Waratah Championship Semi Final Roundup

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

Hornsby 78 lost to Manly 79

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bankstown 67 lost to Norths 72

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waratah Championship Week 16 Roundup

Just when the playoff picture looked set in stone, Bankstown came up with a win over Norths that shook things up going into the final week of play. Elsewhere, Hornsby rounded out their regular season schedule with a win over Illawarra and Comets secured seventh spot with a win over Hills.

Bankstown 64 defeated Norths 50

A win would have secured second spot for Norths, but instead it will all come down to the final weekend to decide the order of the teams behind Hornsby as Bankstown claimed a vital win to leave the playoff picture still looking a mess even at this late stage.

A low-scoring first quarter saw Norths finally open their account through Kallie Hovatter just over two minutes into the contest. Bankstown quickly countered through Adrianne Bywater, but points remained hard to come by and with 4 minutes remaining in the opening term Bankstown held a 10-4 lead courtesy of four quick points from Casey Samuels. Bankstown continued to grow that lead as the Norths’ offence stuttered, and a late Jaimee Kennedy basket was like gold dust to a Bears side that saw themselves down 15-6 after a quarter.

Hovatter and Kennedy helped lead Norths on a run that moved the visitors within two at 17-15 down early in the second quarter, but Bankstown put together a run of their own to extend their lead to 29-16 with two minutes remaining in the first half. Once again a late Norths basket trimmed the lead at a vital moment, with Eleni Valos’ three in the final minute reducing the Bankstown lead to 29-19 at halftime.

Samuels continued to lead the Bankstown scoring, but Norths were able to to trim the margin to seven and hold it there for a while. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Bears would come as Marjy Grealish came to the fore with 8 third quarter points for Bankstown. There would be no late flourish from Norths in the third quarter though, and with ten minutes to play Bankstown held a very handy 46-32 lead.

Handy doesn’t mean safe though, and with Jaimee Kennedy putting the Norths’ offence on her back, the Bears opened up the final term with 13 of the first 17 points to reduce the margin to 50-45 with still six minutes remaining. Bankstown regrouped though, with Samuels and Briana Maimone re-establishing Bankstown’s cushion to 59-46. Grealish and Maimone chipped in a few more points as time wound down, and with the Norths’ offence unable to secure another big run similar to the one earlier in the quarter, Bankstown secured a game-changing 64-50 win.

Marjy Grealish and Casey Samuels shared the top scoring honours for Bankstown, with each also picking up 13 rebounds to secure double-doubles. Briana Maimone added 13 points on some efficient 5/7 shooting from the field. Jaimee Kennedy also secured a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Norths. Kallie Hovatter also finished in double figures, tallying 11 points and 7 rebounds. However, Norths shot just 25% from the field for the contest, a stark contrast to Bankstown’s 42% mark.

Hornsby 97 defeated Illawarra 57

Hornsby wrapped up their regular season schedule with a 97-57 win over an Illawarra side that was missing spiritual leader and influential point guard Lauren Sparks.

Young stars Tylah Mundine and Serena Waters both knocked down threes in the early stages as Hornsby scored the first 8 points of the game on their way to an early 18-5 lead, with Waters alone responsible for 8 of those. Georgia Ohrdorf registered 8 first quarter points for Illawarra, but Hornsby put the understrength Hawks to the sword in the first quarter, taking a 29-15 lead into the second quarter.

The second quarter was a far tighter affair, with Ohrdorf continuing to star for Illawarra. The Metro State University star added 10 more points to see Illawarra keep pace with Hornsby throughout the term. Darneka Rowe and Olivia Sheehan slowly began to rack up their usual solid points tallies, whilst Tara Kilminster began to come into her own off the bench to help the Spiders extend their lead to 48-31 by halftime on the back of a 19-16 second quarter.

The third quarter was where Hornsby really put the game beyond doubt. Sheehan continued to add to her tally, with veterans Rachel Maenpaa and Alicia Poto also adding to the Spiders’ ever-burgeoning tally. It was a valiant effort from the understrength Illawarra side, but with Hornsby not wanting to ease up in their preparation for finals basketball, the margin grew to 70-38 by the end of the third quarter as the Spiders clicked on offence.

Olivia White provided some more positives for Illawarra in the final quarter, but the Hornsby domination continued. Kilminster and Sancataldo finished off solid games with some late scoring, but with eight Hornsby players scoring 8 points or more, the points were coming from all over. A 27-19 quarter rounded out the 97-57 victory to keep Hornsby on a high going into playoff basketball.

Georgia Ohrdorf led the way for Illawarra with an outstanding 26 point, 14 rebound effort in an overmatched team. Olivia White almost compiled a double-double, tallying 12 points and 8 rebounds. Serena Waters led five Hornsby players in double figures with 20 points on efficient 8/11 shooting, whilst Tara Kilminster was outstanding off the bench to tally 16 points. Jess Sancataldo and Olivia Sheehan also finished in double figures off the bench, with Sancataldo tallying 13 points and Sheehan chipping in 12 points and 9 rebounds. Alicia Poto racked up a 10 point, 11 rebound double-double, and also picked up 5 steals.

Hills 45 lost to Comets 52

Hills were forced to take on Comets without young star Sherrie Calleia, and Comets took advantage despite having just six players available for this game to move to four wins for the season.

A cagey first quarter saw the teams separated by very little throughout the term. Four separate players combined for Comets’ first 8 points, whilst Anja Kolodziej scored four of Hills’ first 8 to leave the teams tied with a minute to play in the opening quarter. Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas dominated the latter stages of the quarter to take her personal tally to six within ten minutes and hand Comets a 12-8 lead to end the first period of action.

The visitors extended their lead to 17-8 early in the second quarter, but baskets from Paris Roditis and Zoe Burke trimmed the margin back to five midway through the term. Emma Claus added some late points for Hills, but a balanced scoring performance from Comets ensured the visitors would maintain the lead, and even briefly extend the margin to double figures before a last-second Andrea Roditis three for Hills saw the quarter end with Comets leading 26-19.

Signs of a comeback from Hills began to emerge in the third quarter, with Madison Hare leading her team with five early points to nudge Hills within a basket at 30-28 down midway through the quarter. Comets edged ahead yet again courtesy of a pair of Lauren Breen buckets, but in a low-scoring quarter, there was little opportunity for either team to create a swing in momentum, leaving the game tantalisingly poised at 36-32 in Comets’ favour with a quarter to play.

The teams traded threes in the early stages before Annie Turner chipped in four consecutive points and Maja Jurlina continued her solid offensive night to push Comets ahead 45-38 with just over five minutes remaining. Hare remained strong for the home side, but Jurlina helped push Comets out to a 50-41 lead with under three minutes to play. Hare and Andrea Roditis dragged Hills back into the contest at 50-45 with 90 seconds to play, but a couple of missed opportunities for the Hornets allowed Pogonza-Dumas to ice the game at the line, which she promptly did to secure Comets’ fourth victory of the season with a 52-45 win.

Maja Jurlina led all scorers with 15 points, but it was on the boards that a number of Comets players excelled. Annie Turner picked up an insane 17 boards to go with 8 points, whilst Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas tallied 8 points and 14 rebounds. Lauren Breen registered 7 points and 9 rebounds. Madison Hare tallied 10 points to lead Hills and also secured 7 rebounds. Emma Claus was also solid on the boards to finish with 9 points and 11 rebounds.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Georgia Ohrdorf (Illawarra) – 26 points v Hornsby
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 20 points v Illawarra
Marjy Grealish (Bankstown) – 18 points v Norths
Jaimee Kennedy (Norths) – 18 points v Bankstown
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 18 points v Norths

Waratah Championship Week 14 Roundup

Hornsby lost their second game of the season on Sunday, but did enough on Saturday to mathematically secure top spot. Newcastle remain clinging to one remaining shred of hope after a win over Sutherland, and Manly secured their finals spot with a nail-biting win over Norths.

Norths 72 lost to Manly 76

Manly couldn’t quite overturn Norths’ advantage in the season series between the two teams, but their win in this game against the Bears did plenty to help the Sea Eagles in their charge to stay ahead of Bankstown and secure a spot in the 2-3 matchup in the semi-finals.

The opening stages saw Norths’ backcourt defence, led by Kallie Hovatter, disrupt the Manly offence on several occasions and soon enough the Bears had opened up a 13-5 lead to force a Sea Eagles timeout. Manly were vastly improved out of the timeout, with Candice Trevenna leading the Sea Eagles’ charge. With Norths managing just three points in the final four minutes of the quarter, Manly were able to tie the game at 16-16 after the opening term.

Opals stalwart Belinda Snell scored the first five points of the second quarter as Manly opened up a 24-16 in the early stages of the term. However, Kate Seebohm hit back with two consecutive baskets of her own to cap an 8-0 run that delivered Norths a 26-24 lead. Despite this, Trevenna and Snell continued to rack up the points and it was only some late scoring from Hovatter and Seebohm that kept Norths close, with the Bears down 35-32 at halftime.

Jaimee Kennedy and Tristan Black were Norths’ main scoring options early in the third quarter, whilst Trevenna and Snell continued to keep things rolling for Manly. With the teams trading baskets throughout the quarter, the game was destined to remain close for the entire term, and it proved as such. Neither team gained anything more than an one-possession lead for the last six minutes of the quarter, with some late three pointers from both sides leaving the game on a knife-edge at 51-50 in Manly’s favour with a quarter to play.

Norths certainly started the faster of the two teams in the final quarter, scoring the first eight points of the term to move into a 58-51 lead as Hovatter scored the first six points of the quarter. Manly called a timeout, and quickly regrouped to tie things at 60-60 with four minutes to play before a pair of free throws from Snell handed Manly the lead. Hovatter and Ali Burke pushed Norths back in front, but it was clear that Manly were far from done. Trevenna and Snell continued to be the story of the day, and it was Snell who went to the line with 21 seconds remaining to attempt to ice the game. As you would expect, the Sydney Uni Flames and Opals legend connected on both to deliver victory to Manly and cement the Sea Eagles’ finals spots.

Kallie Hovatter led all scorers with 31 points, and also finished with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Backcourt partner Kate Seebohm was also on fire offensively, finishing with 19 points and 7 assists, as well as 8 rebounds. Tristan Black and Jaimee Kennedy came close to double-doubles. Black finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Kennedy registered 9 points and 10 boards of her own.

Belinda Snell top scored for Manly with 24 points, and also added an impressive 14 rebounds and 6 assists. Candice Trevenna tallied 22 points, and also picked up 7 assists as the duo led Manly to victory.

Sutherland 57 lost to Newcastle 72

A Sutherland win in this game would both strengthen Sutherland’s finals chances and also extinguish what little chance Newcastle had left, but Suzy Batkovic ensured that Newcastle would live to fight another day with yet another dominant performance from the five-time WNBL MVP.

Neither team’s radar was calibrated quite properly in the opening stages, as a Batkovic free throw over two minutes into the contest proved to be the first scoring play. Both teams quickly settled in after that though, with Newcastle opening up a 9-2 lead before Sutherland stormed back through a couple of Maddy Norris threes to remain just two points behind Newcastle at 13-11 after one quarter of play.

A 10-0 run to start the quarter gave Newcastle a 12 point lead and set Sutherland back on their heels a bit as their usual rebounding and height advantage was negated slightly by the Australian basketball legend playing centre for the opposition. The Sharks were able to stem the flow slightly as the quarter progressed, but Newcastle maintained a healthy advantage as a number of players, including the recently returned Charlotte Bull, knocked down shots. A late three from Norris reduced the margin to a manageable 13 at halftime, with Newcastle leading 39-26 as the teams headed for the locker rooms.

Batkovic scored the first ten Newcastle points of the third quarter, but Sutherland hung with the Hunters in the opening stages of the second half. Unfortunately, at 13 points down, hanging with the opposition will only result in a team having plenty to do in the fourth quarter. The Newcastle lead only moved out another three points in the third quarter, but that still left Sutherland down 57-41 with a quarter to play.

Alison Ebzery opened the fourth quarter with a pair of threes to push the Newcastle lead out to 63-44, and with both teams going on a long scoring drought soon after, the margin hovered around the 20 point mark deep into the final term. Some late three pointers for Sutherland trimmed the lead back to 72-57, but Newcastle had well and truly wrapped up the win several minutes earlier with their start to the final term.

Suzy Batkovic led all scorers with 30 points, and also topped the rebound count with 15. Alison Ebzery chipped in 13 points for the Hunters, whilst Cherub Lum dished out 9 assists to go with her 7 points. Maddy Norris connected on 5 of 6 three point attempts to top score for Sutherland with 15 points. Peta Kneen and Lisa Watkins each added 11 points, whilst Jane Scrivens collected 11 rebounds alongside 8 points for the Sharks.

Hornsby 98 defeated Hills 61

As was the case against Bankstown the week before, Hornsby had just six players available for this game against Hills, but the result was far more pleasing for the Spiders’ faithful this time, with their team cruising to a 37 point win.

The opening stages were remarkably close as the teams traded baskets for the opening few minutes. Hills jumped out to a 10-6 lead midway through the quarter, but the scoring of Darneka Rowe and Alicia Poto moved Hornsby within striking distance before a pair of free throws from Serena Waters ensured the Spiders would hold the lead at the end of the first quarter, with the home side leading 16-14 after ten minutes of play.

The second quarter saw Hornsby begin to assert their dominance and put a bit of distance between themselves and Hills. Whilst Emma Claus regularly knocked down shots for Hills, the balanced offence of Hornsby saw Poto’s scoring supported by Tylah Mundine, Olivia Sheehan, and Tara Kilminster, whose free throws with just under three minutes to play in the half extended the Spiders’ lead to 35-24. Claus briefly trimmed that lead to eight points, but Hornsby maintained a 10 point buffer at halftime with the scoreboard reading 42-32 in the home side’s favour.

Hills came out strongly in the third quarter, and for a time looked as if they might make a real charge at Hornsby. Led by Madison Hare, the Hornets remained with in seven points at 51-44 midway through the third quarter, but ten consecutive points from Serena Waters was just the start of an 18-0 Hornsby run that was not only an exercise in dominance, but ended the game as a contest as Hornsby held a 69-44 lead by the end of the term.

Hare continued to battle for Hills and continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors, but the scoring of Waters, Sheehan, and Mundine proved to be too much in the final term as Hornsby rolled to a 98-61 with a 29-17 final quarter. With Norths losing earlier in the day and Hornsby holding the season series over Norths, Hornsby also mathematically secured top spot for the regular season with the win.

A second half barrage of points saw Serena Waters top score for Hornsby with 26 points at a remarkable 81% clip. Alicia Poto finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists to come close to a triple-double, whilst two Hornsby players completed double-doubles. Tylah Mundine finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Olivia Sheehan registered 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as 5 assists and 4 steals.

Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 25 points and completed a double-double with 11 rebounds. Emma Claus also finished in double figures for the Hornets, tallying 15 points as well as 9 rebounds.

Sutherland 94 defeated Hornsby 60

Hornsby again dressed just six players, but found things much tougher against a Sutherland team in desperate need of a victory to stay in the finals race after Saturday’s loss to Newcastle.

The Sharks started the game on a tear, with the experienced trio of Rachel Herrick, Peta Kneen, and Jane Scrivens lighting it up early before Maddy Norris knocked down a three to take the score to 14-2 just five minutes into the contest. Tylah Mundine and Olivia Sheehan helped to drag Hornsby back into things, with the Spiders finishing the quarter on a 13-6 run to move within five at 20-15 with one quarter in the books.

Threes from Mundine and Tara Kilminster early in the second quarter moved the Spiders within a point of the hosts, and for a few minutes the game remained remarkably close considering the Sharks’ start to the game. However, then came a 16-3 run for Sutherland. With scoring from a variety of options, the Sharks took full advantage of their chance against an understrength Spiders side to open up a 45-28 lead by halftime.

The Spiders were valiant throughout, but with all five starters having played 29 minutes or more just a day prior, it was always going to be tough as the game progressed for the ladder leaders. The Sharks, and particularly Norris and Herrick in the early stages of the third quarter, were hardly in a sympathetic mood though, and continued to pile on the points with a 28-13 term that extended their lead to 73-41 with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter was a far closer affair, with some accurate three point shooting from young Serena Waters proving to be a positive for Hornsby in the latter stages of the contest. The final quarter ended 21-19 in Sutherland’s favour to round out a 94-60 win that may have offered little in terms of a window into the future, but kept Sutherland’s season alive going into next week’s must-win game against Bankstown.

Five Sutherland players finished in double figures, led by Peta Kneen, who tallied 18 points and 9 assists. Rachel Herrick finished with 16 points and also collected 15 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Jane Scrivens also finished with a double-double consisting of 15 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Maddy Norris finished with 11 points and Lauren McCaffrey tallied 10 points. Lisa Watkins also finished with 11 rebounds alongside 8 points and 6 assists.

Serena Waters’ fourth-quarter barrage of threes saw her top score for Hornsby for the second time in two days with 16 points. Olivia Sheehan added 14 points and also collected 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double, whilst Tylah Mundine registered 13 points for the Spiders.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Kallie Hovatter (Norths) – 31 points v Manly
Suzy Batkovic (Newcastle) – 30 points v Sutherland
Serena Waters (Hornsby) – 26 points v Hills
Madison Hare (Hills) – 25 points v Hornsby
Alicia Poto (Hornsby) – 25 points v Hills

Waratah Championship Week 13 Roundup

The finals spots may not be quite set yet, but there are now four teams feeling very good about their chances after Bankstown delivered a severely depleted Hornsby their first loss and Manly defeated Sutherland in a blockbuster.

Bankstown 90 defeated Hornsby 77

Bankstown took their chances against a severely depleted Hornsby side which dressed just six players and was missing four regular starters to take a massive step towards securing playoff basketball.

Despite playing shorthanded, the Spiders hung with Bankstown in the early stages. Three pointers from Alicia Poto and Serena Waters countered early points from Briana Maimone and Casey Samuels before Olivia Sheehan gave Hornsby a 10-9 lead midway through the opening term. Samuels and Madison Bennett restored a five point margin for Bankstown, but Sheehan drew a foul shooting a three in the final seconds and converted all three shots at the line to bring Hornsby within two points at 21-19 after a quarter.

Bankstown’s depth began to show in the second quarter as the home side began to dominate proceedings. Waters and Poto did the early scoring for Hornsby to keep the Spiders right in the contest up until the final three minutes of the term. But Bankstown dominated the dying stages with a 13-0 run led by Maimone and Samuels that extended a one point margin to a 14 point lead by halftime, with Bankstown leading 41-27 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

Dominance turned to obliteration in the third quarter as Bankstown seized their chance to get an unexpected victory. Madison Bennett, Marjy Grealish, and Casey Samuels were the main destroyers as Bankstown put together a 33-17 third quarter to extend the lead to 74-44. Tara Kilminster added six points for Hornsby in the third, but it’s never easy to take on a team as strong as Bankstown with just six players.

With Bankstown giving some of their lesser used players a bit of a run in the fourth quarter, Hornsby were able to restore some semblance of closeness to the scoreboard as the Spiders put up 33 in the final term. Waters, Poto, and Sheehan were again amongst the points as the visitors reduced the margin to 90-77 by the end of the game. The result matters little to Hornsby in terms of their chances of finishing top of the table, but was vital to Bankstown in their own hunt for a playoff spot.

Casey Samuels top scored with 29 points for Bankstown, whilst Madison Bennett added 14. Marjy Grealish and Jaydene Barnes also finished in double figures, adding 12 points apiece. Alicia Poto led Hornsby with a massive double-double of 25 points and 18 rebounds, and also picked up 5 steals. Olivia Sheehan added 19 points, whilst Serena Waters tallied 17 points for the Spiders.

Manly 80 defeated Sutherland 75

Manly not only all but secured their own playoff spot, but also did plenty to condemn Sutherland to an August without basketball with a nail-biting 80-75 win.

A high-scoring first quarter saw Sutherland take an early lead as their experienced starting lineup fired early. Rachel Herrick and Jane Scrivens picked up a couple of early baskets as the visitors moved out to an early 13-6 lead. Youngster Rachel Whittet knocked down a three for the Sharks, but the Manly side, stacked with WNBL experience, clawed back to within two after a quarter as the scoreboard read 23-21 in Sutherland’s favour.

Sutherland set about restoring their lead early in the second quarter courtesy of Herrick and Peta Kneen. However, Manly hit back once again later in the term as a 34-25 Sutherland lead dwindled down to 39-37 by the time Rebecca Duke hit the final shot of the quarter. After trailing by seven with under two minutes in the quarter, Manly now had a sniff of the lead and all the momentum heading into the second half after a 16-16 quarter.

Somehow, Sutherland again pushed their lead out to seven points early in the third quarter as a Maddy Norris three capped a solid start to the half for the visitors. But Manly fired back once again, with Kristen Forbes taking charge at times to drag the Sea Eagles back within striking distance. Despite the best late efforts of Clare Thomson for the Sharks, Manly remained within two points at 61-59 with a quarter to play.

Rebecca Duke tied things up with the first scoring play of the final quarter, but Sutherland refused to give up their lead. The Sharks re-established and maintained a slender margin, but could only hold on for so long, and with two minutes to play the score read 73-73 as Manly charged home. Jess Kelly knocked down a jumper with 30 seconds to play, and then split a pair at the line to put Manly up 78-75 with 15 seconds to play. A turnover on their final offensive play condemned Sutherland to the loss as Manly finished with a thrilling 80-75 victory.

Rebecca Duke finished with 17 points for Manly, whilst Kristen Forbes added 10. Candice Trevenna was dominant on the boards with 11 rebounds to go with her 8 points as the experienced Manly side managed to come back from deficits repeatedly. Clare Thomson top scored for Sutherland with 17 points off the bench, whilst Rachel Herrick completed a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Peta Kneen added 10 points and 8 rebounds, whilst the early three point shooting of Rachel Whittet earned the young starlet 6 points in the opening half.

Norths 63 defeated Illawarra 40

A poor shooting afternoon from Norths was masked by their dominance in the rebound and turnover counts as the Bears accounted for Illawarra with an excellent defensive performance.

A low-scoring first quarter saw neither team get on the scoreboard for the first two minutes, and even then it was only a pair of Jaimee Kennedy free throws that saw Norths take the first lead of the game. Long scoring droughts were the story of the term, as a burst of scoring midway through the term saw Norths take a 9-7 lead on the back of some early Razz Muir baskets. But from there, the Bears added just 4 more points in the final four minutes of the term, whilst Illawarra were unable to add to their tally as Norths took a 13-7 lead into the second quarter.

Olivia White found some success in the paint for Illawarra in the second quarter, whilst Norths took the three-point route to points. Eleni Valos, Alessandra Burke, and Taylor Jones each hit from beyond the arc as those three shots comprised all but four of the Bears’ points in the second term. The quarter ended with the same scoreline as the first – 13-7 – to deliver Norths a 26-14 lead at halftime.

White continued to be Illawarra’s main scoring threat in the opening stages of the second half, whilst for Norths it was Kallie Hovatter who began to fire. The American guard added 12 points in the third quarter to account for more than 50% of the Bears’ points for the term. Jaimee Kennedy tacked on five for the Bears to keep her own personal tally ticking over and the Bears’ lead growing, with a a 22-12 quarter putting Norths 22 points up with a quarter to play and effectively ending the game as a contest.

The Bears’ scoring slowed in the fourth quarter, but White continued to produce for Illawarra. Another six points in the final term for the Kittyhawks’ forward capped an outstanding game, but with little scoring support it was always going to be tough for the visitors to spring an upset. The margin hovered around the 20 point mark for the remainder of the game, with a late Taylor Jones lay-up putting the icing on a 63-40 win for the Bears.

Olivia White led all scorers with 22 points for Illawarra and completed a huge double-double with 18 rebounds, with Lauren Sparks adding 10 points and 6 assists for the Kittyhawks. Kallie Hovatter top scored for Norths with 16 points, whilst Jaimee Kennedy added 12 points and also picked up a double-double with 16 rebounds. Razz Muir was also outstanding on the boards with 10 rebounds to go with her 6 points.

Newcastle 48 defeated Comets 35

It may be a bit late for Newcastle to put together a run to the playoffs at this stage, but the Hunters secured victory over Comets in their annual Charity Night game despite Suzy Batkovic’s absence.

The win was built in the first quarter as Newcastle jumped out to an early lead on the back of an outstanding first quarter from Cassidy McLean. The Sydney Uni Flames guard outscored the opposition with 9 points in the opening term as Newcastle jumped out to a 20-8 lead after a quarter.

Scoring was far tougher to come by in the second quarter as neither team was able to reach double figures for the term. Annie Turner added four points in quick succession for Comets early in the term, but that proved to account for more than half of the visitors’ 7 points for the term. Newcastle had it even tougher, tallying just six points in the quarter, but their first quarter effort meant that they still held a 26-15 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was marginally better but still low-scoring at both ends. Maja Jurlina and Megan Cantellano each added multiple baskets for Comets, whilst for Newcastle some late scoring from Emily Keith ensured that any ideas of a comeback from the visitors were quickly erased as Newcastle maintained an 11 point lead with a quarter to play as the score read 37-26.

McLean reprised her scoring production of the first quarter to a degree in the final term, adding seven more points for Newcastle in another low-scoring period for both teams. Kelsey Moss added the other four points for the home side in an 11 point term, whilst Tanner and Cantellano each added to their personal tallies as the game meandered to its conclusion. Newcastle eventually finished 48-35 winners, with the low shooting percentages of both teams meaning that the Hunters’ hot start was ultimately the difference in this contest.

Cassidy McLean was the only player on either team to reach double figures, finishing with 20 points. Alison Ebzery was outstanding on the glass for Newcastle with 13 rebounds, whilst Charlotte Bull added 7 boards in her first game back for the Hunters. No Comets players were able to reach double figures, with Megan Cantellano and Annie Turner sharing scoring honours with 7 points apiece. Samantha Hewitt was solid on the boards with 10 rebounds to go with her five points.

Comets 47 lost to Bankstown 63

Bankstown extended Comets’ misery whilst making it a perfect weekend for themselves with a 16 point victory in Sunday’s only game to join Manly at 9-4 and put a sizeable gap between themselves and Sutherland in the finals race.

Comets opened the scoring through Serika Shillingsworth in the first 20 seconds of the contest, but the opening stages were cagey and low-scoring, with Bankstown holding a 4-2 lead after 4 minutes of play. Casey Samuels and Jasmine Barlow were accurate early for the visitors, whilst Shillingsworth tallied five points in the opening term as Comets held a slender 13-12 lead after the first quarter.

Briana Maimone and Jaydene Barnes opened the second quarter well for Bankstown as the Bruins set about creating and then extending a lead. Samuels continued to do scoreboard damage for the Bruins, whilst Aleesha Coulter came up with a couple of three pointers as Bankstown extended the margin beyond one possession. On the other side, a large chunk of Comets’ scoring came from the charity stripe, with five of their 11 points coming via free throws, but Bankstown’s 18 points for the quarter saw them take a 30-24 lead into halftime.

Samuels continued her impressive outing into the third quarter, scoring all bar four of Bankstown’s 16 points for the term. Comets continued to hang tough, but merely sticking with Bankstown at nine points down would place the home side in a precarious position going into the final term. Whilst Shillingsworth was able to trim the margin to 41-37 with a three, Bankstown then scored the last five points of the quarter to restore a nine point lead at 46-37 with ten minutes to play.

A low-scoring opening to the final term saw Comets reduce Bankstown’s lead, but only slightly before Samuels restored the nine point buffer with a three pointer six minutes from time. Six quick points from Barnes and a basket from Coulter pushed the margin to 59-44 with 3 minutes remaining, and at that point the game was as good as over. With the teams only able to combine for seven points in the final three minutes, it was Bankstown who finished 63-47 winners.

Casey Samuels made the scoring leaders list for the second time in a weekend with 24 points, as well as 8 rebounds. Briana Maimone finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 steals in an exemplary all-round performance, whilst Aleesha Coulter chipped in 10 points in the Bruins’ victory. Serika Shillingsworth top scored for Comets with 16 points, whilst Annie Turner added 10 for the home side. Tatyanna Pogonza-Dumas was outstanding on the boards, finishing with 11 rebounds to go with her 6 points.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 29 points v Hornsby
Alicia Poto (Hornsby) – 25 points v Bankstown
Casey Samuels (Bankstown) – 24 points v Comets
Olivia White (Illawarra) – 22 points v Norths
Cassidy McLean (Newcastle) – 20 points v Comets

Waratah Championship Week 9 Roundup

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

Hornsby 88 defeated Newcastle 78

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sutherland 42 lost to Bankstown 65

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hills 43 lost to Norths 77

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illawarra 71 lost to Manly 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Scoring Leaders

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

At The Turn: Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Spiders

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 Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Spiders, who are sitting pretty on top of the table – with a big, round zero in the loss column!

After a generally solid 2016 season that saw the Spiders come within a last-second Jaimee Kennedy shot that bounced away of making the grand final, Hornsby suffered a bit of an exodus in both the playing and coaching ranks coming into the 2017 season. Coach Shannon Seebohm made the shift down the Pacific Highway to become the head coach at Norths, taking with him several players, including Kate Seebohm, Jaimee Kennedy, Tristan Black, Muffi Loader, and Alessandra Burke. Fortunately, the Spiders managed to recruit well under new head coach Sarah Graham, and have once again put together a side that can challenge for the team’s first title since 2014, and have started in outstanding fashion.

With former Albury-Wodonga forward Rachel Maenpaa and 2004 Olympian Alicia Poto joining the team, the roster shaped up pretty decently considering the number of player losses. Core players such as Olivia Sheehan and Darneka Rowe remain with the team, and young players such as Kristina Moore, Tylah Mundine, Rebecca Black, and Nicole Hutchins have stepped up at various moments. Whilst the path so far hasn’t been 100% smooth, the Spiders remain the sole undefeated team at this point courtesy of a 65-62 win over Norths at the weekend.

Eight wins in a row is no mean feat, and the Spiders have done it the hard way at times. Somehow they escaped Newcastle with a win after allowing the defending champions to open up an 18 point lead in a game that saw both Cassidy McLean and Suzy Batkovic on the court for the Hunters. In that game, a well-rounded team performance saw Alicia Poto, Darneka Rowe, Olivia Sheehan, and young Serena Waters all finish in double figures to counter Suzy Batkovic’s outstanding individual effort. Then there was last week’s win over Norths. Hornsby allowed the Bears 85 field goal attempts in comparison to their comparatively paltry 63 attempts, but shooting accuracy was the difference as the Spiders got away with the win. The Spiders also just snuck home against Sutherland in an 84-82 thriller that at times also looked to have got away from the Hornsby side. Whilst their five other wins have come by an average margin of 24 points, it is those three close victories that have Hornsby in prime position to not only make the finals, but finish top of the table.

This weekend, the Spiders host a Newcastle side that will be hungry for revenge after throwing away certain victory in the last meeting between the two sides. The Hunters also need to keep winning just to keep their finals hopes alive, so the Spiders will need to be at the top of their game to secure a win. Making finals seems a mere formality at this point, but the Spiders will need to play outstandingly for the remainder of the season to secure top spot, as Norths’ only loss this season came in last week’s game against the Spiders. They won’t be able to rely on 18 point comebacks and opposition teams shooting 29%, as has happened in two of their close wins.

Whilst the experienced of quartet of Maenpaa, Poto, Rowe, and Sheehan lead the team in scoring, Kristina Moore has been one of the most outstanding young players in the league. Moore averages 10.4 points per game, and has justifiably cemented a starting berth for herself in the Spiders’ lineup. With these five players all in solid form, and a young but talented bench chipping in with the occasional outstanding effort when required, things are looking pretty rosy for the Spiders as they look to make the last eight games of the regular season as successful as the first eight.

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