Big V Round 13: Big upsets blow women’s finals race wide open

Huge upsets by Bulleen and Melbourne have blown the women's finals race wide open after the top four had looked near-set, with the Boomers upsetting second-placed Hume City and the lowly Tigers knocking off fourth-placed Waverley. The situation surrounding Brigitte Ardossi’s immediate playing future at the Falcons looks to be the major sticking point in the run home for Big V season 2014.

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State Championship Men

Bulleen opened round thirteen with a 101-98 overtime victory over Werribee, with the Devils continually coming at the Boomers late in regulation and the extra period before Rustin Dowd’s attempted game-tyer was off at the buzzer. Thadd Varmall (28 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) came up big despite only managing 7-of-23 shooting from the floor, while Liam Norton (20 points) and Mark Whitehead (13 points, 8 rebounds, 6-7 FG) also made strong contributions for their side. Jack Sonda (27 points, 13 rebounds), Aaron McCuin (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Dowd (24 points) were all big for the Devils but couldn’t drag their side over the line.

Corio Bay eased past a determined McKinnon in a 107-97 home win on the back of 54% shooting from the field and a 51-26 rebounding advantage. The Stingrays rode the hot form of Ma’Alo Hicks (36 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, 16-22 FG) and the handy contribution of Duane Johnson (20 points, 10 rebounds) to victory as Jason Reardon (18 points, 17 rebounds) and Scooter Renkin (16 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists) added the final touches. Kale Harrison was enormous for the Cougars, posting 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting and 7 rebounds to almost get his side over the line for an upset victory.

Ringwood disposed of Melbourne with a 105-53 away win over the hapless Tigers, who were again forced to field a second-string line-up in the absence of several starters. The Hawks shot at a blistering 64% from the floor and 75% from beyond the arc as they did as they pleased, restricting Melbourne to just 18 rebounds for the entire match. Marcus Ruh (30 points, 11-15 FG, 6-6 3PT), Luke Egan (20 points, 5-7 3PT) and Bryan Dougher (15 points, 4-5 3PT) did the damage from the outside in a ridiculous shooting display, while for the sorry Tigers nobody was able to finish the contest with more than 10 points.

Sherbrooke overcame a slow start to post an important 76-65 win over Whittlesea. A 23-16 start by the Pacers had an upset brewing before the Suns won each remaining quarter comfortably, with the home side unable to find an answer to Grant Johnson (25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals). Jonathon Lee added 14 points, 8 boards and 7 assists in a brilliant showing as Titus Robinson was held to just 4 points on 1-of-4 shooting and 8 boards. Jason Dirkx (22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) was typically brilliant but ran out of help as the Pacers suffered a third straight loss and fell to 7-11 on the season, with finals now nothing more than a pipedream.

Waverley edged out Diamond Valley in a thriller, with a 27-16 second quarter setting up the 95-91 win. Brad Kelleher netted 21 points despite struggling with his shot and Ivan Platenik (20 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 9-14 FG) was at his brilliant best in the win, with Luke Neilson stepping up in the absence of Chris Arkell to finish with 20 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field. Sammy Gazzo led the Eagles with 20 points as six players reached double digits despite the agonising defeat, leaving Diamond Valley at 7-10 and two games outside of the top eight with five rounds to play.

Bulleen rallied in the final term to claim an 81-79 win over Hume City in a thriller, pushing the Boomers into fifth and consolidating a finals spot in the process. Liam Norton (27 points, 8 rebounds) and Thadd Varmall (21 points, 5 rebounds) guided their side to victory, with Norton’s three-pointer giving his side the lead with less than two minutes on the clock before the Boomers survived Tepuao Silver’s game-tying attempt. Jermaine Maybank (18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) and Jamal Brown (17 points, 17 rebounds) were the Broncos’ best in the loss, which will make it difficult for the side to extend their season with a finals berth.

McKinnon suffered a second loss for the weekend in another brave defeat to a strong side, this time in a 108-101 loss to Ringwood. The Hawks’ class prevailed down the stretch as the visitors tasted defeat for the second time in 24 hours. Bryan Dougher (31 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 12-18 FG) was his side’s best with an electrifying shooting display, while Trent Zomer added 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go with 9 boards. Kale Harrison fought hard once again for McKinnon, netting 25 points, while Marcus Timmons (28 points, 9 rebounds, 10-15 FG) wound back the clock to lead the score sheet for his side.

Hawthorn held off a fast-finishing Eltham to claim an 89-83 away victory, moving the Magic clear of bottom of the table in the process. A 29-18 third term had earlier given the visitors a sizeable advantage on the back of Jay Allen’s 23 points and Ben Waldren’s (14 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists) offensive brilliance. John Lister led the ‘Cats with 23 points despite only managing 10-of-27 from the field, while Simon Bradbury finished with 15 points and 14 boards in a disappointing loss. The win sees the Magic pass Eltham and move a win clear of bottom-placed Melbourne in the three-way race for the wooden spoon.

State Championship Women

With dark clouds hanging over Waverley concerning Brigitte Ardossi’s immediate playing future at the club, the Falcons held off a determined Sherbrooke to grab an important 65-58 win. With rumours circulating that Ardossi was serving a club-imposed suspension or had even walked out on the club, her teammates got the job done despite a scare from the lowly Suns thanks to Tegan Cunningham (19 points, 8 rebounds), Jacquie Smith (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Tahlia Higgs (10 points, 13 rebounds). Sherbrooke lacked polish down the stretch as they let a number of chances slip through their fingers, with Sarah Verdonck (20 points, 6 rebounds) the most impressive performer to lead all scorers.

Bulleen kept their season well and truly alive with a 78-76 upset of Hume City. The Boomers overcame a monster night from Colleen Planeta (33 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 blocks, 12-19 FG) to take down the high-flying Broncos in their own gym and keep in touch with the top four, despite the home side rallying late and threatening to steal the win. Kayla Theodore led the way with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, with Funda Nakkasoglu (17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) overcoming some close checking and Lauren Pearce (15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) providing the work inside. The Broncos fell to third with the loss while Bulleen kept the heat on fourth-placed Waverley with five rounds remaining.

The upsets continued when Warrandyte stunned Eltham in a 61-52 result, marking the Venom’s first home win since making the jump to State Championship level at the start of the season. The home side was aggressive and built a 16-point three-quarter time lead before Eltham’s last-ditch rally fell a way short. Amanda Hedereics netted 13 points and grabbed 9 boards in the win, while Rachel Wansbrough added 10 points and 5 boards off the bench. The Wildcats were outrebounded 41-21 and no player reached double figures as Hayley Munro was restricted to a single point in eight minutes of game time, ending any hope of a finals tilt.

Ringwood snuck by Diamond Valley 73-66 to go two games clear on top of the ladder despite the much-improved Eagles pushing them all the way. In an even contest, it was Amber Hegge’s class that got the Hawks over the line as she registered 23 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Carly Turner found some form after a slow few weeks to finish with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Katie Shanahan also added 15 points off the bench. The Eagles dropped to the bottom of the table and are locked in a four-way scrap to avoid the wooden spoon.

McKinnon moved into second spot on the ladder with a 67-43 thumping of Sherbrooke on the back of a whopping 60-27 rebounding advantage. The Cougars finished the match with a 15-2 final term as the Suns fizzled out alarmingly, with Alex Lough (18 points, 12 rebounds, 7-7 FG) and Laura Thomas (13 points, 10 rebounds) leading the way for the home side. Sarah Millar (13 points) and Dannielle Fidge (12 points) accounted for more than half of their team’s score in a poor performance by a side that had showed so much promise just 24 hours earlier in pushing Waverley all the way.

Melbourne blew the finals race wide open with a 75-61 upset of Waverley to round out the weekend as the Falcons plunged to a fourth defeat in six games. The absence of Brigitte Ardossi allowed Sydnei Moss (21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) to lead the young Tigers to a remarkable victory, causing the upset of the season in the process. Peri Kalka added 10 points and 10 boards for the home side, while for the visitors it was all left to Tegan Cunningham (26 points, 18 rebounds) as no other Falcon could manage more than seven points. The loss leaves Waverley with a 9-5 record and just a single loss ahead of the 7-6 Boomers in fifth, with a last-round matchup between the two sides looming as a finals decider.

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