YOU could scarcely split the sides in the North East Men’s Conference this weekend, with a trio of close calls across the competition.
NORTH EAST MEN
Seymour took a one-point thriller over Benalla on Saturday night, with the Blasters continuing to have the wood on the Breakers. Back and forth throughout the night, as Patrick Mahoney (25 points) and Lachlan Kego (11 points) exploded for Benalla in opposition to Seymour’s Jack Murphy (27 points) and Robbie Sartori (16 points), it boiled down to the dying seconds. Mahoney levelled the ledger in the fading stages of the Round 7 clash, hitting his frees to set the score at 59-apiece.
Sartori went through the full arc of emotions from the last minute alone. From fouling on one of the last plays, resulting in a made free throw, to knocking in the winning go-ahead shot, it was an extraordinary turn around to help Seymour secure its third win of the season and stay in touch with the top four in the conference.
Wodonga eked out an extraordinary 73-72 win over Shepparton on the back of a last-minute effort from Byron Hosie. Hosie (17 points), alongside Jordan Mcguire (11 points) and Samuel Hawkins (11 points), dragged the Wolves to their first win of the season as Shepparton was led by Javaan Mumtaz (28 points) and Nick Dodd (26 points).
Wangaratta claimed another thriller in the conference, taking a 58-55 win over Benalla on Sunday. Despite some gutsy late-game shooting from Lachlan Kego (16 points) and Patrick Mahoney (15 points), Benalla couldn’t curtail the likes of Tom Young (15 points) amongst an even split of scorers from Wangaratta.
Wallan brushed aside Myrtleford to the tune of a 119-70 victory. Putting the Panthers’ procession into top gear was Leo Viitala (30 points) as the Wallan mainstay launched into action with Maxwell Viitala (20 points) and Luke Liesegang (15 points). Tobias Lange (16 points) and Jackson Townsend (13 points) were the best of the Myrtleford performers.
NORTH EAST WOMEN
The logjam between Wangaratta, Myrtleford and Shepparton for fourth spot continued to intensify as the Warriors took a crucial victory while the Saints and Gators fell to high-flying ladder leaders Wallan and Wodonga respectively.
In a 59-53 clash, the Panthers took the points over the Saints last Saturday night on the back of some exceptional shooting from Carley Cranston (16 points )and Karina Marasco (15 points). Abbey Zamperoni (13 points) and Racquel Stevens (11 points) were the best of the Myrtleford roster.
Wangaratta kept itself in the better half of the draw, leapfrogging Myrtleford and Shepparton, with a 63-38 win over Benalla as Carly Perso (21 points) Chaye Crimmins (13 points) and Jorja Reidy (12 points) ground out the important away victory. The Breakers were led by Isabella Riley (16 points) and Chloe Glazebrook (nine points).
Setting the pace in their title defence, the Wolves have been impressive week-to-week and Sunday afternoon was no different in its 83-43 win over the visiting Gators. Despite the best efforts of Shepparton’s Briana Moon (12 points) and Marnie Sharp (nine points), the Wodonga contingent shone, especially through Mel Kirby (27 points) and Casey Ardern (22 points). With a 9-0 record, Wodonga heads into a little pre-Christmas break, next squaring off in CBL action with a Round 10 clash against Benalla on 14 December.
Saturday night wasn’t much better for Benalla, with Seymour coming to town and taking a 70-27 win over the Breakers. Tayha Watkins (22 points) continued her elite showing this season with Seymour alongside Dyani Ananiev (15 points) while the Breakers were led by Chloe Glazebrook (seven points).
Reigniting one of the CBL’s hottest rivalries, Maffra took out a thriller 102-96 triumph over Sale on the road. Always a massive clash between the old rivals, Maffra pushed ahead through Frazar Brouns (32 points) and Sam Whelan (28 points) in spite of the incredible efforts of Sonics’ stars Billy Hughes (24 points), Luke Williams (19 points) and Rhys Carter (19 points).
Warragul hung on in a thriller on Sunday afternoon, taking the points on the road against Moe 80-77 with Dwain Scott (18 points), Caleb Fallon (16 points) and Jarryd Moss (16 points) leading the way, while the Meteors were galvanised by Josh Pearce (17 points) and Simon Vannapraseuth (14 points).
In other results, Southern Peninsula defeated Warragul 115-83 as well as Churchill 93-66, Sale defeated Lakes Entrance 89-74 and Traralgon knocked over Maffra 94-85.
Korumburra continues to move back up the pecking order with a pair of important wins over the weekend against Sale and Maffra.
Starting the weekend in style, Korumburra broke the chains against Sale to run out 71-61 victors. When the heavy lifting was needed, Alahna Arnason (24 points) and Grace Matser (23 points) excelled. Their one-two punch left the Sonics on the backfoot, in spite of the best efforts of Breanna Kerton (25 points) and Charlotte Ronchi (17 points).
Pushing back into the top four, the Wildcats’ savoured Sunday with a 65-47 win over Maffra as Alahna Arnason (17 points), Grace Matser (15 points) and Jamie-Lee Jeffs (10 points) ran riot. Alex Gallatly (12 points), Maddison Wild (10 points) and Coco Henry (10 points) were the Eagles’ finest in the defeat.
Maffra’s weekend didn’t start any better with its 48-55 loss to Warragul on Saturday night. Shanara Notman (19 points) launched into the weekend as she drove the Warriors’ success alongside Kylie Mullen (10 points) while Maddison Wild (13 points) led the Eagles’ nest.
Traralgon took the bragging rights in the battle atop the Gippsland Women’s Conference with an 80-71 win over Moe. Samantha Labros (29 points) starred again for the T-Birds in league with Desiree Glaubitz (14 points), while Moe was led by Caitlin Demczuk (22 points), Ellie Coutts (15 points) and Carly Mullen-Bianconi (14 points).
NORTH WEST MEN
Bouncing back into contention, Bacchus Marsh built on its stellar November with a pair of wins over Maryborough and Kyneton.
The Lions are up to fourth in the conference following the strong showing as it notched a Saturday night 64-53 triumph over the Blazers – led in no small part by Max Beaumont (16 points) and Billy Feben (16 points). Maryborough was well serviced by Brady Neill (17 points) and Harrison Butler (11 points).
Bacchus Marsh continued to defend its home court on Sunday with an emphatic 73-49 win over Kyneton. Beaumont (17 points) had another impressive outing alongside Jordan Kirk (16 points). Thomas Scott (16 points) and Matt Quinn (15 points) led the Tigers’ scoring on Sunday.
Saturday night however? A much better affair for Kyneton with an 87-83 triumph over the travelling Mildura. Josh Greetham (14 points), Matt Quinn (13 points) and Matthew Bourke (12 points) split the responsibilities on Saturday for the Tigers while Brodie Townsend (27 points) and Zane Lueth (24 points) put strong performances in the ledger for the Heat.
Mildura notched an incredible 81-78 victory over Bendigo on Sunday to keep in contention for top billing. It went the distance as Tanner Rayner drilled the go-ahead trey late in the clash… but Brodie Townsend (24 points) and Jack Bakewell shot the Heat ahead in the dying stages to take the big scalp in the North West Men’s Conference. Zachary Rostron (20 points) and Jack White (16 points) were the best of the Braves.
Castlemaine took an 89-80 win over Echuca – pushed ahead by Samuel Beks (33 points) and Rhys Brown (22 points) – while Tyler Phillips (28 points) and Liam Tenace (21 points) led from the front for the Pirates.
NORTH WEST WOMEN
Breaking its losing streak with an impressive 75-59 win over Maryborough, Kyneton shone in its triumph at home as Molly Greetham (11 points) and Jess Mangan (10 points) led the charge for the Tigers. Millie Cracknell (15 points) and Maddison Egan (15 points) were the best of the Blazers, who sit a game clear in second place on the North West Women’s ladder.
Bendigo further cemented its status as the team to beat with a 68-58 victory over Echuca at home on Sunday. The Braves move to a 6-0 record heading into next week’s clash against Swan Hill.
SOUTH WEST MEN
Horsham hit the road… and was battered about by it. Despite missing key personnel for the South Australian swing, including Jeremiah McKenzie and Damien Skurrie, the Hornets battled bravely and nearly took out its Saturday night clash against Millicent. It was a close call in the 89-94 defeat to the Magic, as Tim Pickert (29 points), Mitch Martin (29 points) and Matthew Lovel (20 points) anchored the offence. Millicent’s magic men Jordan Robertson (34 points) and Josh Berry (17 points) stole the show though.
It didn’t get much better for Horsham on Sunday either as Mt Gambier flexed on a 120-82 victory over the travelling Hornets. Simon Berkefeld (24 points), Kyle Tipene (22 points) and Lachlan Hunter (18 points) ran riot while Horsham dug in around Mitch Martin (28 points) and Tim Pickert (23 points).
Portland shone on Saturday night in its 97-80 victory over Terang. Down on personnel, but not down on energy or intent, the Coasters dug in as Nathan Hardingham (35 points) and Jackson Dunlop (24 points) carried most of the scoring. Jake Bartlett (20 points) was a prime performer for Terang.
Bellarine swept its weekend with a Sunday afternoon 82-73 triumph over Ararat as Sebastian Thomason (27 points) continued his barnstorming season while William Lawrie (16 points) and Adan Wisby (13 points) led the Redbacks.
It wasn’t a weekend for the Redbacks as they were downed 77-85 at home on Saturday night against Warrnambool. The Seahawks had too many strong performers across the board as Riley Nicolson (17 points) and Liam Killey (17 points) led the effort while Ararat was ably served by Josh Fiergert (20 points) and Fletcher Burger (16 points).
Mt Gambier swept its weekend to stay as the only undefeated side in the conference with an emphatic 98-70 win over ladder leaders Geelong United. In other results, Bellarine defeated Stawell 128-48, Warrnambool defeated Terang 114-81, Geelong United knocked over Portland 106-67.
SOUTH WEST WOMEN
Mt Gambier claimed a pair of big scalps in Round 7 action, knocking over Geelong United and Horsham to push the Lakers up to fourth on the CBL South West Women’s ladder.
Playing its first weekend since round 1, the Lakers picked up where they left off with a 100-38 win over a depleted Geelong United.
The Lakers swept away the visitors through the sharpshooting of Olivia Wormald (30 points) and Keryl Ousey (23 points). It was a tough weekend for Geelong United – with only six players making the trip to Mt Gambier – but Vanessa Marsh (10 points) and Sariya Harding (nine points) battled bravely for the visitors. Mt Gambier marched on with another home triumph on Sunday, taking the points over Horsham 58-45.
Horsham’s first clash of the weekend fared much better as the Hornets took out a 78-77 thriller over Millicent on the road. Caitlin Story (20 points) was magnificent towards the death, securing the win for the Hornets with an incredible display under the basket alongside Faith Mckenzie (16 points), Georgia Hiscock (13 points) and Olivia Jones (13 points). For Millicent, the mighty Emily Winter (39 points) continued her incredible start – notching her second 30-point tally from two starts.