One country, three states, three finals, four Tall Ferns but unfortunately no titles. That was the summary of the weekend’s action in Australia.
Four of the recent Tall Ferns team were in grand final action weekend but none were able to enjoy the golden glow of lifting the winning trophy. Lisa Wallbutton, Samara Gallaher, Jess Bygate and Natalie Taylor all had to settle for runners-up medals
Samara Gallaher’s Hume City held a one game advantage in the Big V grand final series in Melbourne against the Ringwood Hawks.
In game two on Saturday the scores were tied at three-quarter time, 43 apiece, before Ringwood, winning the last quarter 22-15 forced the series into a deciding game with a 65-58 victory. Gallaher found herself in a bit of foul trouble scoring just the four points for the Broncos.
Less than 24 hours later the two teams were at it again in the winner take all third game. Both teams looked nervous, a low scoring opening stanza was headed by Ringwood 12-7. Hume managed just two field goals in the period, one a triple from Gallaher.
The Broncos found a little more offensive flow in the second quarter but still trailed 30-23 at half time.
In the third period the Broncos narrowed to within one point, 43-33 with 4:30 to play and edged ahead 42-40 at the end of the period
Hume had the better of the initial stages of the final period leading 51-44 with 6 minutes to play. The turning point came in the last three minutes. Hume led by three points but then proceeded to miss four consecutive free throws. The Hawks grabbed that opportunity tieing the game inside the last minute before making the go ahead play with just 10 seconds remaining to beat the defending champions 57-55
On Friday night, over in Perth, the Willetton Tigers came unstuck against the Rockingham Flames losing 68-63. The two best teams in the State League had split their two regular season games and the single game final, as expected, was a tight tussle.
Willetton held the narrowest of leads, 33-32, at half time but entered the final period 50-47 adrift.
The Flames, looking for back-to-back titles, were in no mood to relinquish the lead and held on for the five-point victory.Lisa Wallbutton put up just a single shot from the field, the Tigers forward finishing with 3 points and 4 rebounds.
Over in the Sunshine State, Rockhampton Cyclones captured the Queensland Basketball title with a straight 2-0 series win against Gladstone Power.
In game one on Friday night the Cyclones built a commanding 51-35 half time lead finishing comfortable 77-65 victors.
Natalie Taylor accumulated 17 points and 7 rebounds for the Power, with sister Charmian Mellars impressing with a double double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Sixth man Jess Bygate had a quiet game with just a couple of points.
In game two on Saturday Gladstone held sway at half time leading 33-29 and a third game decider on Sunday looked a distinct possibility. However, Rockhampton upped their defensive effort in the second half restricting the Power to just 12 points in the third period and 13 points in the final quarter, surging to a 68-58 win.
Gladstone forward Jess Bygate (4pts/2rebs) fouled out, logging just 15 minutes court time. Mellars (12pts/11rebs) recorded her second double double of the weekend and Taylor contributed 8pts/3rebs/5assists.
In other news Chevannah Paalvast has linked with the Townsville Fire alongside fellow Tall Fern Micaela Cocks for the upcoming Australian WNBL season. Paalvast is not currently on the 10-player roster but will be available for selection in the event of injury to contracted players.
As well documented in other news outlets Tall Ferns centre Megan Craig has signed with the Northern Mystics for the 2016 trans-Tasman championship.