The Centre of Excellence and Dandenong go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview each match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Dandenong
Saturday 2nd May- 5:30pm @ AIS Training Hall
There will be just one unbeaten side left in the competition at the end of this game as the 4-0 Dandenong Rangers head to Canberra to face the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence who swept their opening round last weekend to move to 2-0.
The CoE kicked off their 2015 season with a 101-63 thrashing of the Capitals, winning every quarter and leading by as much as 41. They then overcame a defiant Launceston side, turning around a 6-point fourth quarter deficit with a 25-11 final term.
Lauren Scherf led the charge with 8 points in that fourth quarter, averaging 11.5 and 9.5 rebounds off the bench for the weekend. As the understudy for Elyse Penaluna (19.5 and 8), the CoE are bursting at the seams with front court talent and Scherf will be eager to perform against the side she started her career with.
After a successful Australian Junior Championships in which her side won the Grand Final and she was awarded tournament MVP, Anneli Maley showcased her talents in the SEABL with a double-double against Canberra before finishing with a weekend average of 7 points, 7.5 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
Dandenong also had a successful round, fighting off a late comeback from Frankston to record a 70-66 victory before taking care of Nunawading 76-59 the following day.
Jacinta Kennedy (21.5 points and 10.5 rebounds) was the star with two double-doubles while the Rangers continue to get great production off their bench from Tenaya Phillips (10 points against Frankston) and Amanda Meinking (10 against the Spectres).
With Clydesdale likely not playing, Phillips and Rachel Antoniadou with have to step up in her absence. Dandenong have an average winning margin of 16 points but their usual dominance under the rim will be tested while the CoE can also match them with their bench. After falling by 5 points in their 2014 meeting, a win here for the young club would be a major confidence boost.
Prediction: Centre of Excellence by 4
Friday 1st May –
Hobart v Brisbane
Venturing away from home for the first time, the Lady Chargers dropped to 2-1 last round with a loss to Kilsyth but they will return this weekend to host a Brisbane side that survived a late scare from Sandringham. With an average of just 4 points a game, Hobart’s bench could struggle to contain the Lady Spartans’ deep roster which includes Cassie Smith, who is averaging 8.5 points off the bench herself.
Saturday 2nd May –
Nunawading v Ballarat
The early signs are not good for Ballarat after a 43-point drubbing from Kilsyth took their record to 0-4 while Nunawading will be happy to be back home after splitting their Round 3 road trip. Abbey Wehrung is an up and comer but will have her hands full if Bec Cole returns from the Opals training camp in time.
Bendigo v Sandringham
A 16-32 second term against Nunawading was enough for Bendigo to drop their first game of the season last weekend. Sandringham must be careful with the ball as they average 17 turnovers while the Lady Braves are scoring 20 points per game off opposition mistakes. On Opals duty, Tessa Lavey and Kelly Wilson could miss for Bendigo but Sandringham will suffer more if Alice Kunek also does not return in time.
Kilsyth v Geelong
Win streaks will be put on the line as the Lady Cobras look for a fifth straight victory against Geelong who have a chance to move to the top of the East Conference with a third straight win. Both sides could be diminished with Steph Cumming and Sara Blicavs currently on Opals training camp but Kilsyth’s Sarah Parsons is capable of carrying the load in Cumming’s absence after her triple-double last weekend.
Launceston v Brisbane
Launceston have crashed back to Earth after their Round 1 win with three straight defeats. Included in that slump are Round 3 losses to Canberra and the CoE (who scored 64 points in the paint) and they could be without Mikaela Ruef who suffered a heavy knock to the forehead on Saturday. Brisbane got the job done against Sandringham last round but will be looking for a more convincing performance as they hit the road for the first time.
Sunday 3rd May –
Ballarat v Frankston
Ballarat’s home court advantage could be nullified by a 16 hour turnaround from their Nunawading clash the night before while Frankston will have enjoyed a week off. The Lady Blues will look to amend their fade-outs as a 7 point third quarter was the only thing keeping them from upsetting Dandenong last weekend.
Sandringham v Geelong
This is certainly the easier of Geelong’s Round 4 road-double but they will require a hard-nosed defensive effort from Alex Duck and Cortney Williamson to slow down Brittany Smart. The Sabres’ point guard is averaging 27 points and shooting 56% from beyond the arc, having hit eight more three pointers than anyone else in the league.
Canberra v Dandenong
The Capitals will be well rested after their 18 point win over Launceston last Saturday in which Steph Talbot collected 30 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocks. She looks to be the barometer for the side but if Opals commitments keep her away, Dandenong will like their chances despite playing their second game of a back-to-back.