Big V Round 18: Falcons women snatch fourth spot on last day, Cougars men hold off Eagles for sixth

Waverley and McKinnon will occupy the final playoffs spot in the women’s and men’s competitions respectively as the Big V 2014 season reaches the post-season. The Falcons dramatically thrashed Bulleen to take fourth spot from the Boomers in the last game of the season, while the Cougars held off Diamond Valley’s late-season dash for the top six with a win against Werribee.

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State Championship Men

Hawthorn ended their season on a high with a hard-fought 74-67 win over Melbourne. In a match which meant little in the context of the season, the Magic recovered from an early deficit to claim the win on the back of more strong showings from Jay Allen (19 points) and Ben Waldren (16 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists). The Tigers were led by Dalton Willshire, who enjoyed his best outing for the campaign in netting 24 points and grabbing 9 boards in increased game time, while Lachlan Anthony finished with 16 points and 7 boards as the young visitors claimed the wooden spoon with a 2-22 record.

Bulleen and Sherbrooke played out an overtime epic in a warm-up to their elimination finals clash, with the Suns saluting 105-100 after the extra five minutes. A 22-point second term from MVP-candidate Grant Johnson (46 points, 7 rebounds, 8-12 3PT) saw the Suns get out to a double digits lead at the main break before the home side roared back. The Boomers managed to take a nine point lead midway through the last after a thunderous Thadd Varmall dunk and deep three in consecutive possessions, before the Suns recovered to send the game to overtime and eventually claim the points. Ryan Fooks (18 points, 12 rebounds, 9-13 FG) was big off the bench for the visitors to lend a hand to the hot-shooting Johnson, while for the Boomers it was all about Varmall (42 points, 6 rebounds), with Jimmy Todd adding 19 points and 9 boards.

Ringwood kept the door ajar for Diamond Valley by sending McKinnon packing in a 106-72 thumping. The title favourites dominated after half time with a 54-26 second stanza as Bryan Dougher (31 points, 12-18 FG) and Ty Zomer (22 points, 4 rebounds, 6-9 FG) were let off the leash. Sam Ayre was McKinnon’s best with 24 points and 6 boards but the Cougars were exposed by the streaking Hawks, who won their twelfth straight contest and head into the finals with the undisputable tag of title favourites. The loss meant the Cougars remained within the grasp of chasing Diamond Valley in the race for the final playoffs spot.

The Eagles put the heat on McKinnon with an 81-78 upset of Waverley, using a 26-18 final term to rocket home and snatch the win. The high-scoring Falcons were held to their lowest total in some weeks by the determined Eagles as Matt Fennell (21 points, 19 rebounds) and Sammy Gazzo (21 points) made them pay at the other end. The Falcons had a number of stars down, with Chris Arkell (10 points, 3-11 FG) and Ivan Platenik (10 points, 11 rebounds) having quiet nights, but got 25 points from Brad Kelleher and a strong contribution from Sedale Threatt (16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) despite the defeat.

Whittlesea continued to heap misery on Hume City claiming an 86-81 win over the Broncos. Despite only getting five points from their bench, the Pacers had all the answers as Chris Knight (19 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists), Jason Dirkx (19 points, 4 assists) and Michael Petridis (18 points) all enjoyed strong outings. Jamal Brown dominated the paint for the Broncos in gathering 29 points and 21 boards, while Jermaine Maybank added 20 points, 6 boards and 7 assists but they had little help outside of Brett Fennell (17 points, 11 rebounds) in an all-too familiar story.

The Broncos ended their miserable season on a high with a 93-89 win over Eltham 24 hours later, with a 30-17 final term showing glimpses of the side that started the season in red-hot form. Jermaine Maybank (31 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Jamal Brown (22 points, 15 rebounds) were strong as usual but got plenty of help from Shaun Prendergast (17 points, 6 rebounds) and Brett Fennell (10 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists) as they posted their ninth win of the campaign. John Lister led the Wildcats with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in an impressive display while Elliott Carr added 19 points and 7 boards but it wasn’t enough as the home side’s disappointing 2014 season came to a close.

Credit: Photo Credit: Big V Media

McKinnon shut the gate on Diamond Valley’s unlikely finals run with an 81-77 win away to Werribee. Kale Harrison (37 points, 18 rebounds) was in blistering form as the Cougars withstood a 25-14 final term run by the Devils to claim the win despite registering just six total assists for the match. Marcus Timmons finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds in a vintage display, while for the Devils it was Aaron McCuin (22 points, 17 rebounds) and Rustin Dowd (15 points, 4 assists) who battled to keep their side in the contest. The Devils finished the season with a disappointing 8-16 season record after looking to build on the promise they had shown in their 2013 campaign.

Corio Bay sent Diamond Valley to an early holiday with a 112-97 win over the Eagles that ruled them out of the 2014 playoffs and consigned them to an eight-place finish. A 31-20 second term set up the win as Duane Johnson (28 points, 9 rebounds) and Scooter Renkin (24 points, 5 rebounds, 12 assists) warmed up for the playoffs in style. Matt Fennell finished a strong season with 25 points, 8 boards and 4 steals but it was in vain as his side failed to match it with one of the league’s premier offensive units. The Stingrays finished the season with a 20-2 record to claim second spot and an automatic passage into the second week of the playoffs.

State Championship Women

Sherbrooke ended their horror season on a high with an 81-59 thrashing of Melbourne to hand the Tigers the wooden spoon. The Suns moved the ball far better than their opponents as they tallied 23 assists to nine, with Sarah Millar (16 points, 5 assists) and Rachel Waterhouse (15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 steals) starring for the home side. Sydnei Moss was the only Tiger to show any fight as she helped herself to 19 points on 7-of-9 from the field to go with 14 boards and 3 steals as her side went down for the fifteenth time of the season and the sixth in a row.

Hume City snuck past McKinnon 70-65 to claim home court for their semi-final series against the Cougars. Despite being outrebounded 43-35, the visitors managed to build a double figure lead by the final change before surviving a 20-11 rally by the Cougars in the final ten minutes. Hume was led by Colleen Planeta (18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks) as she continued her MVP- calibre season, while Samara Gallaher added 13 points, 7 boards and 4 steals. Skye Rees (17 points, 6 rebounds) was the best for the out-of-form Cougars, who lost their third straight contest and will need to find a way to reverse their form over the coming week before tackling the Broncos again.

Eltham snuck past Diamond Valley to end their season on a high in a 57-53 result that did little to inspire. The Wildcats led 24-8 at quarter time but were reeled in by the Eagles and were made to fight as the home side took the lead midway through the final term. Hayley Munro (9 points, 8 rebounds) broke the shackles momentarily to get her side back on track before Isabella Brancatisano (26 points, 7 rebounds) hit some big shots to get her side over the line. Carly Turner finished with 11 points and 8 boards to be the only Eagle in double figures as her side ended the 2014 season with a 6-12 record and in seventh place.

Ringwood tuned up for the post-season with a dominant 69-47 win over Warrandyte. The Hawks built a 45-20 lead by halftime and emptied the bench thereafter as the Venom added some respectability to the score in the final term. Michelle Kurowski (14 points) and Amber Hegge (12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) still topped the sheet for the home side, while for the visitors it was Meg Dargan (18 points) who was the only player to reach double digits. The Venom finished the season with a 4-14 record but improved dramatically in the second half of their State Championship debut season.

Bulleen’s season turned from fairytale to nightmare in the space of 20 minutes in a disappointing 59-46 loss to Waverley, handing the Falcons an unlikely finals berth in the process. In a complete form reversal for both sides, the visitors shot out to a dominant 35-14 halftime lead as the Boomers, who led the league in field goal percentage coming into the match, shot the ball at just 12% for the half. With Funda Nakkasoglu (1 point, 0-4 FG) battling illness and a sprained thumb, the home side looked lost at the offensive end and had no answer to the brilliance of Tegan Cunningham (31 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists) at the other end as Waverley built a 32-point lead midway through the third before surviving a vicious Bulleen rally to snatch fourth place. Maree Drennan (10 points, 7 rebounds) was the only Boomer to hit double figures as their season derailed in a flash.

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