Grand Final Day Roundup: Three Divisions, Three Thrillers, Three Champions

The neutrals couldn’t have asked for much better on grand final day for Waratah League, with all three women’s grand finals going down to the wire. With two games still yet to be decided in the final minutes and the other going to overtime, it was a day packed with excitement at Maitland.

Youth League: Central Coast 63 lost to Penrith 69

Despite not securing their finals spot until the last possible moment, Penrith somehow conjured a finals series run of form that culminated in back-to-back titles for a Panthers side that managed to spring a grand final upset over Central Coast.

A cagey start from both teams saw the first points not scored until almost two minutes into the fixture, but when the points came, they came thick and fast for Penrith, who scored seven points in 63 seconds to lead 7-0 just over three minutes into the contest. The highly-fancied Central Coast side quickly trimmed the lead to 9-6 through Charlie Evans and Alessandra Gasparotto, but Penrith managed to maintain a slim lead throughout the first quarter. Meg Jefferson used her length advantage to great success, delivering Penrith a 13-10 lead after a quarter, which could have been larger if not for a late Rachel Williams basket for Central Coast.

Threes from Sarah Creanor and Binta Salawu pushed the Penrith lead back out to seven points early in the second quarter as the Central Coast offence was stifled slightly after the break. Fortunately, from a neutral perspective, the Crusaders were able to keep things close thereafter in what turned out to be a low-scoring start to the second quarter. Losalini Katia made the most of some chances around the basket, but Jefferson continued to be a significant influence on the game for Penrith as the first half progressed. Despite the best efforts of Evans and Shakera Reilly, Penrith continued to maintain a decent lead throughout the second quarter, and took a 32-25 lead into the halftime break.

The opening stages of the second half saw the teams trade baskets, but Dominika Offner’s three point shooting prowess came to the fore on the back of Binta Salawu’s outstanding game control at the point, pushing Penrith to a 42-33 lead midway through the third quarter. Evans took control of the scoring for Central Coast in the latter stages of the third quarter, scoring almost at will at times. Despite this, the play of Salawu ensured Penrith would maintain their lead, albeit at a reduced 47-42 margin with a quarter to play.

Needing to trim the margin quickly if they were to secure victory, Central Coast set about their task with aplomb, as Evans and Lucy Chapman helped the Crusaders tie the game at 55-55 midway through the fourth quarter, negating the influence of Natalia Beaumont’s outstanding work in and around the paint for Penrith. However, just as it looked as if Central Coast might kick on and secure win, Tatiana Beaumont was allowed clear room to knock down a three, and a basket from Jefferson soon after changed the complexion of the game, putting Penrith up 60-55 with just under 3 minutes remaining in a nail-biting grand final.

The scoring dried up in the face of timeouts from both teams, before Tatiana Beaumont knocked down another three to extend Penrith’s margin to 8 points and put the Crusaders in a difficult situation with just over a minute to play. Evans was finally afforded a couple of foul calls which had eluded her for the previous 39 minutes, but Penrith managed to return the favour with points of their own, and when Salawu connected on a pair of free throws to extend the margin to six with 14 seconds to play, the game was clearly in Penrith’s hands. Central Coast attempted to find an open three, but time wound down too quickly for their liking and the Panthers survived to secure a 69-63 win and a second consecutive championship.

Binta Salawu was awarded Grand Final MVP after tallying 20 points for Penrith, whilst Meg Jefferson added 12 for the Panthers. However, it was Charlie Evans who led all scorers with 27 points for Central Coast, whilst Losalini Katia tallied 10 for the Crusaders.

Division 1: Bathurst 69 defeated Coffs Harbour 67 (OT)

In a day of thrilling grand finals, the Division 1 Women’s grand final between Bathurst and Coffs Harbour was undoubtedly the most exciting, with the game almost heading into double overtime before the Goldminers secured victory in the extra five minutes.

A low-scoring first quarter saw neither team able to hit double figures until the final seconds as defence reigned supreme. Former Newcastle point guard Sophie Kleeman, looking for her second title in two years after 2016’s Championship title with the Hunters, led a slightly disappointing nine point quarter for Bathurst with four points, whilst it took threes from Jordon Woods and Felicity Cook alongside a basket from Hawaii Pacific University player Jessi Reeves to drag Coffs Harbour to a 12-9 lead after a quarter of play.

The underdog Coffs Harbour side managed to maintain their slender lead in the early stages of the second quarter, and with Emily Crampton knocking down shots here and there, quickly moved out to a 19-12 lead. Bathurst looked sure to be down by a significant margin by halftime, but with Kleeman directing traffic and the experienced Rachel Murray getting to the charity stripe now and again, the Goldminers kept themselves in touch for much of the second term. Disappointingly for Bathurst though, they allowed Coffs Harbour a late run to end the half on the back of some ill-advised offensive plays, and the Suns moved out to a 35-24 lead at halftime.

An early Jordon Woods basket to start the second half pushed Coffs Harbour out to a 13 point lead. However, whatever happened in the Bathurst locker room at halftime had an effect, because Haylee Lepaio and Matilda Flood went to work to trim the lead before Sophie Kleeman nailed a crucial three-pointer which moved the Goldminers within two points at 40-38 midway through the third term as the minor premiers’ class began to shine through. The unfancied Coffs Harbour side refused to lie down though, ensuring they maintained a lead throughout the majority of the third quarter, save for a brief period when the scores were tied, and ensured that they would take a 50-46 lead into what at that time looked to be the final period.

Four fouls from Coffs Harbour before a single point was scored in the fourth quarter changed the complexion of proceedings even if the scoreboard remained the same. Young Bathurst star Olivia Doble, aided by Lepaio, helped Bathurst on a scoring run which could have completely flipped the script if not for five consecutive points from Woods in reply which restored Coffs Harbour’s lead after they briefly lost it in the early stages of the final term. At 59-56 up following a basket from Reeves, the Suns held all the aces, but the Goldminers held the ball. Lepaio managed to get the ball through the hoop with 19 seconds to play, and when Woods split a pair at the line after being fouled to stop the clock, Bathurst had a chance. However, the Goldminers took the sensible option and Matilda Flood managed to put the ball through the bottom of the net to send the game to overtime at 60-60 as Bathurst took the high-percentage shot rather than pin their hopes on a low-percentage three.

Controversy ensued midway through overtime as, with the score at 64-62 in Bathurst’s lead, Murray and Felicity Cook had a bit of a coming together. A common foul was assessed on Cook, whilst Murray picked up the unsportsmanlike foul. Murray missed both free throws, whilst Cook nailed one of her pair, and Coffs Harbour retained possession with the score at 64-63 in the Goldminers’ favour. Laura Bamford-Cleland managed to find the basket to give Coffs Harbour a lead, but Lepaio tied the game at 65-65 by splitting a pair at the line. With neither team especially reliable at the charity stripe, anything could have happened, but Lepaio secured an and-one late in the piece to negate another Bamford-Cleland basket and give Bathurst a 68-67 lead. Coffs Harbour were unable to score, leading to another foul and free throws to Lepaio with 0.3 seconds remaining. Lepaio split the pair, but with no timeouts remaining, a heave from 85 feet was always unlikely to fall, and Bathurst secured the grand final win that their regular season campaign deserved.

Haylee Lepaio’s 20 points secured a Grand Final MVP award for the former Newberry College star,  with three more Goldminers finishing in double figures. Sophie Kleeman added 15 points, whilst Rachel Murray tallied 13 points and young starlet Matilda Flood registered 11 points. Jordon Woods top scored for Coffs Harbour with 19 points, whilst Emily Crampton tallied 10 for the Suns.

Championship: Manly 58 defeated Norths 56

The WNBL experience of Manly’s starting lineup came to the fore in the final stages as the Sea Eagles came from fourth place to secure victory in a thrilling Championship grand final more than worthy of being the final game of a highly competitive season.

Norths certainly got off to a quick start, with Kallie Hovatter sneaking in to pick off Rebecca Duke’s jump-ball win to tally the first points of the game just 5 seconds into the contest. The American guard needed almost two minutes to add to her tally, but nobody else scored any points in the meantime, as the score read Norths 5, Manly 0 after two minutes following a Hovatter three. It wasn’t long before Manly hit back through Belinda Snell and Kristen Forbes to take a 6-5 lead, as the teams then traded short runs to leave the scoreline reading 10-10 after six minutes of action. However, anything that looked as if it may transpire into an extended scoring run was quickly snuffed out by the opposition, and whilst Norths moved out to a 14-10 lead at one point, a late Erin Todd layup delivered Manly an 18-17 lead to end the first quarter.

The score remained close as the second quarter progressed through its opening stages, with a Muffi Loader three proving crucial to Norths in the early minutes. However, Belinda Snell found her groove to find her way to the basket for a lay-up before drawing a foul from Kate Seebohm on a three point shot. The Opals legend hit two of the three free throws to move Manly into a 24-21 lead, and when Rebecca Duke was fouled by Hovatter around the basket, the Sea Eagles lead was out to five. The margin drifted between three and six points for much of the remaining time of the second quarter, with the shooting of Eleni Valos providing an unexpected bounty for Norths. In the end, the lead would remain with the Sea Eagles at 34-30 as the teams headed to the locker room.

A 6-0 run for the Bears to open the third quarter moved the lead into their hands, but once again Manly hit back to tie things up through an Erin Todd drive and lay-up. Todd and Seebohm traded baskets before Valos and Hovatter popped up with baskets to move Norths back into a 44-40 lead. In the lowest scoring quarter of the match, four points would mean plenty, and that is exactly what Manly finished the quarter with as Duke and Sarah White each registered late lay-ups to tie the game at 44-44 with just the fourth quarter remaining.

Razz Muir split a pair at the line to open the final term, before Seebohm hit a three and Muir split another pair of free throws to move Norths into a 49-44 lead. Snell hit back with a lay-up soon after, but a Hovatter drive to the basket saw Norths lead 51-46 with just over six minutes remaining. The American drew a shooting foul on Snell shortly after, and suddenly the Bears were looking good value for their 53-46 lead. However, an extended scoring drought and a Sarah White three were enough to trim the lead back to a manageable 55-52 with 2:31 to play following yet another Snell lay-up for Manly.

With neither team especially clinical from the charity stripe, both teams left points at the line which meant that Snell’s jumper in the final minute moved the scoreline to 56-55 in Norths’ favour. Jaimee Kennedy collected her own rebound on the next Norths’ possession but was forced into a desperation pass which landed in Kristen Forbes’ hands. Manly engineered a possession which, combined with a Norths’ defensive breakdown in the paint, allowed Rebecca Duke a wide open lay-up to hand Manly a 57-56 lead. A Norths timeout followed, and on the ensuing play, Kallie Hovatter came off a screen brilliantly to get to the basket, but Duke came up big for the eighth time in the contest to block the shot. Norths inbounded the ball, but Snell came up with the steal and was fouled in the dying seconds. The Sydney Uni Flames star split the pair, but Norths were left with an unlikely heave as the seconds ticked down. With the Bears unable to get a shot off, Manly were left jubilant, celebrating their first women’s championship in club history with a 58-56 victory.

Belinda Snell picked up the Grand Final MVP award with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists, but Rebecca Duke’s 12 points, 15 rebounds, and massive 8 blocks were arguably just as important. Erin Todd rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 points for the Sea Eagles. Kallie Hovatter top scored with 15 points for Norths, and also picked up 9 rebounds and an impressive six steals. Kate Seebohm tallied 15 points whilst shooting 60% from three point range, and also added 6 assists. Eleni Valos tallied 10 points and 6 rebounds, whilst Jaimee Kennedy and Tristan Black added 9 and 10 rebounds respectively.

Youth League Week 17 Roundup

Sutherland saved their season with wins over Bankstown and Hornsby, whilst Illawarra secured their finals spot with a win over Norths. With four teams now fighting for two spots, this week’s results certainly set up an interesting final two weeks of the Youth League season.

Bankstown 69 lost to Sutherland 90

Tasmyn Haynes was yet again electric for Bankstown, but the Bruins came up against a Sutherland side fighting for their playoff lives, and it showed as the Sharks fired in the second half to pull away for a 90-69 win.

Sutherland started the better of the two teams, quickly jumping out to a 13-6 lead on the back of two consecutive Meredith Hines three pointers midway through the opening term. Maddy Norris added six first quarter points for the Sharks, but five late points from Tasmyn Haynes kept Bankstown right in touch as the Bruins moved within a point as the first quarter ended 24-23 in Sutherland’s favour.

More scoring from Haynes in the opening stages of the second quarter delivered Bankstown their first lead of the game, but Hannah Clinen countered with Sutherland’s first five points of the quarter. Hines hit yet another three with just under five minutes to play in the half, restoring Sutherland’s advantage, and with Gabby Turnbull also knocking down shots from beyond the arc, the deficit soon became a 47-38 point lead by halftime as Bankstown’s scoring dried up in the latter stages of the second quarter.

Norris scored Sutherland’s first 9 points of the third quarter, with a Sabrina Zenatti three Bankstown’s only resistance. With the score moving along to 56-41 in Sutherland’s favour, the Bruins were forced into a timeout, but Clinen, Norris, and Hines continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Sharks as the third term progressed. Rebekah Fisher chipped in with some late scoring as Haynes’ best efforts for Bankstown were seemingly in vain as a late three from Fisher extended the lead to 74-56 following a third quarter blitzkrieg from Sutherland.

The Sharks’ scoring slowed in the final quarter, but Turnbull and Norris continued to add points here and there for the visitors as they secured their victory. Georgia Gale finished the game with 7 fourth-quarter points for the Bruins to round out a solid game, but it would be the Sharks who finished 90-69 winners to set up a Sunday blockbuster against Hornsby as both teams chase a finals spot.

Tasmyn Haynes led all scorers with 26 points for Bankstown, with support coming in the form of 17 points from Georgia Gale. Maddy Norris led five players in double figures for Sutherland with 24 points. Meredith Hines and Gabby Turnbull added 14 apiece, with 12 of Hines’ points coming from beyond the arc, whilst Rebekah Fisher and Hannah Clinen each tallied 13 points.

Norths 49 lost to Central Coast 59

A Norths team that dressed just six players was always going to be up against it facing Central Coast, but the Bears kept the game close for a significant portion of the game despite the apparent disparity between the two teams on paper.

In a relatively high scoring first quarter compared to the remainder of the game, it was Central Coast who opened up the first significant lead of the game. Losalini Katia, Charlie Evans, and Taylor Ferris were all amongst the points early as the Crusaders opened up a five point lead. Norths were able to hit back slightly, thanks in part to seven first quarter points from Ali Burke, and the opening term ended with Central Coast up 19-15.

Norths carried a bit of momentum into the second quarter, and it showed as the Bears took a 21-20 courtesy of more early scoring from Burke and Katerina Diamant. A quick Central Coast timeout managed to turn things around for the visitors, who put together a 13-2 run to complete the half. Paris Forcadilla and Evans kicked things off, before Katia dropped in four late points as the Crusaders put a bit of distance between themselves and the home side to lead 33-23 at halftime.

Central Coast looked destined to blow things wide open in the third quarter, scoring the first four points of the term to move 14 clear. Two baskets to Annobel Starr were followed by two more for Diamant and soon the margin was cut to 37-31 as the Crusaders’ scoring dried up. Fortunately for the visitors, Rachel Williams earned and converted an and-one opportunity to help Central Coast hold a 42-33 lead with a quarter to play.

Carla Liebenberg had the Norths offence firing down the stretch, scoring six final quarter points. Unfortunately for the Bears though, Central Coast kept their own score ticking over to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the final term, and the final margin of 10 points was the closest Norths would come in the fourth quarter as Central Coast registered a 59-49 win.

Ali Burke led all scorers with 17 points, whilst Carla Liebenberg added 11 for a valiant Norths side. Charlie Evans and Taylor Ferris each finished with 12 points for the Crusaders as seven Central Coast players finished with at least 5 points.

Manly 65 defeated Hills 52

Sherrie Calleia fired for Hills with an outstanding offensive performance, but it was Sydney Uni Sparks teammate Kimberley Hodge who led Manly to victory to hand the Sea Eagles prime position in the chase for the second bye into finals weekend.

In a remarkably low scoring first quarter, Calleia’s four points proved to account for half of Hills’ scoring for the term. Manly fared little better, with a 7-0 run midway through the term accounting for all bar 2 of the Sea Eagles’ first quarter points as the home side held a 9-8 lead after 10 minutes of play.

Fortunately, the second quarter proved to be a far happier time for the offences. A Calleia three pushed Hills out to a 13-9 lead, but Antonia Henderson kickstarted a 7-0 run for Manly that delivered a 16-13 for Manly. Calleia and Madison Hare quickly reestablished a lead for Hills, but the teams would trade the lead throughout the second quarter. A basket from Hodge gave Manly a 22-20 lead, but a Paris Roditis three with just under 2 minutes to play soon had Hills back in front 27-23. A late run from Manly culminated in a Katie Castle basket in the dying seconds of the term, and the teams went into the locker rooms tied at 29-29.

Faith Bulgin opened the third quarter scoring as Manly started the half with a 7-0 run. Calleia returned serve with five consecutive points, before Hodge did exactly the same to maintain Manly’s lead at 40-34 midway through the quarter. Calleia continued to put the Hills side on her back, dragging her team to within two points late in the term before a late Henderson basket gave Manly a 43-39 lead going into the final term.

Things looked destined to be close down the stretch, but Danielle Shepherd clearly had other ideas. 10 points in the first five minutes of the final term saw Manly open up a 9 point lead midway through the quarter. Zoe Burke did her best to trim the lead with a couple of baskets, but Hodge answered with six consecutive points of her own, eventually scoring Manly’s last 10 points of the game as the Sea Eagles remained at arms’ reach throughout the final term, running out 65-52 victors.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 25 points, tallying nearly half of Hills’ total, whilst Zoe Burke added 11 for the Hornets. Kimberley Hodge top scored for Manly with 17 points, whilst Danielle Shepherd and Faith Bulgin added 12 apiece for the Sea Eagles.

Hornsby 89 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 63

Jess Sancataldo returned to the Hornsby lineup and slotted straight in, racking up points almost at will as Hornsby secured a vital 26 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur to keep their finals hopes alive.

The Spiders opened with the first five points of the game, and it wasn’t long before the home side had opened up a significant lead, with seven points from Sancataldo and six from Maddie Suprain quickly establishing a 13-4 lead for Hornsby. Renee Muaulu helped move Liverpool-Macarthur back within six points at 16-10 down, but the shooting of Serena Waters and Sancataldo ensured Hornsby would hold a healthy 24-12 lead after a quarter.

Amy Laws knocked down a pair of shots to open the second quarter as the Spiders moved out to a 37-14 lead, opening the quarter on a 13-2 lead before Muaulu and Yasmin Danine were able to add to the Razorbacks’ tally. Waters finished the second quarter on a tear, eventually tallying 12 points for the term as Hornsby completed the half leading 51-30.

The second half started promisingly for the visitors, with Muaulu and Rayan Danine keeping the Razorbacks’ score ticking over. Hornsby continued to find points from various sources though, with Laws, Suprain, Sancataldo, and Tylah Mundine all contributing in what was a surprisingly even quarter given the events of the first half. In the end, the Spiders were only able to extend their lead by 3 points to 71-47 with a quarter to play.

The procession continued in the final quarter as the scoring remained even. Waters continued to fire for the Spiders, whilst Rayan Danine was the main scoring option for the Razorbacks down the stretch. An 18-16 quarter for the Spiders locked up a 89-63 victory for the home side and gave Hornsby some solid momentum going into Sunday’s must-win game against Sutherland.

Serena Waters led five Hornsby players in double figures with 25 points, whilst Jess Sancataldo added 22. Maddie Suprain tallied 16 points, whilst Tylah Mundine added 12 and Amy Laws registered 11 for the Spiders. Renee Muaulu led Liverpool-Macarthur with 20 points, with support coming in the form of 18 points from Rayan Danine and 10 from Yasmin Danine.

Illawarra 73 defeated Norths 67 (OT)

A tough weekend went from bad to worse for Norths with a second loss in two days, this time falling in overtime to Illawarra.

The Bears got off to a flyer, with seven points in the first six minutes from Geena Valos setting up an 11-4 lead for the visitors. Claudia Flynn hit back with a three to take her own first quarter tally to five, but Ali Burke finished the opening term with a pair of threes that put Norths up 17-7 after a quarter of action and leaving Illawarra slightly behind the eight ball.

Five more points from Burke early in the second quarter countered Illawarra’s attempts at a comeback as Norths maintained a double-digit lead deep into the second quarter. However, Claudia Flynn set about dragging the Hawks back into the game with an exquisite final two minutes, scoring six points as Illawarra finished the half on an 8-0 run to trail 28-24 at halftime.

Flynn and Maddison Delaney nudged Illawarra within two points early in the third quarter, but Burke continued to hit her shots, and with assistance from Milly Yates, kept Norths in the ascendancy with a ten point lead with under 90 seconds to play in the quarter. But once again Illawarra finished the stronger of the two sides, with Delaney and Paige Phillips each hitting a three and Eleri Morris converting a pair from the line to yet again see Illawarra sit within two at 45-43 with a quarter to play.

A final quarter that saw no scoring for the first two minutes eventually saw Illawarra score the first four points of the quarter to take a 47-45 lead with just over six minutes to play. Burke continued to score at will, before Katerina Diamant sank a pair at the line to give Norths a 52-51 lead with just over three minutes remaining. Delaney and Morris handed Illawarra a three point lead, but Diamant came up big with two baskets in 29 seconds as the lead swung back and forth.

An Ebony Petre basket with under a minute remaining put Illawarra up four, but Burke managed to somehow score the final four points of regulation to sneak Norths into overtime after it looked like they had completely squandered their early lead. The Bears’ sharpshooter opened the scoring in overtime, before a 7-0 Illawarra run put Norths on the brink before Burke sandwiched a Maddison Delaney basket with two of her own to bring Norths back within a basket at 69-67. It would be Illawarra, though, that scored the final four points of the contest, and with a 73-67 lead in the final 30 seconds, the Hawks held on for the six point win.

Ali Burke was electric for the Bears, finishing with 37 points despite the result. Milly Yates provided the main scoring support, tallying 11 points. Maddison Delaney top scored for Illawarra with 20 points, whilst Claudia Flynn added 17 and Eleri Morris registered 16.

Hills 48 defeated Newcastle 39

In a low-scoring contest, Hills survived an early score to secure victory against Newcastle and free themselves from any possibility of being involved in a scrap for finals positions in the last couple of weeks of the season.

Newcastle came out firing in the opening stages, scoring the first eight points of the contest before Sherrie Calleia got Hills on the board four minutes into the game. Zoe Burke followed up with a pair of threes for the Hornets, but five points each from Meiling Patfield and Abbey Morris saw the Hunters lead 20-11 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was not quite as electric for Newcastle, but six points from Megan Johnson ensured that Hills would not be able to trim the lead. Despite Calleia and Burke knocking down shots for the Hornets, six points from the UTRGV freshman kept Newcastle ahead 30-21 at halftime and in the box seat.

Hills started the second half with a bang, with some early scoring from Burke as well as Rachael Mules trimming Newcastle’s margin to 32-29 inside the first three minutes of the third quarter. A timeout ensued, after which the Hunters were able to extend their lead to 39-31, but from there, Newcastle’s scoring simply dried up. Hills scored the last six points of the term to draw within two at 39-37 with ten minutes to play.

Madison Hare brought her best in the final term with 8 points in the space of five minutes pushing Hills into a 47-39 lead with five minutes to play. Somehow, the teams combined for just one more point in the entire remaining five minutes, with a late Calleia free throw providing the final scoreline of 48-39 after an 11-0 final quarter for Hills.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 14 points for Hills, with Zoe Burke adding 12 points and Madison Hare’s final quarter charge taking her tally to 10 points for the game. Meiling Patfield top scored for Newcastle with 9 points, with Megan Johnson adding 6 as eight players scored points for Newcastle.

Central Coast 77 defeated Penrith 56

Central Coast opened up an early lead and never looked back, cruising to a 21 point win over Penrith that secured first place in the standings for the Crusaders and also sent Penrith slipping into an unexpected scrap for a finals spot.

The first three minutes saw the teams tied at 5-5, but Central Coast quickly broke off a 12-0 run as Shakera Reilly dominated the early proceedings with 15 points in the opening term. With Charlie Evans finding her way to the line and hitting free throws, the Crusaders established a 25-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Lucy Chapman opened the second quarter with a three before Reilly added two more points to her already remarkable tally as Central Coast extended their lead to 19 before Meg Jefferson helped trim the margin slightly with five quick points. With support from Natalia Beaumont, Jefferson and the Panthers were able to pull themselves back into the contest, trailing by just 10 late in the term before Evans scored the last four points of the quarter to hand Central Coast a 42-28 lead at halftime.

Rachel Williams scored the first five points of the third quarter as the Crusaders extended their lead to 47-28. Dominika Offner did her best to drag Penrith back into the contest, but the Central Coast machine rumbled on to a 20 point lead before Jefferson and Beaumont managed some late points to leave the scoreboard reading 58-42 with a quarter to play.

Beaumont had a solid final quarter for Penrith, registering ten points in the last ten minutes of play. Despite this, the Panthers were unable to mount a comeback as Central Coast continued their charge. Reilly knocked down a couple of threes, and with support from Chapman and Evans, the ladder leaders rolled to a 77-56 win.

Shakera Reilly dominated in parts on her way to 27 points for Central Coast, with Charlie Evans adding 17 points and Rachel Williams registering 10. Natalia Beaumont top scored for Penrith with 20 points, whilst Meg Jefferson added 12 and Dominka Offner tallied 9 for the Panthers.

Sutherland 80 defeated Hornsby 78

Hornsby faced Sutherland in what was a crunch game for both teams. The Spiders got off to a flyer, but the Sharks mounted a late comeback in a must-win game for the home side.

Serena Waters continued her ridiculously impressive scoring form of late with nine points in the opening quarter, accounting for half of Hornsby’s 18 points in the first term. Sutherland employed a more balanced scoring offence on their way to 12 points for the first quarter, with Hannah Clinen’s ability to get to the line a highlight for the home side.

Tylah Mundine and Maddie Suprain connected from beyond the arc, and Jess Sancataldo added to Hornsby’s total as the Spiders extended their lead to 31-14 before a timeout with just over three minutes played in the second quarter. Slowly, Sutherland worked their way back into the game, with Clinen going to work in the paint and Meredith Hines hitting from outside. The home side were able to trim the margin to 8 points, but Hornsby hit back to hold a 42-32 lead at halftime.

Mundine and Amy Laws got Hornsby off to a solid third quarter start as the Spiders moved out to a 15 point lead. A 9-2 run from Sutherland, sparked by Maddy Norris, pulled the Sharks back within 8 points, but that was as close as they would get for a long period as Hornsby picked up points at vital times, with five consecutive points from Laws midway through the term a highlight. Nonetheless, Sutherland remained in the contest at 64-55 down with a quarter to play.

Norris and Clinen fired in the opening stages of the final term, combining for 11 points in the first four minutes of the quarter, but Sancataldo and Waters ensured Hornsby remained ahead, and the Spiders held a 69-66 as a timeout was called midway through the quarter. Waters continued to find the basket, but Parrish Leavai added four quick points and the Sharks’ long charge back into the game had finally reaped benefits, with the home side taking a 74-73 lead. Norris edged the Sharks ahead 76-73, but Hornsby soon tied things up before Clinen put the Sharks ahead 78-76.

Tylah Mundine tied the game at 78-78 with just under a minute to play, but Gabby Turnbull delivered the game-winning shot with just over 30 seconds to play as Hornsby were unable to find a tying or winning shot in the final stages of the game. The 80-78 win kept Sutherland in the finals hunt, and with a game against last-placed Liverpool-Macarthur their sole remaining contest, may have just given themselves a real chance at playing playoff basketball.

Maddy Norris top scored for Sutherland with 27 points, with her major support coming from Hannah Clinen, who finished with 20 points. Parrish Leavai added 13 for the Sharks, whilst Meredith Hines’ three point shooting helped her to 11 points. Serena Waters top scored for Hornsby with her second 25 point performance of the weekend. Jess Sancataldo added 16, whilst Amy Laws and Tylah Mundine each tallied 13 for the Spiders.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 37 points v Illawarra
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 27 points v Hornsby
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 27 points v Penrith
Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 26 points v Sutherland
Sherrie Calleia (Hills) – 25 points v Manly
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 25 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 25 points v Sutherland

Youth League Week 15 Roundup

A couple of upsets shook things up slightly as the run to the playoffs gets to a very interesting point. There was no such drama for Central Coast though, who remain three games clear atop the Youth League standings.

Bankstown 72 defeated Hornsby 65

Tasmyn Haynes was a one-player wrecking ball against a depleted Hornsby side, scoring over half of Bankstown’s points in a result that, whilst not reviving the Bruins’ season, certainly shook up the playoff race.

Piper Duck helped Hornsby to a quick start, scoring five of the Spiders’ first eight points within two minutes of the opening tip. Early threes from Georgia Gale and Sabrina Zenatti kept Bankstown in touch in the opening minutes before Haynes collected 9 points in the remainder of the opening term. Haynes’ efforts helped Bankstown to a 20-14 lead, which could have been more if not for a couple of late Hornsby baskets from Erica Pitman.

Brittany Pulling started the second quarter with four points for Bankstown, but the three point shooting of Maddie Suprain combined with more points from Pitman saw Hornsby able to tie the game at 28-28 in a low-scoring second quarter. A pair of free throws from Maliame Mafile’O, her only points of the contest, restored Bankstown’s lead to 30-28 in the dying seconds of the half, but the second term certainly belonged to the understrength Spiders side.

Haynes helped Bankstown extend their lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but Hornsby’s shooting from beyond the arc continued to serve them well. Suprain, Pitman, and Serena Waters all knocked down threes, and with three minutes to play in the third term, Hornsby had taken a 40-39 lead. But an astounding 13 points from Haynes in the final 3 minutes of the term restored an 8 point Bankstown advantage with a quarter to play.

Accuracy at the line in the opening stages of the fourth quarter from Pitman and Waters moved Hornsby back within four points at 54-50 with just under 7 minutes to play, before Gale and Haynes kicked Bankstown back into gear. Five points from Haynes and four free throws from Gale pushed Bankstown out to a 63-52 lead with just over five minutes to play, before a pair of Zenatti free throws tacked another two points onto the lead. Hornsby rallied through Pitman and Waters, and when Duck’s basket fell, the score was suddenly 69-65 with 58 seconds to play. However, Hornsby’s best efforts to close the margin completely were unsuccessful, and Zenatti’s three in the final ten seconds secured a 72-65 win for the Bruins.

Tasmyn Haynes dominated proceedings with 41 points for Bankstown, with Sabrina Zenatti adding 13 for the victorious Bruins. In a side missing a number of players, Erica Pitman led Hornsby with 22 points. Serena Waters added 14, whilst Maddie Suprain tallied 12 for the depleted Spiders.

Newcastle 52 lost to Penrith 58

A fast-starting Penrith side barely managed to survive a Newcastle side that dominated the middle of the contest to move to ten wins and move tantalisingly close to securing playoff basketball.

A pair of Meg Creanor threes within a minute of the game’s commencement pushed Penrith to an 8-0 lead in the early stages. Hannah Fox quickly stepped in and ensured that the Panthers wouldn’t extend that lead any further with two quick baskets for Newcastle as the Hunters reduced the lead to 10-8 midway through the term. Penrith were able to put together a run in the final minutes of the quarter to re-establish a solid buffer though, moving out to a ten point lead before Fox’s late basket trimmed the Penrith lead to 23-15 after one quarter.

Dominika Offner knocked down a three to push Penrith out to a 13 point lead early in the second term, but the remainder of the quarter belonged the home team. Eliza Ormsby tallied six points to lead the Hunters on a late charge which kept the game interesting after it seemed as if Penrith were set to run away with things. By halftime, Penrith’s lead was just 5 at 34-29 and the game was back on a knife-edge.

Newcastle continued their charge in the third quarter as Penrith’s scoring simply dried up. Eleven third quarter points from Rachel James were more than the entire Penrith side managed in the term, and with support from a number of players, Newcastle were able to take a 49-44 lead into the final term.

However, it was then the Hunters’ turn to struggle on offence. A Melanie Edwards free throw was their only scoring play of the first seven minutes of the final term, and whilst Penrith weren’t exactly setting the world alight, they did enough to tie things up at 52-52 on Teiarna Offner’s free throws with 2 minutes to play. Natalia Beaumont, who had scored points at regular intervals all afternoon, stepped up with a basket and a late free throw as Penrith moved out to a 56-52 lead in the final minute. Dominika Offner was sent to the line in the final seconds as Newcastle fouled to stop the clock, and nailed both to deliver a vital 58-52 win to the Panthers.

Rachel James was Newcastle’s only player in double figures, scoring all 11 of her points in the third quarter. Four other Newcastle players scored seven or more points, but it wasn’t quite enough as the offence couldn’t produce in the fourth quarter. Natalia Beaumont top scored for Penrith with 15 points, with Dominika Offner adding 14 for the Panthers in a crucial victory.

Norths 70 lost to Illawarra 82

Illawarra secured a vital upset win which, when combined with Hornsby’s loss to Bankstown, saw the Hawks jump the Spiders into a playoff spot and Norths fall a game behind Hills in the chase for second spot.

A close-run opening few minutes saw Eleri Morris light it up for Illawarra with six points in the first six minutes of the contest. Carla Liebenberg had six of her own for Norths, but it was four late points from Alessandra Burke that pushed Norths out to a 19-14 lead after a quarter.

Illawarra showed enough in the opening quarter to suggest that they had something in them to hang with Norths throughout the game, and seven Paige Phillips points early in the term saw the Hawks’ point guard lead her side on a run that tied the game at 26-26. Liebenberg hit back for Norths, but seven consecutive points for Claudia Flynn delivered a 33-32 for Illawarra with just under 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The home side were able to rebound in the final minutes after seeming slightly flat at times in the second quarter, eventually rescuing their lead and holding on for a 36-35 advantage at halftime.

The halftime break may have been the worst thing for a Norths side that didn’t need its momentum broken. Morris and Phillips delivered a veritable blitzkrieg in the opening stages of the second half and suddenly Illawarra were up 53-40 after five minutes and looking to put the game to bed sooner rather than later. The Bears were able to find points here and there in the back end of the quarter, but were rarely able to make anything resembling a dent in the Hawks’ lead, and with Phillips and Flynn firing in the late stages of the term, the lead ballooned to 65-49 with ten minutes to play.

A Maddison Delaney three with seven minutes to play extended Illawarra’s lead to 20, and despite the final quarter efforts of Sarah-Jane Thomas and Alysha Skerritt, the visitors had wrapped this game up early in the fourth quarter. A late run from Norths reduced the margin to 82-70, but the Hawks were never in danger in the fourth quarter.

Paige Phillips led all scorers with 21 points in an exemplary performance for Illawarra. The Hawks’ point guard was supported excellently by Claudia Flynn and Eleri Morris, who each had 19 points as the visitors showcased their offence in a number of ways throughout the contest. Sarah-Jane Thomas top scored for Norths with 13 points, whilst Carla Liebenberg added 11 for the home side.

Liverpool-Macarthur 39 lost to Hills 47

Liverpool-Macarthur gave themselves a puncher’s chance against a Hills side missing Sherrie Calleia, but in the end the Hornets prevailed for an 8 point victory to keep themselves in the box seat for a bye through to the finals weekend.

Renee Muaulu led the home side in the first quarter with six early points as the Razorbacks took an early lead which they managed to hold deep into the opening term. However, Hills scored the last five points of the quarter courtesy of Zoe Burke and Laura Davidson to hold an 11-9 advantage after ten minutes of play.

Liverpool-Macarthur continued to hang tough in the second term as defence reigned supreme leading into halftime. The teams combined for just 11 points in the term, four of which went to the home side as Hills’ attempts to extend their margin were only mildly successful, with the scoreline reading 18-13 at halftime.

Fortunately for the spectators, the third quarter was slightly more eventful. Madison Hare fired in the early stages for Hills as the visitors pushed their lead out to 26-17 before Bianca Carusio scored five points in a row for Liverpool-Macarthur to trim the lead to just four points. Whilst Hills were able to push out the lead once again, a late Rayan Danine three ensured the Razorbacks remained in close contention at 32-27 with a quarter to play.

Hills were able to push their margin back out to eight points early in the final quarter, but Danine and Taylor Muaulu dragged the Razorbacks within two at 35-33 with just under 7 minutes to play. Unfortunately though, that would be as close as the home side would come to their second victory of the season as Hare continued her outstanding day, single-handedly going on a 6-1 run before Rachael Mules knocked down a three to move Hills to a 44-36 lead. That proved to be enough for Hills to secure victory as the teams combined for just six points in the final four minutes or so as Hills ran out 47-39 winners.

Madison Hare was undoubtedly Hills’ star with her 21 points representing nearly half of her team’s total. Rayan Danine and Taylor Muaulu each finished on 12 points for Liverpool-Macarthur in a valiant effort.

Manly 50 lost to Sutherland 71

Sutherland’s season remains on life support but there is still a faint pulse after a 71-50 victory over high-flying Manly. The win took Sutherland to 7-9, and whilst the Sharks will probably have to win out from here to make the playoffs, they at least still stand a chance after the win.

Unfortunately, with no details available for this game, there will be no report. Apparently Maddy Norris hit a bunch of shots in the fourth quarter though, which sounds pretty accurate.

Central Coast 68 defeated Newcastle 55

The basketball edition of the F3 Derby ended with Central Coast ensuring their visitors from the north would not be taking a W home with them with a dominant victory over the 10th placed Hunters. The win leaves Central Coast three wins clear of Hills and Manly with five games to play.

The majority of the first quarter was a close-run affair, and with 90 seconds left the score was still 6-6. However, a late flurry of points from Central Coast, kickstarted by a Lucy Chapman three, saw the home side take a 13-6 lead into the first break.

Newcastle swung things back in their favour slightly, opening the second quarter with the first four points and preventing Central Coast from adding to their tally for the first 2 minutes of the term. But when the Crusaders did finally get the scoreboard ticking over again, they were devastating. Threes from Chapman, Shakera Reilly, and Losalini Katia in the space of a minute or so pushed the Crusaders out to a 22-10 lead and suddenly it was all looking a bit shaky for Newcastle. Hannah Fox led a late charge for the Hunters, but Alessandra Gasparotto countered with some late scoring of her to deliver a 35-20 lead for the Crusaders at halftime.

Reilly put the hammer down in the third quarter, scoring nine points in all as the Crusaders kept their foot on the Hunters’ throat. Despite a number of Newcastle players finding the basket in the third term, the home side’s scoring consistency ensured the lead continued to grow and by the time the term had finished, the lead had ballooned to 52-32 with a quarter to play.

The Hunters put on a far better showing in the final quarter, with Fox, Alison Ebzery, and Rachel James getting amongst the points. However, the Crusaders had little problem putting the game away, finishing with a 68-55 victory to continue their march towards top seeding in the playoffs.

Alessandra Gasparotto led all scorers with 16 points for Central Coast, with Shakera Reilly tallying 14. Lucy Chapman added 12, whilst Losalini Katia and Charlie Evans added 9 apiece. Hannah Fox top scored for Newcastle with 14 points, with Rachel James adding 11 and Alison Ebzery registering 8 points for the Hunters.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 41 points v Hornsby
Erica Pitman (Hornsby) – 22 points v Bankstown
Madison Hare (Hills) – 21 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Paige Phillips (Illawarra) – 21 points v Norths
Claudia Flynn (Illawarra) – 19 points v Norths
Eleri Morris (Illawarra) – 19 points v Norths

Youth League Week 12 Roundup

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

Newcastle 61 defeated Hills 54

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

Manly 42 lost to Central Coast 57

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

Penrith 61 defeated Illawarra 52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hornsby 106 defeated Bankstown 70

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norths 72 defeated Sutherland 45

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool-Macarthur 44 lost to Penrith 80

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Scoring Leaders

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

Youth League Week 7 Roundup

Maddy Della Franca was the hero for Hornsby on Saturday, whilst Central Coast continued their outstanding start to the season.

Illawarra 60 lost to Hornsby 62

In what was no doubt one of the games of the season, Hornsby looked destined for victory before Illawarra came storming back to set up a frantic last couple of minutes which culminated in a dramatic finish.

The teams traded baskets in a cagey start to the game, with Illawarra scoring the final four points of the first quarter to take a 12-10 lead into the second term. With points tough to come by, both teams looked to a variety of options for their scoring. Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips each hit baskets in quick succession to put Illawarra up by five, but Hornsby quickly fired back through Piper Duck and Madeline Suprain to lead 24-22 at halftime.

Paige Phillips and Tylah Mundine scored five points apiece to start the third as the game remained incredibly tight. However, despite neither team opening up a meaningful lead for the entire game to that point, Hornsby suddenly exploded with a 7-0 run to finish the third quarter courtesy of five points from Maddy Della Franca and a late basket from youngster Amy Laws to lead 41-34 with ten minutes to play.

Illawarra hit back in the early stages of the fourth quarter, taking a 46-45 lead just three minutes into the fourth quarter. Hornsby were able to regain the lead on a Tylah Mundine three-pointer, before Illawarra managed to take a lead and extend the margin to 60-55 with 48 seconds to play as Soriah Vos and Eleri Morris managed to find the bottom of the basket. Four free throws from Tylah Mundine in the space of 26 seconds put the Spiders within a point, and from there, everything went a little bit crazy.

With just 13 seconds remaining, Illawarra were up 60-59 and inbounding the ball in their own offensive half. Enter Maddy Della Franca for Hornsby. Picking off the inbounds pass, Della Franca managed to draw the foul on the way up and finish from a tough angle to put the Spiders up 61-60. One of Hornsby’s best on the day, Della Franca then stepped up to complete the and-one and force Illawarra into a final decision – go for the three to win, or try to take the game to overtime? The options looked simple enough – either Paige Phillips for three, or Eleri Morris driving to the basket for the lay-up. In the end, Illawarra had looks at both. Out of the timeout, Phillips was the initial option, but the Hornsby defence jammed up on the Illawarra star and forced her to hand the ball off to Morris. Morris found a seam and drove to the hoop, but her release was a fraction of a second late, and Hornsby held on for a 62-60 win with Morris’ attempted lay-up coming off the front of the rim in any case.

A pair of quick scoring streaks comprised the majority of Tylah Mundine’s 14 points which led the Spiders’ scoring. Maddy Della Franca tallied 12 points including the game winning basket. Piper Duck added 11, whilst Serena Waters registered 10 points whilst running the team from the point outstandingly. Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips were each outstanding for Illawarra, scoring 17 and 15 points respectively.

Box Score

Newcastle 54 defeated Manly 50

Newcastle opened up an early lead, but Manly were undeterred and stormed home to almost snatch victory before the Hunters managed to secure the win.

The Hunters started well, but Manly hung with the home side well enough in the early stages to remain just six points in arrears at 16-10 down after a quarter. However, a 7-0 run to open the second quarter established a 13 point lead for the home side and suddenly Manly were in a bit of early trouble. But Rachel Duncan, Kimberley Hodge, and Katelyn Castle stepped up for the Sea Eagles and shortly after halftime the margin was back to 27-26 and the game was on a knife-edge.

Another Manly run a few minutes later saw Castle and Hodge again involved heavily as the Sea Eagles took a 38-33 lead, but with Alison Ebzery and Cassidy McLean firing, the Hunters kept themselves firmly in the contest throughout.

Lauryn Walker opened the final quarter scoring to put the Sea Eagles up 44-38, but that only seemed to spark the Newcastle team. A spectacular 15-1 run put the home side up 53-45 with 90 seconds to play, and whilst Manly found late scoring from Hodge and Castle, it was too little, too late as the Hunters held on for a 54-50 win.

Alison Ebzery and Cassidy McLean led Newcastle with 16 and 14 points respectively, with each getting baskets at vital times throughout the game to lead the home side to victory. Katelyn Castle was Manly’s top scorer with 14 points, whilst Kimberley Hodge notched 10 points.

Box Score

Penrith 46 lost to Hills 53

The defending champions’ early season struggles continued as the Panthers dropped to 3-4 on the back of a loss to Hills. The home side had their start to blame for the defeat, as a last quarter charge from 11 points down proved futile.

Hills came out of the blocks flying, with Madison Hare’s three-pointer to open the scoring a window into what would come. The Hornets found scoring from a number of players and soon pushed the lead to double figures, leading 18-6 after a quarter and putting the Panthers in real trouble.

The Hornets’ charge continued into the second quarter, but Penrith were able to vastly improve their scoring. Although the margin grew to 36-20 by halftime, the efforts of players such as Natalia Beaumont ensured that the Panthers would not be completely blown out of the water by halftime.

Nine third quarter points from Beaumont led a charge from the Panthers that saw the home side head into the fourth quarter down 45-34 following an outstanding defensive effort. With the Hills side able to tally just 9 points in the third quarter, there was certainly a chance for Penrith to complete would have been a remarkable comeback.

However, when Hills scored the first 6 points of the fourth quarter, the game looked done and dusted at 51-34 with six minutes to play. Enter Meg Jefferson, as well as Natalia and Tatiana Beaumont. The Panthers’ trio accounted for the next 12 points of the game to leave the game delicately poised at 51-46 with 2 minutes to play.

But suddenly, the scoring simply dried up. The only further points that would be scored were two free throws from Paris Roditis with 53 seconds to play, and Hills hung on for a 53-46 win that saw the Hornets leapfrog the Panthers in the standings.

Natalia Beaumont was the undoubted star of the game, scoring 23 of the Panthers’ points. Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 11, and Dijana Milisic added 10. The Hornets found substantial scoring from a lot more options than Penrith, with six players scoring six or more points. Conversely, Natalia Beaumont’s sister Tatiana was Penrith’s only other player to score more than five points.

Box Score

Norths 71 defeated Bankstown 46

Norths put Bankstown to the sword with a well-rounded team performance at the Bear Cave on Saturday night, moving to 4-2 for the season and staying in touch with the top teams with a 25 point win.

Milly Yates and Lana Marov were on fire early, helping Norths open up an insurmountable 22-2 lead after 9 minutes. A quick 6-0 run from Bankstown, thanks largely to Tasmyn Haynes, ended the opening quarter, but Norths were still well in control.

Ali Burke and Carla Liebenberg quickly reinstated the Bears’ 20 point margin, and whilst the home side did allow Bankstown another extended run of scoring to end the second quarter, Norths went into halftime up 38-18 and in cruise control. A slightly less frantic third quarter was far closer, with both teams only just reaching double figures as the Bears continued their march to victory.

The fourth quarter became slightly scrappy at times with both teams realising the result was obvious as Norths took a 20 point margin into the final term. However, the Bears were still able to add 19 points in the final term for a 71-46 win.

IMG_4296

Ali Burke stepped up having just played a Championship game to lead Norths with 13 points. Carla Liebenberg added 12 and Lana Marov tallied 11, whilst Milly Yates finished with 8 points and one outstanding block to deny Bankstown a basket in transition. Bankstown were led by Tasmyn Haynes’ 12 points. Haynes was the Bruins’ only player to finish in double figures, leading her team with a valiant effort.

Box Score

Penrith defeated Newcastle

Penrith rebounded with a win over Newcastle, but without more details available, we’re a little bit in the dark when it comes to the actual process by which the win came about!

Box Score

Hornsby 65 lost to Central Coast 70

With a narrow win over Illawarra the previous day in their legs, you could have forgiven Hornsby for finding it tough against the high-flying Central Coast Crusaders. However, the Crusaders had player availability issues of their own, and dressed just six players for this game. Suddenly, the game had a far more even look about it, but the events of the early stages did not suggest anything of that ilk.

Rachel Williams. Charlie Evans. Shakera Reilly. 7-0 Central Coast inside 90 seconds. Hornsby hit back through Kristina Moore and Tylah Mundine and for a minute things looked as if they might settle, but scoring from all five Crusaders starters saw the visitors take a 26-6 lead after a quarter.

Mercifully, the first quarter did end and allowed the Spiders to take a minute to regroup. Charlie Evans continued to knock down shots in the early stages of the second quarter, but Hornsby slowly edged their way back into the game. A Piper Duck three trimmed the margin to 13 with just over 4 minutes to play in the half, but by halftime Central Coast had extended the margin back out to 42-26.

However, with just six players on the roster for the game, the second half would be the real test for the Crusaders. The midway point of the third quarter saw Hornsby looking dead in the water at 21 down, but the second half of the term saw the Spiders turn things around. Tylah Mundine and Amy Laws each knocked down a three, and late points from Kristina Moore and Sarah Crisafulli put the Spiders within range at 59-51 down with a quarter to play.

A basket to Rachel Williams was the Crusaders’ only scoring play for the first six minutes of the quarter, and when Sarah Crisafulli found the bottom of the net with 4:16 to play, Hornsby had stormed back to 61-59 down. Somehow, Central Coast were sparked back into life and found points from Reilly and Williams to push the lead out to six.

Hornsby made it a one-possession game with 28 seconds to play through a pair of free throws from Amy Laws, but their 65th point of the game would be their last. Jamei Pate finished the game with a basket in the dying seconds to seal a 70-65 win for Central Coast.

Shakera Reilly led four Central Coast players in double figures with 22 points. Charlie Evans was also excellent with 18 points, whilst Losalini Katia and Rachel Williams tallied 11 apiece. Kristina Moore and Piper Duck led Hornsby with 19 and 17 points respectively, whilst Nicole Hutchins and Amy Laws added 9 apiece.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Natalia Beaumont (Penrith) – 23 points v Hills
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 22 points v Hornsby
Kristina Moore (Hornsby) – 19 points v Central Coast
Charlie Evans (Central Coast) – 18 points v Hornsby
Piper Duck (Hornsby) – 17 points v Central Coast
Eleri Morris (Illawarra) – 17 points v Hornsby

Youth League Week 6 Roundup

Central Coast and Manly remain on top of the standings after wins this week, but Illawarra remain hot on their heels after clinching a thrilling win over Sutherland.

Hills 52 lost to Manly 60

Hills came into this game with the chance to put some pressure on the competition frontrunners, but Manly had other ideas. The Sea Eagles scored the first five points of the game, but Hills quickly regrouped to open up a 16-10 by the end of the opening quarter. The home side managed to maintain a slight margin until deep in the second quarter, before a 7-2 from Manly to end the quarter put the visitors up 28-27 at halftime. The third quarter would see Manly push their lead out to 8 points on the back of points from a variety of options. In a low scoring game, the 45-37 margin looked bigger than it really was, but Hills fought back to tie the game at 47-47 with 2:30 to play after an outstanding defensive effort to open up the fourth quarter. However, that would be the closest that the home side would come to retaking the lead as first Josie Bulman and then Katie Castle were clutch from the line to see the Manly side home 60-52.

Zoe Burke and Madison Hare led all scorers with 16 points apiece for Hills, with Sherrie Calleia chipping in 8 points. Kimberley Hodge, fresh off a SEABL game the night before, led Manly with 14 points, whilst Josie Bulman and Katie Castle also reached double figures, with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Box Score

Newcastle 44 lost to Bankstown 62

With both teams in danger of losing touch with the finals spots with a loss today, it was Bankstown’s big three of Georgia Gale, Sabrina Zenatti, and Tasmyn Haynes who stepped up and ensured Bankstown would move to a 3-4 record with an 18 point win over Newcastle. The Bruins finished the first quarter with a 15-7 lead on the back of a remarkable 9 points from Haynes in the opening term. Whilst Haynes didn’t have quite the same impact in the second quarter, the Bruins continued to extend their lead through other options and by halftime had opened up a 33-20 lead. Melling Patfield and Maddie Nowland led the charge from Newcastle at the offensive end, but the Hunters were simply unable to contain the Bankstown offence, and trading baskets was simply not enough for Newcastle. Bankstown continued to extend their lead in the second half, running out 62-44 winners.

Four players finished in double figures for Bankstown, led by Tasmyn Haynes’ 15 points. Sabrina Zenatti tallied 13 points, whilst Georgia Gale dropped in 12. Brittany Pulling added 11 as these four players tallied 51 of Bankstown’s 62 points. Melling Patfield and Maddie Nowland each had 13 points for Newcastle, but received little support at the offensive end in a tough day for the Hunters.

Box Score

Central Coast 94 defeated Sutherland 60

Central Coast bounced back from their last-start overtime loss to Illawarra in the most emphatic fashion possible, putting Sutherland to the sword in a comprehensive victory. Shakera Reilly and Charlie Evans fired in the first quarter as the Crusaders quickly established a double-digit lead and showed no signs of looking back. A quick 8-0 run from Sutherland may have given the visitors some hope of restoring parity, but the Crusaders soon put paid to that. Evans, Reilly, and Alessandra Gasparotto all scored in quick succession as the margin quickly ballooned to 48-25 by halftime. Although Maddy Norris played another starring role for Sutherland, the Crusaders’ talent all over the court was simply too much for the Sharks to contain. The game became a procession as the margin ticked over the 30 mark, and although the visitors found solid performances from a number of players, Central Coast were simply too good on the day.

Charlie Evans led all scorers with 22 points for Central Coast, with Shakera Reilly not far behind on 20 points. Jamei Pate and Alessandra Gasparotto notched 11 and 10 points respectively as ten Crusaders players got on the scoresheet. Maddy Norris was once again Sutherland’s best with a valiant 21 points, and found solid support from Hannah Clinen, who finished with 12 points. Jaimie Karamihas tallied 10 points, whilst Gabby Turnbull came just shy of finishing in double figures, notching 9 points.

Box Score

Penrith 85 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 51

The defending champion Penrith Panthers have slipped a bit in recent weeks, losing two on the trot to fall to a 2-2 record. However, the Panthers bounced right back this week with an emphatic win over Liverpool-Macarthur. The Razorbacks hung with Penrith in the early stages, but with Natalia Beaumont opening up the game with 8 points in the first quarter, the home side were able to to open up a 20-13 lead after a quarter to give themselves a solid platform to launch from, and launch they did. Beaumont continued her solid game, and Binta Salawu came into her own in the second quarter to help Penrith to a 43-25 lead at halftime. The third quarter saw Penrith put their foot on the opponents’ throat, with Kay Phillips scoring six of her eight points for the game in the third quarter. At 67-35 with a quarter to play, the Panthers were able to cruise in the fourth quarter and wrapped up an 85-51 win.

Natalia Beaumont and Binta Salawu both finished with 19 points to lead Penrith, with Meg Creanor and Meg Jefferson each tallying 9 points to provide solid support. Liverpool-Macarthur finished the game with three players in double figures. Renee Muaulu tallied 13 points, whilst Yasmin Danine and Bianca Carusio notched 12 apiece. However, with only five players getting on the scoresheet for the Razorbacks, there was little support from elsewhere.

Box Score

Sutherland 48 lost to Illawarra 51

The Youth League southern derby was an astoundingly close affair, but it didn’t look as though that would be the case in the first half. Although the first quarter ended 8-4 in Illawarra’s favour, the Hawks extended their lead to 22-10 by midway through the second term and looked set to run away with proceedings, especially as they extended that margin to 34-17 by halftime. However, Maddy Norris and Gabby Turnbull had other ideas. The pair helped lead Sutherland to a 16-5 third quarter which saw the Sharks in with a fighting chance at 39-33 down with ten minutes to play. Continuing to roll on with all the momentum, Sutherland took a 40-39 lead midway through the fourth on the back of baskets from Norris and Turnbull, and maintained a lead into the final two minutes. Enter Paige Phillips for Illawarra. A three pointer saw the Hawks back within two points at 46-44 with just over a minute to play, before the young guard nailed the game winning three with 7 seconds to play, handing the Hawks victory in a thriller.

Box Score

Penrith 64 lost to Norths 66

Norths jumped the Panthers on the table with a last-gasp victory on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, there are no details available on this game, but with a 66-64 scoreline it’s safe to say it was a tight one.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Charlie Evans (Central Coast) – 22 points v Sutherland
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 21 points v Central Coast
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 20 points v Sutherland
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 20 points v Illawarra
Natalie Beaumont (Penrith) – 19 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Binta Salawu (Penrith) – 19 points v Liverpool-Macarthur

SEABL Season Preview

The New South Wales presence in SEABL has doubled this season, with the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits joined by the Sydney Uni Sparks, a development program forming a pathway to the current WNBL champion Sydney Uni Flames. The Sparks feature four members of the Flames 2016/17 squad, with Shanae Greaves, Lara McSpadden, Tahlia Tupaea, and Susannah Walmsley providing some added experience to an otherwise young squad. The remainder of the Sparks roster is comprised of players out of the Flames academy program, with all players still in their teenage years and a couple still in high school.

Shanae Greaves is the only player with significant SEABL experience in the squad, with over 150 games in Australia’s premier winter league to her name. However, with Karen Dalton coaching the side and veterans Belinda Snell and Hayley Moffatt acting as assistant coaches, there is plenty of guidance for a young Sparks side being thrown in the deep end. The majority of the Sparks squad has never even played a Waratah Championship game, with Youth League the highest club level many of them have achieved. However, the majority of the squad have featured at a national championships in the last couple of years, with many outstanding performers.

Sydney Uni Sparks Junior National Championship Stats

Player Championship Team PPG RPG APG
Beaumont, Natalia 2016 U18 NSW Metro 11.00 7.57 1.29
Calleia, Sherrie 2016 U18 NSW Metro 2.71 1.86 1.14
Carroll, Elle 2016 U18 NSW Metro 6.14 2.86 2.00
Castle, Katie 2016 U18 NSW Metro 4.14 3.43 2.71
Evans, Charlie 2015 U18 NSW Country 9.88 1.75 1.88
Matthews, Emily 2017 U20 NSW 7.00 1.60 1.20
McSpadden, Lara 2016 U18 NSW Country 12.62 6.62 1.50
Mocatta, Teaan 2016 U18 NSW Metro 6.14 5.14 0.86
Morrissey, Chloe 2015 U18 NSW Metro 5.33 3.11 1.00
Mundine, Tylah 2016 U18 NSW Metro 5.43 7.71 1.57
O’Hehir, Maddie 2016 U20 NSW 16.83 3.50 2.00

Alongside the young starlets will be four members of the Sydney Uni Flames WNBL side, although Lara McSpadden and Tahlia Tupaea could be considered young starlets themselves. All four players featured for the Flames this season, with Tupaea and Shanae Greaves providing the most impact off the bench of the group.

Sydney Uni Sparks 2016/17 WNBL Stats

Player PPG RPG APG
Greaves, Shanae 2.04 1.89 0.68
McSpadden, Lara 1.20 0.20 0.00
Tupaea, Tahila 8.27 3.80 1.47
Walmsley, Susannah 0.33 0.33 0.50

There is certainly plenty of talent in the Sparks’ squad, but once the season begins, it becomes a question of how well the young players can handle the jump to the second-highest level of basketball in Australia. However, at the end of the day, this program’s success will be measured more in the progression of players than the number in the wins column.

Meanwhile, down in Albury, there has been mass upheaval with several changes to the Lady Bandits squad. The side has lost 11 players, including Alex Ciabattoni, Ellie Junod and Haylee Lepaio from the ranks of local players, whilst it is also all change in terms of the team’s import players with Toccara Ross and Adijat Adams joining the Albury-Wodonga side.

Ross played college basketball at Iowa State, where the forward averaged 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in her junior season before injuries stifled her production for the remainder of her college career, which ended in 2009. Since that time, the American has played in Europe and South America as well as one previous SEABL season for the Hobart Chargers in 2011. Adams is slightly younger, having graduated from Biola University in 2014, where the 6’2” centre averaged over 16 points in each of her final two college seasons. Adams spent last season playing in Western Australia for Mandurah, where she starred for the Magic.

Five players do return, including the team’s spiritual leader Molly Rice, who was the team’s second-highest average scorer with 15.2 points per game. Rice and Stephanie Gorman, who averaged 9.7 points per game last season, will shoulder the majority of the scoring load alongside imports Adams and Ross.

The teams start their season playing each other in Albury on Saturday night, with early NSW bragging rights on the line. Albury-Wodonga will be eager to improve on 2016’s last place finish in the South conference, whilst the Sparks will be hoping to get their first win on the board as soon as possible to ease the pressure early on.