Waratah Championship Semi Final Roundup

A 3rd v 4th Waratah Championship grand final awaits us on Sunday afternoon as Manly upset Hornsby and Norths snuck by Bankstown in the semi-finals. Both games were absolute nail-biters, setting up a scintillating championship game.

Hornsby 78 lost to Manly 79

A thrilling encounter between the minor premiers Hornsby and fourth placed Manly ended with the Sea Eagles securing the upset win and progressing to the grand final.

Things looked ominous in the early stages as Manly scored six points in the first 45 seconds of the contest, but Hornsby soon got on the board through a pair of Darneka Rowe baskets. Manly continued to find points through Belinda Snell, but an extended scoring drought for both teams was cut by Hornsby forward Rachel Maenpaa. Snell led Manly on a late run to push the lead to 19-10, but four points from Jess Sancataldo in the dying stages of the opening term helped Hornsby trim the margin to 21-19 after Tylah Mundine’s three in the final seconds of the quarter.

Maenpaa and Sancataldo combined for the first five points of the second term to hand Hornsby their first lead of the contest, and with Rowe knocking down another three, the Spiders put together a solid start of the second quarter, culminating in a 33-27 lead midway through the term. Manly’s offence would not be denied for the entire quarter though, and soon enough the Sea Eagles had cut the margin back to 37-34 courtesy of Kristen Forbes. With the teams trading points, the margin held steady for the remainder of the second quarter, with a late lay-up from Snell keeping Manly within three at 42-39 down at halftime.

A low-scoring third quarter commenced with no scoring for nearly two minutes until Alicia Poto split a pair at the line. Manly enjoyed a far superior few minutes on offence, reestablishing an advantage at 45-43 before Poto and Rowe knocked down threes for Hornsby. The Spiders were able to push their lead out to seven, but in a back-and-forth game such as this, no lead was ever safe, and a late Sea Eagles charge delivered a 54-53 lead by the end of the quarter.

After a strange moment to start the fourth quarter in which Manly’s bench received a technical for having too many players on court, the teams traded baskets in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but it would be Manly who broke out of the rut and put together a run which established a 68-59 lead by midway through the final term in what looked to be a potentially match-winning lead. However, Hornsby, led by Poto, would not be denied. The 2004 Olympian led her side on a charge that dragged the Spiders back into the contest at 73-69 down with just 71 seconds to play. A pair of beautifully executed runners in the lane from Rowe tied the game at 73-73, before Belinda Snell drew the foul call on Jess Sancataldo whilst driving to the basket with 28 seconds to play, promptly knocking down both free throws. The Spiders were unable to score on the ensuing play, and forced to foul, sent Snell to the line again. The Opals stalwart was again perfect at the charity stripe to hand Manly a 77-73 lead, before Liv Sheehan hit a jumper to draw Hornsby within two in the final few seconds. Jess Kelly was the next Manly player sent to the line, but when she hit both, the margin was four points with single digits left on the clock. Poto hit a buzzer-beater from just shy of half-court, but unfortunately for the Spiders the four point line doesn’t exist quite yet, and Manly escaped with a 79-78 win.

Belinda Snell led all scorers with a scintillating 31 points and 14 rebounds to power Manly to victory, whilst Rebecca Duke also completed a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Rachel Maenpaa and Darneka Rowe each registered 18 points for Hornsby, with Maenpaa completing a double-double with 11 rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. Alicia Poto registered 17 points and 8 assists, whilst Tylah Mundine added a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spiders. Jess Sancataldo also registered a solid 6 points and 9 rebounds playing in an unfamiliar frontcourt position.

Bankstown 67 lost to Norths 72

Norths made it a 3rd v 4th Grand Final with an equally nail-biting 72-67 win over Bankstown in the second semi-final.

It was the Bruins who came out firing in the opening term as their accurate shooting in the early stages allowed them to jump out to a double digit lead as the term progressed. The experienced heads of Briana Maimone and Casey Samuels did the majority of the damage in the first quarter as Bankstown conjured a 25-13 lead, with Jaimee Kennedy’s scoring proving to be priceless for a Norths side struggling to stay in touch.

However, as much as Bankstown dominated the first quarter, Norths did the same in the second quarter. The points came slowly for both sides as a combination of lockdown defence and some questionable decisions on offence from both teams stifled the scoring, but Norths were unquestionably the better of the two teams. With Muffi Loader hitting shots with regularity, and the dynamic backcourt duo of Kallie Hovatter and Kate Seebohm chipping in points, the Bears were able to trim the Bruins’ lead to 31-30 by the time halftime arrived courtesy of a 17-6 second quarter.

Seebohm and Hovatter combined to give Norths their first lead since the opening minutes of the contest, and then extend that out to 36-31. With Seebohm hitting three pointers with regularity, it looked as if Norths may get away, but Bankstown regrouped to quickly hit back as Maimone and Samuels continued to provide the bulk of the scoring. The margin hovered around the one-possession mark each way as the quarter progressed, but it would be Bankstown who finished the quarter the better of the two teams. Holding a one point lead at 48-47, the Bruins scored the last four points of the quarter through Maimone and Ellie Gleeson to establish a 52-47 lead with ten minutes remaining.

Jaydene Barnes pushed the Bankstown lead out to seven with the first basket of the final quarter, but from that point scoring became almost an impossibility for the Bruins. The triumvirate of Loader, Seebohm, and Hovatter combined for a game-changing 15-0 run, of which Hovatter tallied ten to put Norths up 62-54 with just over 3 minutes remaining. A pair of Marjy Grealish baskets in quick succession trimmed the margin to four points, and after Loader split a pair at the line, Casey Samuels hit a three and suddenly the score was 63-61 in Norths’ favour with 55 seconds to play.

Seebohm found her way to the line and knocked down a pair, and with the Bruins unable to score on their next possession, Loader was fouled to stop the clock and promptly hit both free throws. Adrianne Bywater hit a three with 17 seconds to play to trim the lead to 67-64, and from there a moment of controversy ensued. Norths called a timeout and the siren went right as the ball was inbounded straight into a Bankstown player’s hands and promptly through the basket. A quick consultation saw the officials award the timeout to Norths, negating the Bankstown basket. The Bears managed to successfully inbound the ball on the ensuing possession, after which Kennedy was fouled and also connected on a pair. Rhiaan Te-Hira’s three with eight seconds to play trimmed the lead to 69-67, forcing Norths to sweat it out a bit. Kennedy was fouled once again to stop the clock and hit the first but missed the second free throw. However, Norths managed to secure the ball, and when Hovatter converted a pair at the line, it tied a bow not only on a fantastic evening for the American, but a thrilling win that saw Norths into the grand final with a 72-67 win.

Casey Samuels led all scorers with 28 points for Bankstown, with the former Sydney Uni Flames player also collecting 8 rebounds. Briana Maimone racked up a 21 point, 11 rebound double-double and also dished out 5 assists. Marjy Grealish was solid on the boards with 9 rebounds alongside 4 points. Kallie Hovatter led Norths with 23 points, whilst Kate Seebohm added 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. Muffi Loader added 13 points and 5 rebounds, whilst Jaimee Kennedy was solid with 9 points and 8 rebounds.

Waratah Championship Week 17 Roundup

Bankstown came up with a final day win over Manly to sneak their way into the 2nd v 3rd semi-final, where they will play Norths, who knocked off Newcastle and hit triple figures in the process.

Manly 59 lost to Bankstown 67

In a game that would ultimately decide the finals placings behind Hornsby, it was Bankstown who first created an astounding lead and then did their level best to throw it away before emerging victorious to secure a spot in the 2 v 3 semi-final v Norths, leaving Manly to face Hornsby in the 1 v 4 matchup.

With Adrianne Bywater, Casey Samuels, and Briana Maimone all proving accurate in their shooting early in the contest, Bankstown opened up a 13-0 lead before Manly finally got on the board through a Kristen Forbes three. It did little to stop Bankstown’s momentum though, as the Bruins continued to fire away through Samuels and Madison Bennett to take a 27-6 lead after the first quarter.

However, the thing about large early leads is that the opposition have plenty of time to chip away at them. That’s exactly what Manly did, as Rebecca Duke found ways to score time and again to move Manly within five points at 32-27 midway through the second quarter. Mercifully for the Bruins, they were able to go on a small run of their own as an Ellie Gleeson basket kick-started some late scoring to ensure Bankstown went to the locker rooms with a double-digit lead at 41-29.

A low-scoring third quarter worked in Manly’s favour as Bankstown’s momentum came to a complete standstill. It took over three minutes for the Bruins to add four points to their halftime total, and with Candice Trevenna joining Duke in a scoring spree, the Sea Eagles trimmed the margin to a solitary point at 45-44 with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter. But once again Bankstown survived with their lead intact as Gleeson and Samuels added some late points to see the Bruins head into the final term up 50-44.

Manly had threatened for the entire second half and tied the game at 50-50 early in the final term. Somehow Bankstown were kicked into gear, perhaps by the apparent urgency of the situation, rattling off the next 8 points of the game to re-establish a reasonable lead with 5 minutes to play. The visitors then extended that lead to 12 with just under 3 minutes to play, and with Manly’s offence unable to fire down the stretch, Bankstown survived to escape with a 67-59 win and secure second place in the standings.

Rebecca Duke compiled an impressive 17 point, 16 rebound double-double to almost drag Manly to victory, whilst Candice Trevenna added 11 points and 7 rebounds. Casey Samuels also finished with a double-double, registering 22 points and 11 rebounds. Ellie Gleeson impressed with 14 points, whilst Briana Maimone tallied 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists to finish just shy of a triple-double.

Norths 103 defeated Newcastle 69

Norths compiled the first 100 point game of the season at the best possible time, hitting some solid offensive form right on the cusp of finals after a few poor shooting games in recent weeks.

An electric first quarter from Norths put the home side on the front foot from the outset, as the Bears hit shots with alarming regularity. Kallie Hovatter and Jaimee Kennedy led the Bears’ scoring in the early stages, and with more than able support from Kate Seebohm, the home side compiled a remarkable 30-12 lead by the end of the opening term, with Suzy Batkovic’s five first quarter points leading Newcastle.

Fortunately for the Hunters, they found a little more success on offence in the second quarter. Batkovic continued to find ways to score, whilst Sydney Uni Flames guard Cassidy McLean hit a number of three pointers to keep Newcastle’s score ticking along. Unfortunately for the visitors though, Norths continued to fly on offence. The backcourt duo of Hovatter and Seebohm continued to dominate proceedings, and with a number of frontcourt options getting the job done in the paint, a high-scoring quarter finished 27-23 in the Bears’ favour to hand the home side a 57-35 halftime lead.

The scoring rampage continued for both teams in the early stages of the second half. McLean and Batkovic continued to deliver for Newcastle, with support coming from Kelsey Moss. Hovatter continued to add to her tally, whilst Muffi Loader added some handy points off the bench for the Bears. Newcastle emerged to win the third quarter 23-21, taking a 78-58 lead into the final quarter.

Norths hammered home their advantage in the final quarter, holding Newcastle to just 11 points in the last ten minutes of the contest. Kelsey Moss was responsible for six of these, giving the Hunters some rare highlights in the final term. Loader and Eleni Valos each ticked their personal tallies into double figures in the final quarter for the Bears, with Kate Golding also afforded a rare extended stint on court to tally some late baskets as Norths emerged 103-69 victors which no doubt helped their confidence leading into finals.

Kallie Hovatter led Norths with 26 points, whilst Kate Seebohm completed a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists. Jaimee Kennedy also registered a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds, whilst Muffi Loader added 14 points and Eleni Valos tallied 11 for Norths. Suzy Batkovic led Newcastle with 27 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Cassidy McLean chalked up 22 points and Kelsey Moss added 12 points and 5 boards.

Comets 47 lost to Sutherland 72

With neither team able to move from their current position in the standings, pride was all that was at stake at this one, and it was Sutherland who emerged as winners in their final game of the season to finish with a respectable but ultimately fruitless 8-8 record.

A blistering start to the game set up an early advantage for the visitors. Starting the game on a 13-0 courtesy primarily of Clare Thomson and Peta Kneen, it was nearly seven minutes before Comets registered their first basket through Nadine Wannous. Fortunately, Comets did keep pace with Sutherland from that point onwards, but still trailed 21-7 after ten minutes of play as Lisa Watkins got in on the act with some late points to end the quarter.

Things went slightly better for Comets in the second quarter, but Sutherland continued to extend their lead. The home side opened the quarter well, with Jaimee Cohen in particular providing some early points. However, as Comets’ scoring tailed off in the latter stages of the quarter, Watkins and Kneen, along with Jane Scrivens, continued to extend Sutherland’s lead. With Comets unable to score for the last 3 minutes of the quarter, the Sharks’ lead grew to 39-19 by halftime.

The home side scored the first five points of the third quarter, but Sutherland were quickly back in the swing of things to maintain their 20 point cushion. Although Serika Shillingsworth went on a tear in the latter stages of the quarter with seven quick points to reduce the margin to something respectable, Sutherland were still holders of a 55-33 lead with one quarter to play.

Maja Jurlina tacked on some late points for Comets, but with the game meandering to its already obvious conclusion, neither team was able to swing the margin too far in their favour, with a mid-quarter flourish from Sutherland seeing the visitors take home a 72-47 victory.

Peta Kneen led all scorers with 23 points for Sutherland, whilst Clare Thomson came close to a double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Lisa Watkins added 16 points, whilst Jane Scrivens collected 16 rebounds and Rachel Herrick chalked up 10 boards. Serika Shillingsworth top scored for Comets with 13 points, with Jaimee Cohen tallying 9 points. Lauren Breen was Comets’ best on the boards with 11 rebounds.

Illawarra 67 defeated Hills 53

Illawarra condemned Hills to the wooden spoon on the very last day of the season courtesy of yet another dominant performance from Georgia Ohrdorf, who accounted for just shy of half of the Kittyhawks’ total.

A depleted Kittyhawks side that dressed only a starting five for the game would have to come out strong, and they did just that. The Kittyhawks, led by some early points from Bronte Covington and Lauren Sparks, hung with Hills in the opening stages before taking an 11-9 lead just shy of four minutes into the contest. Turnovers reigned supreme in the middle portion of the term, but Ohrdorf scored 10 of Illawarra’s final 11 points of the term to establish a 22-17 lead despite the best efforts of Madison Hare and Anja Kolodziej for Hills.

Ohrdorf continued to dominate in the early stages of the second quarter, and with scoring assistance from Eleri Morris, the Kittyhawks continued to extend their margin. An 18-4 run to open the quarter from Illawarra pushed the home side out to a 40-21 lead before some late baskets from Emma Claus helped settle things for a Hills side that struggled to find any scoring for much of the term. Paige Blanton added a couple of late free throws for the Kittyhawks to see their lead extended to 46-27 at halftime.

Hills fared slightly better in the third quarter, scoring the first six points of the second half to give themselves a sniff of a comeback, but Illawarra hit back with an 8-0 run of their own to take the lead past 20 points with five minutes remaining in the term. Andrea Roditis added a couple of quick baskets for Hills, but their scoring charge was definitely felt more in the opening stages of the term. Hills did win the third quarter, but only by a 12-11 margin, leaving Illawarra comfortably ahead at 57-39 with ten minutes remaining.

Illawarra must no doubt have been tiring by this stage, but the Kittyhawks held firm in the final quarter. Whilst their scoring was down, they allowed Hills just two baskets in the first five minutes of the final term to have the game wrapped up well before the final buzzer. A late 10-0 run for Hills added some respectability to the scoreline, but it would be the Kittyhawks who secured their second win of the season to leapfrog Hills in the final standings and hand the Hornets the wooden spoon.

Georgia Ohrdorf led all scorers with a simply masterful 32 points and 16 rebounds in her final game before heading back to Metro State University for her senior year. Lauren Sparks also finished in double figures with 12 points, and also picked up 6 assists and 5 steals. Eleri Morris, Paige Blanton, and Bronte Covington were also solid. Morris finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds, Covington tallied 8 points and 8 rebounds, and Blanton registered 7 points and 9 rebounds. Emma Claus top scored for Hills and also picked up 7 rebounds, whilst Anja Kolodziej picked up 12 points and 5 rebounds. Madison Hare was solid as always, finishing with 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Georgia Ohrdorf (Illawarra) – 32 points v Hills
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 27 points v Norths
Kallie Hovatter (Norths) – 26 points v Newcastle
Peta Kneen (Sutherland) – 23 points v Comets
Cassidy McLean (Newcastle) – 22 points v Norths
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 22 points v Manly

Waratah Championship Week 15 Roundup

The top four teams are locked in after Sutherland and Newcastle’s slim chances fell by the wayside. Norths moved within one win of securing second place, whilst Manly and Bankstown are now set for a thrilling final day showdown to decide their spots on the ladder.

Bankstown 80 defeated Sutherland 71

A win for Bankstown in this game would secure their playoff spot, whilst a win for Sutherland could potentially keep their season alive. As it happened, it was the Bruins who secured victory to lock down a position in the top four.

The first quarter was a remarkably tight affair, with a number of ties and lead changes throughout the opening ten minutes. Sutherland scored the first five points of the game before Casey Samuels tied things up by scoring the Bruins’ first five points. Bankstown eventually secured a 10-7 lead, but Peta Kneen pushed Sutherland ahead 14-10 until a late rally saw Samuels tie things at 14-14. Shelley Bates hit the final basket of the quarter to give Sutherland a 16-14 lead after ten minutes of action.

Ten points for Samuels in the first five minutes of the second quarter helped Bankstown get out to a 26-20 lead before Ellie Gleeson and Marjy Grealish took control of the scoring. Kneen continued to do the bulk of the scoring for Sutherland, but Bankstown put their foot down as the quarter progressed, putting together a 23-11 second term which culminated in a 37-27 halftime lead for the home side.

Samuels continued to have a day out on offence, racking up points in astounding fashion. However, Kneen, as well as Lisa Watkins, kept Sutherland in the hunt as the second half progressed. The pair led Sutherland’s charge as the Sharks trimmed the Bankstown lead to 51-44. Briana Maimone hit back with seven points to end the quarter, but Sutherland did enough to keep the deficit within ten at 58-49 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter started brightly for Sutherland, with scoring from Jane Scrivens and Rachel Herrick trimming the Bankstown lead to 58-54 soon after the start of the final term. Samuels countered with a three for Bankstown, but more scoring for Sutherland meant the game was evenly poised at 63-61 with six minutes to play. Despite dragging themselves back into the contest, Sutherland were undone by a 9-0 Bankstown run late in the quarter that handed the Bruins a 75-63 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Bankstown were hardly in danger at that point, and although Sutherland scored the majority of the points in the dying stages, Bankstown secured the 80-71 win to secure a playoff berth.

Casey Samuels was utterly dominant to finish with 36 points, whilst Briana Maimone added 19 points and 9 assists for Bankstown. Peta Kneen top scored for Sutherland with 21 points, whilst Lisa Watkins added 15 points and 5 assists. Jane Scrivens came just short of completing a double-double for the Sharks, tallying 9 points and 11 rebounds.

Norths 71 defeated Comets 52

Norths also mathematically secured a playoff berth with a win over Comets, knocking Newcastle out of the finals race in the process.

Sydney Uni Sparks guard Serika Shillingsworth opened the scoring with a three, but Norths soon set about securing a lead. Tristan Black and Kallie Hovatter did much of the early scoring before a Taylor Jones three moved the Bears into a 12-7 lead. Tatyanna-Pogonza Dumas found her way to the line and converted a pair, but a late Hovatter lay-up kept the Norths lead at 5, with the scoreboard reading 14-9 in the home side’s favour after a quarter.

The teams traded baskets in the early stages of the second quarter before an 8-0 Norths run capped by four points from Ali Burke pushed the Bears into a 26-13 lead. Samantha Hewitt snapped that run with a three for Comets, but the home side’s dynamic backcourt of Hovatter and Kate Seebohm accounted for the next eight points of the game, with Seebohm picking off passes for fast break lay-ups on two consecutive plays. Rachel Higgisson put a bow on an electric 22-7 quarter with the final basket of the half to hand Norths a 36-16 lead.

Norths’ dominance continued into the second half as the lead ballooned to 40-16 before Shillingsworth knocked down another three. Tristan Black managed to find a bit of room inside to score six points for the quarter, whilst much of Comets’ scoring came from the line courtesy of Megan Cantellano and Pogonza-Dumas. Despite an improved performance from Comets, Norths retained a 51-27 lead through three quarters.

Shillingsworth hit her third three of the afternoon to open the fourth quarter, but it only served as the prelude to another 9-0 Norths run as Burke added five more points to an impressive personal tally for the young guard who was fresh off a Youth League game that finished just twenty minutes before this contest began. Comets put together a solid middle of the quarter, with Maja Jurlina especially impressive in scoring seven points in quick time. Comets won the final quarter 25-20, but the game was well and truly in Norths’ control by that stage, and the Bears ran out 71-52 victors to maintain their hold on second place.

Kallie Hovatter top scored for Norths with 16 points, with support from a number of players. Tristan Black finished with an impressive double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Kate Seebohm added 10 points, 8 assists and 6 steals. Eleni Valos popped up with points at regular intervals to finish with 10 points and 8 rebounds, whilst Ali Burke tallied 9 points in her second game in the space of a few hours. Serika Shillingsworth top scored for Comets with 17 points, whilst Maja Jurlina added 9 points and 8 rebounds. Lauren Breen was solid on the boards to finish with 11 rebounds alongside 7 points.

Manly 80 defeated Hills 56

Manly needed to keep winning to give themselves the best chance of finishing in a favourable finals position, and did that just that against the lowly ranked Hills side.

Rebecca Duke and Belinda Snell got Manly off to a solid start, but the underdog Hills side showed no fear in the early stages, and with Madison Hare starring, the Hornets took a 20-16 lead on the back of mid-quarter 9-0 run. But the Sea Eagles hit back to take a 24-20 lead by the end of the quarter with an 8-0 run of their own.

The generally efficient Manly offence lost its way slightly in the second quarter, and added just seven points to their total, but Hills were unable to punish the home side. Sherrie Calleia tallied four points and Emma Claus added five, but Hills were only able to tally ten points for the quarter. However, this was enough to push the Hornets within a solitary point at 31-30 down at halftime.

The halftime break clearly helped Manly regroup as they proceeded to dominate the third quarter. Kristen Forbes and Candice Trevenna helped put Hills to the sword, with Opals stalwart Belinda Snell also chipping in at times. With Hills going several minutes without scoring on multiple occasions, Manly were able to extend their lead to 51-39 with a quarter to play, putting them in the box seat going into the final term.

Hills’ offence improved in the final quarter, tallying 17 points as Hare and Calleia continued to be the Hornets’ main scoring weapons. But unfortunately for the Hornets, Manly racked up 29 points to roll to an 80-56 win as their experienced core continued to deliver throughout the game against a talented but inexperienced Hills lineup.

Candice Trevenna finished with 14 points for Manly, whilst Kristen Forbes registered a 13 point, 10 rebound double-double and Belinda Snell added 12 points and 8 rebounds. Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 21 points, whilst Sherrie Calleia added 18 points and Emma Claus tallied 11.

Hills 58 lost to Newcastle 74

Even without finals basketball to play for, Newcastle could still finish in a respectable fifth position, and this weekend’s win over Hills appears to have secured that spot, although it took until the final quarter for the Hunters to put away the young Hornets side.

Five different Hunters got their name on the scoresheet in the opening quarter, with Suzy Batkovic and Alison Ebzery leading the way with six points apiece. Kelsey Moss also had a solid start to the day, scoring four of Newcastle’s first six points. Despite some solid early scoring from Emma Claus for Hills, the Hunters jumped out to a 23-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Hills remained unfazed, and stuck with Newcastle throughout the second quarter to keep themselves right in the contest. Anja Kolodziej got Hills rolling, before Madison Hare notched six second quarter points for the Hornets in a solid effort from the home side. Newcastle continued to find scoring principally from Moss and Batkovic, and despite not extending their lead, were still able to maintain a nine point lead, taking a 39-30 advantage into the halftime break.

An 8-2 run provided Newcastle with an excellent start to the second half, and for a time it looked as if Hills were about to be blown away. However, the Hornets slowly chipped away at Newcastle’s lead, with Kolodziej, Claus, and Sherrie Calleia all getting amongst the points. But trailing by nine with just 90 seconds remaining in the quarter, it looked as if Hills would not make any real inroads. Enter Andrea Roditis, who scored the last five points of the quarter to put Hills within four at 53-49 down with a quarter to play.

Hills managed to hang with Newcastle in the opening stages of the last quarter, still trailing by just four with seven minutes to play. Newcastle’s class began to shine through in the latter stages though as a 13-0 run over the course of five minutes secured victory for the Hunters. Calleia added a couple of late points for the Hornets, but the 74-58 win was well and truly in Newcastle’s hands by that point.

Suzy Batkovic dominated for Newcastle yet again, finishing with 27 points and 24 rebounds. Kelsey Moss added 21 points, whilst Alison Ebzery tallied 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Emma Claus registered a double-double for Hills, tallying 16 points and 13 rebounds. Sherrie Calleia added 10 points, whilst Anja Kolodziej picked up 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Illawarra 42 lost to Norths 68

Norths locked Illawarra down, restricting the Hawks to single figures in both of the first two quarters on their way to a comprehensive 26 point victory.

Illawarra opened the scoring through Olivia White, and although Norths scored the next six points of the contest, Illawarra remained in touch in the early stages. The score read 8-7 in Norths’ favour after six minutes, but five consecutive points from Jaimee Kennedy, who had sat out Saturday’s game against Comets, delivered the Bears a 15-7 buffer by the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was remarkably low scoring. Eleni Valos tallied five points in the quarter for the Bears, and that alone was half of the team’s points for the quarter. Even more surprisingly, Valos outscored the entire Illawarra side, who registered just four points for the quarter. Despite the lack of scoring, the Bears were still able to extend their margin to 14 points, taking a 25-11 lead into halftime.

The third quarter brought far more excitement to the table as both offences managed to fire at times. White and Georgia Ohrdorf led Illawarra’s scoring in the early stages and managing to trim the Norths lead to ten points by the midpoint of the quarter. However, Norths hit back in the latter stages of the period, and with scoring coming from a number of players, including Kallie Hovatter and Kate Seebohm, the Bears maintained the 14 point lead they had built, holding a 45-31 lead going into the final quarter.

Norths opened the fourth quarter on a tear, scoring the first 16 points of the quarter to put the game beyond doubt early in the term. Seebohm and Kennedy did the bulk of the damage, with Tristan Black chipping in to help Norths get out to a 61-31 lead. Illawarra managed to trim the margin in the last few minutes of the quarter, but Norths still ran out 68-46 victors.

Jaimee Kennedy top scored for Norths with 19 points, and also added 7 rebounds. Kallie Hovatter chipped in with 13 points, whilst Kate Seebohm completed a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists, and also chipped in 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 blocks to finish just shy of a 5×5 performance. Eleni Valos added 10 points and 7 rebounds, whilst Tristan Black enjoyed a day out on the boards with 12 rebounds to go with her 6 points.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 36 points v Sutherland
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 27 points v Hills
Madison Hare (Hills) – 21 points v Manly
Peta Kneen (Sutherland) – 21 points v Bankstown
Kelsey Moss (Newcastle) – 21 points v Hills

At The Turn: Bankstown Bruins

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 Bankstown Bruins, who have started reasonably well and placed themselves in the finals hunt in the process.

It has been a case of ‘back to the future’ for Bankstown as much of 2015’s championship winning lineup returned to the club after taking the year off in 2016. Briana Maimone, Jaydene Barnes, Adrianne Bywater, and Casey Samuels all made their way back to the Bruins as the club looked to atone for last year’s disappointing season. Comets duo Ellie Gleeson and Rhiaan Te-Hira made a perhaps surprising cross-town switch, whilst Marjy Grealish joined from Tamworth. Kelly Wells’ move to Perth was the team’s only significant player loss from 2016, whilst Maimone took on a player-coach role, replacing Jenny Lonergan as coach.

It has been a steady first half of the season for the Bruins, but it could have been so much better at this point. Whilst a 4-4 record to this point does provide a reasonable starting point, the Bruins should have had one more win and perhaps could have had two others. Having established a 15 point lead, Bankstown gave up a 35-12 fourth quarter to Newcastle in Suzy Batkovic’s first game to fall to an 83-75 loss in a game they really should have won. The Bruins have also fallen in tight contests to Norths and Manly, but can take heart from the fact that they have defeated Sutherland by 20 so far. That result is of note due to the fact that the second meeting between these two teams may be the deciding factor in the race for the fourth finals spot.

Bankstown’s draw so far has seen them play all eight opponents in their first eight games; a rarity in the league this year. From there, it may be easy to look at their remaining schedule and predict that they will finish 4-4, just the way they started. However, Newcastle are now without Suzy Batkovic, who played her last game on June 3, which alone makes Bankstown heavy favourites in that game. Regardless of how comfortably they should win certain games, it is imperative that Bankstown pick up wins in the games against teams that won’t be among the finals hunt, of which they have four. When the Bruins’ schedule is compared with Sutherland’s, it appears that the teams will be within a win of each other when they play on July 15. Having won the first meeting between the two teams, a win in this game is almost worth two wins as the Bruins would secure the season series. Sutherland would need to win by 23 points to take the season series, but the margin won’t matter if the result pushes the Sharks a win ahead of Bankstown.

The performance of Casey Samuels will no doubt be vital to Bankstown’s chances, with the former Sydney Uni Flames player averaging well in excess of 20 points per game to this point. Samuels will need support though, and whilst it won’t require five players to reach double figures every game, it will require two or three others to step up each game, regardless of who it is. Experience is on the Bruins’ side, and the team has reasonable depth to go alongside that experience. Whilst they may be just behind Sutherland due to the unbalanced nature of the schedule to this point, with  a number of games in which they will be heavy favourites coming up, the Bruins may just have the edge by the time July 15 rolls around in what could be a pivotal matchup.

Waratah Championship Week 9 Roundup

Hornsby won their ninth game on the trot and left Newcastle’s finals hopes in tatters in the process, whilst a vastly improved performance from Illawarra wasn’t quite enough to slow down a solid Manly side.

Hornsby 88 defeated Newcastle 78

Hornsby established an early lead and consolidated their dominance throughout the majority of the contest to remain undefeated, whilst Newcastle’s finals hope hang by a thread after dropping to 3-6 with this loss.

The Spiders started the better of the two teams and quickly jumped out to a 14-4 lead, with Rachel Maenpaa and Kristina Moore leading the way for the home side. Newcastle were able to hold the margin at 10 for much of the opening term, but never made any real inroads until Cassidy McLean’s three, which was the last score of the quarter, trimmed Hornsby’s lead to 24-17.

Hornsby started the second quarter well, but Suzy Batkovic began to make her mark on the game with six quick points as Newcastle came within five points before a pair of Alicia Poto three pointers gave Hornsby a bit more breathing room. A late run to end the quarter which saw the Spiders find scoring from a variety of players saw the Spiders put the game firmly in their control by halftime with the scoreboard reading 50-34 in the home side’s favour.

Batkovic continued to lead the scoring for Newcastle in the third quarter, but stopping Hornsby from finding the bottom of the basket proved difficult for the visitors. Darneka Rowe shone throughout the third quarter with nine points in the period for the Spiders, who continued to find points in a variety of ways. Despite losing Liv Sheehan to a knock early in the quarter, the home side pushed their lead out to 20 at one point, but a late charge from the Hunters cut the margin to 14 with a quarter to play.

Newcastle used the momentum generated from that late third quarter run to force their way back into the contest. A Sophie Parente jumper trimmed the margin to seven with just under 6 minutes to play, and the Hornsby lead hovered around that figure, with the teams still separated by seven after Batkovic converted a pair at the line with 2:35 to play.

Kristina Moore stepped up late for the home side, drawing a foul and converting both free throws before hitting a jumper on Hornsby’s next possession to score four consecutive points and put the Spiders up 84-73 with just a minute to play. Alison Ebzery and Batkovic added late points for Newcastle, but Moore and Rowe were composed at the charity stripe to ice the game for the Spiders.

Kristina Moore continued her outstanding season, leading Hornsby’s scoring with 22 points. Darneka Rowe was also excellent with 18 points, and Rachel Maenpaa added 14. Alicia Poto collected a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, whilst Tylah Mundine secured 10 rebounds of her own. Suzy Batkovic again led Newcastle with 31 points and 14 rebounds, and was supported by backcourt pair Cassidy McLean and Cherub Lum. McLean finished with 11 points, whilst Lum added 15 on 58% shooting. Alison Ebzery was also solid in several facets, finishing with 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Sutherland 42 lost to Bankstown 65

Sutherland had a chance to further strengthen their finals credentials, but were dealt a savage blow by Bankstown, who put themselves right in the playoff hunt with a 22 point victory.

Casey Samuels took on the world and won in the first quarter, registering 11 of the Bruins’ 17 first quarter points in a dominant performance. Conversely, Sutherland’s points came in a far more balanced fashion as the Sharks remained within a basket after the first quarter as Bankstown took a 17-15 lead into the second quarter.

The teams traded baskets early in the second quarter before scoring began to elude the home side. Threes to Madison Bennett and Kellie Parker opened up a lead for Bankstown before Ellie Gleeson and Aleesha Coulter drove a wedge between the teams as the Bruins took a 29-20 lead into the last five minutes of the half. The Bankstown defence continued to stifle Sutherland, with the Sharks able to only find one more basket in the back end of the term as an 18-7 quarter for Bankstown established a 35-22 halftime lead for the visitors.

Neither team was able to find much offence in the third quarter, but that mattered little to Bankstown as Sutherland were unable to make any indent into the Bruins’ lead. Early points to Bankstown pushed the lead to 16 before Lisa Watkins trimmed the margin back to 13 again, but that was as close as Sutherland would get in the third quarter. Whilst Bankstown were only able to tally 12 points in the quarter, the Sharks could only muster 9 and the third quarter ended with the score 47-31 in the Bruins’ favour.

Bankstown continued their dominance in the fourth quarter, using a mid-quarter 9-0 run to push the lead out to 58-36 and put an end to the contest. Casey Samuels returned to her scoring form of the first quarter, and the game meandered to its predictable finish with little scoring in the final couple of minutes, with the final score reading 65-42 to the visitors.

Casey Samuels was the only player on either team to reach double figures, dominating with 24 points and 12 rebounds to be the difference-maker. Marjy Grealish also came up with 12 rebounds to go alongside 6 points for the Bruins. Jane Scrivens tallied 11 boards and Peta Kneen registered 10 rebounds for Sutherland, but Lisa Watkins’ 8 points was the best scoring performance any Sutherland player could muster on a tough day for the Sharks.

Hills 43 lost to Norths 77

Bouncing back from last week’s narrow loss to Hornsby, Norths remain in second place after a solid win away to Hills despite missing Kate Cranney and Jaimee Kennedy.

Led by some early scoring from young star Sherrie Calleia, Hills kept right in touch with Norths in the opening stages, but a late run to end the first quarter opened up a lead for the visitors. Three-pointers from Bree Delaney and Kate Seebohm helped the visitors score 10 of the last 14 points of the quarter to move to a 21-13 lead after one quarter of play.

Despite not scoring a point for the first four minutes of the second quarter, Norths were somehow able to extend their lead. Taylor Jones finally got the Bears started with a three, which was followed by two more from Seebohm as the point guard scored 10 consecutive points for Norths. Seebohm would finish with 12 of Norths’ 20 points for the quarter, which also represented five more than the young Hills side could muster throughout the quarter. Although their shooting percentage was a touch on the low side, the Bears managed to push the lead to 41-20 by halftime and set themselves up for a less stressful second half.

With all credit to Hills, the young side did not waver in their tenacity in the second half. Following a cagey start to the half from both sides, it was the home side that rattled off a 11-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Brittany Ridlen added five of those 11 points before Ali Burke snapped the run by drawing a foul and converting a pair of free throws. Hills would go on to win the third quarter 17-15 in an admirable performance.

Normal service resumed in the final term as Norths cruised to victory. Six fourth quarter points from Kallie Hovatter paced the Norths offence, whilst Burke, Seebohm, and Jones all chipped in as the Bears dominated the final term to run out 77-43 winners.

Kate Seebohm delivered an exceptional performance to lead Norths to victory. Shooting 66% from the field, Seebohm registered 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and a remarkable 7 steals. Kallie Hovatter added 16 points, whilst Tristan Black and Eleni Valos were outstanding on the boards with 14 and 11 rebounds respectively. Brittany Ridlen compiled a double-double for Hills with 10 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Madison Hare tallied a respectable stat line of 6 points and 8 rebounds.

Illawarra 71 lost to Manly 88

With something resembling a nearly full squad, Illawarra produced possibly their best performance of the season, but Manly were able to pull away in the fourth quarter to move to 7-4 through 11 games.

With Olivia White back in the lineup, the Illawarra team looked on paper to be a vast improvement on the understrength squad the Kittyhawks had been forced to field in recent weeks, and it showed in the early stages. The home side hung with Manly in the early stages, and even managed to take an 11-8 lead midway through the opening term on the back of scoring from Olivia White and Georgia Ohrdorf. A lightning first quarter saw the points flow at both ends, with every Illawarra basket matched by one from the Sea Eagles. When Rachel Harris hit a jumper for the Kittyhawks with 11 seconds remaining in the opening term, the score read 28-26 in the Sea Eagles’ favour.

With that kind of scoring pace untenable for long periods, things did begin to slow slightly in the second quarter. Rebecca Duke was able to command the paint for Manly, but the home side were able to stay in touch with scoring from a number of players. With Lauren Sparks running the offence at the point and dishing out assists, Illawarra were able to hang in there despite Manly taking a 49-41 lead into the halftime break.

Despite letting the margin grow to double figures early in the third quarter, Illawarra trimmed the Manly lead back to seven on several occasions throughout the term. However, Manly hit back each time to maintain a solid enough lead to ensure that the visitors would head into the final term up 65-55 after a 15-14 third quarter that was almost the antithesis of the opening term.

Any thoughts of an upset win for Illawarra were extinguished early in the fourth quarter as Manly started the term on an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 18 with 7 minutes to play as Candice Trevenna torched the Kittyhawks with six points to start the term. Despite the best efforts of Illawarra, that early run from the Sea Eagles ended the game as a contest as the Kittyhawks were unable to trim the margin in the latter stages of the contest. A late Olivia White jumper moved Illawarra within 17, with the game finishing 88-71 in the visitors’ favour.

Despite suffering a knock during play, Georgia Ohrdorf top scored for Illawarra with 22 points and also tallied 7 rebounds. Olivia White added 15 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double, whilst Lauren Sparks nearly completed a triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds. Rebecca Duke was outstanding in the paint to finish with 23 points and 10 rebounds for Manly, whilst Candice Trevenna added 14 points and 18 rebounds for a double-double of her own.

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 31 points v Hornsby
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 24 points v Sutherland
Rebecca Duke (Manly) – 23 points v Illawarra
Kate Seebohm (Norths) – 23 points v Hills
Kristina Moore (Hornsby) – 22 points v Newcastle
Georgia Ohrdorf (Illawarra) – 22 points v Manly

Waratah Championship Week 3 Roundup

In a week that saw several teams assert their dominance over the competition, the defending champion Newcastle Hunters were once again found wanting, slipping to 1-2 after a loss to Sutherland.

Bankstown 71 defeated Comets 51

A dismal second quarter performance from Comets condemned the inner-city side to a loss in an otherwise solid performance against Bankstown, who cruised to victory despite the absence of Briana Maimone and Casey Samuels. Bankstown were unable to pull away from the visitors in the first quarter, with the opening term ending 12-11 in home side’s favour. However, the second quarter saw the Bruins hit the Comets with everything but the kitchen sink, holding their opponents to just six points whilst pouring in 25 of their own to effectively kill the game as a contest by halftime. Comets were able to pull back a small part of the 20 point margin in the third quarter, but Bankstown, on the back of solid scoring from a number of players, were able to cruise to a 71-51 victory. Aleesha Coulter led Bankstown with 11 points, whilst Kellie Parker and former Comet Rhiaan Te-Hira finished with 10 points apiece. Another former Comet, Ellie Gleeson, was outstanding on the boards to haul in 9 rebounds, whilst Marjy Grealish collected 10 boards to go with 8 points. Jaimee Cohen again put Comets on her back with 12 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Megan Cantellano and Serika Shillingsworth dropped in 10 points each.

Box Score

Manly 65 lost to Norths 80

Manly hung with Norths early, but were set on their heels in the second quarter as Rebecca Duke found herself in foul trouble. Norths opened up a four point quarter time lead, and managed to double that by halftime as Kallie Hovatter and Bree Delaney shone for the team in red and black. Manly didn’t have any particularly bad quarters, but Norths just edged them in each period and this proved to be enough for the Bears to take a 15 point win back down the Pacific Highway to Crows Nest. Candice Trevenna top scored for Manly with 19 points, whilst former Sydney Uni Flame Kristen Forbes dropped in 13 points. Norths were led by a pair of outstanding performances from two backcourt players. American point guard Kallie Hovatter finished with a game-high 24 points, with Bree Delaney dropping in 23 points of her own. Tristan Black was again outstanding on the boards with 10 rebounds, and Kate Seebohm played an outstanding role as facilitator, finishing with 6 assists alongside 8 rebounds and an impressive 4 steals.

Box Score

Newcastle 66 lost to Sutherland 71

The defending champion Hunters continue to be troubled by a sheer lack of personnel, with Sutherland condemning Newcastle to another loss. Despite being forced to rope in the apparently retired Jacki Nicholson and assistant coach Shelley Bates to make up for a lack of numbers, Sutherland opened up a solid nine point lead by the end of the first quarter. Newcastle recovered four points of that margin by halftime, leaving the game fairly evenly poised heading into the second half. The Hunters shaved off a single point of the deficit in the third quarter, but Sutherland were able to hold firm in the fourth quarter to deny Newcastle a comeback win. Clare Thomson was outstanding off the bench for Sutherland to finish with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Lisa Watkins added 14 points, and Peta Kneen dropped in 10 points and collected 8 rebounds in the win. Newcastle found scoring from a number of options, with Cherub Lum leading the way with 16 points and 8 assists. Alison Ebzery and Emily Keith added 14 points each, and Kelsey Moss finished with 10 points.

Box Score

Hills 51 lost to Hornsby 82

On paper, this game was over before it began, but an excellent first half performance from Hills coupled with a slow start from Hornsby left this game still in the balance at halftime. Hills kept in touch throughout the opening two quarters, and by halftime trailed by just eight, with Hornsby slowly finding rhythm. However, the third quarter brought about a 27-5 demolition by the Spiders, who only found top gear for that one quarter, but one quarter was all that was required as the visitors were able to ease their way to victory in the fourth quarter on the back of that third quarter effort. Darneka Rowe was the Spiders’ star, finishing with the outstanding stat line of 18 points on 53% shooting, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals. Kristina Moore also scored 18 points of her own, whilst Alicia Poto added 11 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds. Olivia Sheehan was again excellent, falling just shy of a double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Emma Claus top scored for Hills with 16 points, whilst Sherrie Calleia and Madison Hare adding 11 points apiece. Hare also collected 9 rebounds to be arguably Hills’ best on the day.

Box Score

Manly 69 defeated Illawarra 40

Despite being without point guard and spiritual leader Lauren Sparks, an unfancied Illawarra side opened up a surprising 17-7 lead by the end of the first quarter courtesy of a scoring blitz led by Eleri Morris. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the more experienced Manly-Warringah side set about righting the ship and dominated the second quarter 24-8 to take a six point lead into halftime. With scoring options all over the court and the Sea Eagles dominating on the glass, the game became almost a procession in the second half as Manly cruised to a 29 point victory. Rebecca Duke put in the most rounded performance of all. The former WNBL player notched an impressive 5×5 game, finishing with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals to register a rare achievement. Kristen Forbes finished with a double-double comprised of 11 points and 12 rebounds, whilst Fiona Sparks tallied 10 points. Youngsters Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips led the scoring for Illawarra with 16 and 12 points apiece, whilst Olivia White was outstanding on the boards with 13 rebounds.

Box Score

Weekly Top Scorers:

Kallie Hovatter (Norths) – 24 points v Manly
Bree Delaney (Norths) – 23 points v Manly
Candice Trevenna (Manly) – 19 points v Norths