ROUND 1 REVIEW
The Be Active Western Stars have completed the perfect start to the 2016 WNWBL season, sweeping Round 1 to streak to the top of the ladder.
Winning by an average margin of 31 points in three games, the Stars took care of defending Champions Kilsyth on Friday night before defeating the Flames and the Blues in front of their home crowds.
Last year’s leading scorer, Amber Merritt, was unstoppable at the offensive end with an average of 31.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting at a highly impressive 71%.
Georgia Inglis also starred with six points and 7.3 assists for the weekend and import Chihiro Kitada proved her abilities at both ends of the floor as she collected a double-double of 18.7 points and 11.3 rebounds to go with a block per game.
The Sydney Metro Blues were the other team to finish the weekend on with a positive win/loss ratio, preceding the defeat at the hands of the Stars with victories over the Comets and Cobras.
Kicking off the 2016 campaign in style in the season opener, the Blues utilised a massive double-double from Bridie Kean (34 points, 18 boards) to cruise to a 17-point win.
Kean followed that performance with another double-double (22 points, 13 rebounds) the following day against the Comets but she was kept quiet on Sunday (11 points) in the team’s first loss.
Cobi Crispin (12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) went close to a triple-double in that clash while Kylie Gauci was incredibly consistent, averaging 13 points, 6.7 rebounds and five assists for the weekend.
However, the Blues’ issues look to be on the glass as they finished the round with a -22 differential in rebounding overall.
After advancing through the entire 2015 season undefeated, Kilsyth’s dreams of back-to-back titles have gotten off to a shaky start as they only recorded a two-point win against the Flames while playing four games for the round.
Clutch free throws from Leanne Del Toso (18 points, 20 rebounds) sent that game into overtime and in the extra period, Shelley Chaplin proved her mettle with a big three-point play before Jamie Villalon played the hero with the go-ahead basket to take a 47-45 victory for the Cobras.
Also defeating the Cobras, the Comets won every quarter in that contest as Mari Amimoto (20 points, nine boards, nine assists) and Mikaela Smith (27 points, ten rebounds) dominated proceedings.
While it was their only victory for the round, Shelley Cronau and Ella Sabljak both showed positive signs to give the Comets hope this season.
In front of a home crowd, the Sydney Uni Flames will have been disappointed to only come away from Round 1 with one win, taking care of the Comets before falling to the Stars and Blues.
The experienced Sarah Stewart led the charge for Sydney Uni, collecting 7.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists while Tracey Carruthers and Annabelle Lindsay showed the Flames’ depth with strong performances off the bench.
The WNWBL will enjoy a bye next weekend as the NWBL finals are held in Sydney with the season resuming on July 1.