WNBL: Cayla George is back and on Fire
The WNBL season is back and is looking like it will be one of the closest seasons on record with an amazing array of talent spread across the league. Liza Cambage is back and she suited up for Melboune, but so too is Cayla George who was simply on fire.
It was all about Liz Cambage’s return to the WNBL and the Melbourne Boomers, and it was fitting that she scored the first points to open this season in a cross-town rivalry match against Dandenong.
Melbourne burst out of the gate scoring 29-13 in the first quarter alone. The Rangers kept going but the lead was far too big for them to catch up. Cambage’s presence was felt inside the paint and as such the Boomers dominated the rebound count 47-38. Finishing on 76, the Boomers kept Dandenong to just 61 and took home the 15 point win.
Cambage finished on 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists standing out as Melbourne’s best for the night. Captain Jenna O’Hea also made her presence back in the WNBL known, scoring 11 points, 11 rebounds and 2 steals. Sara and Steph Blicavs combined to put in some of their best work for Dandenong, scoring 17 points and 16 points respectively but it was not enough for a Rangers side who had difficulty suiting up a fit and healthy back court.
The new look Adelaide Lightning fronted up against the reigning champions Sydney Uni Flames on Friday night and proved their busy off-season has been worth it. Led by Natalie Novosel, the Lightning blitzed the Flames at the start scoring 33-19 in the first quarter. The Lightning were playing the team game and it worked as they finished up on a healthy 25 assists.
Adelaide was also enjoying having Abby Bishop back, as the powerhouse finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists.
Novosel completed her night with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals in a huge effort. Nicole Seekamp showed her versatility at the point by racking up 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Katie-Rae Ebzery-- yet another star returning to the league-- was Sydney’s best with 20 points and 7 assists.
The Canberra Capitals showed off their new home court the National Convention Centre in style, opening their season with a 93-80 point win against Bendigo Spirit. Taking control from the start, the Capitals scored 22 points and kept the Spirit to just 12 in the first quarter with some solid defense. However a late spark from the Spirit saw them give Canberra a scare in the third quarter.
The Capitals were able to hold their own thanks to a brilliant effort from Abby Wehrung who scored 22 points and 5 rebounds. Jordan Hooper was happy to be back in the WNBL with 18 points, and Ezi Magbegor showed what she can do in 20 minutes on the court, adding 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Kelsey Griffin was Bendigo’s best with 22 points, and Betnijah Laney was dynamic with 19 points and 5 rebounds.
In what was an anticipated battle between two greats in Suzy Batkovic and Liz Cambage, the Townsville Fire versus Melbourne Boomers game turned out to be the Cayla George show. George dominated in the game that marked the WNBL returning to TV screens after a 2 year absence. A force to be reckoned, George single-handedly ignited her side to take home a 63-54 point win with a massive 24-10 third quarter effort from her team. George racked up the numbers with 17 points and 21 rebounds, as she was everywhere on the court-- thankfully for the Fire-- as her fellow twin-tower Batkovic missed out on court time due to experiencing early foul trouble.
Jenna O’Hea was again great with 10 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Cambage still had a solid game with 15 points and 4 rebounds. Reigning rookie of the year Monique Conti finished on 5 points, but the pocket rocket showed she was exceptionally brave in her moments on the court.
The Capitals again proved they can score big numbers as they became the only team to be 2-0 after round 1 with their victory against Adelaide Lightning 84-77. Hooper again showed off her brilliant shooting ability, scoring 19 points along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Rachel Jarry enjoyed getting back into the WNBL swing of things, providing clutch moments late in the game and finishing on 15 points and 4 rebounds. Bishop was Adelaide’s best with 21, but it wasn’t enough as the Lightning fell short in the final moments despite hitting the lead in the fourth quarter.
Sydney bounced back from their loss to Adelaide on the road, earning a huge win in Perth thanks to a 93-80 result. As we saw last year with the Flames, an even spread of contribution from their starters was too much for the Lynx. Veteran Belinda Snell wound back the clock with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists and 1 steal, while both Jennifer Hamson (20 points, 9 rebounds) and Asia Taylor (20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) were brilliant inside.
WNBA star Courtney Williams certainly made her WNBL presence known, delivering a huge 26 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in one of the top performances of the round. Kayla Standish and Alice Kunek both finished on 15 points each.