Big V Semi Finals (Week 1): Suns, Falcons men advance as Hawks, Broncos women take 1-0 lead

Waverley and Sherbrooke staved off elimination by dumping McKinnon and Bulleen respectively from the 2014 Big V playoffs in the men’s competition, while Hume City and Ringwood both won away from home to take 1-0 series leads and be in the box seat to advance to a grand final in the women’s competition.

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State Championship Men

Corio Bay claimed home court advantage for the playoffs with a stirring 99-74 demolition of Ringwood in the Hawks own gym. Coming into the post-season as red-hot favourites after a stunning season, the Hawks were blown away by the sharp-shooting Stingrays, who shot the ball at 51% for the match and used 29-14 and 27-14 runs in the second and fourth quarters to send the home side to a humiliating defeat. Scooter Renkin (27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Ma’Alo Hicks (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Jason Reardon (19 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists) were all in top form for the visitors as they sent a message to the rest of the league after Ringwood had gathered all the headlines in recent weeks. Trevor Latham (16 points, 8 rebounds, 8-10 FG) was the leading Hawk despite playing just 21 minutes as the home side’s offense went cold, shooting at just 32% for the contest with Bryan Dougher and Marcus Ruh combining for just 20 points on 6-of-28 shooting in the loss.

Sherbrooke is into the final four after thrashing Bulleen 98-73, eliminating the Boomers after a disappointing season. The Suns had the game wrapped up by three-quarter time as they led by the eventual final margin, despite going to the line just eight times for the entire contest. Grant Johnson (23 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) had half the amount of points than he did a week ago against the Boomers but didn’t need to do any more as Josh Smith (14 points, 4 assists) and Titus Robinson (12 points, 10 rebounds) both made solid contributions. For Bulleen, only Liam Norton (27 points, 6 rebounds, 10-15 FG) and Thadd Varmall (16 points) reached double figures as their depth deserted them, despite the Boomers ironically having a significant advantage in that area heading into the match. The Suns will now face Corio Bay in a preliminary final as they attempt to book their place in the grand final series.

Waverley ended McKinnon’s fairytale debut season in State Championship with a come-from-behind 90-77 win over the Cougars. The visitors took a three-point lead into the half time break as the smell of an enormous upset lingered before the Falcons finished the game with a 50-34 run thereafter to see them advance. Ivan Platenik (28 points, 13 rebounds, 11-15 FG) was superb for the home side as he returned to form after an indifferent end to the regular season, while Adrian Campbell (17 points, 5-8 FG) provided plenty in 19 minutes off the bench. The Cougars were led by stars Kale Harrison (22 points, 6 rebounds) and Marcus Timmons (20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) but lacked the depth to go with their much-fancied opponents down the stretch. The win sees the Falcons advance to a preliminary final against Ringwood.

State Championship Women

After qualifying for the post-season in the last game of the season a week ago, Waverley pushed Ringwood all the way but fell 65-51 as the Hawks got on top down the stretch. A 17-5 final term saw the game taken away from the Falcons as their offense deserted them at the worst time, and a 21-8 turnover count in favour of the title favourites made it even harder for the home side to steal an unlikely win. Amber Hegge was a one-woman show, netting 26 points and collecting 10 boards to win the duel with fellow WNBL star Tegan Cunningham (22 points, 12 rebounds), with the latter also committing eight turnovers. Jackie Vanderzaag (14 points, 5 rebounds) was also strong for the Hawks off the bench in a welcome return to form as Ringwood won despite no other player reaching double digits. It was a similar story for the Falcons, who only had Tahlia Higgs (11 points, 5 rebounds) joining Cunningham with more than 10 points for the match as their season was left hanging by a thread.

Credit: Photo Credit: Big V Media

Hume City is in the box seat to advance to the grand final series after a stirring 60-58 win over McKinnon. The Cougars started hot with a 16-9 first term but the Broncos overran them in the second half and took the win on Samara Gallaher’s two-point basket with just under two minutes on the clock. Both teams failed to score again and Nicole Zammit’s attempted game-tyer was off at the buzzer as the visitors held on. Colleen Planeta was unstoppable for the Broncos, finishing with 29 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in a typical performance, while Gallaher added 14 points and 7 boards as the rest of the team combined for just 17 points. The Cougars fell despite a balanced effort at the offensive end, led by Julie Brookhouse (15 points, 7-11 FG), Alex Lough (14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) and Laura Thomas (11 points, 14 rebounds). While the series is far from over, McKinnon will now find it tough to advance to a grand final as they face two must-win clashes at Hume City in a week’s time.

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