarra brought a vastly improved performance to the third quarter. Whilst they were ultimately unable to make any inroads into Comets’ lead, the home side found scoring from a variety of options and ultimately prevented the visitors from extending their lead. Maja Jurlina opened the second half with five quick points, but there was no extended run forthcoming as the teams scored 17 apiece to keep the visitors’ lead at 13 with a quarter to play.

As happened in the second quarter, the fourth quarter was much more of a procession for Comets. Jurlina and Breen continued to add points, supporting the outstanding play of Samantha Hewitt and Pogonza-Dumas. A 20-12 final quarter provided Comets with a 71-50 win as the inner city side continue to compile a decent, if unspectacular, record.

Samantha Hewitt led all scorers with 16 points for Comets, and also collected 11 rebounds for a double-double. Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas also finished with a double-double, tallying 13 points and 11 boards. Lauren Breen was outstanding with 13 points and 7 rebounds, whilst Maja Jurlina added 12 points. Eleri Morris was Illawarra’s top scorer with 15 points, whilst Phoebe Johnson tallied 14 points and an impressive 9 rebounds.

Hills 60 lost to Bankstown 90

Having stewed on a tight loss to Norths for two whole weeks, Bankstown bounced back with a dominant win over a young Hills team.

The Bruins scored the first ten points of the game as the experienced Bankstown side set out to assert their dominance early in the contest. Despite the best efforts of Sherrie Calleia and Madison Hare for Hills, former Sydney Uni Flames players Briana Maimone and Casey Samuels were each outstanding in the opening term as Bankstown opened up a 25-15 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Samuels continued to lead the Bruins through the second quarter, adding nine points to her total. However, Hills fought to ensure the margin did not blow out early, and by halftime the lead had only grown to 48-36, a 12 point margin for Bankstown and an increase of just two points from the first quarter margin.

Perhaps surprisingly, Hills had the early running in the third quarter and trimmed the Bruins’ lead to six by scoring the first six points of the second half. Bankstown quickly put a stop to any idea of a comeback though, allowing Hills just five more points in the quarter and adding 17 to push the lead out to 65-47 with a quarter to play.

The final quarter was a mere procession for Bankstown as Samuels completed an outstanding performance to lead the Bruins to a 90-60 victory despite the best efforts of Calleia and Hare for Hills.

Samuels led all scorers with 26 points for Bankstown, and also tallied 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Briana Maimone also completed a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sherrie Calleia top scored for Hills with 22 points, whilst Madison Hare added 19 points and a highly impressive 15 rebounds.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 41 points v Manly
Alicia Poto (Hornsby) – 29 points v Sutherland
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 26 points v Hills
Peta Kneen (Sutherland) – 24 points v Hornsby
Sherrie Calleia (Hills) – 22 points v Bankstown

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