SEABL Round 17: Finals Hopes for the Gunners and Sabres All But Dashed
Threatening the South Conference top four just a fortnight ago, the Canberra Gunners’ finals hopes are all but dashed now after a dismal 0-2 road trip of Tasmania. The disappointment began on Friday night, losing 69-85 to the Hobart Chargers as Khalil Hartwell (16 points, 15 rebounds) took control of the match. Hobart’s defence was relentless, turning 23 turnovers into 20 points while Tiri Masunda (15 and 8 with 5 assists) and Callum Barker (14 and 8 off the bench) played handy cameo roles.
The offensive might of the N/W Tasmania Thunder proved too much for Canberra the following night, cruising to a 104-80 win. All five Thunder starters reached double figures with Tyrone Lee (21 points, 16 boards) and Mitch Bragg (13 and 7 with 6 assists) leading the way. The victory should assure N/W Tasmania of second spot in the South, with a two game lead over third placed Kilsyth. It was a forgetful match for Canberra’s captain Jono Miller, in his 200th game. Garlon Green stood out for the Gunners, averaging 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds but he was a lone hand as a chance at playoffs for the first time in 6 years looks to have been lost.
The Bendigo Braves took advantage of Canberra’s slump as well as Frankston’s bye to launch into the South Conference’s fourth spot with two victories. They easily took care of the Albury/Wodonga Bandits, shooting 55% and 10-20 from beyond the arc for a 96-80 win. The Bandits shot 46% themselves and finished +13 in points off turnovers with Lamar Mallory (20 points, 12 rebounds) starring. They were unable to restrict Zack Atkinson at either end though, as the import tallied 18 and 10 with a ridiculous 8 blocks.
Atkinson followed up that performance with 4 points in the final 1:30 to seal a 79-78 road victory over the Brisbane Spartans. He averaged 18 points and 12.5 boards for the round while Dustin Salisbery led all scorers with 25 and 6.5. The Braves now sit at 11-11, one game clear of fifth placed Frankston. Izzy Tueta had 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assist in the frustratingly close loss that has officially ended Brisbane’s finals campaign.
The runaway train that is the Dandenong Rangers continues to roll on as they defeated Albury/Wodonga the night after they fell to Bendigo. The 105-81 thrashing saw the Rangers shoot 52% from the field with even contributions from Daequon Montreal (21 points) and Tony Lewis (19 points, 8 rebounds) while Owen Odigie exploded for 21 points on 8-9 shooting with 4 boards and 5 assists. Despite Geelong and Nunawading nipping at their heels, Dandenong’s tenth straight victory keeps them atop the East Conference. Coming into the round with three consecutive wins, the Bandits will be disappointed to lose both their matches but a 17 point, 12.5 rebound average for Mallory was a highlight.
The Mt. Gambier Pioneers cemented their place as the team to beat in the South, punishing the Kilsyth Cobras 91-78. Tim Lang (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Auryn MacMillan (19 and 12) held their own inside but a 20-2 advantage in bench points carried the Pioneers over the line. Jan Warbout scored 15 in just 20 minutes while Damian Johnson took MVP honours with 30 points and 11 boards.
Kilsyth responded with a big home win on Sunday, defeating the Geelong Supercats 88-81. Since the loss of Mike Mercer, Geelong’s fourth quarters have been abysmal and they again succumbed down the stretch, giving up an 8 point lead with a 17-30 final term. Nathan Herbert had 19 points and Eric Gaff collected 11 and 10 rebounds but a third straight loss has placed them two games behind Dandenong. Kilsyth are almost assured of a third placed finish in the South now, thanks to double-double averages for Lang (18 and 10) and MacMillan (15.5 and 10.5) while Joel Naburgs poured in 27 points in both matches.
The Ballarat Miners will play in the post-season but their finals preparation has been less than ideal after the Sandringham Sabres took care of them 89-76. The damage was done in a 27-17 first term as Rayshawn Goins (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Junior Hairston (16 and 16) feasted. Ben Kelly was a surprise packet, adding a season high 20 and 7 with 2 steals off the bench. Ken Horton (24 and 15) continues to star for Ballarat but without Roy Booker, it is hard to see the Miners truly competing in the playoffs.
The work was only half done for Sandringham after that win, needing to beat the Knox Raiders to keep their own finals chances alive. Their dreams were quickly dashed in an inspired 103-88 performance from Knox who shot 13-26 from the three point line. They had six players reach double figures, led by Delwan Graham (11 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) while Dylan Hare recorded a season high 20 points. For Sandringham, Goins had a huge weekend, averaging 25 points and 14 boards and Alister MacDonald added 15 per game.
That victory was Knox’s third in four games, having fallen 93-108 to the Nunawading Spectres the night before. The big bodies of Simon Conn (21 points, 14 rebounds) and Tommy Greer (25 and 10) were too influential as the Spectres scored 42-26 in the paint. Rhys Carter (20 points) was solid for the Raiders but with the win, Nunawading have stayed just a game behind Dandenong in the tight race for the East’s top spot.
The Bendigo Lady Braves have extended their lead atop the South Conference, comprehensively thrashing the Albury/Wodonga Lady Bandits in a near flawless performance. Their 95-61 win saw them record just 3 turnovers while scoring 23-0 in points off turnovers, and 27-4 in second chance points. Emilee Harmon (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Montana Farrah-Seaton (24 points) were the only highlights for the Lady Bandits, combining for 20-33 shooting. For Bendigo, Heather Oliver had 21 and 14 off the bench while Alex Bunton added 21 and 8 in 23 minutes.
The Lady Braves then consolidated their position with a 94-68 win over the Sandringham Sabres. Leading by just 1 at the first break, Bendigo powered away to win every quarter as five players reached double figures. Bunton averaged 18.5 points and 10 rebounds for the weekend while it was Rosie Fadljevic’s turn to dominate off the bench, adding 14 points. With just three matches remaining in their regular season, Bendigo have a two game separation from second placed Kilsyth. 9 turnovers was a better turnout for the error-riddled Sabres but they were unable to tally a winning score with Mikaela Dombkins’ 19 points a team high.
The end of the season cannot come soon enough for the Lady Bandits as they followed up their loss to Bendigo with a 39-108 mauling at the hands of the Dandenong Rangers. Their 18th straight defeat was their worst of the year and also their lowest score with Harmon (14 points, 11 boards) the only player to reach double figures. Dandenong romped to victory, scoring 56-12 in points in the paint, 24-5 in points off turnovers, 17-0 in second chance points and 51-16 in bench points. Lauren Scherf had a 23 point, 15 rebound double-double in just 23 minutes while Jacinta Kennedy added 27 on 11-14 shooting.
The Rangers lead the East Conference but are only two games ahead of the Nunawading Spectres, who kept in touch with a 68-53 win over the Knox Raiders. With Gabe Richards (19 points, 12 boards) back in the line-up, Knox closed the gap to 7 points in the final term but the class of Bec Cole (21 and 4 with 7 assists) was enough to snap the Spectres’ two game losing streak. Knox were out-scored by 18 from beyond the arc with their own losing streak extended to seven.
The Canberra Capitals were never in the contest on their first stop of the Tasmanian road trip, falling 58-80 to the Hobart Lady Chargers. They did force 22 turnovers for 19 points but the bigger bodies of Kathleen Scheer (18 points, 9 rebounds) and Cayla Francis (18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks) controlled the tempo. Currently sitting third in the South, Hobart could still take second or drop to fourth in their remaining four matches.
The Capitals then plummeted to 0-11 on the road in 2014 as the Launceston Tornadoes recorded their first winning streak of the season. Canberra were again slow out of the blocks, trailing by as much as 30 in a 61-80 loss. Against her old side, Abby Bishop was unstoppable, collecting 18 points and a whopping 23 boards. Lauren Mansfield (20 points) and Alex Wilson (11 points, 8 rebounds) also relished the success as the Tornadoes moved into equal fifth with Sandringham in the South. Caitlin Rowe (14 and 12) led the Capitals while Ellie Junod averaged 14.5 and 5 for the weekend.
Finally, the Kilsyth Lady Cobras get some breathing space in the South’s second spot thanks to a huge game from Sarah Parsons. She recorded 22 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in an 82-74 win over the Geelong Lady Supercats. Trailing by 19, Geelong got within 3 in the final quarter thanks to 13 points and 8 boards from Sara Blicavs but the damage had been done. Louella Tomlinson’s exceptional defence was again on show, combining 7 blocks with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
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Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR