ROUND 5 REVIEW
The Be Active Perth Wheelcats have regained their spot atop the NWBL ladder thanks to a sweep of Round 5 over the Spinning Bullets while Wollongong also proved too good for Red Dust in two games over the weekend.
On Saturday night, Perth opened up a six-point advantage at quarter-time which they managed to hold on to for the rest of the contest, winning 80-74 despite Queensland cutting the lead to two with just over a minute to go.
The home side led from start to finish, shooting 51% from the field with Shaun Norris recording a triple-double of 36 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block while Kim Robins (14 points) and Amber Merritt (13 points) also reached double-figures.
The following day, the Wheelcats again used a strong first half to grab a nine-point lead at the main break.
Trailing by as much as 14 in the fourth period, the Spinning Bullets again fought back in the closing minutes with a 14-6 run before falling 70-76.
Norris’ dominant weekend was capped with a second triple-double (32 points, 12 boards and 12 assists) with Robins adding a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Merritt chimed in with another 11 points, six boards and two steals while Michael Hartnett got in on the act with eight points on 4-8 shooting.
For the visitors, Tom O’Neill-Thorne averaged 35.5 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a complete performance at both ends of the court.
Jake Fulwood added 12 points off the bench in the first game before Jordan Bartley and Matt McShane combined for 24 points and ten assists on Sunday. However, six straight losses has now placed Queensland seven losses outside the top four.
The return of Michael Auprince was a boost to the Wollongong Roller Hawks as they repeated their performance from the Cluster Round with consecutive wins over the Red Dust Heelers.
A 32-14 opening term proved too much to overcome for the home side on Saturday night, despite trimming the margin to eight in the final term.
Wollongong then found themselves trailing by two points at three-quarter time in the second meeting before they streaked home with a 34-14 fourth quarter.
Brett Stibners was the star for the round, averaging 32.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and ten assists while Auprince slotted back into the team without a worry, recording two double-doubles to average 13.5 points and 11 boards.
Luke Pople (21.5 points) and Nick Taylor (16) were both integral to the wins as well with Andrew Tarrant showing his skills in limited minutes off the bench.
For Red Dust, last week’s Player of the Week Brad Ness was inspirational with 36 points, ten rebounds and 5.5 assists for the weekend with Jannik Blair (13 points per game) and Jake Kavanagh (eight points, three assists) pitching in through both clashes.
Despite the two losses, Red Dust remain third on the ladder but having played four games than fourth-placed Wollongong, their position looks tenuous.
LiveStats for all games can be found on the NWBL website here.