WNBL: The fight to make playoffs begins

With the WNBL playoffs kicking off in January, the fight to make the top 4 is starting to take some real shape with Perth, Melbourne, Townsville, Sydney and Adelaide all in hot contention to appear in the post-season.

Canberra Capitals kicked off the round hosting Sydney for a tough battle. The Capitals fell short by 6 points in the end, hanging on until the final quarter where they allowed the Flames to get too far ahead.

Once again it was the reliable core group of players from Sydney that got the job done.

Katie Ebzery and Alex Wilson top scored for Sydney, and Jennifer Hamson was outstanding inside the key with 15 points and 17 rebounds, alongside Belinda Snell with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists.

For Canberra, Mistie Bass was solid with 16 points and Jordan Hooper had 11 points.

It’s a game the Spirit would rather forget, when they fronted up at Melbourne’s home court and were thumped 86-42. Jenna O’Hea starred, leading her team to victory with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Liz Cambage also couldn’t be stopped, with 11 points and 13 rebounds including some rest time for the star Melbourne player.

Bendigo were smashed on the boards, the rebound count 53-35 Melbourne’s way. Melbourne were also a lot more efficient on the scoreboard, with a 46% shooting average compared to Bendigo’s 26% which is a credit to the Boomers tough defence. Betnijah Laney tried hard for Bendigo with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists and Gabe Richards and Nadeen Payne tried hard to outstrength the Boomers inside as well.

It was Adelaide who were on fire as they secured a huge triumph and managed to outclass Townsville at their home court 79-64. Natalie Novosel was the difference with a massive 21 point effort, along with Nicole Seekamp putting in some great work on both ends of the floor with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Suzy Batkovic continued her stellar form wiith 25 points and 13 rebounds, but without the amount of support needed to get this one over the line.

Perth continued their winning ways with a close call over the Rangers at 78-73. The understrength Rangers took control of the match early, but Perth fought their way back to control the second half of the game. Courtney Williams dominated with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, followed closely by Sami Whitcomb with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists as those two continue to prove they are the league’s best dynamic duo. Kayla Pederson was Dandenong’s best with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. The Rangers were shooting brilliantly but it came down to Perth’s pressure causing 21 turnovers, which gave the Lynx more opportunities to get in front.

It was a fiery game Saturday afternoon in Adelaide, as the Boomers ventured interstate to take on the Lightning. Adelaide kept finding a way to get in front, and for a long period of the game the Boomers just couldn’t get rid of them. However a clutch ballerina-style move from Liz Cambage put Melbourne 2 points in front and they hung on to claim the win. Cambage was huge for the Boomers, scoring 32 points and 12 rebounds as she couldn’t be stopped. Nicole Seekamp was excellent for Adelaide with 16 points, and captain Abby Bishop led her team exceptionally well throughout the match with 7 points and 14 rebounds.

Sydney hosted Perth on Saturday afternoon in a double-double with the men’s Sydney Kings game which was a spectacle for the fans. The Flames couldn’t get the job done, as the in-form team of the competition stayed in front to claim a 5 point win. It was Sami Whitcomb and Alice Kunek who got the job done with 23 points each, and Courtney Williams wasn’t far behind with 18 points to her name.

Alex Wilson scored 22 points for the Flames, and Snell had 18 points and 9 rebounds.

Perth’s ability to look after the ball again gave them plenty more opportunities in this game over Sydney, which has been a crucial skill to their success so far this season.

Townsville fronted up against Bendigo on Saturday and got the job done, winning 99-62. Suzy Batkovic, despite being well rested was the best on court with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Sydney Wiese had a great game for the Fire with 26 points, and Cayla George was also impressive with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Alihse Hurst had a breakout game for Bendigo with 15 points, and Betnijah Laney tried hard with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Bendigo were outstrengthed inside and Townsville’s bigger bodies dominated.

It looked like it was going to be another disappointing night for Canberra, when in the first 5 minutes of their match against Dandenong Rachel Jarry went down with another concussion and play stopped for nearly 20 minutes. However, the Capitals didn’t give up and brilliant work from both Nat Hurst and Jordan Hooper gave them their first win since Round 1 with an 81-78 point scoreline.

Hooper scored 21 points and 6 rebounds, and Hurst 15 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists. Mistie Bass and Abbey Wehrung were also good with 12 points each.

Steph Blicavs tried exceptionally hard for the Rangers, and was brilliant throughout the game with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.