Central ABL Preliminary Final Round - Rockets and Bearcats Douse Flames, Face Sabres and Warriors for Title

With the Warriors and Sabres already advanced to the Men’s and Women’s Grand Finals respectively, the Preliminary Finals were hotly contested, to see which sides could secure a date to the big dance in the last Saturday in August.

Women’s Preliminary Final

Norwood Flames 72 – 81 North Adelaide Rockets

Huge news during the week leading up to this game, with Sturt Sabres ex-WNBA star and Lightning player Natalie Novosel tearing her ACL in the dying seconds of the third period last week against the Flames, that will see her miss the rest of this season and likely the WNBL season. The news made this game that much more important, as the winner would have a significant advantage in the Grand Final with the Sabres missing their best player.

The Rockets bucked their recent history against Norwood, as they secured a dominant fourth quarter performance, outscoring the Flames by 8 points to secure their place in the Grand Final. Both sides started red hot, as Norwood converted at 66% in the first period, and the Rockets at 50%. The defensive pressure was lifted in the second, with the Flames again outscoring the Rockets 13-11, to take a 5 point half time lead. Norwood had their chances in the second half, taking 14 more shots than North from 11 offensive boards and forcing 6 turnovers, but the Rockets ability to limit the second chance points and points from turnovers nullified the Flames hard work.

Photo Credit: Central ABL (League)

For Norwood, Amy Lewis who was named the leagues Best and Fairest, winning the prestigious Halls medal on Sunday, top scored for the Flames, with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Kelsey Ireland had one of her best games for the season, scoring 16 points and 5 rebounds at 66% from the field and from three. Captain Cara Boothey went at 50% for 15 points, as the rest of the sides struggled for consistency from the field.

Ex-Norwood guard, Jess Smart had an exceptional night from the field, landing 9 of 15 for 23 points. Veteran leader Jo Hill was scouted well, but still managed 13 points and 9 rebounds to go with 4 assists. Jamie-Lee Peris had a monster night, registering a huge double double of 16 points at 66% and 15 rebounds to go with 5 blocks.

The Flames have been dethroned, clearly missing the services of Jess Foley who underwent the knife late in the season. North advance to the Grand Final against the vulnerable Sabres, who will need to rely heavily on star guard Angela Marino to pull off the upset.

Men’s Preliminary Final

Norwood Flames 67 – 80 West Adelaide Bearcats

The Flames men completed the double, as they were downed by the in-form Bearcats that has added another chapter to these two sides recent history. Norwood seemed to have peaked too early this season, after streaking 10 games in a row their form has been patchy ever since, and never found their stride to push the better sides. West, whilst questionable during the season, are firing on all cylinders, and have justified their position in the Grand Final by their inspired performance.

West started slow, scoring only 7 points in the opening stanza, shooting 16% from the field. Norwood didn’t capitalise, shooting only 25% themselves for 13 points. An even second period saw both sides up around the mid 40%, neither side successful from deep or getting to the line often. Norwood held a 4 point lead into the half time break, before the Bearcats found another gear, converting 13 of 19 looks from the field outscoring the Flames by 14 points for the period. West completed the final frame by getting to the line often, as the Flames threw everything at them, making 8 of 16 from the field and 5 of 10 from deep. The Bearcats held a 21 to 6 free throw disparity, whilst the Flames made 8 of 20 looks from deep compared to 1 of 20 for West.

For the Flames, Matthew Lycett was again their best, scoring 11 points and dragging 17 rebounds, but struggled from the field. Andrew Webber top scored for Norwood with 16 points, whilst defensive spark Todd Matthews had 12 points and 4 rebounds, with 4 steals.

West were led by big man Blake Truslove, as he monstered the Flames with 18 points and 15 rebounds, proving too much for them to handle. Tristan Braithwaite continues his post-injury form with 21 points and 4 rebounds, whilst import guard Jason Dawson had 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.

Season over for Norwood, after such a promising late season run couldn’t be maintained. The Bearcats should prove a difficult challenge for the title favourites, Woodville.

Women’s Grand Final

6.15pm @ Adelaide Arena

Sturt Sabres v North Adelaide Rockets

My tip – North Adelaide Rockets by 16

Men's Grand Final

8.15pm @ Adelaide Arena

Woodville Warriors v West Adelaide Bearcats

My tip – West Adelaide Bearcats by 9

All tickets are available from ProTicket @ www.proticket.com.au

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