Big V Round 15: Wildcats women alive as Falcons, Boomers slip up

Eltham upset Bulleen and Warrandyte toppled Waverley to leave the finals race wide open with three rounds to play. The Wildcats are suddenly back in contention and are sitting just a single win behind both the Falcons and the Boomers with head-to-head on the latter. In the men’s competition, Sherbrooke stunned Corio Bay at home to signal their Big V finals intentions.

Credit: Photo Credit: Big V Media

State Championship Men

Bulleen opened the round with an 85-72 win over a dogged and improved Eltham, who hung around until a final quarter burst by the Boomers saw them off. Thadd Varmall starred with 21 points, 7 boards and 4 assists for the visitors to see them to the win, while Scott Cuffe (16 points, 6 rebounds) and Liam Norton (12 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) were solid against their old side and Nick Masunda (13 points, 6-6 FG) electric off the bench. The balanced Wildcats were led by Kristian Williams (5 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals) and Simon Bradbury (11 rebounds) who each netted 14 points. The Boomers consolidated their spot in the top six with the win and are looking good to make the finals after an up-and-down season.

Hume City fought out a 75-66 win over a dogged Melbourne in an unconvincing display. The home side was expected to outmuscle the Tigers comfortably but were pushed all the way by their young and undermanned opponents as Lachlan Anthony (25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) and Robert Sartori (16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) gave their side a chance of causing a boil over. For the Broncos, Jamal Brown (17 rebounds, 3 assists) and Jermaine Maybank (7 rebounds, 9 assists) simply outclassed their opponents to net 20 points apiece and get the home side over the line despite the below par performance.

Corio Bay got past a determined Hawthorn 101-90 courtesy of a 32-22 third term to extend their winning streak and halt the Magic’s at two. The Stingrays shot the ball at 55% as Scooter Renkin (30 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 11-17 FG) exploded and Duane Johnson (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Ma’Alo Hicks (17 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists) put in plenty of work in support, particularly in the absence of Jason Reardon. Jay Allen led the Magic with 23 points and 4 assists but could only manage 8-of-28 shooting from the floor, while Ben Waldren finished with 21 points and 7 boards despite the defeat.

Ringwood used a 31-18 third term to dispose of Waverley in a clash of two hot title contenders, with the Hawks winning 114-93 in front of their home fans. Both sides shot at 50% or higher but the Hawks smashed their opponents on the glass, using a 42-29 advantage to propel them to victory. Marcus Ruh was phenomenal for the Hawks, netting 36 points on 14-of-21 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, as four of his teammates also hit double digits including Bryan Dougher (17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and Shaun Clarke (13 points, 11 rebounds). The shell-shocked Falcons got 25 points and 5 assists from Brad Kelleher but Ivan Platenik (18 points, 1 rebound) was well-down on his usual production and Chris Arkell (15 points, 10 rebounds) was restricted to just 11 shots.

Whittlesea broke their recent run of losses with an 85-76 win over Diamond Valley which all-but signals the end of the Eagles’ finals assault. A 27-12 assist count was the only big difference between the sides as the Pacers used a 51-36 second half to snatch the win. Led by the brilliance of Jason Dirkx (16 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists) and Michael Petridis (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), the home side overcame their slow start to enjoy what has been rare success since the loss of import Jermaine Williams. Matt Fennell (29 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 12-19 FG) was outstanding in defeat for the Eagles but simply didn’t get the help of his teammates as his side slipped to a fifth straight loss to be two and a half games outside of the top six with three rounds to play.

Werribee recorded a 91-76 win over Melbourne to snap their losing streak and rocket back up to eight in the standings in the process. A 29-15 third term set up the win, as did a 41-26 rebounding advantage as Jordan Hughes (32 points, 9 rebounds) and Aaron McCuin (21 points, 19 rebounds, 4 blocks, 9-13 FG) dominated the paint. Rory Killen was Melbourne’s best with 17 points and 6 boards but it wasn’t enough for the young Tigers to avoid a twelfth straight defeat and a 2-19 record with just three games remaining.

McKinnon smashed Hawthorn 86-60 to bounce back from four straight defeats and consolidate their spot in the top six. Led by Kale Harrison (29 points, 5 rebounds), the Cougars proved far too strong and used a 52-30 advantage on the glass to run rampant in the opening and final terms. Sam Ayre added 13 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists for the home side to provide a hand to his hot-shooting teammate, while for the Magic, who missed star shooter Jay Allen, it was Ben Waldren (25 points, 12 rebounds) again proving his worth despite shooting 10-of-31 from the field. The win means the Cougars now sit two games clear in sixth and are looking likely to play finals in their first season in the top flight.

Sherbrooke provided the upset of the round with a stunning 93-85 win over Corio Bay, handing the Stingrays their first home loss of the season in the process and bumping them to second spot on the ladder. Star import duo Grant Johnson (36 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and Titus Robinson (27 points, 19 rebounds, 12-17 FG) did as they pleased and the home side simply had no answers, with the continued absence of Jason Reardon hurting them immensely. Despite the loss, Scooter Renkin (23 points, 6 assists), Ma’Alo Hicks (20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks) and Duane Johnson (19 points, 13 rebounds) were all strong but the Stingrays got just four points from their bench and lacked the extra offensive dimension that Reardon brings.

State Championship Women

Eltham kept their finals chances alive with a come-from-behind 71-59 win over a disappointing Bulleen, who missed a golden opportunity to move into the top four. The Boomers blew a 10-point halftime lead as they managed just 22 points after the break to see the ‘Cats get home on the back of a 25-8 final term. Hayley Munro (21 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) was huge after a slow start while Rebecca Guglielmino (15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) and Amy Nicholson (15 points, 6 rebounds) came up big in the final term. Lauren Pearce (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) led from the front and Funda Nakkasoglu toiled hard for 15 points but both faded late as the match unravelled for the visitors.

Hume City blew Diamond Valley away with a 22-10 final term to seal an 81-59 win and keep the heat on McKinnon for second spot on the ladder. A big advantage on the glass (49-32) was the catalyst as Colleen Planeta (24 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks) controlled the paint, while Samara Gallaher added 13 points off the bench. Katie Shanahan was the only Eagle in double figures with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the bench in a disappointing result for the visitors, who had shown plenty of promise a week earlier by pushing Ringwood all the way.

McKinnon won their seventh straight contest on the back of a dominant defensive display in a 66-42 win over Warrandyte. The Venom was held to 13 made field goals from 77 attempts by the Cougars as only Breanna Waugh (11 points) reached double digits. The Cougars got 12 points each from Julie Brookhouse (5 rebounds) and Laura Thomas (9 rebounds) and a solid double-double from Alex Lough (11 points, 10 rebounds, 5-8 FG) to secure the win and consolidate second spot for another week, sharing the same record as third-placed Hume City.

Ringwood extended their unbeaten run to thirteen games with a regulation 83-69 win over Melbourne. The Hawks cruised home after holding a 15 point lead at the half time break and were never really threatened despite R Brewster (23 points, 7 rebounds) and Sydnei Moss (18 points, 11 rebounds) enjoy strong nights. Amber Hegge bounced back from a sub-par showing last weekend to net 23 points and collect 7 boards, while Michelle Kurowski added 21 points to continue her rich vein of form. The Hawks now look certain to finish on top of the table with just three games remaining while the Tigers are inching closer to a wooden spoon.

Hume City fended off Sherbrooke to record a 69-50 win and move level with second-placed McKinnon. The Suns could only manage 16 points in a dismal first half as the Broncos got out to a 21-point lead before cruising home despite shooting at just 34% for the match. Colleen Planeta (14 points, 6 rebounds) was solid without being spectacular, as was Samara Gallaher (12 points, 11 rebounds) as the duo led their side to victory. Sarah Millar netted 16 points for the Suns to continue her strong scoring run, but it was in vain as her side fell to a 3-12 record to sit tied with Melbourne in the race for the wooden spoon.

Waverley’s season continued to freefall on the back of a shock 67-56 home defeat at the hands of Warrandyte. A blistering opening term saw the Venom take a 17-3 lead after 10 minutes and never look back, recording their fourth win of the season. Tamara Nesmith (18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 6-8 FG) was superb and enjoyed her best game of the season, while Meg Dargan added 16 points and 5 boards off the bench. Jackie Smith led the disappointing Falcons with 13 points as Tegan Cunningham was restricted to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting. Waverley remain level with Bulleen but just a win ahead of fast-finishing Eltham, with matches against both opponents looming as deciders of their finals fate.

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