Waratah Championship Semi Final Roundup

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

Hornsby 78 lost to Manly 79

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bankstown 67 lost to Norths 72

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waratah Championship Week 16 Roundup

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

Bankstown 64 defeated Norths 50

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hornsby 97 defeated Illawarra 57

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hills 45 lost to Comets 52

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

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

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

Waratah Championship Week 14 Roundup

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

Norths 72 lost to Manly 76

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sutherland 57 lost to Newcastle 72

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hornsby 98 defeated Hills 61

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sutherland 94 defeated Hornsby 60

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Scoring Leaders:

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

Youth League Week 11 Roundup

Illawarra and Manly played out a thriller at the Snakepit, whilst Cassidy McLean lit up the Brickpit with an astounding performance as Newcastle secured a vital win over Hornsby.

Illawarra 49 lost to Manly 50

Illawarra almost grabbed a win at home over Manly, but Kimberley Hodge lived up to her “Honey Badger” moniker, completing an outstanding performance by getting Manly over the line at the last moment.

In a game that was tight throughout the majority of the contest, neither team was able to get more than three points ahead in the first quarter of play. Faith Bulgin and Antonia Henderson kicked off Manly’s scoring before Kimberley Hodge scored the Sea Eagles’ last six points of the opening term, countering Eleri Morris and Tyler Vukovcan’s scoring for the Hawks before Bronte Covington tied things up for the home side, and the first quarter ended all knotted up at 14-14.

Illawarra went on a run of sorts to open the second quarter courtesy of a pair of threes from Claudia Flynn which put the home side up 22-16. Hodge continued to pose a threat, but Paige Phillips hit a three of her own with two minutes remaining in the second quarter, which would prove to be the final score of the half as Illawarra enjoyed a healthy 29-19 lead at the main break.

After scoring just five points in the second quarter, Manly must have found some offence in the locker room at half time. Three pointers to Emilie Krimmer and Josie Bulman cut the Illawarra lead to 31-27 early in the piece, but Flynn and Morris ensured the Hawks would not give up their lead so easily. Illawarra pushed the advantage back out to eight points before Hodge added exactly that number of her own consecutively to tie things up at 35-35. Despite this, Illawarra kicked again with a 9-0 run to end the third quarter.

Hodge and Bulgin opened the fourth quarter well for Manly, and Illawarra’s offence began to sputter slightly. Manly made their way back into the contest, trimming the lead to 47-44 with five minutes to play, and then to 49-47 with three minutes to play. Spectacularly, the scoring simply dried up after that. Two minutes came and went before either team put the ball in the basket before Antonia Henderson tied the game at 49-49 with 35 seconds to play.

Josie Bulman drove to the basket on the final play of the game and found Hodge under the basket with a neat pass. Hodge missed from close range, but collected her own miss and was fouled going back up a mere fraction of a second before the final buzzer. Hodge split a pair of free throws, which proved enough to secure victory for Manly.

Hodge led all scorers with 25 points to tally half of Manly’s total in the win, whilst Faith Bulgin chipped in 11 for the Sea Eagles. Eleri Morris and Claudia Flynn shared top honours for Illawarra with 12 points apiece.

Box Score

Sutherland 74 defeated Bankstown 70

Madeleine Norris was at her outstanding best in Youth League once again, leading Sutherland to a vital victory that left them in a three-way tie for the sixth and last finals spot ahead of their Sunday game against Penrith.

Georgia Gale lit it up early for Bankstown, scoring six of the Bruins’ first eight points of the game as the visitors established an early five point lead. A pair of threes from Sutherland star Madeleine Norris countered a pair of baskets from Bankstown offensive weapon Tasmyn Haynes and quickly the margin was back to a solitary point. Sabrina Zenatti found her scoring range late in the first quarter, but a late Hannah Clinen basket ensured Sutherland trailed by just four after a quarter, with the score reading 17-13 in the visitors’ favour.

Zenatti and Gale continued to fire early in the second quarter as Bankstown set about extending their lead, but Norris and Parrish Leavai ensured that the Bruins’ margin wouldn’t get out of hand. However, Tasmyn Haynes continued to hit shots and despite a late three from Norris, Bankstown held a 39-32 lead at halftime.

The start of the third quarter was a reasonably even affair, before Sutherland began to edge their way back into the contest. Finding scoring from a number of players, the Sharks chipped away at the lead until they finally hit the lead at 48-47 with four minutes remaining in the third. That was far from the end of it, though. Scoring the last five points of the quarter, Sutherland put together a 59-52 lead by the time the buzzer sounded, putting the home side in the box seat with 10 minutes to play.

The quarter break gave Bankstown a chance to regroup, and they proceeded to trim the margin back to 60-57 just two minutes into the final term. Leavai and Norris then each managed baskets for Sutherland, and when Gabby Turnbull knocked down a three with six minutes to play, the margin was 67-59. Leavai and Norris added another basket each, and with the lead at 12 with four minutes to play, Sutherland were seemingly charging to victory. However, Bankstown trimmed the margin, and managed to get within four in the final minute. But that was where the scoring ended and the home side managed to hang on for a 74-70 win.

Madeleine Norris led all scorers with 29 points, whilst Parrish Leavai tallied 14 points and Gabby Turnbull added 11 for the Sharks. Georgia Gale was electric for the Bruins, tallying 25 points. Gale was backed up by Tasmyn Haynes and Sabrina Zenatti, who each finished with 17 points.

Box Score

Liverpool-Macarthur 52 lost to Central Coast 83

Central Coast dressed just six players, but when that group includes a FIBA Oceania Under 18s all-star and a number of state representatives, sometimes that’s enough and it showed as the Crusaders dominated Liverpool-Macarthur in a 31 point win.

Despite the final scoreline, the first quarter was a tight-run affair. Renee Muaulu opened the scoring with a three-pointer, but also committed three fouls in quick succession as Central Coast established a five point lead courtesy of a couple of quick baskets from Shakera Reilly. Liverpool-Macarthur trimmed the lead back to 12-11, but a late three from Charlie Evans secured a 15-11 lead for Central Coast after the opening term.

Rachel Williams and Losalini Katia opened up the second quarter scoring for Central Coast, but Liverpool-Macarthur remained in touch. Yasmin Danine kept the home side within four points, but more scoring from Williams and Evans moved Central Coast to a 25-16 lead midway through the second term. Shakera Reilly added to her burgeoning points tally late in the quarter, and the Crusaders went into halftime up 36-23.

The early stages of the third quarter saw Liverpool-Macarthur hang with Central Coast, and when Taylor Muaulu scored a couple of quick baskets, the visitors’ lead had been trimmed to just nine points. However, Central Coast finished the quarter on a remarkable 17-2 run that saw Evans and Taylor Ferris get right amongst the scoring to put the game beyond the home side’s reach at 61-35 after three quarters of play.

The fourth quarter was far closer, with Liverpool-Macarthur ensuring the margin wouldn’t blow out too much more. Ferris kept her personal tally ticking over, whilst Reilly finished off an outstanding performance with some late points to round out a dominant 83-62 win for Central Coast.

Shakera Reilly led all scorers with 23 points as five Central Coast players finished in double figures. Taylor Ferris registered 17 points, and Sydney Uni Sparks guard Charlie Evans added 16. Rachel Williams tallied 12, with Losalini Katia adding an even 10 for the visitors. Yasmin Danine was the only Liverpool-Macarthur player in double figures, finishing with 13 points.

Box Score

Hornsby 76 lost to Newcastle 81

Cassidy McLean stepped in to give Newcastle’s Youth League team a hand, and it must have been an oversized novelty hand as the Sydney Uni Flames guard dropped 37 to lead the Hunters to victory mere hours after the disappointment of a loss in the team’s Waratah Championship game.

McLean opened the game with Newcastle’s first eight points of the contest, but six points from Kristina Moore ensured the game remained tight throughout the opening term. With both players finding support from numerous teammates, the opening quarter ended with Newcastle holding a slender 16-14 lead.

Nicole Hutchins and Piper Duck helped edge Hornsby ahead in the early stages of the second quarter, but McLean would not be denied at the offensive end. Tallying seven points in a two minute stretch, the Under 17 World Championship-winning point guard led the visitors back into the lead. Hutchins earned and converted an and-one opportunity for the Spiders, and five late points from Moore ensured the home side were right on the Hunters’ tails at halftime, with the visitors holding a 38-37 lead after a half of play.

Moore and Hutchins continued to lead the Spiders’ offence in the third quarter, but seemingly every time the Spiders looked as if they might create a lead, McLean would hit back with some scoring of her own. Late in the third quarter, Maddie Nowland and Alison Ebzery found their range, and soon the Hunters had opened up a sizeable margin, ending the third quarter up 66-57 and in the box seat.

Ebzery pushed the lead to double figures early in the fourth quarter, but Hutchins, Tylah Mundine, and Sarah Crisafulli ensured the Spiders cut that margin back slightly. McLean added four quick points, but Hutchins and Moore created a late 5-0 run for Hornsby that put the home side within three with just under two minutes to play. Melanie Edwards hit a shot for Newcastle just fifteen seconds later, and remarkably there was no scoring in the final 105 seconds of the contest, which meant Newcastle escaped the Brickpit with an 81-76 win which may have just restarted their season’s pulse.

In her final game before leaving for the University of New Orleans, Nicole Hutchins finished with an outstanding 29 points. Kristina Moore added 21 on the back of 22 in the afternoon’s earlier Championship game to round out an excellent day of basketball. However, Cassidy McLean was the undoubted star of the contest with her 37 points. Alison Ebzery provided solid backup with 16 points as both players shook off the disappointment of the Championship game loss to lead the Hunters to victory.

Box Score

Hills 72 defeated Norths 65

Hills used a late run to secure victory over Norths, with the win also seeing the Hornets move into a tie for third with the Bears.

Ali Burke fired early for the Bears with a three, but it was Milly Yates who owned the opening term for Norths. The Saint Mary’s commit scored six points in the first quarter, whilst Zoe Burke hit a pair of early threes to help Hills to a 22-17 lead after the first quarter.

Some early second quarter scoring from Zara Olsen helped Norths trim the lead before Geena Valos and Carla Liebenberg established a narrow lead for the Bears. It was short-lived, however, as Burke and Paris Roditis led Hills on a late run that saw the Hornets secure a 37-35 halftime lead, with Burke’s three point shooting a feature of the opening quarter.

Despite feeling the effects of a Friday night SEABL game and a Championship game played immediately preceding this contest, Hills star Sherrie Calleia made the third quarter her own to maintain the Hornets’ slender margin. Calleia and Ali Burke almost made the term a one-on-one shootout at times. The Hills guard dropped 11 in the term, whilst the Norths star tallied 7 of her own. A late three to Laura Davidson broke a 55-55 tie as time expired in the third quarter to provide Hills with a 58-55 lead with 10 minutes of basketball remaining.

Liebenberg and Lana Marov provided Norths with some early scoring, but Zoe Burke continued to step up with threes at opportune moments to keep Hills in front. A back and forth final term saw Ali Burke connect with 3:20 to play to bring the margin back to 68-63, but Calleia responded by taking her personal tally to 18 and pushing the Hornets’ lead back out to seven with three minutes to play. With neither team able to conjure much of anything on offence in the final three minutes, a potentially exciting ending instead finished with just four more points scored. Zara Olsen’s basket with 1:04 to play brought Norths within seven, but that would be the final scoring play of the game as Hills ran out 72-65 victors.

Sherrie Calleia stepped up in her third game of the weekend to lead Hills with 18 points, with her third quarter performance a sight to behold. Zoe Burke added 17, with all five of her field goals coming from beyond the arc, whilst Paris Roditis added 10 for the home side. Ali Burke top scored for Norths with 13, whilst Carla Liebenberg added 10 for the visitors.

Box Score

Penrith lost to Sutherland (OT)

Madeleine Norris was the hero for Sutherland in overtime with a last-second three-pointer that delivered the Sharks a two-win weekend that further improved their playoff chances. However, with no more details available, that’s about all we can tell you.

Box Score

Weekly Scoring Leaders

Cassidy McLean (Newcastle) – 37 points v Hornsby
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 30 points v Penrith
Nicole Hutchins (Hornsby) – 29 points v Newcastle
Madeleine Norris (Sutherland) – 29 points v Bankstown
Chloe Bloom (Penrith) – 25 points v Sutherland
Georgia Gale (Bankstown) – 25 points v Sutherland
Kimberley Hodge (Manly) – 25 points v Illawarra

Waratah Championship Week 9 Roundup

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

Hornsby 88 defeated Newcastle 78

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sutherland 42 lost to Bankstown 65

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hills 43 lost to Norths 77

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illawarra 71 lost to Manly 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Scoring Leaders

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

At The Turn: Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Spiders

As each Waratah Championship team reaches the halfway mark of their season, Sky Blue Hoops will take a look at their campaign to this point and their chances going forward. In this piece, we focus on the Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Spiders, who are sitting pretty on top of the table – with a big, round zero in the loss column!

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

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

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

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

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