Waratah Championship Week 11 Roundup

Hornsby look to be out of reach atop the Waratah Championship table after dominating Norths for the second time this season. Elsewhere, Bankstown and Sutherland both picked up wins as their fight for fourth place continues to intrigue.

Bankstown 57 defeated Illawarra 38

A rampant Bankstown side started the game on a tear, opening up an early margin that proved to be enough to clinch the game as Illawarra stemmed the tide but were unable to chip away at the Bruins’ margin to any significant degree.

Neither team was able to find much joy on offence in the early stages of the contest, but it was the Bruins, courtesy of former WNBL player Casey Samuels, who had the early running and moved to a 7-0 lead after 4 minutes. A late run from the Bruins saw Marjy Grealish add 5 points and Rhiaan Te-Hira tally 4 as Bankstown somehow moved out to a 22-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Kittyhawks were not without their chances, but somehow the shots just refused to fall every time in the opening term.

Things looked unlikely to improve in the short term when Samuels opened the second quarter scoring with a three, but Paige Phillips knocked down two of her own in quick succession to get the visitors on the board over 12 minutes into the contest. Although Samuels continued her scoring charge, Illawarra found a renewed vigour following Phillips’ quick scoring barrage, and although Bankstown continued to find points, Illawarra actually won the second quarter 14-12 with Georgia Ohrdorf adding four points alongside six from Phillips. However, Bankstown remained 34-14 ahead to maintain control of the game.

Bruins player-coach Briana Maimone fired in the third quarter, registering eight points as the home side looked to ram home their advantage. However, Illawarra continued to prove that the first quarter was simply an aberration as they hung with Bankstown throughout the quarter. Captain Lauren Sparks added five quick points midway through the term, whilst Ohrdorf and Phillips continued to add to their totals. Despite this, Bankstown increased their lead to 49-26 with a quarter to play.

Offence deserted the Bruins somewhat in the final term, but it mattered little to a team that held a 23 point lead going into the fourth quarter. A low-scoring final quarter saw Lauren Sparks’ six points represent half of Illawarra’s total for the period, whilst four different players added a solitary basket apiece for the Bruins, who tallied just eight points in the final quarter to see the game finish 57-38 in the home side’s favour.

Casey Samuels led all scorers with 15 points for Bankstown, whilst Briana Maimone added 14. Marjy Grealish finished a point shy of a double-double with 9 points and 12 rebounds. Georgia Ohrdorf did the same for Illawarra, tallying 9 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Lauren Sparks finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals for the Kittyhawks.

Box Score

Sutherland 72 defeated Hills 61

Hills put in one of their finest performances of the season, but it was unfortunately not enough against a Sutherland side that simply could not afford to slip up in their quest for finals basketball.

A low-scoring opening saw the scoreline read just 3-2 after four minutes of play, with neither team able to convert on a number of decent looks at the basket. Surprisingly, it would be the visiting Hornets who rectified that problem first. Madison Hare was able to find open space on a number of occasions, and with assistance from the likes of Samara Funnell and Sherrie Calleia, the Hornets opened up a 21-15 lead after a quarter.

Hare scored the first four points of the second quarter to extend Hills’ lead to 25-15, but an and-one for Rachel Herrick a minute or so later seemed to kick Sutherland into gear. Reeling of an 11-0 run, the Sharks took a short-lived lead before Andrea Roditis returned Hills to a 27-26 advantage. A Lauren McCaffrey three returned the lead to the home side, who then pushed the margin out to seven points by the end of the quarter, with McCaffrey tallying 10 points for the quarter. Hare continued to shine for the Hornets, keeping the visitors in the contest at 42-35 at halftime.

Having found their groove in the second quarter, Sutherland continued to push forward in the third quarter. Despite a valiant effort from Hills, Lisa Watkins and Jane Scrivens combined to help lead Sutherland to a double-digit lead midway through the the term. The Sharks turned this into a 9-0 run which was snapped late on by Calleia to leave the Sutherland lead sitting at 58-45 with a quarter to play.

Three minutes into the final term, Hills had cut the Sutherland lead to 9 courtesy of early scoring from Hare and Calleia, but the home side remained calm. Watkins led the Sharks on an 8-0 run, and by the time Hare scored Hills’ next points to put the Hornets back within 15, there were just 3 minutes remaining on the clock. Emma Claus added some late points for Hills, but the win was well and truly in Sutherland’s pocket by then, with the Sharks finishing 72-61 winners.

Madison Hare led all scorers with 22 points, and also collected 14 rebounds to star for Hills. Sherrie Calleia was also excellent at both ends, finishing with 14 points and a remarkable 8 steals. Hare and Calleia’s performances are made even more remarkable by the fact that they also played a Youth League game which finished just 40 minutes prior to this game. Four players finished in double figures for Sutherland. Lisa Watkins led the team with 17 points, whilst Jane Scrivens tallied a huge double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds. Clare Thomson registered 11 points, whilst a scoring streak in the second quarter led to 10 points for Lauren McCaffrey.

Box Score

Manly 81 defeated Comets 40

Manly remain solidly entrenched in third position, moving to 8-4 with a dominant 41 point win over  a Comets side that just couldn’t find anything on offence for much of the contest.

The Sea Eagles fired from the outset, with Rebecca Duke and Jess Cullen each finding multiple scoring opportunities in the opening stages as the Sea Eagles moved out to a 15-4 lead within the first five minutes. Fortunately for Comets, they were able to slow Manly’s scoring to just four points in the second half of the opening term. Jaimee Cohen scored five of the visitors’ 8 points in the opening term, but Manly still held a double-figure lead at 19-8 after one quarter of play.

Duke continued to fire in the second quarter, with Opals stalwart Belinda Snell also firing for the home side as Manly continued to extend their lead. Things remained tough on offence for Comets, who could only muster two scoring plays in the entire quarter, adding just five points for the term. On the other hand, the Sea Eagles added 17 points in the second term to move out to a 36-13 halftime lead.

The third quarter saw the Comets offence finally hit double figures. Stephanie Perch found her range with a couple of early threes, and although the Manly side continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, eight points late in the quarter from Maja Jurlina ensured that Comets would at least be able to see the third quarter as a positive they could take away from this game as the visitors tallied 18 points, which represented 45% of their final score. Nonetheless, Manly still extended their lead to 57-31 with a quarter to play.

Normal service resumed in the fourth term, with Manly again holding Comets to single figures for the quarter. Snell opened the quarter with four points for the Sea Eagles, before hitting a number of three pointers throughout the term to tally 15 points for the quarter in all. Those 15 points helped Manly to 24 points for the quarter to see the home side run out 81-40 victors.

Belinda Snell finished with 21 points for Manly, whilst Rebecca Duke added 13 points and Jess Cullen tallied 10 for the home side. Stephanie Perch tallied 12 points, all on three point shooting, whilst Maja Jurlina added 11 points and 8 rebounds off the bench for Comets.

Box Score

Bankstown 83 defeated Newcastle 50

After Sutherland’s win on Saturday night, Bankstown knew they needed to make this double-header count with a win over Newcastle, and promptly delivered with a comprehensive 33 point victory.

Things looked potentially ominous in the early stages for Bankstown, as Newcastle’s WNBL pairing of Cassidy McLean and Suzy Batkovic got the Hunters rolling early. However, Bankstown remained unfazed, and their own recent WNBL player, Casey Samuels, hit a couple of threes to tally 9 points in the opening term as the Bruins opened up a 22-14 lead after a quarter.

Neither team was quite as effective at scoring in the second quarter, which assisted Newcastle slightly as the visitors were able to trim the lead to a degree. Batkovic added four early points for the Hunters, but Samuels and Marjy Grealish continued their solid starts to the game to ensure that the home side’s advantage wouldn’t be completely erased. Emily Keith and Alison Ebzery added some late scoring for the Hunters, who cut Bankstown’s lead to 31-25 at halftime to leave the game hanging in the balance.

Evidently that didn’t sit well with Bankstown, who were lethal in the third quarter. Rhiaan Te-Hira and Aleesha Coulter unleashed a three point barrage on the Hunters, with Briana Maimone and Samuels getting in on the act as well as the Bruins racked up 30 points in the third quarter. McLean and Batkovic continued to add to the Hunters’ tally, and whilst 16 points in a quarter is generally not a terrible thing in Waratah League, it paled in comparison to the Bruins’ outstanding scoring for the term.

Bankstown hammered home their advantage in the final term, with Jasmine Barlow leading the charge in the final quarter with eight points. With the Hunters only able to muster 9 points in the final term, Bankstown extended their lead by 13 more to run out 83-50 winners and maintain their grip on fourth position.

Casey Samuels top scored for Bankstown with 19 points, and also collected 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Adrianne Bywater kept the scoreboard ticking over with 11 points spread evenly throughout the contest and 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Rhiaan Te-Hira was electric off the bench to finish with 13 points, whilst Aleesha Coulter’s third quarter shooting helped her to 9 points. The WNBL contingent led Newcastle, with Suzy Batkovic registering 20 points and 13 rebounds, whilst Cassidy McLean tallied 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Box Score

Hornsby 68 defeated Norths 48

Hornsby delivered the ultimate statement in a comprehensive victory over Norths to remain undefeated through 11 games, mathematically secure a finals spot, and all but seal top seeding for the playoffs.

An even start saw the teams trade baskets for the first few minutes of the contest, with neither team establishing a lead of more than two points for the first four minutes. Rachel Maenpaa and Kristina Moore each tallied four points for Hornsby, and Kate Seebohm did the same for Norths, before Bec Black’s jumper gave Hornsby a 10-6 lead for the first two-possession margin of the contest. The scoring dried up for a good two minutes or so before Hornsby’s offence clicked into gear for the final three minutes of the quarter. From a position of 6-4 down early, Hornsby scored the final 13 points of the quarter to establish a 17-6 lead by the end of the first quarter, with Moore scoring four late points to end the term with 8 points.

Hornsby extended their lead to 22-6 through Maenpaa and Alicia Poto before Kallie Hovatter led Norths on an 8-0 run of their own to cut the Spiders’ lead in half. However, Poto hit back with five consecutive points as the 2004 Olympian found her rhythm. Fortunately for Norths, Ali Burke knocked down a three late in the quarter to keep the visitors within 10 as the scoreboard read 27-17 in Hornsby’s favour at halftime despite some dismal shooting numbers from Norths.

Hornsby stormed out of the gates in the third quarter, scoring the first 10 points of the half. Poto continued to be chief destroyer for the Spiders, whilst Darneka Rowe came into her own in the third quarter to provide solid support as the Spiders set about putting the game completely out of Norths’ reach. With the backcourt pairing of Hovatter and Seebohm seemingly the only Norths players to have any kind of scoring success, Hornsby were able to extend their lead to 25 by the end of the third quarter courtesy of a 26-11 term that put the game beyond doubt.

With Hornsby’s starters taking up a well-earned position on the bench, Norths were able to trim the margin in the late stages, but Maenpaa and Poto had already completed the job in the early part of the fourth quarter as the Spiders’ experienced players came to the fore. Although Norths were able to put together a 20-15 final quarter, a second poor shooting effort in two games against Hornsby condemned the Bears to a 68-48 defeat.

Alicia Poto led all scorers with 26 points for the Spiders, with Rachel Maenpaa adding 16. Poto also tallied 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals for an outstanding all-round performance. Kallie Hovatter top scored for Norths with 14 points, whilst Kate Seebohm chipped in with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Jaimee Kennedy and Tristan Black were outstanding on the boards for Norths with 13 and 10 rebounds respectively.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Alicia Poto (Hornsby) – 26 points v Norths
Madison Hare (Hills) – 22 points v Sutherland
Belinda Snell (Manly) – 21 points v Comets
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 20 points v Bankstown
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 19 points v Newcastle

At The Turn: Sydney Comets

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 Sydney Comets, who started the season with an upset win, but have since struggled to make an impact.

An extended streak of missed finals looks set to go on for another year for Comets, with the inner-city team sitting at 3-5 having played each opponent once in their first eight games. Having lost Bree Delaney, Sarah Davidson, Rhiaan Te Hira, and Ellie Gleeson from last season’s team, and Jaimee Cohen spending an extended period on the sidelines through injury, circumstances have conspired against the Comets and seen their finals chances almost extinguished even at this early point.

The Comets took advantage of their chance to face Newcastle before Cassidy McLean and Suzy Batkovic joined the team, winning their first match of the season 54-48 over the defending champion Hunters. Since then, though, it has been a bit of a tough stretch. Three heavy losses to Hornsby, Bankstown, and Norths followed before sneaking home 66-65 at home to Hills. That win started a recent stretch in which the team has split their last four matches, defeating Illawarra at the Snakepit, but going down to Sutherland and Manly to arrive at their current record of 3-5.

The continued absence of Jaimee Cohen has hurt Comets in recent weeks, and their ten point loss to Sutherland and twelve point defeat to Manly surely would have been much closer affairs with Cohen available. The Comets do have the week off this week, allowing the star forward an extra week of recovery before they take on Illawarra. The Comets defeated a decimated Illawarra side 71-50 earlier in the season, and the make-up of the two lineups could very well be a game-changer in the return fixture. Following that game, things get tough with games against Manly, Hornsby, and Newcastle to come, so a win against Illawarra to build some confidence would be just what Comets need at this stage.

Whilst finals basketball looks out of reach at this point, Comets can still certainly register a few more wins in the second half of the season and finish with a respectable record that gives the team something to build on. There is certainly a solid young core to work with, with Serika Shillingsworth, Chloe Morrissey, Maja Jurlina, and Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas all players with buckets of time on their side. However, with that said, Comets has been an organisation that has exported a number of players to colleges in the US in recent years, which could have a bearing on the team’s progression beyond 2017.

Waratah Championship Week 8 Roundup

Just the three games in the Waratah Championship this week, but there was plenty of action. Illawarra showed vast improvement upon the return of key pieces, and the battle of the undefeated teams between Norths and Hornsby went right down to the wire.

Illawarra 64 lost to Sutherland 73

Lauren Sparks and Rachel Harris returned to the team, and Georgia Ohrdorf came into the Hawks side on her return from college, but the continued absence of Olivia White stung Illawarra in a loss to Sutherland.

As expected, Sutherland opened up an early lead. Illawarra had kept things tight in the opening moments, but the Sharks exhibited their class in the back half of the opening quarter. A 17-4 run, led by six points from Lisa Watkins, delivered the visitors a 24-12 lead after the first period of play.

Sutherland extended their lead in the second quarter, but not before Illawarra had trimmed the margin to 26-23 courtesy of six consecutive points from young starlet Eleri Morris. But once again, Sutherland delivered an extended run of scoring in the second half of the quarter. Peta Kneen was chief destroyer for the Sharks as they ended the half on an 18-4 run which mirrored the first quarter. By the end of the term, the Sharks’ lead was 44-27 and the game had seemed to have gotten away from the Hawks.

Despite the margin, Georgia Ohrdorf was outstanding throughout the third quarter. Despite landing in the country mere hours earlier, Ohrdorf added 10 points in the third term to exhibit the skill set that she has developed in her years at Metro State University in Denver. Despite Ohrdorf’s heroics, Sutherland held a 59-43 lead with a quarter to play.

Ohrdorf continued to shine as the Hawks chipped into the Sharks’ lead throughout the fourth quarter. With Tiarna Porter also chipping in at times, Illawarra narrowed the margin, but not quite fast enough. Whilst the home side were able to trim the lead to 68-62, this came with just 36 seconds to play. Peta Kneen added a pair from the line to push Sutherland ahead 70-62, which iced the game for Sutherland before some late scoring at either end saw the final score read 73-64 in Sutherland’s favour.

Despite the loss and the jetlag, Georgia Ohrdorf was outstanding with a 28 point, 6 rebound effort in her return to Illawarra. Tiarna Porter was outstanding in support with 16 points and 11 rebounds to complete a double-double. Lauren Sparks also delivered 11 assists for the Hawks. Peta Kneen was again excellent for Sutherland, registering 27 points and 9 rebounds to lead her team. Lisa Watkins was outstanding in the backcourt, finishing with 19 points on 70% field goal shooting, whilst Clare Thomson almost completed a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds.

Box Score

Norths 62 lost to Hornsby 65

The battle of the undefeated teams may not have been overflowing with quality scoring, but it was certainly a tussle until the final buzzer as Hornsby escaped the Bear Cave with a win.

A scrappy start to the game saw neither team able to get on the board until Kate Seebohm’s three after 2:36 of play opened Norths’ account. Kristina Moore and Razzearne Muir added a basket for either side, but when Darneka Rowe converted a pair of free throws with 4:12 to play in the opening term, the score was still just 5-4 in Norths’ favour. Fortunately, the end of the quarter brought a little more scoring, with Nicole Hutchins’ basket with 35 seconds to play handing Hornsby a 12-11 lead to end the term.

Hornsby’s young stars led the scoring in the early stages of the second quarter. Four points each for Nicole Hutchins and Serena Waters, plus a basket from Kristina Moore, saw Youth League players responsible for the first 10 points of the quarter for the Spiders. On Norths’ side, it was Kate Cranney and Kate Seebohm hitting shots with aplomb. Rebecca Black finished the quarter strongly for Hornsby to allow the Spiders to maintain their lead until halftime, with the visitors holding a 30-26 advantage as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

Youth made way for experience in the third quarter for Hornsby as Rachel Maenpaa and Alicia Poto did the bulk of the scoring as the Spiders opened the half on a 14-0 run. A three point barrage from Kallie Hovatter and Bree Delaney helped trim the margin back to 49-44, but the Bears would need the shots to keep falling after a generally poor night shooting before Hovatter and Delaney got the team back on track. As it was, neither team had much luck scoring in the final couple of minutes of the quarter. Moore and Cranney added two points for each side, and the five point margin remained intact at 51-46 with ten minutes to play.

Cranney opened the final term with a pair of baskets, and when Muffi Loader found her way to the basket, Norths had not only reduced Hornsby’s lead, they had taken one of their own at 52-51 with 8:06 to play. Rachel Maenpaa quickly restored Hornsby’s advantage, before Darneka Rowe pushed the margin back out to 56-52 with a three pointer. However, as the game progressed, it became clear that neither team was going to win this by a large margin. Cranney hit a jumper and Jaimee Kennedy knocked down a pair of free throws to tie things up at 56-56, but Moore gave Hornsby a 58-56 lead with 5:26 to play. Maenpaa hit two consecutive baskets which appeared to give Hornsby a bit of breathing room at 62-56, but Hovatter hit back on Norths’ next possession to trim the margin to four with 2:48 to play.

Cranney hit a jumper with 1:53 to play, but Maenpaa found her way to the free throw line and converted a pair from the stripe. Norths had their chances to narrow the margin late on. Cranney twice split a pair at the line, but those two free throws were enough to have Norths within a basket with 30 seconds to play. Despite this, the Bears had to foul to stop the clock. Alicia Poto went to the line and split a pair of her own free throws to give Hornsby a 65-62 lead with 10 seconds to play.

Bree Delaney missed a three with six seconds to play, but Kennedy snared the offensive rebound and was fouled. Kennedy missed the first, but had to intentionally miss the second regardless to give Norths a chance at winning. She did so, and Norths grabbed the rebound, but Delaney’s final second three pointer was off target and Hornsby held on for the win.

A rounded scoring performance saw four Hornsby players finish in double figures. Kristina Moore and Rachel Maenpaa each tallied 14 points for the Spiders. Alicia Poto tallied an 11 point, 13 rebound double-double and also registered 7 assists, whilst Nicole Hutchins added 11 points of her own.

Kate Cranney was Norths’ top scorer with 18 points, and also picked up 8 rebounds. Kallie Hovatter added 13 points, whilst Kate Seebohm registered 11 points. However, despite managing 85 field goal attempts to Hornsby’s 63, Norths’ 29% shooting clip did their chances no favours.

Box Score

Comets 50 lost to Manly 62

Comets gave a solid account of themselves throughout the middle portion of the game, but a first quarter blitzkrieg from Manly set the Sea Eagles up for victory to further solidify their position in the top four.

Led by Rebecca Duke and Candice Trevenna, Manly scored the first 11 points of the game in just 129 seconds of game time to set themselves up for success from the outset. Maja Jurlina broke Manly’s run with a three, and although Comets were able to trim the margin to six through Serika Shillingsworth, late baskets to Jess Cullen and Fiona Sparks pushed Manly back out to a 22-11 lead after ten minutes of play.

Duke, Trevenna, and Kristen Forbes kept Manly’s score ticking over, but Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas provided a real spark off the bench for Comets. Some quick points from the young star helped trim the margin to 32-28 but Kristen Forbes countered with two baskets of her own to push Manly back out to a 36-28 lead at halftime. However, Comets had trimmed the lead by three and the game was still in the balance after the first half.

The home side continued to show their fight in the third quarter, but unfortunately it only shone through after Duke had helped Manly establish a 16 point lead midway through the term. Somehow, at 49-33 down, something switched on in the Comets’ brains and the home side rattled off the last 10 points of the third quarter. A pair of baskets to Georgia Flanigan bookended the run and a game that had looked over just minutes earlier was now back in the balance.

However, Comets started the fourth quarter slowly and there are only so many times a team can charge back. Manly moved 13 points ahead early in the final term and an extended period of no scoring from either team worked in the Sea Eagles’ favour. Manly pushed ahead 62-49, and with a solitary Samantha Hewitt free throw the only point of the final two minutes, the visitors secured a 62-50 win.

Serika Shillingsworth led Comets with 13 points. Samantha Hewitt fell just shy of a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas collected 9 boards of her own. Kristen Forbes was outstanding for Manly with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Rebecca Duke added 16 points and 9 rebounds of her own, whilst Candice Trevenna added 11 points.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Georgia Ohrdorf (Illawarra) – 28 points v Sutherland
Peta Kneen (Sutherland) – 27 points v Illawarra
Kristen Forbes (Manly) – 22 points v Comets
Lisa Watkins (Sutherland) – 19 points v Illawarra
Kate Cranney (Norths) – 18 points v Hornsby

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

Waratah Championship Week 1 Roundup

It was a day of blowouts in the opening round of the Waratah Championship, but Comets and Newcastle came to the rescue with a thriller in the nightcap.

Hornsby 68 defeated Manly 50

In a game that was effectively over as a contest by halftime, Hornsby took the first win of the Championship season on the back of outstanding veteran performances and dominance on the glass led by youngster Nicole Hutchins. The Spiders opened up an early 14-2 lead on the back of some excellent outside shooting from Rachel Maenpaa and Darneka Rowe, but Manly were able to peg back the home side late in the opening term to leave the game poised at 16-11 after a quarter.  Hornsby simply exploded on offence in the second quarter, outscoring the Sea Eagles 24-7 to take a 40-18 lead into halftime.

It wasn’t long before new Spiders coach Sarah Graham, fresh off a WNBL championship as a player less than 24 hours earlier, was able to switch up the rotations and give some younger players invaluable experience. Youth League trio Tylah Mundine, Kristina Moore, and Maddy Della Franca spent significant time playing together in the fourth quarter as Hornsby were able to hold Manly at bay in a largely scrappy second half to run out 68-50 winners. Manly’s cause was not helped by shooting a dismal 21% from the field for the contest, with only their 15 of 22 free throws making the scoreline look more respectable than it perhaps should have been.

Rachel Maenpaa and Alicia Poto both finished with double-doubles. Maenpaa dropped in 17 points on her Waratah League debut and also collected 11 rebounds, whilst Poto finished with 11 assists and 12 rebounds alongside 6 points. Rebecca Duke finished in double figures for Manly with 15 points.

Box Score

Illawarra 52 lost to Bankstown 83

An Illawarra side stripped of most of its best players from 2016 came up against a Bankstown side returning most of its 2015 title-winning side. As expected, Bankstown romped to an easy victory, but it was mainly due to a second half where Illawarra just ran out of legs. The Hawks certainly hung with Bankstown for the majority of the first half, trailing 22-16 after one quarter and 37-30 after an encouraging second quarter. However, with Bankstown’s roster featuring 12 players worthy of playing time in the Waratah League, the Hawks’ nine-player rotation with a heavy Youth League flavour to it was always destined to struggle in the back half of the game. It showed as Bankstown won each of the last two quarters 23-11 to cruise to an 83-52 win.

Former Sydney Uni Flames player Casey Samuels did the major damage for Bankstown, shooting 50% from the field on her way to 18 points and also picking up 10 rebounds for a first-game double-double. Briana Maimone, Kellie Parker, and Adrianne Bywater all finished in double figures as the veterans went to work for the Bruins. For the Hawks, it was also the veterans leading the way. Sydney Uni Flames player Lauren Sparks finished with 17 points and 5 assists, whilst Olivia White was a menace on the glass. The forward pulled down 15 rebounds and also dropped in 13 points.

Box Score

Hills 47 lost to Sutherland 70

Hills struggled in 2016 and things don’t look set to change too much this year after a 23 point loss to a Sutherland side reeling from the departures of Taylor Mathers and Lauren Nicholson. Whilst the Sharks have added Rachel Lisch, the squad does look a bit thinner than last season. It mattered little as the visitors attacked from the outset to open up an early 15-6 lead. Sutherland extended their lead at every break, just edging their way ahead as the game progressed to complete an emphatic 23 point win.

Rachel Lisch top scored for the Sharks with 14 points, whilst Peta Kneen and Jane Scrivens also hit double figures. Kneen finished with 12 points, whilst Scrivens dropped in 11 alongside 8 rebounds. Madison Hare, Andrea Roditis, and Nicole Massih all finished with 8 points for Hills as the scoring was shared across the team.

Box Score

Comets 54 defeated Newcastle 48

Coming up against an understrength Newcastle side, Comets had to know that this would be their best chance of stealing a victory against a top team this season. The hosts came out strongly, but Newcastle quickly hit back as import Cherub Lum made her mark on the game early. A supremely quick first step and ability to get to the basket was on show from the Canadian as the defending champions established an 18-11 lead by the end of the first quarter. However, the Comets came back into the game strongly in the second quarter. An outstanding defensive effort coupled with some unnecessary turnovers from the Hunters limited the visitors to just six points in the second quarter and allowed Comets to take a 28-24 lead into halftime. Neither team was able to do much on offence in the third quarter, with just 19 points being scored as the game grew increasingly scrappy

Fortunately, the level improved in the fourth quarter. A three pointer from Megan Cantellano – her first points of the game – put Comets up by 10 with just under 8 minutes to play, but Newcastle were far from done. The visitors went on a run of their own to trim the margin back to 45-42, and got back within two points with three minutes to play. Unfortunately for the visitors, that would be their last scoring play of the game. Whilst the Comets fared little better at the offensive end late on, they were able to hit enough shots to seal the game and take a crucial early win.

Jaimee Cohen led all scorers with 18 points, whilst Maja Jurlina and Samantha Hewitt finished with 10 points apiece. Cherub Lum was Newcastle’s top scorer with 17 points, whilst Alison Ebzery and Emily Keith secured double-doubles. Ebzery finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, whilst Keith had 10 rebounds of her own to go with 12 points.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Jaimee Cohen (Comets) – 18 points v Newcastle
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 18 points v Illawarra
Cherub Lum (Newcastle) – 17 points v Comets
Rachel Maenpaa (Hornsby) – 17 points v Manly
Lauren Sparks (Illawarra) – 17 points v Bankstown