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 Semi Final Roundup

Penrith and Central Coast will face off in the grand final after both posted comprehensive semi-final wins. Penrith will go into the grand final looking to go back-to-back, whilst Central Coast will look to atone for last year’s injury-marred finals series and complete what has been a dominant season to this point.

Central Coast 64 defeated Illawarra 48

Central Coast survived several charges from Illawarra to eventually power to an 18 point victory and secure a spot in Sunday’s Youth League grand final.

The Crusaders shot out to a 14-2 lead early in the piece, with Shakera Reilly shooting the lights out in the opening stages. Mercifully, Illawarra were able to gain some momentum of their own, putting together an 8-0 run to end the quarter on the back of four quick points from Maddison Delaney, leaving the Crusaders holding a 14-10 lead after the opening term.

Illawarra continued their roll into the second quarter, and took a 17-15 lead just shy of midway through the second quarter courtesy of five points from Eleri Morris. However, the Crusaders were quickly sparked into action by the loss of their advantage, and broke off an incredible 15-2 run to end the second quarter. Reilly continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, whilst Taylor Ferris added five points to see the scoreboard read 30-19 in Central Coast’s favour at halftime.

Despite a demoralising back end to the first half for Illawarra, the Kittyhawks returned with a vengeance in the third quarter. With the Crusaders unable to muster much in the way of scoring, Morris and Claudia Flynn dragged Illawarra back into the contest and eventually into a 36-33 lead when Morris knocked down a three midway through the third quarter. But as in the second quarter, Central Coast were reinvigorated by the loss of a lead, with Reilly and Losalini Katia pushing the Crusaders ahead and out to a 50-41 lead with a quarter to play.

Another extended run from Central Coast to start the fourth quarter would put the game beyond doubt, and that is exactly what the Crusaders delivered. A pair of threes from Reilly, contributions from a number of other players, and stingy defence saw the top seeds push their lead out to 62-43 with just under 5 minutes to play. Illawarra tacked on a few late points, but it would be Central Coast who moved into the grand final with a 64-48 win.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 22 points for the Crusaders, with solid contributions from Alessandra Gasparotto, who tallied 14, and Losalini Katia, who added 10 points. Eleri Morris was Illawarra’s only player in double figures with 13 points, with Claudia Flynn adding 8 points and Maddison Delaney tacking on 7 for the Kittyhawks.

Box Score

Manly 46 lost to Penrith 69

Penrith’s charge to a championship repeat continued with a dominant 23 point win over second placed Manly in a replay of last year’s grand final.

The Panthers started the game like a house on fire, jumping out to a 14-3 lead before five minutes had elapsed. Regular scoring leaders Dominika Offner and Meg Jefferson were accurate early, tallying five and seven points respectively in the opening stages. Penrith extended that lead to 18-3 before a late Manly run reduced the margin to 18-8 by the end of the first quarter.

Manly rolled on slightly in the second quarter, trimming Penrith’s lead to 22-16 courtesy of a couple of threes from Katie Castle before Penrith kicked again. Offner kicked things off with a three, and despite more scoring from Castle, the Panthers were able to push the lead back out to double figures to hold a 33-22 halftime lead.

The margin held firm at around the 11 point mark for the opening stages of the third quarter as the teams traded scoring efforts. However, an 8-0 Penrith run midway through the term changed the landscape of the contest as it allowed the Panthers to extend their lead out to 20 points, principally due to scoring from Dominika Offner and Sarah Creanor. A pair of free throws from Josie Bulman reduced the margin to 50-32 with a quarter to play, but the Panthers retained control of proceedings.

Penrith were unable to blow Manly away in the opening stages, but the Sea Eagles were also unable to trim the margin, leaving the game in a state of equilibrium as the result became more and more obvious as time wound down. Another 8-1 run from Penrith to round out the game tied a bow on a 69-46 win as the Panthers continued to give Manly troubles in Youth League finals games.

Dominika Offner led all scorers, tallying 22 points for the Panthers. Meg Jefferson added 16 points, whilst Abby Williams chipped in 9. Katie Castle led Manly with 14 points, with Antonia Henderson adding 11 and Faith Bulgin tallying 10 for the Sea Eagles.

Box Score

Youth League Week 19 Roundup

Penrith scored a win over a depleted Central Coast to really shake up the final standings at the last possible moment. Manly secured the first round bye with a big win over Bankstown, making a statement in the process.

Norths 51 defeated Newcastle 34

Newcastle may have only travelled to this game with six players, but with Norths missing their only true outside threat, Ali Burke, due to injury, they would have to win this game in the paint as they looked to clinch their finals berth.

Norths got off to the best possible start, chalking up the first six points of the game as former Sydney Uni Flames forward Annobel Starr came up with two early baskets. Newcastle slowly came into the game to trim the margin, but Norths retained a 10-6 lead after a low-scoring quarter in which both teams found it tough to get anything of substance created on offence.

Sarah-Jane Thomas took her personal tally to six early in the second quarter as Norths found the better looks. Meiling Patfield was Newcastle’s scoring leader through the second quarter, but with Katerina Diamant and Elle Carroll finishing a couple of tough looks, it soon looked as if the Bears would break away from the visitors. However, late baskets to Grace Kibble and Hannah Fox saw the Hunters able to trim the Norths’ lead to 24-16.

Newcastle hung with Norths in the early stages of the second half as Patfield continued to add points, but the class of Carroll showed through in the third quarter. 12 points in the term for the recently returned guard was the catalyst for Norths to take a 44-23 lead after three quarters as the Sydney Uni Sparks program member took the game into her own hands to put the game beyond doubt when it had earlier appeared that Newcastle were set for a comeback.

The Hunters put together an 8-1 run early in the fourth quarter, but it was more a case of stopping Norths’ scoring on a number of consecutive occasions than getting quick points, as the scoreline read 45-31 with 4 minutes to play. Whilst more scoring followed, there was very little of it, and Norths ran out 51-34 winners to finish the regular season on 11 wins and secure a finals spot.

Elle Carroll led all scorers with 16 points, whilst Sarah-Jane Thomas, Katerina Diamant, and Annobel Starr each tallied 6 points for the home side. Meiling Patfield led Newcastle with 10 points, whilst Melanie Edwards and Hannah Fox each added 6 for the Hunters.

Illawarra 76 defeated Hills 65

A win in this game wouldn’t be enough for Illawarra to secure the first round bye in the finals, but they could certainly upset Hills’ plans to do so, and with Eleri Morris resembling some sort of fireball, the young Kittyhawks chalked up a 76-65 win.

Morris was on a tear early in the contest, scoring 9 of the game’s first 13 points as Illawarra took an 11-2 lead inside four minutes. Five early points from Paris Roditis kept Hills in the mix early at 12-7, and two late threes from Rachael Mules kept the Hornets’ offence ticking over. However, in the meantime, Tyler Vukovcan and Bronte Covington took the reins from Morris and ensured Illawarra would take a 24-13 lead into the first break.

Mules, as well as Madison Hare, did their level best to keep Hills in touch as the game progressed into the second quarter, but Vukovcan and Covington continued to provide perfect foils for Morris, with the trio leading Illawarra past the half-century mark before halftime with some electric scoring. Paris Roditis added five more points for Hills, but nonetheless, Illawarra held a commanding 51-33 lead at halftime.

With Mules continuing to hit threes, Hills moved back within 11 early in the third quarter before Claudia Flynn found herself at the line three times in quick succession, converting four of her opportunities in the process. The Hornets continued to have the better of the quarter though, with Hare and Mules, backed up by Zoe Burke and Laura Davidson, trimming the Illawarra lead to 61-56 with 90 seconds remaining in the the third quarter. Morris came up with a big three point play with just under a minute to play to push Illawarra out to 64-56, which is how the quarter ended.

Morris and Flynn hit early shots in the fourth quarter for Illawarra, and Hare countered with one of her own, but after six points in a minute, the teams would combine for the grand total of zero points in the next four minutes of play. Hills really needed to be the next team to score, but instead it was Morris extending Illawarra to a 72-58 lead with just under 5 minutes to play. Hare played a lone hand in the dying stages to give Hills a pulse at 74-65 down with two minutes to play, but Morris scored the only basket of the final stages to deliver Illawarra a 76-65 victory.

Eleri Morris was simply scintillating, stuffing the stat sheet with 36 points. Tyler Vukovcan added 12 and Bronte Covington chipped in 11, whilst Claudia Flynn’s ability to get to the line helped her to 10 valuable points. Rachael Mules’ three point scoring helped her to 20 points, with six threes forming the bulk of her points. Madison Hare tallied 18 points for the Hornets, whilst Paris Roditis added 12.

Penrith 65 defeated Central Coast 46

With a few tiebreakers in their favour and facing a depleted Central Coast side in their final game of the season, Penrith came into this one with a chance to jump to third, and they did exactly that with a 19 point win over the ladder leaders despite Natalia Beaumont’s absence.

Although Central Coast were suffering from a lack of numbers, you only need five players to take the court to start the game, and with most of the starting lineup intact, the Crusaders jumped out to an early 9-2 lead courtesy of four early points from Losalini Katia. Dominika Offner quickly put paid to any ideas of the Crusaders getting away from the Panthers though, with two quick threes that delivered Penrith a 10-9 lead. Katia continued to dominate the opening quarter though, and two late Taylor Ferris free throws helped Central Coast to a 15-12 lead after a quarter.

The Panthers opened the second quarter in dominant fashion, with Tatiana Beaumont scoring seven of the first nine points of the term and Penrith unable to get on the board for the first five minutes of the period. Somehow, despite these struggles, Central Coast were not completely blown away by halftime. Katia added five late points to combat the Panthers’ scoring, but the home side retained a 27-20 halftime lead courtesy of an excellent start to the quarter.

The third quarter proved to be Meg Jefferson’s time to shine. Whilst Katia and Rachel Williams combined to score all 10 Crusaders points in the term, Jefferson scored 14 of her own to put Penrith well and truly in the driver’s seat. With teammates chipping in points here and there, Jefferson’s heroics extended Penrith’s lead to 48-30 with a quarter to play.

Four more points to Jefferson opened the final quarter and soon the Panthers had pushed the margin out beyond the 20 point mark. Williams and Ferris did what they could to attempt to trim the lead, and Shakera Reilly added some late points, but with Penrith adding points at regular intervals, the Panthers were able to hold the lead at around 20 points throughout the fourth quarter and secure a 65-46 win to shake up the finals positions as Penrith jumped into third with the win.

Meg Jefferson led all scorers with 24 points, thanks mainly to that third quarter barrage. Tatiana Beaumont added 12, whilst Dominika Offner’s early three point shooting helped her to 9 points. Losalini Katia led Central Coast with 19 points, whilst Rachel Williams finished with 11 points. Taylor Ferris and Shakera Reilly each added 7 for the depleted Crusaders side which still finished well clear atop the table despite the loss.

Liverpool-Macarthur 61 lost to Sutherland 83

In a game with little hanging on it but pride, Sutherland completed a 10 win season but finished narrowly out of the finals after a 22 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur.

Brianna Morris was the one doing early damage for Sutherland, tallying five early points as Sutherland manufactured an early 12-5 lead before Taylor Muaulu and Kimberley Sepuloni hit back for Liverpool-Macarthur. The Razorbacks’ pair combined for 11 points and saw the home side claw back to see the teams tied at 15-15 after a quarter of play.

Bianca Carusio added a couple of baskets early in the second quarter for the Razorbacks, but the class of Maddy Norris quickly shone through. The Sutherland star tallied 9 points in the opening stages of the quarter to help push the visitors out to a 30-20 lead. Carly McLachlan chipped in a few points before Parrish Leavai rounded out what turned out to be a dominant second quarter for the visitors with five late points to see the Sharks take a 42-27 lead into the halftime break.

Although Sutherland continued to extend their lead in the third quarter, Liverpool-Macarthur found a significant positive in the play of debutant Jenarl Faraimo, who hit shot after shot to tally 11 points in the third quarter alone. Norris and Leavai continued to keep the Sharks’ score ticking over, with Meredith Hines also stepping up at times as the Sharks took a 63-42 lead into the final quarter.

The Razorbacks kept pace with Sutherland in the fourth quarter, with a number of players tallying points for the home side in a solid team performance from the depleted Liverpool-Macarthur side. However, the Sharks had this game well and truly sewn up and ran out 83-62 victors in their final game of the season.

Jenarl Faraimo led Liverpool-Macarthur with 24 points, whilst Kimberley Sepuloni and Taylor Muaulu each tallied 12 points and Bianca Carusio added 9 for the Razorbacks. Maddy Norris led all scorers with 27 points, with Parrish Leavai adding 20 for the Sharks. Brianna Morris chipped in 13 for the visitors, whilst Carly McLachlan added 12 as four Sharks finished in double figures.

Manly 79 defeated Bankstown 42

A win for Manly would deliver them the first-round bye, and they secured the win in dominant fashion, locking down the Bankstown offence throughout the contest on their way to a 37 point victory.

Manly didn’t have it all their own way in the early stages as Bankstown proved more than a match for the Sea Eagles. Whilst Katie Castle and Faith Bulgin each started solidly, Tasmyn Haynes and Georgia Gale made a living at the free throw line early in the game to keep the Bruins right on pace with Manly. A run of five points from Antonia Henderson looked as if it might set Manly on a bit of a run, but Sabrina Zenatti’s late three kept Bankstown within a basket at 15-13 down after a quarter.

Manly looked dangerous in the early stages of the second quarter, with Josie Bulman adding a couple of baskets in the opening minutes. However, Bankstown hit back on each occasion until midway through the term. From 22-19 up, Manly went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 11 points and put Bankstown under some real pressure. Brittany Pulling added a late basket for Bankstown, but Manly retained a 30-21 lead at halftime.

Surely not wanting Bankstown to get even a sniff of a comeback, Manly held firm in the opening minutes of the second half before putting the hammer down as the third quarter progressed. A seven point lead quickly became ten, and then rolled past the 15 and 20 point mark. With Castle and Bulman hitting shots with aplomb, the Bruins became almost powerless to stop the Manly side, who conjured a 57-34 lead by the end of the third quarter to have this one in the books with ten minutes to play.

The Sea Eagles weren’t done, though. Bulman continued an outstanding second half on offence, and with Bankstown’s scoring drying up, Manly rolled to a 79-42 lead which secured a first-round bye for finals, allowing the Sea Eagles plenty of preparation for their semi-final in Maitland in a couple of weeks.

No player scored over 15 for Manly, but 11 players contributed, led by Antonia Henderson’s 15 points. Josie Bulman added 14, whilst Katie Castle chipped in 13 for the Sea Eagles. Tasmyn Haynes played an almost lone hand for Bankstown, tallying 17 points for Bankstown to be the Bruins only player in double figures, with Georgia Gale next best with 7 points.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Eleri Morris (Illawarra) – 36 points v Hills
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 27 points v Liverpool-Macarthur
Jenarl Faraimo (Liverpool-Macarthur) – 24 points v Sutherland
Meg Jefferson (Penrith) – 24 points v Central Coast
Rachael Mules (Hills) – 20 points v Illawarra

Youth League Week 18 Roundup

Sutherland saw their finals chances fall by the wayside without even playing a game as wins to Norths, Penrith, and Hornsby left the Panthers locked into a playoff berth, and Hornsby just barely hanging by a thread and relying on results to go their way next weekend. Elsewhere, Central Coast laid down a marker ahead of the playoffs with a 30 point rout of Manly.

Bankstown 61 lost to Norths 83

A win over Bankstown would go a long way to securing finals basketball for Norths, and despite a cagey start, the Bears were able to secure a win that put them in the box seat for one of the two remaining finals spots.

Tasmyn Haynes, as per usual, was at the forefront of Bankstown’s scoring in the first quarter. It seemed as though every Norths basket was replied to with one from the Bruins guard as Haynes finished the opening term with 14 of Bankstown’s 18 points. Norths, on the other hand, found points from a variety of options, with four points apiece from Milly Yates and Geena Valos accounting for half of the Bears’ 16 first quarter points as Bankstown held a slender 18-16 lead after ten minutes of play.

An incredibly low-scoring start to the second quarter saw Norths open the term on a 6-0 run which lasted for six minutes before Haynes responded to trim the Norths lead to 22-20. Annobel Starr replied with a basket to take her tally to four for the quarter, before Carla Liebenberg tallied five quick points as the visitors began to put a buffer between themselves and Bankstown. Haynes registered a late score for Bankstown, but the halftime score read 34-24 in Norths’ favour, a far cry from the closeness of the opening term.

Bankstown did a far better job of hanging with Norths in the early minutes of the second half. Georgia Gale chipped in a couple of baskets, and soon enough the Norths lead had been trimmed to 47-39. But a surge from the returning Elle Carroll re-established Norths double-digit lead, and with a couple of Bankstown players in foul trouble, the Bears held a 60-47 advantage with a quarter to play.

Norths dominated the opening stages of the last quarter to sledgehammer the final nails into the Bankstown coffin. A 13-0 run to open the term extended the margin to 26 points midway through the term and ensured Norths would give themselves the best possible chance of securing playoff basketball going into the final week of the regular season. Bankstown chipped away at the lead slightly as the match wound down, but Liebenberg secured a couple of trips to the line late in the game to wrap up the 83-61 win.

Tasmyn Haynes top scored with 26 points for Bankstown, but her only real scoring support came in the form of 11 points from Georgia Gale. Norths, on the other hand, finished with four players in double figures. Carla Liebenberg top scored with 19 points, with Annobel Starr registering 15. Elle Carroll chipped in 13 on her return from injury, whilst Milly Yates added 12.

Central Coast 74 defeated Manly 44

Central Coast’s trademark defence was in lockdown mode at Terrigal on Saturday, shutting down the Manly offence for long stretches in a 30 point rout which proved to be a real statement of intent from the Crusaders going into finals.

Each team was on the scoreboard inside the opening minute of the contest, but although Central Coast led 4-2 almost immediately, it would be another couple of minutes before they could extend that lead. Both offences stuttered slightly in the early running, with a few passes failing to find their mark and both defences doing a solid job of disrupting ball movement. Shakera Reilly finally got things moving again with a three which was quickly countered by Faith Bulgin for Manly, who knocked down a three of her own. Bulgin was the undoubted focal point of Manly’s scoring, chalking up 7 of the team’s 10 points in the first quarter in the absence of Sydney Uni Sparks forward Kimberley Hodge. Meanwhile, Alessandra Gasparotto did a solid job of making up for the absence of Sparks guard Charlie Evans, chipping in 7 points for Central Coast as the Crusaders edged out to an 18-10 lead after Lucy Chapman knocked down a late three.

Central Coast scored the first seven points of the second quarter, thanks mainly to some high pressure defence and the scoring of Reilly. It took nearly four minutes, but Manly were able to launch a run of their own as a couple of defensive lapses from the Crusaders allowed the Sea Eagles to take advantage and put together an 8-1 run to draw within eight points at 26-18. Losalini Katia found room around the basket to snap the run, but five more quick points from Antonia Henderson edged Manly back to a 28-21 deficit. The home side certainly enjoyed the better of the final minutes of the half, though. Reilly and Katia proved unstoppable at times in the last two minutes as the Crusaders’ lead quickly blew out to 40-25 by halftime.

Reilly and Katia continued to do the bulk of the scoring for Central Coast in the opening minutes of the third quarter, as the Crusaders’ multiple offensive options proved tough for Manly to defend. Caitlin Keefe knocked down a three for the visitors to stop the rot, but the Crusaders quickly put paid to any idea of a miraculous comeback. Four quick points from Taylor Ferris backed up more scoring from a rampant Reilly, whose final second three pushed the Central Coast advantage out to 59-35 with a quarter to play.

The final quarter saw Central Coast afforded the luxury to get some playing time into the legs some of their lesser-used players, with five-in, five-out substitutions not uncommon for the Crusaders as the game wound down. Emma Tunstead was the main beneficiary of some extra minutes, chipping in four last-quarter points as the game meandered to its inevitable conclusion, with Central Coast chalking up a 74-44 win over one of their championship rivals.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 22 points, whilst Losalini Katia added 20 and Alessandra Gasparotto chipped in 11 for the Crusaders. Caitlin Keefe top scored for Manly with 9 points, whilst Faith Bulgin’s first quarter burst helped deliver her 8 points.

Newcastle 68 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 37

In a game with little hanging on it other than pride and, in Newcastle’s case, potentially finishing above Bankstown for 9th place, it was the Hunters who secured a dominant 31 point win over Liverpool-Macarthur.

Laura Dick fired in the opening stages, scoring six points in the first five minutes to help Newcastle set up an early 14-4 lead. A Taylor Muaulu three and some early free throws from Rayan Danine ensured Liverpool-Macarthur would not be blown out early in the contest, remaining well and truly in touch at 18-11 down after a quarter of play.

Muaulu continued to lead the Razorbacks’ offence in the early stages of the second quarter, but Newcastle slowly started to compile a significant advantage. Seven points in the space of two minutes from Bonnie Frost delivered a 35-20 advantage for the Hunters before a late Kimberley Sepuloni basket trimmed the margin back to 35-22 going into halftime.

Muaulu continued her scoring dominance for the visitors, with five points to start the quarter pulling the visitors back within 8 points. Despite this, it wasn’t long before the home side broke off another extended run, with a 10-0 streak that spanned four minutes or so extending the margin to 22 points and putting the game beyond doubt before the final break with the scoreline reading 52-30 in Newcastle’s favour with a quarter to play.

With a number of players chipping in points throughout the fourth quarter, a total of eleven Newcastle players managed to register a basket, which represented five more players than the understrength Liverpool-Macarthur side even dressed for the game. Using that depth to their advantage, the home side were able to gradually extend their lead past the 30 point mark to secure a 68-37 win.

Laura Dick top scored for Newcastle with 12 points, whilst Bonnie Frost’s second quarter charge helped her to 10 points. Taylor Muaulu led all scorers with 15 points for Liverpool-Macarthur, whilst Kimberley Sepuloni added 11 for the Razorbacks.

Hills 54 lost to Penrith 63

Both teams came into this one down a star, with Hills guard Sherrie Calleia and Penrith post Natalia Beaumont both away in Melbourne with the Sydney Uni Sparks. With the Panthers needing one more win to secure a playoff spot and their final game coming against the ladder-leading Central Coast, this was the defending champions’ chance to secure a finals spot, and they did exactly that with a solid 63-54 win.

Hills started the better of the two teams, establishing a 7-2 lead early in the contest. Penrith were far from rattled though, and quickly overturned the deficit to establish a 12-10 lead midway through the quarter. Madison Hare would have the last say in the opening term though, with her seven points for the quarter helping Hills establish an 18-14 lead through ten minutes.

Hills opened the second quarter with the first five points to further extend their margin to 9 points, but Penrith aren’t a champion team for nothing. The Panthers scored 15 of the next 19 points to take a two point lead, with Dominika Offner and Meg Jefferson setting things up before Tatiana Beaumont rattled home a pair of threes in quick succession. Kelsey Curtin temporarily restored Hills’ lead, but four points from Abbi Williams to end the quarter saw Penrith hold a 33-30 lead at halftime.

Hare continued to be Hills’ main attacking weapon into the second half, but Penrith continued to edge ahead, with Binta Salawu putting the Panthers up 41-34 three minutes into the third quarter. The Panthers’ scoring slowed in the latter stages of the quarter, and a Paris Roditis three which drew Hills within one possession at 43-40 proved to be the only scoring play of the last three minutes or so, setting up a tasty fourth quarter.

The teams were almost inseparable in the early stages of the fourth quarter, with Meg Creanor’s six points for Penrith countered by a more shared approach to scoring from Hills. Nonetheless, the teams remained separated by just four points at 49-45 approaching the final five minutes. Then, suddenly, everything clicked for Penrith. Beaumont knocked down another two threes, stepping up massively in her sister’s absence, whilst Creanor continued to hit her shots as Penrith put together a 12-0 run to put the game beyond doubt at 59-45 with just under 3 minutes to play. Penrith were able to put a late run together courtesy of Zoe Burke and Rachael Mules, but it was too little, too late as the Panthers secured a finishing position of no worse than fifth with a 63-59 win.

Madison Hare top scored for Hills with 16 points, whilst Rachael Mules and Zoe Burke each added 10 for the home side. Tatiana Beaumont stepped up massively in a vital game to finish with 15 points for Penrith, all from beyond the arc. Meg Creanor was accurate in big moments to finish with 11 points, whilst Meg Jefferson tallied 10 for the Panthers.

Hornsby 61 defeated Illawarra 54

Only a win would be enough to preserve Hornsby’s minute finals chances, and that is exactly what they secured with a dominant victory that is not reflected in the seven point margin.

Seven points from Jess Sancataldo had the Spiders flying in the early stages as the home side established a 13-6 lead within seven minutes of play. With Illawarra unable to get much going on the scoring front, a late Maddison Delaney basket was like gold dust to the visitors. Despite this, Hornsby retained a 17-8 lead after a quarter of play, with desperation for victory perhaps fuelling their charge.

Brittany Clark scored the opening points of the quarter to trim Hornsby’s lead to 7, but that was merely a precursor to a 9-0 Hornsby run. With that run extending over a period of nearly five minutes, it was well into the latter stages of the half before Illawarra managed to score again. 26-14 would have been a manageable deficit going into the second half for Illawarra, but Serena Waters had other ideas. Two threes in the final minute or so of the half blew the Hornsby lead out to 18 points and put the game firmly in the Spiders’ hands going into the second half.

In a remarkably low scoring start to the second half, Hornsby could only add 2 points to their halftime score in the first five minutes, whilst Illawarra tallied six points to start the third quarter. Although things were not yet looking dangerous for Hornsby, they very well could have if their inability to find the bottom of the basket continued. However, Sancataldo and Amy Laws stepped up late in the piece to further extend Hornsby’s lead as Illawarra’s scoring dried up. A 9-3 run to end the third quarter pushed the Hornsby lead out to 49-27 with a quarter to play and effectively ended the game as a contest.

Illawarra showed glimpses of their best in the fourth quarter, but it was all in vain. Paige Phillips knocked down a trio of threes to showcase her abilities from beyond the arc, whilst Claudia Flynn accounted for the last ten points of the game to add some respectability to the scoreline. Hornsby, on the other hand, would have been slightly aggrieved at the fact that they could only add 12 points in the final quarter after dominating for so long. Despite this, the Spiders still emerged 61-54 victors. Whilst still reliant on a number of results to go their way next week, Hornsby are still a mathematical chance of making the finals.

Jess Sancataldo led all scorers with 23 points, whilst Serena Waters tallied 13 for the Spiders. Paige Phillips fourth quarter shooting helped her register 15 points, whilst Claudia Flynn’s late-game surge took her personal tally to 12 for the contest.

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 26 points v Norths
Jess Sancataldo (Hornsby) – 23 points v Illawarra
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 22 points v Manly
Losalini Katia (Central Coast) – 20 points v Manly
Carla Liebenberg (Norths) – 19 points v Bankstown

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 13 Roundup

A combination of a win over Newcastle and other results launched Central Coast into an almost insurmountable lead atop Youth League, whilst Hornsby and Penrith solidified their finals claims. However, Illawarra won both legs of their double-header to creep up on the sixth-placed Spiders.

Bankstown 43 lost to Illawarra 69

Bankstown’s finals hopes hung in the balance going into this game, but Illawarra were far from sympathetic to the Bruins’ cause, establishing an early lead before hammering home their dominance for a 26 point victory in a game that saw just six Bankstown players take to the court.

Led by seven early points from Paige Phillips, Illawarra were able to jump ahead quickly. The visitors put together a 13-4 lead before Tasmyn Haynes was able to rein in the Hawks to a degree with some quick points. However, late scoring from Maddison Delaney and Eleri Morris pushed the Hawks’ lead into double figures and the first quarter ended with Illawarra looking dangerous at 20-9 in front after ten minutes.

Haynes continued to put points on the board for Bankstown in the early stages of the second quarter, but largely played a lone hand as the Bruins were forced to settle for tough looks much of the time. However, Elena Berbeniuk proved to be solid support at times as Bankstown managed to trim the lead to four with two minutes to play in the half. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they would score just two points in those last two minutes as Illawarra finished the half on a 7-2 run which was capped off by Morris’ buzzer-beating deep two which put the visitors up 34-25 at halftime.

If Bankstown had any thoughts of pulling out a third quarter as solid as the second, Claudia Flynn quickly put paid to that. Showing utter dominance on the boards, Flynn came up with no less than four offensive rebounds in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Collecting both her own and her teammates’ misses, Flynn racked up 10 points in the first four minutes of the second half as Illawarra extended their margin to 16 points. With the Bruins only able to add eight points to their tally in the third quarter, Illawarra were able to just about put the game to bed, taking a 53-33 lead into the final term.

Flynn continued her rampant second half with eight more points early in the fourth quarter. The scoring dried up slightly for Illawarra in the latter stages, but the game was over as a contest long before then. With two points to Georgia Gale the only scoring of the final two minutes, Illawarra finished 69-43 winners to all but extinguish Bankstown’s finals hopes.

Claudia Flynn led all scorers with 21 points, with Eleri Morris and Paige Phillips offering support with 10 points apiece. Tasmyn Haynes led Bankstown with 17 points, whilst Elena Berbeniuk added 12 for the Bruins.

Box Score

Manly 49 lost to Penrith 67

Penrith continued to showcase some improved form, tallying their third win in a row to move to 9-6 and further solidify their spot in the top 6 with a comprehensive victory over Manly.

Penrith opened the game with the first five points of the contest, but Faith Bulgin and Caitlin Keefe tallied five points apiece in the first quarter to give Manly a 10-7 lead. Despite this, eight first quarter points for Dominika Offner ensured Penrith would take a 14-12 lead into the second quarter.

Offner and Meg Jefferson opened the second quarter in style for the Panthers as the visitors went on a 10-0 run early in the term to open up a double-digit lead. Antonia Henderson added four points and Emilie Krimmer added a pair of threes, but Manly were unable to slow the Panthers’ scoring enough to completely close the gap. However, a late basket from Rachel Duncan brought the margin back to 36-28 at halftime which put Manly within striking distance.

And strike they did. Duncan, Bulgin, and Henderson all added points early as Manly opened up the second half on a 6-0 run before Meg Creanor converted a pair of free throws to keep the Panthers’ lead intact. Jefferson did the same shortly after and then came up with another two points to push Penrith up by 8 once again. Jefferson would finish the third quarter with 12 points to ensure that Penrith went into the final quarter with a solid 53-41 lead and all the momentum.

A low-scoring fourth quarter saw points hard to come by for both teams, but that suited Penrith just fine. Offner and Jefferson added some more scoring to their burgeoning tallies, and with the Manly offence only able to create eight points in the final term, a late Abbi Williams basket took her tally to double-figures and finished off a 67-49 win for the visitors.

Meg Jefferson top scored with 24 points to lead the Panthers to victory. Dominika Offner added 17 points and Abbi Williams tallied an even 10 as the trio accounted for all bar 16 of the Panthers’ points. Antonia Henderson was Manly’s only player in double figures with 10 points, although Rachel Duncan, Emilie Krimmer, and Caitlin Keefe all finished with 8 points.

Box Score

Hornsby 81 defeated Norths 71

Hornsby picked up a vital win over Norths to stay above .500 and remain in touch with the teams fighting for the second bye into the semi-finals alongside Central Coast.

Hornsby’s high-powered offence went to work in the first term to provide the team with a solid platform from which to work for the rest of the game. Maddy Della Franca scored four early points before Kristina Moore registered 10 and Jess Sancataldo added 8 in a 24 point first quarter for the Spiders. However, Norths remained in touch courtesy of six points from Milly Yates and eight from Ali Burke which saw the first term finish 24-18 in Hornsby’s favour.

Alysha Skerritt earned and converted an and-one to move Norths within three on the opening possession of the second quarter. But five consecutive points from Moore helped move Hornsby out to a 37-25 lead before Yates and Katerina Diamant moved Norths back within 8 shortly after. Serena Waters converted a pair of free throws for Hornsby late in the term, but Burke scored the last four points of the quarter to see the half end 41-35 to the home side.

Burke opened the term with another basket, and when Charlotte Gorman knocked down a three with 6:44 remaining in the third quarter, Norths were on a 13-0 run and suddenly held a 44-41 lead. Waters earned another pair of free throws and promptly knocked down both, before Sancataldo and Moore led the Spiders on a 13-1 run of their own to retake the lead and extend it to a healthy 54-45 margin. Yates, Burke, and Skerritt all added points late on for Norths, but Moore and Waters ensured the lead remained at nine as Hornsby held a 60-51 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Five points from Sarah-Jane Thomas gave Norths another unexpected scoring option, and when Yates and Diamant each tallied baskets just shy of midway through the final term, Hornsby’s lead had been trimmed to 62-60 and suddenly there was a real contest brewing yet again. However, the Spiders kicked again. Della Franca, Sancataldo, and Waters continued their excellent scoring days to move Hornsby out to a 72-62 lead, and this time they would not give up their healthy margin. Burke and Skerritt added more late scoring for Norths, but Moore and Waters tallied some late points of their own to see Hornsby emerge 81-71 winners in a game that was far tighter than the scoreline suggested.

Box Score

Newcastle 50 lost to Central Coast 77

Central Coast continued their charge towards securing the top seed for the finals with a win over Newcastle sending the Crusaders three games clear at the top of the table.

The Crusaders started on an absolute charge, with Rachel Williams and Shakera Reilly each scoring five points in the first three minutes to put the visitors up 12-0 early. Sophie Parente snapped the run with Newcastle’s first points of the game, but Central Coast were undeterred. The ladder leaders promptly broke off another 13-3 run to establish a 25-5 lead after a quarter.

Central Coast’s scoring slowed slightly in the second quarter, with Losalini Katia’s 6 points for the term the highlight of the quarter for the visitors. Newcastle were able to generate more offence than they had been able to muster in the opening term, with Parente tallying five more points as the quarter ended 14-12 in the Hunters’ favour. Despite this, the first quarter onslaught from Central Coast meant that the visitors headed to the locker room leading 37-19.

Reilly and Katia continued to rack up the points in the third quarter as the Crusaders continued to assert their dominance. Grace Kibble and Rachel James each knocked down a three for Newcastle, but Central Coast continued to extend their lead. Melling Patfield added four late points for the Hunters, but the Crusaders still held a 55-29 advantage going into the final term.

Kibble fired for Newcastle on offence in the fourth quarter, registering nine of her 15 points in the final term. Reilly continued to swell her ever-increasing points tally, but Kibble’s efforts ensured the Central Coast lead would not blow out much further than it already had. The fourth quarter finished 22-21 in the Crusaders’ favour to see the visitors emerge 77-50 victors to strengthen their grip on top spot.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 23 points, with Losalini Katia registering 18 and Rachel Williams adding 11. Grace Kibble led Newcastle with 15 points, whilst Sophie Parente also finished in double figures with 10 points for the Hunters.

Box Score

Sutherland 42 lost to Hills 52

A win here for Sutherland would have seen the Sharks jump right into the finals mix, but instead it was Hills strengthening their finals credentials as the Hornets moved to 8-5 with a 10 point win.

The Hornets got out of the blocks quickly, with seven points Madison Hare leading a shared scoring effort which delivered a 16-7 lead first quarter lead for the visitors. With Sutherland’s offence struggling to find open looks, the game was in danger of getting away from the home side early in the piece.

Hills opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run, with Gabby Turnbull the only Sutherland player able to add any points for the Sharks in the early stages of the term. In a low-scoring term, Turnbull scored six of Sutherland’s eight points. Fortunately for the Sharks, Hills were only able to add 11 points to their own total which at the very least meant that Sutherland weren’t entirely out of the contest at 27-15 down at halftime.

Maddy Norris stepped up for the Sharks in the third quarter, starting the term with a pair of threes from the top of the arc to draw the home side within eight at 29-21. The margin remained in single-figure territory for much of the third quarter as Sutherland did their best to make a dent in Hills’ lead. The third quarter ended with the margin at 11 though, with a late Laura Davidson basket putting the visitors up 38-27 with ten minutes remaining.

The fourth quarter belonged to Sherrie Calleia. The Sydney Uni Sparks guard earned and converted two pairs of free throws, before Sutherland were able to trim the margin back to 7 courtesy of baskets from Deanna Kalivitis and Hannah Clinen. Kelsey Curtin brought some swagger to the party for Hills soon after though, hitting a vital three and flicking her wrist on the follow-through as the ball swished through the bottom of the net for good measure. The shot put Hills up 10 with seven minutes to play and proved to be crucial as Hills’ offence could only manage two more points in the next six minutes. The Sharks crept within five with a minute to play, but with Hills able to get the ball to Calleia on inbounds plays and the home side forced to foul, the Hornets’ star was able to showcase her free throw ability. Calleia connected on another four shots from the charity stripe to ice the game for Hills and help deliver a 52-42 win.

Sherrie Calleia led all scorers with 14 points, ten of those coming from the free throw line. Madison Hare added 13 points, and Zoe Burke tallied 10 points in the Hornets’ win. Maddy Norris was Sutherland’s top scorer with 12 points, whilst Hannah Clinen finished with 10 for the Sharks.

Box Score

Bankstown 68 defeated Newcastle 60

After watching their own thin finals hopes fall by the wayside on Saturday, Bankstown then all but delivered the same fate to Newcastle on Sunday with an eight point victory.

Tasmyn Haynes was the star in the early stages for the Bruins, scoring eight points in the first quarter as the home side established an 18-10 lead courtesy of a 9-2 run to end the first quarter. However, the second quarter saw Newcastle score the first five points of the term to move within three points before Haynes returned with a vengeance. An 11-0 run led by 8 points from the Bruins’ star pushed the Bankstown lead out to 29-15 before Hannah Fox snapped the run before the home side could completely blow the game open. The back end of the quarter saw the teams trade baskets to keep the margin hovering around the 13 point mark, with Newcastle getting the lead down to 10 at one point for Bankstown pushed ahead once again. Five late points from Grace Kibble proved to be like gold dust for Newcastle, who managed to stay within 11 as the scoreboard read 36-25 in Bankstown’s favour at halftime.

Haynes continued her onslaught with five points to open the second half before Georgia Gale got in the action with some early scoring of her own as Bankstown quickly pushed their lead out to 47-29. Gale continued to exhibit her scoring prowess throughout the third quarter, whilst for the Hunters it was Fox and Melanie Edwards doing their best to keep their team in the game. Despite this, Bankstown took a 16 point lead into the final term to all but have the game wrapped up with 10 minutes to play.

However, Newcastle were having none of that. The visitors opened the fourth quarter with quick scoring from Laura Dick, Sophie Parente, and Grace Kibble, before a Hannah Fox basket with just under 5 minutes to play put the visitors within seven and suddenly in with a shot at a win. Sabrina Zenatti hit a three shortly after to push Bankstown out to a 64-54 lead, but the next four points belonged to the Hunters and with 1:48 to play, the score read 64-58 in Bankstown’s favour.

Haynes was next to score to extend the margin slightly, and it proved to be enough as Newcastle were only able to score one more basket in the final 90 seconds as Maddie Nowland hit a consolation basket with 5 seconds to go to see the final score read 68-60 in Bankstown’s favour.

Tasmyn Haynes was unstoppable with 29 points for Bankstown, whilst Sabrina Zenatti and Georgia Gale tallied 15 points apiece. Hannah Fox was Newcastle’s only player in double figures with 10 points, whilst Grace Kibble and Maddie Nowland registered 9 points apiece.

Box Score

Illawarra 79 defeated Liverpool-Macarthur 38

A good weekend became a great weekend as a second win of the weekend for Illawarra put the Hawks just half a game out of the finals spots after things looked less than promising before this round.

Opening the game on a 19-2 run, Illawarra found scoring from a variety of options in the early stages. Eleri Morris and Soriah Vos both found the bottom of the basket on multiple occasions in the first few minutes, whilst Maddison Delaney, Ebony Petre, Claudia Flynn, and Paige Phillips all chipped in in the early stages as Illawarra asserted their dominance from the outset. Kimberley Sepuloni stopped the rot with a basket with just over 3 minutes to play in the opening term, but five more points from Petre took her to eight for the quarter and helped push Illawarra out to a 24-6 lead after ten minutes of play.

The second quarter was quite symmetrical. Each team had a player score 7 points – Rayan Danine for Liverpool-Macarthur and Maddison Delaney for Illawarra – and each team finished with 16 points as a much-improved effort from the visitors saw the margin hold steady at 18 points through a half of basketball.

However, the third quarter saw Eleri Morris explode on offence for 8 points in 3 minutes to blow the margin out slightly. Sepuloni and Danine did their level best to stop the Illawarra run, but soon enough the margin was approaching the 30 point mark as Tyler Vukovcan added some quick points for the home side. With the score at 61-31 after three quarters, Illawarra had well and truly put the game away with 10 minutes to play.

With that said, the third quarter still had to be played. The scoring slowed, but three consecutive baskets from Paige Phillips late in the game not only shored up her own personal tally, but took Illawarra’s final winning margin past the 40 point mark. With Bianca Carusio’s basket for Liverpool-Macarthur being the only scoring of the final two minutes, the game finished 79-38 in Illawarra’s favour.

Eleri Morris top scored for Illawarra with 19 points, whilst Maddison Delaney added 10 for the home side. Ebony Petre and Tyler Vukovcan each added 9 as eight Illawarra players scored five points or more. Rayan Danine finished with 14 for Liverpool-Macarthur and Taylor Muaulu registered 8 points for the shorthanded Razorbacks, who played just six players.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

Tasmyn Haynes (Bankstown) – 29 points v Newcastle
Kristina Moore (Hornsby) – 27 points v Norths
Alessandra Burke (Norths) – 24 points v Hornsby
Meg Jefferson (Penrith) – 24 points v Manly
Shakera Reilly (Central Coast) – 23 points v Newcastle