ROUND 3 REVIEW
Four teams that hit the court in Round 3 have recorded victories with the ladder tightening up as we surpass the halfway point of the season.
The Sydney Metro Blues were the big winners over the weekend, going unbeaten through three games to stay in touch with top spot as they sit second on the ladder.
The Blues defeated Kilsyth, the Comets and the Stars with Courtney Ryan (17 points, five rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game) pacing them and Cobi Crispin (14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, four assists and two steals) starring off the bench.
Georgia Munro-Cook and Bridie Kean also both hit double-figures in every game and it is that spread of scorers that is leading Sydney Metro to a 7-2 record.
The Stars were on track for an unbeaten weekend themselves as they beat the ladder-leading Flames on Friday night before backing up with a win over Kilsyth the following day.
Amber Merritt recorded 42 points and 18 rebounds against Sydney Uni and Chihiro Kitada had a triple-double (19 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists) before those two superstars went off against the Cobras.
Merritt almost out-scored the opposition by herself with an incredible 56 points on 26-37 shooting as Perth won 84-58 while Kitada added 13 points, 12 boards and 19 assists.
Their weekend came undone on Sunday morning though as Merritt suffered a concussion on a heavy fall against the Comets.
In her absence, Queensland were able to double-team Kitada and keep her out of the contest with Mari Amimoto (18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, five steals), Ella Sabljak (ten points, eight rebounds) and Alison Herring (ten points, ten boards) taking over in a 24-point victory.
Merritt was then unavailable for their final game of the round against the Blues and the Stars were further hampered by a dislocated shoulder to Jocelyn Neumueller as they fell 40-75 despite the best efforts of Kitada (22 points, 17 boards, five steals).
Merritt is expected to be back on court in a fortnight’s time but Neumueller’s injury may be long-term, a devastating blow for a player just finding her groove in the WNWBL.
In addition to their victory over Perth, the Comets were successful against Kilsyth on Friday night which balanced losses to the Flames and Blues.
They only fell to Sydney Uni by eight points and the game was tied with less than five minutes remaining in an overall positive weekend for Queensland.
Despite sitting at the bottom of the ladder, they are now only four points behind Kilsyth (in fourth) while having played four games less than the Cobras which pits next round as a make-or-break weekend.
Amimoto is leading from the front with 22.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game this weekend while they also averaged an impressive 10.3 points per contest off the bench as a team.
Sydney Uni have held on to first place on the ladder thanks to wins against the Comets and Cobras which followed a loss on Friday night to Perth.
They have a six-point edge and two-win lead over second place but a bye next round is sure to tighten things up further before we head into the fifth and final round starting July 14.
Their inability to contain Merritt in the clash against the Stars is a concern but Annabelle Lindsay (14.3 points, 11 rebounds per game) continues to perform in the paint and Liesl Tesch provided a punch off the bench in two games with an average of 15.5 points.
While Kilsyth were unable to record a victory in front of a home crowd, they came very close to upsetting the Comets as they held a six-point advantage inside the final five minutes before Queensland finished on a 12-2 run to clinch the game.
They play their last regular season games next fortnight and will need a couple of wins to hold off their nearest rivals and maintain a top four spot with Leanne Del Toso (14 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 steals per game), Shelley Chaplin (11 points, 8.5 assists) and Teisha Shadwell (who has been promoted to a starting role) likely to carry the load.