SEABL Round 4: Road Teams Struggle Amongst Four Instant Classics
A thrilling weekend of basketball saw three matches decided in the final seconds with two game winners and a match saving block highlighting Round 4.
The Tasmanian road trip is always a tough ask for sides but the Sandringham Sabres began theirs with a bang as Michael Moore drained a three in the final 10 seconds to stun the Hobart Chargers 92-90. The visitors finished the match on a 13-4 run with Hobart managing just 5-13 from the field in the fourth quarter. Deba George did have one last chance to win it for the Chargers and although it rimmed out, he still finished with 39 points (a league high this season.) Hobart started the year with two wins but have now dropped three straight while they also sit 0-2 at home.
Sandringham were unable to keep their good fortune going the following day, losing to the N/W Tasmania Thunder 109-73. Moore averaged 24.5 points for the round but the home side controlled the match from the outset, piling on 39 points in the first quarter to lead by 18. The Thunder were deadly from beyond the arc, hitting 15-27 with BJ Jenkins (32 points, 12 rebounds) knocking in 6-9. Four of their starters scored 16+ and as they moved to 5-0, N/W Tasmania’s chances of a championship are firming.
The Kilsyth Cobras continue to roll, winning a barn-burner against the Brisbane Spartans to close out the round. After trailing for the entire first half, a 27-16 third term put the Cobras in front. Brisbane then answered with a 21-9 run before Izzy Tueta (25 points in his best performance of the season) gave them a three point lead with 30 seconds to go. The crowd was then sent into raptures when Tim Lang (27 points) tied the game with a three before Gerard Leonard hit a buzzer beater to win 78-75. His 13 points and 7 rebounds were both season highs.
Brisbane’s heart-breaker finished off a 0-2 round, having lost to the Mt. Gambier Pioneers 59-84 the night before. Zach Henifin was a monster on the boards, finishing with 14 per game for the weekend but shot 0-13 against Mt.Gambier. The home side was led by double-doubles from Brad Hill (15 points, 12 boards) and Damian Johnson (10 and 15) while Ben Allen torched the Spartans for 32.
The Pioneers followed that performance with a gritty display against the Bendigo Braves, moving to 6-0 while dropping the Braves to 3-2. Both sides showed fatigue and as their starters cancelled each other out, Jan Warbout’s 10 points off the bench came in very handy. Bendigo had played earlier in the week against the Ballarat Miners, winning 81-73. The Miners fought hard, trimming a 10 point lead to 4 in the final 30 seconds but a 22-7 advantage in points off turnovers killed them. Mt.Gambier were led by Michael Vigor who averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds for the round.
The Frankston Blues were another side to win in a thriller, holding onto a 79-78 victory to hand the Geelong Supercats their first loss. Trailing by as much as 7 with 3 minutes remaining, the Supercats finished the game on an 8-1 run. They fell just short though as Mike Mercer missed two shots in the final five seconds, with Brandon Polk blocking one of them, in an agonising finish. A balanced line-up saw Frankston grab their first home win of the season with five players reaching double figures while a 22-9 disparity in points off turnovers was a pleasing sign. Geelong’s loss came after a hard-fought win against the Albury/Wodonga Bandits, overcoming an 8 point half-time deficit to win 92-85. Ash Cannan (19.5 points and 6 rebounds over the weekend) was a stand-out while Mercer finished with 17 points, 5.5 boards and 1.5 steals.
The Bandits’ round went from bad to worse, falling to the Knox Raiders the following day. Knox have been getting closer to a maiden victory for the last couple of weeks and they were clinical against the Bandits, shooting 50% from inside the arc and 59% beyond it in a 99-81 win. They scored 25 points off turnovers while three starters reached the 20 point mark. Mohamed Ntumba kept us his double-double average with 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds for Albury/Wodonga but Alex Opacic had a day to forget against Knox shooting 0-6 as his side lost their third straight.
Alongside the Raiders, the Dandenong Rangers also picked up their first win of the season, taking care of the Canberra Gunners 88-64. Tony Lewis (27 points, 17 rebounds) was finally rewarded for his superb efforts this season while Daequon Montreal and Andrew Harms chimed in with 22 and 20 respectively. Canberra had a rough weekend, succumbing 80-97 to the Nunawading Spectres the following night with only Daniel Joyce (14.5 points) able to stay consistent across both matches.
Nunawading are now a clear second in the East Conference, sitting two losses ahead of their closest rival. Simon Conn (27 points and 14 rebounds) now leads the league in boards while the Spectres added Tommy Greer to their arsenal. He collected 15 and 17 in just 23 minutes and has improved an already deadly Nunawading bench.
Round 4 began with a classic as the Ballarat Rush fought out a double overtime win against the Bendigo Lady Braves. Trailing by 11 in the third term, Bendigo went on a tear that culminated in a Kerryn Harrington three, taking the game into overtime. Ballarat managed just one field goal in the extra period but shot 5-5 from the free throw line to take the lead. Rosie Fadljevic then forced another five minutes with a buzzer beater. Bendigo were running out of players though with two of their starters fouled out and this opened the door for Steph Cumming. 8 of her 31 points (to go along with 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks) came in double overtime as Ballarat won 84-82. Alex Bunton was fantastic in the loss, finishing with 17 points and 19 rebounds.
Unsurprisingly, Ballarat struggled to back up that performance later in the week against the Frankston Lady Blues, scoring just 54 points and losing by 8. Nya Mason (14 points) was solid and Ashleigh Stonehouse impressed with 11 points but Frankston jumped them early, grabbing a 17 point advantage by half-time. Kelly Bowen (20 points and 11 rebounds) recorded her first double-double of the year and is quietly putting together a nice season as the Lady Blues sit equal first in the South Conference.
The Kilsyth Lady Cobras are also perched at the top of the South, winning convincingly over the Brisbane Lady Spartans, 88-75. Rosie Moult (23 points) leads the league in three point makes and knocked in another six this weekend while Brisbane managed just four as a team. The Lady Spartans were careless with the ball, giving up 27 points off 21 turnovers while recording 7 assists compared to Kilsyth’s 20. Olivia Thompson was again a menace for Brisbane, finishing with 22 points, 15 boards and 2 blocks. She now sits sixth in the league for rebounds and third for blocked shots.
The Canberra Capitals’ hapless start to the year was compounded this weekend, losing to the Dandenong Rangers by 36 and to the Nunawading Spectres by 38. They didn’t win a quarter in either match but most disturbingly, lost the second quarter by an average of 17.5 points while shooting just 5-27. Sarah McAppion was again the bright spot for the Capitals, with 19.5 points across the two games but until her side can curb their high turnover rate, there will be a lot more pain this year.
Dandenong can use their victory over Canberra to kick-start their season as they moved into the winners circle for the first time. Five players scored at least 14 points with Rachel Antoniadou (18 points) and Tenaya Philips (16) providing highlights off the bench. Nunawading moved to 3-2 on the back of double-doubles from Eleanor Brentnall and Rebecca Allen who was very active with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Playing just 15 minutes, Hanna Zavecz ran riot with 16 points on 6-13 shooting.
Along with Canberra, the Albury/Wodonga Lady Bandits went winless for Round 4 with two massive losses to the Geelong Lady Supercats and Knox Raiders. Geelong touched them up to the tune of 41 points, restricting the Lady Bandits to 27% shooting while they recorded more fouls than field goals (26-21). Geelong hit 33-38 from the free throw line with Sara Blicavs (26 points, 12 rebounds) and Caitlin Shadbolt (13 and 12) doing as they please in their third straight victory. Albury/Wodonga then lost by 34 as Knox put an end to their own losing streak. Jess May recorded 23 and 10, Tia Hay had 12 points in 9 minutes off the bench and Kelly Wilson (29, 8 and 10 assists) was destructive, flirting with a triple-double. Emilee Harmon continues to go to work for the Lady Bandits, averaging 16.5 points and 14.5 boards for the weekend to move into third on the league’s rebounding ladder.
The Sandringham Sabres’ Tasmanian road trip did not go as planned, falling to both the Hobart Lady Chargers by 11 and the Launceston Tornadoes by 5 in consecutive nights. Hope Walker battled gallantly, finishing with 21.5 points and 10 rebounds (5.5 offensive) for the weekend but a total of 14 turnovers hampered her play. Micaela Cocks reached 20 points in both games but shooting under 40% as a team for the round made it difficult for Sandringham who now fall to 0-5.
Hobart look to have turned their season around, winning two straight after dropping their first three. Eliza Chilcott (11 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists) was a monster in the paint while Kathleen Scheer added 9 rebounds and 4 blocks to her 27 points. Launceston’s win total is now double what they finished with in 2013, willing themselves to victory with an 11-4 run to end the game. 20 point efforts from Alex Wilson and Nadeen Payne were instrumental but 22-23 from the free throw line, including four crucial makes in the final 30 seconds, prove the maturity and growth from last season of this Tornadoes side.
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