Waratah Championship - Round 1

After what felt like a years worth of off season, the Waratah Championship kicked off this weekend. This season, The Pick and Roll will be covering both the men and women's competition of the Waratah Championship for the first time! Below you will find round recaps of both championships, with the men leading us off.

Photo Credit: Basketball NSW

Waratah League Men

The first game to kick off proceedings was the Central Coast Crusaders coming up against the Illawarra Hawks. The Crusaders were paced by Callum Jenkins with 23 points, in a game that finished closer than the performances would indicate. The plucky Hawks limited the Central Coast team to only 5 points in the final quarter only for Illawarra to be denied by a measly 3 points in the end, finishing 69-72 losers.

Beaten grand finalists from last season, the Sydney Comets came up against the Newcastle Hunters in the second game of the schedule. The Newcastle team has had quite a turnover from last year and were looking to test themselves against perennial finalists in the Comets. After a see-sawing affair entering the last quarter down 71-61, the Hunters prevailed 84-80 due to the second chance points created from a massive difference on the offensive boards. Hunters import, Bennie Murray led all scorers with 29 points.

A Sydney derby was next on the agenda with the Hills Hornets hosting the Bankstown Bruins. The 3rd quarter truly was 'Championship' quarter in this one, with Hills winning that one 25-6 and effectively sealing the game. David Hayman's 26 points contributed to the final 83-56 score line. You would have to believe the Bruins will bounce back after only one player recording double digit scoring.

Maitland had their backs against the wall in the next game against the Hornsby Spiders. Jamie Newth was strong as always for the visiting Spiders. But after being down all game entering the final quarter, last years cellar dwellers Maitland couldn't quite close out strong and suffered a 1 point defeat despite last seasons Waratah League MVP Mitch Rueter's 26 points. Goran Veg, formally of the Parramatta Wildcats, also contributed to the victory with a strong effort on the glass and 16 points down low. Maitland seem to be a team on the rise and after already equaling last seasons win total, the only way is up for the Mustangs.

The Pioneer Tavern Panthers of Penrith took a road trip to the coast to take on the Sutherland Sharks in the next game. And they exploded out of the gates like wild felines. That would be the only quarter that they would win though, as Sutherland drowned the Panthers, making it rain from the field for the rest of the game. Had the Sharks been able to capitalise more from the line (8/20 for 40% as a team), the score line would've been much more unkind to the visitors. Cam Stewart, 17, and Daniel Sepokas, 21, led a focused attack for the blue and black boys while Louis Brandt led the visitors with 16 points and 6 rebounds. Turnovers were costly for the Panthers (20 for the game) and you would have to think that they'll be better with the ball in the next start.

Our final game of the round pitted the Norths Bears against the visiting Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in a true local derby. Always a fierce competition when these two teams face off and Saturday night was no different. A sloppy second quarter to the Sea Eagles being all the hosts needed to come away with the win. 27 points and 4 assists from Jarrad Weeks led the Bears past the Sea Eagles and Steven White's 17 points. Duane Jordan was a stand out for the Manly side, collecting a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds in a real workman like effort.

Waratah League Women

With the women's draw almost being a mirror of the men we'll start with the Hills Hornets taking on the Bankstown Bruins at the Hills Basketball Stadium. This was a highly competitive game, but the Bruins ran their race too soon. After scoring 22 points in the second quarter, they could only manage to score 15 in the entire second half. The Hornets held on to win this one 60-50 behind 16 points and 10 rebounds from Casey Samuels.

Up in Maitland, the Hornsby Spiders had no issues against an inexperienced and undersized Mustangs side comfortably taking the win 82-34. Sarah Schicher dominated for the Spiders with 17 points and 10 rebounds in only 28 minutes of game time. The bench ran deep for the Spiders with every player getting minutes in the easy win.

The Norths Bears took on local rivals the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in what was another one-sided affair. The first quarter ended with only one point in it, and that was the closest the Eagles got to a dominant Bears side who closed out the game with an 80% quarter from the 3pt line. Renae Camino dazzled for the Bears, finishing with 33 points against an outclassed Sea Eagles side. Keep an eye on Kathryn Rendell from the Bears, who finished with 18 rebounds. She could be setting records this season if she keeps up this average.

The encore to the nail biting Sydney Comets versus Newcastle Hunters mens game was equally as exciting with the girls going down to the wire. The Newcastle girls were down 4 after the first quarter and that's as close as it would get after a calm and composed Sydney Comets team held on to win by that margin. Rhiann Te Hira had 21 and 10 for the home side to combat the 12 and 10 from Hunters captain Jill Morgan.

With only one lop-sided score line in the opening round of the mens comp, this years Waratah League looks like being as close as ever. There is some great talent in the league with a great mix of youth and experience, so I encourage you all to get out to your local stadium if you can and cheer the boys and girls on. Until next week...

For more in-depth results or if you're after more information regarding the Waratah Championship, please click here to visit the Waratah Championship home page.

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