NBL1 Women’s Round 14 review: Bendigo Braves reclaim top spot

WITH two wins separating seventh from eighth in the National Basketball League (NBL)1, very few spots remain for a finals opportunity with four teams still contesting for eighth. The Bendigo Braves and Geelong Supercats have cemented their positions in the top-two, earning double chances with the Ringwood Hawks and Kilsyth Cobras still able to drop out of the top-four in the final round.

The Bendigo Braves opened the round continuing their monstrous win-streak, adding their tenth consecutive win (94-49) against the Albury Wodonga Bandits. The loss puts Albury in tough spot for next week, finishing the round in 9th position below Waverley Falcons who boast six consecutive wins. Tessa Lavey led scoring for the Braves, amassing 22 points, five rebounds and three assists in the win, while Rebecca Tobin (16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists) and Kelly Wilson (13 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists) both snared double-doubles. For the Bandits, Emilee Harmon was the only player to record double-digits, with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists, alongside Jessie Edwards with nine points and four rebounds. Following their win at home, the Braves quickly found their 11th consecutive win and top spot after beating the Knox Raiders (79-96) on the road. Bendigo’s impressive second term (12-28) decisively took Knox out of the game, despite keeping close for the remaining terms. Again, Tobin was immense in the victory, snaring a huge double-double with 21 points and 22 rebounds, alongside teammates, Wilson (17 points, six rebounds and 10 assists) and Gabrielle Richards (13 points and 11 rebounds), who also finished with double-doubles. For the Raiders, Rebecca Ott led scoring with 19 points, three rebounds and six assists, with Briahna Whatman also impressing with 15 points and seven assists.

In the game that followed, the Raiders fell again to another impressive win streak, making six consecutive wins for the Waverley Falcons at Waverley Basketball Centre. The loss drops the Raiders to fifth, putting their second chance opportunity on the line as finals approach, while the Falcons hold the last spot in eighth. Carley Ernst (24 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Tegan Cunningham (22 points, seven rebounds and two assists) led scoring for the Falcons, with Kelly Bowen (12 points, 12 rebounds and five assists) finding a double-double for the game. Marena Whittle led scoring for the Raiders with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists, with Maddison Wild (14 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Ott (13 points, eight rebounds and five assists) finishing similarly impressive. In the game prior, the Waverley Falcons defeated the Ballarat Rush (76-83) on the road, ending Ballarat’s finals chances. Ernst earned a double-double, amassing 23 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the win, while Cunningham (17 points and eight rebounds) and Renae Mokrzycki (20 points, six rebounds and two assists) both impressed at the board. For the Rush, Chanise Jenkins came close to a triple-double, recording 33 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists from 40 minutes in the loss. Hsi-Le Bao also cracked double figures with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists.

The Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence put on their most impressive round yet, opening up with a tight 90-86 win on the road against the Eltham Wildcats. The Wildcats opened the half better than Basketball Australia, taking a 52-41 lead into the main break. Though it wasn’t enough, with the visitors dropping Eltham to a 34-point half to close out the game, snaring an impressive four-point victory. Kelsey Rees (16 points and seven rebounds) and Sara-Rose Smith (16 points, six rebounds and two assists) led for Basketball Australia, while Jade Melbourne (14 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Kobe King-Hawea (14 points, six rebounds and four assists) followed close. For Eltham, Chelsie Schweers (22 points and five rebounds), Alice Kunek (18 points, four rebounds, three assists), Chelsea Brook (16 points, nine rebounds and three assists) all impressed in the loss. In Basketball Australia’s second outing, they beat the Hobart Huskies (67-73) for consecutive victories. Melbourne impressed again with 18 points and three assists, with Olivia Pollerd (12 points, three rebounds and two assists) putting together a strong game from 17 minutes. For the Huskies, Ellie Collins led with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Nikki Greene followed close with a double-double on 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Basketball Australia managed to double their total wins from three to six this round, beating the Southern Sabres (79-80) for their third consecutive win in overtime. With both sides out of contention, it simply becomes a battle to stay off the bottom. Melbourne was impressive again, recording a double-double with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Smith stood up to record her first double-double of the round with 18 points and 10 rebounds. For the Sabres, Rachel Jarry also picked up a double-double 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Amy O’neill managed 25 points with five rebounds in loss.

The Ringwood Hawks continue to make a great case for a top-four finish, currently sitting as one of two teams in the top-six not coming off a loss. Their 89-68 win over the Launceston Tornadoes takes them to third place – one win ahead of fourth. Antonia Farnsworth came close to a triple-double for the Hawks with 24 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Megan Mullings followed close with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists. For Launceston, Stella Beck (21 points and 11 rebounds), Stephanie Gardner (14 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Sarah O’neill (12 points, three rebounds and three assists) all held up well in the loss. In Launceston’s second outing, they managed a solid win over the Diamond Valley Eagles to stay off the bottom of the table. Gardner (24 points, six rebounds and six assists) and O’neill (19 points, nine rebounds and four assists) impressed again, with Brooke Brown (19 points and 11 rebounds) stepping up to record a double-double in the win. For Diamond Valley, Hope Terdich stood up to record 32 points and 14 rebounds, with Shelby Cheslek (21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists) also hitting a double-double and Alex Wilson (17 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists) coming up big with a triple-double in the loss.

In a battle for top-four, the Nunawading Spectres fall to the Kilsyth Cobras (72-80) in a tight game at home. The loss makes it difficult for the Spectres to break into top-four territory in sixth with seventh threatening, while the win for the Cobras has them contesting in fourth. Lauren Nicholson had a big night for the Cobras, recording 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists, with Kara Tessari (11 points, two rebounds and three assists) and Sarah Boothe (10 points, seven rebounds and two assists) also impressing on the night. For the Spectres, Maddie Garrick led scoring with 25 points, while Kathleen Scheer (11 points and seven rebounds), Rebecca Pizzey (11 points and six rebounds) and Rachel Brewster (11 points and three rebounds) combined well in the loss.

In Kilsyth’s second outing they faced a 71-78 loss at the hands of the Frankston Blues. The Blues keep their finals hope alive with the win on the road, putting the Cobras’ second chance in jeopardy for next week. Shereesha Richards put on a big performance with 30 points and 19 rebounds and Taylor Lee came close to triple-double territory with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. For the Cobras, Nicholson (25 points, nine rebounds and five assists), Alison Downie (14 points and eight rebounds) and Klara Wischer (12 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) were strong in the loss.

The Dandenong Rangers sit two wins ahead of eighth in seventh after collecting a tight win over the Albury Wodonga Bandits. This loss, and the one to the Braves, puts Albury’s finals hopes in jeopardy – nursing three consecutive losses at a pivotal moment in the season. Rebecca Cole led scoring for the Rangers, racking up 37 points, three rebounds and seven assists alongside teammate Colleen Planeta who had 21 points with six rebounds. For the Bandits, Edwards impressed once again with 31 points, while Hanna Zavecz followed close with 24 points.

In the final game for the round, the Melbourne Tigers faced off against the Hobart Huskies where they kept their final hopes just in reach with 102-75 win. Monique Conti recorded 36 points, six rebounds and 12 assists on her way to a double-double. Teammates, Briana Gray (25 points, nine rebounds and four assists) and Molly Mathews (19 points, seven rebounds and two assists) were similarly impressive. For Hobart, Sharna Thompson notched up 29 points from 33 minutes, while Tayla Roberts, Nikki Greene and Tayla Stevenson all finished with eight points.

Round 14 results:

Bendigo Braves (94) defeated Albury Wodonga Bandits (49)
Eltham Wildcats (86) defeated by Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (90)
Hobart Huskies (67) defeated by Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (73)
Nunawading Spectres (72) defeated by Kilsyth Cobras (80)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (87) defeated by Dandenong Rangers (90)
Ballarat Rush (76) defeated by Waverley Falcons (83)
Knox Raiders (79) defeated by Bendigo Braves (96)
Ringwood Hawks (89) defeated Launceston Tornadoes (68)
Diamond Valley Eagles (85) defeated by Launceston Tornadoes (93)
Kilsyth Cobras (71) defeated by Frankston Blues (78)
Southern Sabres (79) defeated by Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (80)
Waverley Falcons (83) defeated Knox Raiders (65)
Melbourne Tigers (102) defeated Hobart Huskies (75)

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