Bankstown 60 lost to Hills 65
Both teams found scoring from a variety of sources as no less than seven players reached double figures, but it was Hills who finished the stronger to secure a vital five point victory to remain in a tie for third place with Norths.
The visitors got away to a flying start, opening up a 10-2 lead within 3 minutes of the game’s commencement courtesy of some early baskets from Madison Hare and Anja Kolodziej. The margin held steady through much of the first quarter as Sabrina Zenatti both added early points for Bankstown to counter the three point shooting of Sherrie Calleia and Zoe Burke. The Bruins managed to trim the margin to five, but Hare and Kelsey Curtin pushed Hills’ lead back out to 25-16 by the end of the opening term.
Bankstown hit back in the second quarter as Tasmyn Haynes led the Bruins on a charge which would see the home side outscore Hills 13-4 to open the second quarter. But a well-placed timeout from Hills allowed the visitors to regroup and bounce back in the latter stages of the quarter. Rachael Mules added five points and Kolodziej continued her solid start to the game to keep Hills ahead, but Zenatti converted a pair of free throws in the dying seconds of the half to leave the game on a knife-edge at 38-36.
Hills pushed back out to a six point lead in the early stages of the third term, but Bankstown refused to let the visitors get away as a low scoring quarter dominated by defence ensured that the Bruins would not be able to extend the margin. The margin hovered around the five point mark throughout the third quarter before a late basket from Burke pushed Hills to a 50-44 lead with one quarter to play.
Brittany Pulling brought out her best Isaiah Thomas impression with some outstanding fourth quarter play. Her consistent scoring, backed up by Haynes, not only cut into Hills’ lead but also delivered Bankstown a 58-56 lead before a Hills timeout just after the midway point of the final term. Calleia and Mules both hit shots to restore Hills’ advantage before Burke made it a five point game at 63-58 with 2:17 to play.
Haynes closed the margin to 63-60 with just over 90 seconds to play, but unfortunately for Bankstown that would be their final score of the game. However, with the game teetering on the precipice at 63-60, it would still take a Zoe Burke basket in the dying seconds to seal a vital 65-60 victory for Hills.
Tasmyn Haynes led all scorers with 18 points for Bankstown, and was backed up ably by 15 points from Sabrina Zenatti and 13 points from Brittany Pulling. Madison Hare led Hills with 14 points, whilst Zoe Burke added 13. Anja Kolodziej chipped in 12, whilst Rachael Mules tallied 10 as four players reached double figures for the visitors.
Illawarra 48 defeated Newcastle 45
The battle of the regional cities was a topsy-turvy battle that went right down to the wire at the Snakepit as Illawarra escaped with a win to remain right on the cusp of the playoff spots.
The teams kept pace with each other in the early stages of the first quarter as Illawarra jumped out to a five point lead before Newcastle reeled in the home side in to keep within two with three minutes remaining in the opening term. However, Illawarra were then able to break off a scoring run that gave the Hawks a solid lead after the first quarter. Maddison Delaney and Ebony Petre both hit shots, and Bronte Covington found the basket with a delicious move and kiss off the glass to help the Hawks to a 19-9 lead after one quarter.
Paige Phillips opened the second quarter with her only three of the game to put the Hawks up by 13, but as Illawarra’s offence slowed, Newcastle were able to chip away at the margin. Hannah Fox and Eliza Ormsby helped move the Hunters within 8, countering Illawarra’s Eleri Morris, who added four points for the home side. Despite the Hunters’ efforts, a late basket from Petre ensured the Hawks remained ahead by double-figures with the score reading 30-20 at halftime.
Although Newcastle had chipped away slightly in the second quarter, the third is where the comeback really began. Three free throws were the only scoring Illawarra could muster in the first five minutes of the period as Fox and Alison Ebzery helped push Newcastle within four before Illawarra called a timeout midway through the term. It mattered little as Ebzery continued to punish the Hawks after the stoppage, and when Laura Dick nailed a three in the final minute of the quarter, the Hunters had taken a 37-34 lead which they would hold going into the final quarter.
Newcastle managed to do just enough early in the fourth quarter to maintain a lead, but when Morris knocked down Illawarra’s second three of the game, there was a sense that the momentum was swinging the Hawks’ way and Newcastle called a timeout. Morris was the first to score out of the timeout to tie things up, but Ormsby countered with a basket of her own to restore the Hunters’ lead. Morris and Ebzery traded baskets, and when the Hawks’ Maddison Delaney split a pair at the line, the game was tied at 45-45 with 1:51 to play.
Neither team was able to find their way to points for over a minute before Newcastle took a timeout to set up their offence for what could possibly have been the winning basket. But a steal in the backcourt led to a Maddison Delaney basket to put Illawarra up 47-45. Newcastle managed to get the ball inside on their next possession, but the shot was off-target and Claudia Flynn picked up a trademark tough rebound and was promptly fouled by Ebzery to stop the clock. Flynn split a pair at the line, leaving Newcastle with just over 5 seconds to potentially tie the game with a 3. The Hunters managed to get reasonably close to the three point line, but still required a Hail Mary shot, which fell just short to see Illawarra grab a vital win.
One player from each side finished in double figures, with Eleri Morris and Alison Ebzery each tallying 13 points. Maddison Delaney added 9 for the Hawks, whilst Hannah Fox and Eliza Ormsby tallied 8 apiece for Newcastle.
Liverpool-Macarthur 52 lost to Manly 70
Manly remain in second place after a solid 18 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur that kept the Sea Eagles just ahead of Hills and Norths in the race for a bye to finals weekend.
Opening the game on a 10-0 run quickly put the Sea Eagles on the front foot in the early stages. Antonia Henderson and Faith Bulgin each tallied multiple baskets to set the tone for the remainder of the game as both players starred for the visitors. Emilie Krimmer also chipped in a couple of baskets in the early running, but Eloise Faalavaau and Taylor Muaulu dragged the Razorbacks within three points at 19-16 down after the opening term.
Kimberley Sepuloni opened the second quarter scoring for Liverpool-Macarthur, but a 13-0 run for Manly, led by eight points from Bulgin, put Manly up by 14 midway through the period. Liverpool-Macarthur were able to stem the flow in the second half of the quarter, but unlike the first quarter, they were unable to eat into the margin and the second quarter ended with Manly up 39-26.
Although the Razorbacks were unable to trim the lead in the second quarter, they were able to do just that in the third. Four early points from Rayan Danine provided a solid start for the home side, but things looked less promising when Bulgin and Henderson continued their outstanding days to move Manly into a 49-36 lead after a Krimmer free throw with a minute to play in the quarter. However, the Razorbacks scored the last six points of the quarter with a flurry of points to be just seven points down at 49-42 with a quarter to play.
The fourth quarter saw things remain fairly stable as early baskets from Krimmer and Henderson were countered by points from the Razorbacks. In a low-scoring term, four points from Renee Muaulu were enough to help see the home side remain within striking distance at 57-49 down with three minutes to play. However, a late flurry from Henderson and Bulgin, with assistance from Caitlin Keefe, saw the Sea Eagles end the game on a 13-3 run which extinguished any hopes of an upset and delivered a 70-52 win for Manly.
Taylor Muaulu led the home side with 12 points, whilst Renee Muaulu and Eloise Faalavaau each chipped in 9 for the Razorbacks. Faith Bulgin led all scorers with 22 points for Manly, with support coming in the form of 17 points for Antonia Henderson and 11 points for Emilie Krimmer.
Sutherland 40 lost to Norths 70
Norths have no choice but to keep winning to hold off Hills and keep the pressure on Manly, and did exactly that with a comprehensive 30 point victory over Sutherland.
The visitors powered ahead in the opening minutes, with four points from Ali Burke helping the Bears to an early 12-4 lead as the Sharks were unable to direct the ball into the basket in the early stages. Despite this, some improved defence and late scoring from Gabby Turnbull and Maddy Norris ensured the Sharks would go into the second quarter down by just five at 14-9 after ten minutes of play.
Threes from Alice Ballhausen and Burke opened the second quarter scoring as Norths looked to re-establish their margin, but a 7-0 run courtesy of points from Brianna Morris, Parrish Leavai, and Deanna Kalivitis ensured the Sharks would not go away quite so easily. Alysha Skerritt helped Norths get out to a 8 point lead, and in a low-scoring quarter, Ballhausen’s three with just under two minutes to play proved to be the final points of the half as Norths took a 27-16 lead into halftime.
Turnbull and Norris combined to give Sutherland the first five points of the second half, but that was where the close contest ended as Norths kicked away. Geena Valos and Charlotte Gorman knocked down threes in amongst scoring from Burke and Skerritt, and whilst Sutherland were able to add points here and there, it was no match for Norths’ now-dominant scoring. An 8-0 run ended the term for the Bears and quickly the score had blown out to 47-27 with a quarter to play.
With the Bears in no mood to slow down, Sarah-Jane Thomas scored a quick six points as Sutherland were able to counter with points of their own, but unable to trim Norths’ lead. Valos and Burke continued to find points throughout the final quarter as Norths added another 10 points to the margin for a dominant 70-40 victory.
Maddy Norris was Sutherland’s only player in double figures, finishing with 11 points, whilst Gabby Turnbull added 7 for the Sharks. Ali Burke was Norths’ top scorer with 16 points, with Alysha Skerritt tallying 12 for the visitors. Geena Valos and Alice Ballhausen also reached double figures, with each adding 10 points in the win.
Penrith 66 lost to Hornsby 81
A Penrith side missing Natalia Beaumont took on a Hornsby side that dressed just six players, but it was the heavily depleted Spiders side that fired on offence for a 15 point victory to move a game ahead of the Panthers and take fifth spot on the ladder.
Penrith scored the first eight points of the game as Dominika and Teiarna Offner each hit threes in the first couple of minutes. The visitors were unfazed though, with Jess Sancataldo scoring 7 of the Spiders’ first 8 points to tie the game at 8-8. Dominika Offner re-established Penrith’s lead, but 9 points from Sancataldo and 5 from Erica Pitman saw Hornsby take a 14-9 lead, something that could have been considered slightly unexpected given the events of the first two minutes.
Sancataldo continued to add to her tally in the second quarter, whilst Maddie Suprain found her range for a couple of threes to open her account. However, a rounded scoring performance from the Panthers which saw a number of players get their names on the scoresheet ensured that the hot-shooting Spiders wouldn’t be able to get too far ahead as the second quarter ended with the Spiders leading 31-25 on the back of a last-second three for Suprain.
Suprain and Sancataldo combined for 12 points in just over 3 minutes to open the second half for the Spiders, and with the home side only able to add four points in response, Hornsby quickly opened up a 43-29 lead. Meg Creanor and Binta Salawu helped drag the Panthers back into the contest before Sarah Creanor trimmed the Spiders’ lead to 51-44 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Despite that, late scoring from Pitman and Sancataldo edged Hornsby’s lead out to 57-44 with a quarter to play.
Dominika Offner added some early points for the Panthers, but Erica Pitman showcased laser-guided accuracy in the final term, adding 11 points for the Spiders to put the Penrith side away. With Sancataldo and Suprain reverting to rear-gunner roles but still hitting their shots, the Spiders cruised to an 81-66 victory.
Dominika Offner led the Panthers with 14 points, whilst Meg Jefferson chipped in at regular intervals to add 11 for the home side. Meanwhile, the Spiders finished with three players contributing over 20 points. Jess Sancataldo led all scorers with 28, Maddie Suprain added 23, and Erica Pitman’s last quarter barraged took her total for the game to 21 in a surprise victory for the understrength Spiders.
Central Coast defeated Liverpool-Macarthur (game not played, awarded to Central Coast)
Weekly Scoring Leaders:
Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 28 points v Penrith
Maddie Suprain (Hornsby) – 23 points v Penrith
Faith Bulgin (Manly) – 22 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Erica Pitman (Hornsby) – 21 points v Penrith
Antonia Henderson (Manly) – 17 points v Liverpool-Macarthur