Brisbane Lady Spartans and Launceston Tornadoes go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview every match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Brisbane v Launceston
Friday 12th June- 6:00pm @ Rowland Cowan Stadium
Fourth place in both conferences face off as Launceston put their five-game winning streak on the line against Brisbane who have won three of their past four.
A slip-up against Geelong has been surrounded by wins over the CoE, Sandringham and Albury-Wodonga for the Lady Spartans. They are getting production from a number of players with Emma McDonald (10.6 points per game), Holly Smith (nine points) and Cassie Smith (7.9 points) taking the pressure off their leading scorer in Odette Andrew (15.6 points).
The Tornadoes carried the best form of the competition into the Queen’s Birthday break, winning by an average of 19 points during their streak. Emilee Harmon and Lauren Mansfield have reached double-figures in every game this season, Mikaela Ruef has a league-best eight double-doubles and Ally Wilson (19.7 points per game) scored 30+ last round for the second time this year.
When these sides met in Round 4, the Lady Spartans used a 26-18 final term to prevail by six points. Harmon (27 points, 11 rebounds) and Ruef (16 and 13 with eight assists) helped Launceston to eight more offensive boards and seven more assists.
However, 11 free throws and perfect 3-3 shooting from the three-point line pushed Brisbane over the line in the fourth quarter. Sarah Graham (22 points) out-scored the Tornadoes by herself from beyond the arc, hitting 4-8 overall while Nat Taylor (13 points, 13 rebounds) countered Launceston’s front court.
The Lady Spartans have a 4-2 record at home and have not lost there in over a month but Taylor has also missed the past month and without her, Brisbane’s forward stocks look lean compared to the visitors. While Mansfield contends with Cassie Smith and Karli Currie, the Tornadoes will triumph if they can use their advantage on the offensive glass to get second chance points.
Prediction: Launceston by 6
Friday 12th June –
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Hobart
Even without their two most prominent scorers in Katie-Rae Ebzery and Elyse Penaluna, the CoE swept Round 8 with shooting guards Chantel Horvat (14 points and 8.5 rebounds over the weekend) and Anneli Maley (14.5 and 8.5) picking up the slack. They should have a full squad once again and although Hobart are riding a four-game winning streak, the Lady Chargers are playing on the road for the first time in three weeks where they are 2-2.
Saturday 13th June –
Bendigo v Ballarat
Giving more playing time to their youngsters, Ballarat have made the difficult decision to release Jess May. Both sides have won just one game from their past five but in their Round 1 match-up, Bendigo were 32-point victors with four Lady Braves scoring 15+. The Rush’s Abbey Wehrung, who averages 13.5 points per game, missed that clash but will have to be at the top of her game to end her side’s 0-6 road record.
Canberra v Hobart
Playing for the second time this season, Canberra will be looking to avenge their 20-point loss to Hobart in Round 6 which started the five-game losing streak they are currently on. A 13-day break will help them as Hobart will have played the night before but the home side will have to put a lot of work into Kathleen Scheer who had 10 offensive boards (compared to nine for the Capitals) on her way to 25 points and 20 rebounds in their first clash.
Dandenong v Frankston
Arresting a four-game losing streak with a win just prior to the mid-season break will have given Frankston some confidence while Dandenong impressed with a 21-point defeat of Bendigo. When they met in Round 3, Jacinta Kennedy’s 22 points and 10 rebounds held off the Lady Blues despite a 21-14 final quarter. The visitors have the fifth best road record in the league but Dandenong own an averaging winning margin of 19 points at home.
Nunawading v Sandringham
Struggling for consistency, Nunawading have gone WLWLW over their past five games. They are the worst three-point shooting team in the league at 22% but showed dangerous signs in Round 8, hitting 15-38 (39%) across two games. The point guard match-up between Britanny Smart and Nicole Romeo is likely to determine the outcome as Sandringham look to end their five game skid.
Albury-Wodonga v Geelong
With injuries hampering Caitlin Shadbolt and Maddison Rocci as well as national duties keeping Sara Blicavs out of the side, Geelong have added 173cm guard Stacey Barr to their line-up. They will be looking to improve their 3-4 road record while Albury-Wodonga will be desperate to avenge their 41-point loss to the Lady Supercats in Round 3 when Alison Bouman had her only double-double of the season.
Sunday 14th June –
Sandringham v Launceston
Both sides will be playing their second game of the round but Launceston will have a day’s break after making the trip down from Brisbane. Jumping out to a 17-point advantage at quarter-time in their first meeting, the Tornadoes never looked back, eventually winning 100-80. Smart (37 points) dominated on 8-12 shooting from the three-point line but three Launceston players scored 22+ while Mikaela Ruef had 17 and 17 rebounds.
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Nunawading
The CoE will have had a day to prepare in between matches while Nunawading will have less than 20 hours to make the trip into Canberra after playing the night before at home. Having starred off the bench last season for the Spectres, Alanna Smith has improved her shooting percentage by 7% this year while maintaining her double-digit average. She will be looking for a solid performance to help keep the CoE unbeaten at home, facing the likes of Lucy Dawson.