Big V Round 17: Men’s top six all-but set, Boomers women in box seat

The men’s finals contenders are seemingly set heading into the final round of Big V action, with McKinnon set to make it in their championship debut barring a disaster and only Sherbrooke and Bulleen able to trade spots. In the women’s competition it is Bulleen who will hold all the aces heading into round 18, with only a win against Waverley needed for the Boomers to reach the semi-finals. Both Eltham and Waverley remain in contention, however, making for an interesting final day of the season.

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State Championship Men

Corio Bay opened the weekend with a 110-81 thrashing of Hume City to move one step closer to a home semi-final. The Stingrays ripped the game apart with a 65-28 first half before the Broncos saved some face in the final term. A 55-26 rebounding advantage told the story for the visitors as Scooter Renkin (24 points, 6 assists, 8-10 FG) and Ma’Alo Hicks (21 points, 13 rebounds, 8-12 FG) led six players in double digits. Jermaine Maybank continued his strong season with 27 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in defeat, while fellow import Jamal Brown added 19 points and 12 boards as the Broncos were completely outclassed.

Hawthorn upset Bulleen with a 97-90 win that put a dent in the visitors’ hopes of a home final. The Magic led at every change and used a 25-14 second term to set up the victory, with Jay Allen (33 points) starring in a brilliant scoring display. Zac Natoli added 16 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists in an impressive performance and Ben Waldren was solid with 15 points, 7 boards and 3 assists as the Magic won their sixth game of the season. The Boomers got plenty from stars Thadd Varmall (33 points, 6 rebounds) and Liam Norton (25 points, 4 assists) but had nobody else with more than seven points in a disappointing display.

Sherbrooke went clear into fourth spot with a scrappy 88-69 over Werribee at home. The Suns shot the ball at 45% but were made to work for the win by the plucky Devils, with a 54-40 run over the middle quarters the catalyst behind the win. Titus Robinson (20 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks) was huge inside while Grant Johnson (18 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals) was solid without being spectacular. Rustin Dowd led four Devils in double digits with 15 points and 5 boards but could only manage 6-of-19 shooting in a performance typical of his side’s plight as they fell to an 8-14 season record.

McKinnon snuck past Melbourne with a hard-fought 64-55 win that kept them in the box seat in the race to the finals. The young Tigers managed to keep their opponents to just 25 points to halftime before a 23-13 third term put the Cougars in control. Both teams shot well below 40% but it was the class of Kale Harrison (17 points) and Marcus Timmons (14 points, 4 steals) that proved the difference in the end. For the gallant home side, Lachlan Anthony was superb in netting 23 points but had no help from his eight other teammates as they combined for just 32 points. The Cougars now sit in sixth at 11-11 and are a game clear of Diamond Valley heading into the final round of matches.

Whittlesea flew out of the blocks early to post a 77-69 win over Eltham on the back of some Jason Dirkx brilliance and a dominant 46-30 advantage on the glass. Dirkx led his side magnificently, finishing with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go with 4 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks as the Wildcats were left with no answer. Michael Petridis (19 points, 8 rebounds) was also strong for the Pacers as they won their tenth game of the year and moved into seventh position in the standings. For Eltham it was James Malvaso (24 points) and Elliott Carr (18 points, 9 boards) leading the way but it wasn’t enough to prevent a fourth straight defeat for the lowly ‘Cats.

Corio Bay roped in Waverley with a 24-14 final term to post a nail biting 100-98 win over their finals rivals and cement second spot. The Falcons failed to score in the last three and a half minutes and fell after Duane Johnson (30 points, 9 rebounds) completed a three-point play with under thirty seconds on the clock before Brad Kelleher was off with his potential game winner and the Stingrays iced the game at the line. Jason Reardon (19 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) was brilliant in coming up agonisingly short of another triple-double, while Scooter Renkin added 16 points and 6 assists. Chris Arkell (32 points, 10 rebounds) and Ivan Platenik (23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) were superb for the Falcons but went quiet down the stretch as they let the contest slip away, leaving them destined to finish third and face a cut-throat week one final.

Ringwood won their eleventh straight game with a 113-81 thrashing of Hawthorn, with the Hawks completely dominating the contest after quarter time. A 39-point third term put the game to bed after the home side had built an 11-point lead at the main break as they connected on 15 more field goals and pulled in 13 more rebounds than their opponents. Bryan Dougher did the damage with 34 points and 6 boards while Marcus Ruh and Trent Zomer (13 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks) added 17 points apiece. Hunter Santamaria netted 19 points for the outclassed Magic, with Jay Allen (7 points, 2-13 FG) and Ben Waldren (9 points, 4-12 FG) both well-held by the Hawks’ defence.

Diamond Valley kept their season alive with a gritty 88-82 win over Werribee, with the Eagles jumping their opponents after halftime. The visitors also managed to pull in 55 rebounds to combat their poor shooting as Matt Fennell (23 points, 18 rebounds) and Sammy Gazzo (21 points, 4 rebounds) willed their side over the line. Jordan Hughes (19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) led the Devils as they fell to a third straight loss. The Eagles remain an outside chance of a finals berth, but will face Waverley and Corio Bay in a horror double and will need to come away with at least one win to advance.

State Championship Women

A low-scoring clash between Eltham and Sherbrooke kicked off the round, with the Wildcats coming away with a vital 59-48 win to keep their finals chances alive. A dominant 45-26 rebound count meant the visitors were given plenty of opportunities, with Isabella Brancatisano, Hayley Munro (13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) and Amy Nicholson (10 points, 6 rebounds) obliging. For the Suns, Sarah Millar’s purple patch continued as she finished with 17 points, 7 boards and 3 steals but it simply wasn’t enough as the home side shot just 28% and failed to find enough offense to topple the Wildcats.

Diamond Valley snuck past Melbourne 63-60 in overtime in a tight affair which saw the Eagles post their sixth win of the season and consign the Tigers to their fifth straight defeat. With both teams locked away at 49 at the end of regulation, the game suddenly opened up as both teams scored freely in the extra five minutes, with the Eagles’ looking to Carly Turner and Nikki Schleibs (11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) to get them over the line. For the Tigers, Ilena Gentile (16 points, 5 rebounds) led the way in limited minutes while Sydnei Moss finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals as her side just fell short.

Bulleen kept their season alive with a shaky 64-59 win over an improved Warrandyte, helping the Boomers hold onto fourth spot ahead of fast-finishing Eltham. The visitors got home in the scrappy affair courtesy of Funda Nakkasoglu’s (22 points, 6 rebounds) class, while Lauren Pearce added 12 points. A much better Venom side was led by Amanda Hedereics (14 points, 4 rebounds) and Rachel Wansbrough (13 points, 5 rebounds) as they pushed their much more fancied opponents all the way to the final buzzer.

Ringwood blew their second-placed opponents off the court for the second week running, this time seeing off Hume City 71-54 to reassert their standing as the best team in the league. The Hawks were never challenged despite only managing 30 points to 18 in a scrappy second half as Amber Hegge (27 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 11-19 FG) and Michelle Kurowski (23 points, 6 rebounds) combined for more than two thirds of their team’s score. The Broncos were restricted to 19-of-55 shooting, including 26 less field goal attempts than their opponents, as only Colleen Planeta (21 points, 8 rebounds) reached double figures in a disappointing showing.

Bulleen stunned McKinnon in the final matchup of the round with a 68-66 win that left the Boomers’ finals destiny in the palm of their hand heading into the last weekend of the regular season. Despite trailing by double digits in the second term, the Boomers rallied and went on a 15-2 run to open the third quarter to take control. The Cougars regained the lead late in the contest but the Boomers were not to be denied as Funda Nakkasoglu (22 points) nailed a deep three with fewer than 40 seconds to play to put her side in front for good. Lauren Pearce added 15 points and 5 boards for the home side, while Laura Thomas (16 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists) and Alex Lough (15 points, 7 rebounds) were the best for the visitors. A win against Waverley in the final game of the season will hand the Boomers fourth spot and what was an unlikely semi-final appearance just six weeks ago.

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