Big V Round 16: Eagles men, Wildcats women stay alive with big wins

Diamond Valley’s men and Eltham’s women are both in the hunt for what seemed impossible finals berths just a fortnight ago after big wins in round 16 of Big V season 2014. The Eagles upset Sherbrooke before stunning Eltham in the final moments to move to within a win of the finals, while Eltham thrashed sliding Waverley to be a half-game behind fourth-placed Bulleen.

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State Championship Men

Diamond Valley stayed alive in the finals race with a 99-88 overtime win against in-form Sherbrooke, putting the pressure firmly on sixth-placed McKinnon. The visitors dominated the extra period, nailing their first five field goal attempts to jump the Suns after scores were locked at 78 at the end of regulation courtesy of Titus Robinson’s three-point dagger in the dying seconds. Matt Fennell was the star for the Eagles, netting 28 points and grabbing 13 boards, while Adam Moore (17 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals), Luke Valentine (16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Matt Reynolds (16 points, 5 rebounds) were also big. For the Suns, star duo Robinson (22 points, 24 rebounds, 3 assists) and Grant Johnson (32 points, 11-18 FG) were predictably their side’s best but it wasn’t enough to get their side home.

Corio Bay bounced back from their first home loss of the season with a 100-48 thumping of Melbourne. The Stingrays won every quarter by 8 points or more, shot the ball at 67% and held the Tigers to just 18 rebounds in the rout as the class of the reigning champions shone through. Michael Rebula (20 points, 5 rebounds, 9-10 FG) and Duane Johnson (19 points, 7 rebounds, 6-8 FG) led all five starts in double figures, with only Jason Reardon (5-12 FG) shooting below 50%. Lachlan Anthony continued to rise with 19 points and 4 boards but it mattered little as the probable wooden spoon winners were completely dominated by a side looking to go back-to-back in 2014.

Hawthorn stunned Hume City with an 82-81 win over the Broncos that effectively ends their season and ensures the Magic can’t collect the wooden spoon. In an even contest, the home side held on in the tense final stages as Jermaine Maybank (12 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) threatened to steal the show, however his attempted heroics weren’t enough to deny the Magic their fifth win of the campaign. Ben Waldren (32 points, 5 rebounds) continued his meteoric rise with another big night out, while Zac Natoli added 19 points, 4 boards and 3 assists. The disappointing Broncos, who said goodbye to Yusuf Qaafow in the lead-up to the match, were led by Shaun Prendergast (22 points) and Jamal Brown (20 points, 13 rebounds, 9-14 FG) and are now destined to miss the finals despite starting the season red-hot over the first month.

Waverley fought off a determined Eltham side to post a 91-83 win which ensures they remain in the hunt for a top two finish. The visitors needed a 29-22 final term to break the back off their plucky opponents, with Ivan Platenik’s (22 points, 15 rebounds) perfect 10-of-10 shooting from the floor helping his side stay ahead despite the absence of Sedale Threatt. Brad Kelleher netted 24 points to lead the Falcons’ scoring, while for the improving Wildcats it was Ash Bryar (21 points, 5 rebounds, 8-12 FG) leading the way with some hot shooting from downtown as six players hit double figures for the home side. The win leaves Waverley half a game behind Corio Bay for second spot while Eltham dropped to second last with a 5-17 record.

Bulleen moved into fourth spot on the ladder courtesy of Thadd Varmall’s big night in a 98-68 win over Whittlesea. The Boomers jumped out to a 53-32 lead by half time and kept the foot on the gas to run out big winners as Varmall (39 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 13-21 FG) ignited to be the dominant player on the court by a long way. Scott Cuffe added 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting to in a cameo while Nick Masunda had 10 points and 7 boards off the bench. Jason Dirkx again led the Pacers with 19 points and 4 boards and Michael Petridis (16 points, 7 rebounds) was solid as usual but the visitors were totally outclassed by a side that is starting to hit their straps going into finals. A matchup against Sherbrooke in the last game of the season is looming as the deciding factor as to who gets a home elimination final with both sides currently boasting a 13-9 record.

Ringwood destroyed Werribee in a blistering 112-64 win over the Devils that allowed the visitors to consolidate top spot. A 59-26 first half ended the contest but it didn’t get any better in the third term for the home side as the Hawks kept the foot down. Bryan Dougher (28 points, 4 rebounds, 11-19 FG) and Marcus Ruh (25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 10-17 FG) got off the leash and were uncontainable, doing as they pleased for much of the night. The Devils were led by Anthony Luxford (14 points) and Aaron McCuin (11 points, 13 rebounds) but simply couldn’t generate enough offense to keep pace with their title-contender opponents.

Whittlesea won their second game in three contests against a sliding McKinnon, with the 99-83 result throwing the Cougars’ finals aspirations into the air with a fortnight to play. A 59-44 halftime lead was enough to ensure victory for the Pacers, who shot at 56% from the field for the contest. Chris Knight (25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 11-17 FG) starred and Jason Dirkx added 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting as their side grabbed the upset win, while for McKinnon it was Marcus Timmons winding back the clock to finish with 19 points and 10 boards and Zaine Allen (19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals) providing the support. The loss leaves the Cougars at 10-11 and clinging to sixth spot after four losses in five games, with Diamond Valley just a win behind them and closing quickly.

Waverley obliterated Hume City with a 118-68 thumping that put the top two sides on high alert. The third-placed Falcons out-rebounded their opponents 61-36 and shot at 52% to completely dominate the match as six players reached double digits in points. The home side was led by Brad Kelleher (21 points, 8 rebounds), Ivan Platenik (19 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) and Sedale Threatt (15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 5-7 FG), with the latter coming off the bench. For the visitors, Jamal Brown (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Jermaine Maybank (10 points) were the only two to net more than eight points in a disappointing afternoon which typified the Broncos’ flailing end to the season.

Diamond Valley continued their charge towards an improbable finals berth with a tight 80-78 win over cross-town rivals Eltham. A 28-15 final term by the Eagles saw them steal the win and keep their season alive, coming from six points down with 76 seconds on the clock. A pair of Adam Reynolds foul shots with seconds remaining lifted the home side as the Wildcats failed to get off a shot at the other end. Matt Fennell again led from the front with 16 points and 17 boards, while Adam Moore (14 points, 11 rebounds), Sammy Gazzo (14 points) and Reynolds (12 points) all made valuable contributions. The Wildcats got 19 points and 4 boards from John Lister and 16 points from James Malvaso but were left to rue their missed opportunity at the final buzzer.

State Championship Women

Eltham moved a step closer to the most unlikely of finals appearances with a smashing of hapless Waverley. The Wildcats completely dominated en route to a 74-32 win, keeping the Falcons to just eight points after halftime and field goalless in a 30-2 third term. Isabella Brancatisano starred with 23 points and 5 assists for the ‘Cats, while Hayley Munro (16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) continued to find her best form after an interrupted season. Tegan Cunningham netted 18 points and collected 10 boards for the visitors but the rest of her teammates combined for just 14 points on 4-of-42 shooting in an insipid display. The loss bumps Waverley to fifth while the Wildcats remain sixth, but the latter are just half a game behind fourth-placed Bulleen and have head-to-head over both the Boomers and the Falcons.

Hume City consolidated second spot on the table with an 82-52 win over Melbourne. The Tigers were competitive in patches but lacked the quality to realistically challenge their more fancied opponents. A 55-34 rebound count and Colleen Planeta (29 points, 12 rebounds) were the big differences between the two sides, with Planeta again staking her claim for MVP honours at season’s end. Sydnei Moss managed to net herself 14 points for the Tigers despite shooting just 3-of-17, while Mel Prior added 11 points and 7 boards but it wasn’t near enough for the young visitors to make an impression.

Diamond Valley ensured they would be well-clear of the wooden spoon in two weeks time with their fifth win of the season against Sherbrooke. The 76-45 win came on the back of a dominant second half, with the young Eagles running all over the top of a tired-looking Suns outfit. Selena Wawrzyniak finished with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting as well as 5 boards to lead the home side, while Carly Turner added 14 points, 7 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks in an impressive all-round display. The Suns, who could only manage 15 made field goals for the match in a recurring issue at the offensive end, were led by Rachel Waterhouse (13 points, 7 rebounds) as Sarah Millar (6 points, 2-14 FG) cooled off after a purple patch of form over the past six weeks.

Ringwood flexed their considerable muscle, making a mockery of their one-versus-two clash with McKinnon in a 79-55 win. The Hawks were dominant in every quarter and never gave the Cougars a chance to get comfortable as Amber Hegge (26 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 10-18 FG) found some of her best form. Emma Beddome added 13 points, 5 boards and 3 assists and Sarah Yousef finished with 12 points and 6 assists in the big win for the home side, while for the disappointing Cougars it was Julie Brookhouse (11 points, 6 rebounds) who led the way as Alex Lough (5 points, 3 rebounds) and Laura Thomas (7 points, 3 rebounds) played just 44 minutes between them and were well-held.

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