Russell rips Sharks as CoE snag win

THE Basketball Australia (BA) Centre of Excellence (CoE) chalked out a tense win over the Sutherland Sharks as the two sides clashed at Sutherland Basketball Stadium in Round 7 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 East season over the weekend.

One of the biggest positives was the performance of Zara Russell, who made all of her court time count with a vital showing in the context of the match.

Both sides had shown impressive performances throughout the start of the 2024 season, but lacked the consistency to reach top spot on the ladder. However, Saturday evening’s clash offered a chance for an important win, so it was an important clash in the race for the finals.

After a slow start from both sides, the CoE put it together in the second term to jump out to a double-digit lead at half time and silence the crowd. They looked in the box seat heading into the fourth, but the Sharks conjured an admirable comeback to draw within striking distance, but fell five points short as the youngsters held on.

Russell was one of the best performers on the court, putting forth one of her strongest showings of the season and showing just how damaging she can be.

Sutherland Sharks (68) def. by BA CoE (73)

Zara Russell – 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block

Russell was everywhere for the CoE and had some crucial plays as they held off the Sharks on the road down the stretch.

Although her teammate Monique Bobongie took the reigns on the scoring front with 25 points, the Canberra native was not far behind and produced some crucial baskets throughout the course of the match.

Russell poured in 16 points on 6/15 shooting, and although she did not have the best luck from behind the arc (1/5 3PT), she went to work inside the paint and got on the end of some crafty plays from the CoE.

She almost had a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds, which was the most of any player on her team and the second most of any player on the court. Her three offensive rebounds often resulted in putbacks as she put herself in strong position to get first hands on the ball on both ends of the floor.

Her competitiveness has always been lauded by coaches, and it was on display against the Sharks, never giving up on an offensive possession and making life extremely difficult for the opposition defensively, leaving everything on the court.

It was an eye-catching performance from Russell, who continues to develop her craft at the CoE and has been making excellent strides of late.

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