Central ABL - Finals Round 1 - Eagles Eliminated as Panthers and Bearcats Stay Alive

The Central ABL has shifted up a gear, as the first round of finals is in the bag as the race for this years crown heats up.

Women’s Elimination Final:

South Adelaide Panthers 85 – 57 Forestville Eagles

Jess Mahony has once again shown her class, leading the polished Panthers to a comprehensive sudden death elimination final victory against the experienced Forestville Eagles outfit.

The Eagles held a one point lead at the end of the first period on the back of the Panthers shooting a nervous 28% throughout the first ten minutes of game time. However South shook off the nerves, and lit up the net in the second landing at 50%, as Janae Howard caught fire from deep, as the team went 6 of 10 from range, outscoring the Eagles by 9 points and an 8 point lead at the main break.

Forestville capitulated from here as the Panthers stepped up their suffocating defence, the Eagles making only 1 of 16 field goal attempts in the third period, despite dominating the boards. South didn’t have a great period, however extended their lead to 18 with one quarter to play.

The Panthers didn’t sleep on the Eagles, as they know how dangerous they can be, especially come finals time, putting them away again in the fourth as they continued to be put on the line and run away with a scoreboard easy, but physically and mentally demanding 28 point win.

For South, Jess Mahony was exceptional with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists in another almost triple double. Janae Howard flexed her scoring muscle, shooting an impressive 25 points at 50%, whilst college recruits Maddy Cunningham and Ieva Nagy combined for 30 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Panthers game was their success minus standout centre Ashleigh Spencer, whom will add to their already impressive game.

Season over for the Eagles, in a year they never truly got going. Carla Borrego-Williams proved her pay packet, as she cashed in for 19 points and 15 rebounds at 58%, however enduring foul trouble as she left the game only playing 26 minutes. Young gun Jade Johnson will be imperative for the Eagles future, having a breakout season and finishing the year with 16 points at 50%. Star and veteran point Jess Fergus had a bad shooting night, as perhaps the tough season wore her down as her form dropped off in the last month.

Next up for South is an elimination semi-final match up against the tough Rockets side, who they have lost to in both their meetings this year.

Women’s Qualifying Final

Sturt Sabres 57 – 52 North Adelaide Rockets

What a mouth watering Qualifying final this was, with ebbs, flows and emotion that makes this game great.

Both sides had patches of great, and stretches of shocking, as the momentum of the game played a big role in the outcome. The Rockets jumped out to an impressive first period, outscoring the Sabres 26 to 18, as they crashed the boards converting second chance points effectively.

The game then turned, as the Rockets went cold, making only 3 of 20 field goal attempts, as the Sabres converted at 46% taking a 3 point half time lead. Now for the ugly, as the third period was sponsored by glad wrap, with neither team able to make baskets at a reasonable rate. Sturt went 1 for 14 plus two free throws for a 4 point period, whilst North went 3 of 16 plus 4 free throws for a 10 point period, enough to swing the lead back to Hill’s Rockets by 3.

It was obvious at this point, that which ever side could find the better looks, get to the line, and making the tough shots was going to pull away with the win, as the experienced Novosel and Marino willed their side to a tough 5 point win.

North found production from their usual sources, with Jo Hill scoring 13 points and 14 rebounds, Jamie-Lee Peris had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Jess Smart had 13 points as the only other scorer in double figures. The Rockets needed one of these three to go on to a big score to drive the win, however with the loss their path to the title becomes that much harded, as they face the in form and dangerous Panthers.

Sturt were led on the scoreboard by Natalie Novosel, putting up 23 points and 11 rebounds with 6 steals as her experience was invaluable down the stretch. Angela Marino put up 16 points and 4 assists as she controlled the Sabres offense, whilst Hannah Richards landed 12 points and 9 rebounds dominating the interior and matching on up Peris. Sturt have their fate in their hands as they face the Flames, and after breaking their streak earlier this season, I’m sure the Flames would have much rather faced the Rockets.

Men’s Elimination Final

West Adelaide Bearcats 77 – 72 Forestville Eagles

In the richest of rivalries over the past decade, culminating in many finals and grand final match ups, usually going the way of the Eagles, the Bearcats have completed the double Eagles elimination, sending the Forestville men back to Wayville and ending their season by 5 points.

Photo Credit: Basketball SA

The game was a tight contest throughout and an evenly matched fight, the Bearcats took advantage of their ability to break down the Eagles defense, get them into foul trouble and get to the line often. The contest see-sawed throughout the first half, as the Bearcats held a 5 point at the end of the first, before the Eagles fought back in the second as West couldn’t buy a bucket, leading by 4 points at the main break.

West upped their offensive output in the third, cashing in 27 points including 4 of 6 from deep and 7 of 9 from the line, making 44% of their field goals for the period. Forestville found another gear in the last period as they found good looks, making 53%, however couldn’t close the gap as West slowed down the game, and only provided the Eagles with 13 looks for the period as they ran out of time. Forestville fouled to stop the clock, however West were disciplined and converted at the line to seal the Eagles fate.

Much like their women’s side, the Eagles men never really got going, scraping into the five on the back of some quality inclusions. Shooter Jake Rios was locked up and wasn’t afforded his usual volume of looks, as he made 19 points and 7 rebounds, whilst Kyle Howe-Tipene top scored for Forestville with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Trent Fildes had a promising year, and put up a solid 16 points and 8 rebounds to go with 4 assists.

West’s import point, Jason Dawson ran the floor and controlled the offense with style, as he finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds, with big man Blake Truslove taking home 16 points and 9 rebounds to go with 3 assists and 3 steals. Kurtis Phillips and Anthony Spadavecchia combined for 22 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists, providing reliable options at both ends of the floor. West now face Centrals in an elimination Semi-Final away from home.

Men’s Qualifying Final

Norwood Flames 84 – 65 Central District Lions

The Flames men continue on their march to the title after comfortably downing the patchy Lions side by 21 points in their qualifying final matchup.

Norwood took control from the first tip, jumping out to a 10 point first period lead, suffocating Centrals who only put up 10 points at 23% for the quarter. Norwood then caught alight, as they have done all season, and cashed in with a 23 point period at 59% from the field, winning the quarter by 7 points and 17 at the main break.

Entering the third period with a commanding lead, the Flames put the game away, denying the Lions a chance to close the gap with a 50% field goal success for the period, outworking them for 9 extra looks from forcing 6 turnovers. From here the game was elementary as Norwood held the tough by up and down Centrals side at bay.

Centrals lent on their go to guys as expected, however they couldn’t get going as needed due to Norwood executing their game plan, with Kyle Miller scoring 12 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists, and Chris Clausen with 14 points and 4 rebounds. Centrals now face the Bearcats in next weeks elimination semi-final.

For Norwood, Veteran guard Todd Matthews logged his best game of the season with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists in 24 minutes at 66% from the field and from three, announcing to the league that when fit and healthy he still ranks as arguably the leagues best two way guards. Matthew Lycett struggled to find the bottom of the net making only 25% of his attempts, but still finished with 9 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Andrew Webber shared the ball handling responsibility with Matthews, as he contributed for 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 assists. The Flames now face Warriors for the chance to move straight into the grand final.

Next weeks match ups:

Women’s Semi Final 1 (Elimination)

North Adelaide Rockets v South Adelaide Panthers @ Hillcrest

My prediction: South Adelaide Panthers

Women’s Semi Final 2 (Qualifying)

Norwood Flames v Sturt Sabres @ MARS

My prediction: Sturt Sabres

Men’s Semi Final 1 (Elimination)

Central District Lions v West Adelaide Bearcats @ STARplex

My prediction: West Adelaide Bearcats

Men’s Semi Final 2 (Qualifying)

Woodville Warriors v Norwood Flames @ St.Clair

My prediction: Woodville Warriors

For more information regarding the Central ABL, please head to their website, here.