WNBL: Wilson leads Fire to finals hope and Capitals fight for top 4
Townsville sent a message to the rest of the competition on Friday night. The two-time reigning WNBL champions aren’t going down without a fight as their win over the Dandenong Rangers gave them a glimmer of hope for a three-peat.
A phenomenal team effort from the Fire saw them stamp their foot against the Rangers in an 83-66 point victory. Kayla Standish top scored for the match with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while champion Suzy Batkovic provided 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists.
But the story of the night came from Kelly Wilson, who’s highlight reel of 16 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists led the Fire to the win and on the brink of a finals position. Wilson’s skills were exceptional, and her damaged season through injury only adds more to her inspirational performance.
Wilson’s strong game earned herself Round 18’s Player of the Week. Check out her highlights here:
Sara Blicavs did all she could for the Rangers with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists, but Dandenong weren’t able to provide an answer for the Fire’s strong presence inside and their even spread.
For the Fire, the win meant they have one more to go to completely secure a position in the finals.
For the Rangers, the loss meant a potential disaster to their finals hopes and they had to rely on a bit of luck in games they had no control over. It didn’t help that they went down to the league’s minor premiers Sydney the next day.
The Flames snuck in a close win at 81-77 over the Rangers, led by point guard Leilani Mitchell with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists.
Despite an incredible game from Stephanie Cumming who totalled 25 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists and Ally Malott with 20 points, the Rangers couldn’t overcome the Flames who proved yet again they are specialists in the close-calling games.
Following Mitchell’s lead, Belinda Snell caused havoc from the 3-point-line with no surprise, knocking down 5 from 5 to bring her to 17 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals in a massive effort. The presence inside of Jennifer Hamson is well and truly paying off for Sydney as she brought in 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The balance in this Flames side seems to be on another level - they have gelled seamlessly together and are going to be the team to beat in finals time.
The Canberra Capitals have kept their finals hopes alive and put an end to Bendigo’s season in a 77-52 point win. A 3-quarter onslaught saw the Capitals score 24 points and keep the Spirit to just 4 - putting them in a deficit they couldn’t recover from.
Abby Wehrung gave a spirited performance in a breakthrough match, despite exiting the game during the third quarter after a hard foul. The guard top scored for the match in just 20 minutes of game time, scoring 18 points inclusive of a huge 5 3-pointers.
Her efforts were accompanied by Canberra’s best in Marianna Tolo, contributing 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots.
Things just didn’t go to plan for the Spirit. There were some solid efforts from Heather Oliver, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Kelsey Griffin but all-in-all it was a game they would much rather forget as it put an end to their WNBL season.
In a game that had no meaning on finals as both teams have no chance at making the top 4, it was refreshing to see Melbourne and Adelaide maintain their professionalism and make the most of their match.
The Boomers ended up successors at 85-72 points, with Maddie Garrick starring in a 22 point effort. Rebecca Cole and Alice Kunek weren’t far behind with 15 points a piece, as the sharpness from Melbourne gave them the edge they needed to get over the line.
Laura Hodges put in a superb performance as usual making 18 points, 15 rebounds and 2 assists for the night.
The Boomers weren’t done however, as they took it right up to the Perth Lynx on the road to make it an overtime thriller.
Melbourne’s momentum didn’t drop off throughout the entire game, but were left thinking what if as they ended up 81 to Perth’s 87.
Sami Whitcomb top scored with 22 points, complimented by Brianna Butler’s 19 points and Caarley Mijovic’s 17 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots.
Whitcomb made smart work of the Boomers, but the likes of Cole (14 points, 4 assists, 3 steals), Garrick (12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and Kunek (12 points, 3 assists) weren’t giving up.
A standout game from Kalisha Keane gave the Boomers an extra 16 points, 9 rebounds and a massive 9 assists. Her masterclass performance almost led the Boomers to the unthinkable, almost.
The win allowed Perth to regain second position, with a promising opportunity of finals.
Check out all the highlight from Round 18 here:
Round 19 Previews
In the last round of the season and only the top spot set in stone, we’ll see teams desperate to win to secure their spot in the 2016/17 Finals series.
Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning
The Capitals have to win their remaining two games to have any chance at finals. Can’t see them dropping this game with so much on their shoulders.
Marianna Tolo v Laura Hodges
Dandenong Rangers v Perth Lynx
This will be an entertaining game. Both teams are looking to higher their position for finals and will be going at this with their all. Expecting to see a finals-like intensity in this game.
Aimie Clydesdale v Sami Whitcomb
Sydney Flames v Adelaide Lightning
The Flames should make easy work of this one, but will also expect to see some younger, less experience Flames players take the floor as their stars prepare for the path to a potential championship.
Belinda Snell v Colleen Planeta
Townsville Fire v Canberra Capitals
With both teams on the brink of a finals campaign, this game could decide who is in and who is out, given Canberra beat Adelaide. This will be a finals like game as both teams battle it out to save their season.
Kelly Wilson v Lauren Mansfield
Melbourne Boomers v Bendigo Spirit
Both teams are out of the finals, but will still expect a tough game delivered from these two.
Maddie Garrick v Blake Dietrick
Bendigo Spirit v Perth Lynx
Perth will be hoping to better their position for a second chance at the elusive WNBL championship, so any win will help that. Expecting the Lynx to take this game seriously and with a finals-like intensity.
Kelsey Griffin v Carley Mijovic