Having just crossed the halfway mark in the 2017 QBL Season, the competition is heating up, with all teams showcasing their supreme talent! Also, adding to the heightened level of competition this year, Basketball Queensland have introduced a revised finals format that will see the top eight teams, regardless of pool positioning, progress to the postseason, meaning that every game has a direct effect on team’s chances! Read on to find out the front runners in the men’s and women’s leagues and who to keep an eye out for in the second half of the season.
The QBL women’s competition in 2017 has been a hard-fought contest with just the Brisbane Spartans remaining undefeated midway through the year. Ashleigh Karaitiana has led the Spartans in scoring with an average of 23 points per game. After dropping their first game of the season to the Spartans, the Logan Thunder are snapping at the heels of their rivals in second position having won their last eight games. Kate Gaze has been the standout performer with 24 points per game and has been well supported with Jackie Luna-Castro averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds a game.
The Mackay Meteorettes sit third on the ladder with even contributions from across the entire team in offense and defence. Mackay have three home games in a row before a tough double-header against Cairns and Townsville in Round 12. The Gladstone Port City Power possess the top point scorer and leading league MVP candidate in Tabatha Richardson-Smith who has lit up the scoreboard all season averaging 30 points a game. Her defensive game has also been outstanding collecting 10 rebounds a game with help from Cassie Rochel.
The Cairns Dolphins hold a 6-3 record and have looked strong in the last month with the help of Arizona import Alli Gloyd. Gloyd has averaged 19 points since playing for the Dolphins and leads the team with 11 rebounds a game. Townsville have been almost unstoppable at home; however, their away record shows just 1 win from 4 games. Darcee Garbin has been the star for the Flames averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds a game. The Brisbane Capitals and USC Rip City have an identical record sitting just inside the top eight. The Capitals have had some narrow losses at home in the last month which has put a dent in their top 4 aspirations. The team has been led well by Amy Lewis and D’Lesha Lloyd who are both averaging 17 points a game. Ariel Butts has been tremendous defensively with the second-highest average in the league for rebounds. Leah Scott has led the Rip well recently with an average of 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. She has been well supported by Brooke Le Mar with 18 points and 5 assists a game.
The South West Metro Pirates are just outside the eight with a 3-5 record. Stephanie Bairstow is the top scorer with the Pirates and Shelby Cheslek has looked strong in the paint. Ipswich have won just 1 of their last 7 games and their finals hopes are starting to slip away. The Force have their offensive woes with no player averaging over 15 points a game.
The Rockhampton Cyclones have been the biggest disappointment of the season sitting in 11th with a 3-6 record. Not even Opal Abby Bishop has been able to get Rocky into the eight despite averaging 22 points a game. Natalie Novosel was brilliant for the Cyclones before departing in May, leaving behind a hole for the coaching staff who are hoping Shanavia Dowdell can fill.
The Sunshine Coast Phoenix have just two wins next to their name after a tough start to the year. Baskets have been hard to come by for the Phoenix who are averaging just 63 points a game.
The Gold Coast Rollers and the Toowoomba Mountaineers remain winless for the year. Both teams have struggled to score all season with Francis Donders the shining light for Toowoomba averaging 16 points a game.
It should be an interesting second half of the season leading into the finals with up to 12 teams still in the hunt for eight finals spots.
The Mackay Meteors (9-1) and the Brisbane Capitals (6-1) sit on top of the QBL ladder after both suffering their first loss of the season over the weekend. The Meteors offense has been rolling and are the only team to average over 100ppg, largely part to Shaun Bruce running the point whilst averaging 23.4ppg a league-leading 9.6apg and new recruit Lucas Walker’s 23.1ppg and 11.5rpg. The Capitals offense has been largely focused around Aaron Anderson and Princetown Onwas who averaging 21.9ppg and 19ppg respectively. Both players are also in the QBL top 5 for steals.
A somewhat surprise packet in the first 8 rounds of the season has been the USC Rip who won their first 5 matches, including impressive wins over the Marlins and the Spartans. Isiah Tueta has been stuffing the stat sheet averaging 21, 6 and 6 while Lance Hurdle is also averaging 21ppg. The reigning champion Cairns Marlins and reigning minor premiers Townsville Heat round out the top 5. Both teams have currently only lost 2 games for the season, with all of these losses being to teams above them on the ladder. The Marlin’s Damon Heuir has cemented himself as one of the league’s best scorers averaging 23ppg. The Heat currently have two 20+ scorers a night in Justin Baker and Josh Wilcher, whilst veteran Peter Crawford continues to put the ball in the hoop adding 19 a game.
South West are currently two games behind Townsville. Since the addition of Daniel Kickert the Pirates have won their last 4 matches, moving them into 6th spot. The big man combination of Kickert and McGrew has been huge for SWM over this time frame. The Spartans move into 7th after two Round 8 victories. Big man Tom Jervis is leading the league in rebounding, with teammate Adam Gibson filling the stat sheet consistently. Coming off two huge wins over the previously undefeated Meteors and Capitals, Logan have moved into the top 8 despite being heavily reliant on Bullets player Mitch Young. Young is currently averaging 22 and 11 with Michael Cedar averaging 15ppg.
For the first time this season Ipswich are out of the top 8, currently sitting at 3-6, despite starting the season 3-0. James Legan is leading the league comfortably in three pointers made, but three of their six losses have come by under 5 points. Rockhampton have slipped from sixth to tenth in one weekend after consecutive losses. Led by Chris Fowler’s 23ppg, the Rockets have three others averaging over 15ppg, but haven’t been able to get them on the court together.
Gold Coast, Gladstone and Sunshine Coast all sit on two wins. Gold Coast have the leagues leading scorer in Torrey Craig and despite having four others who score double digits on a nightly basis, they have been unable to stop their opposition as they hold the leagues second worst defense. Gladstone who currently sit at 2-6 hold the leagues worst offense and only manage 70 points a game, which has strongly affected their ability to win ball games, despite Ray Willis’ 23 and 9 a night. Sunshine Coast have been extremely competitive with their only heavy losses being to the Capitals. Breland Hogan and Jeromie Hill have still manage 17ppg apiece. Toowoomba are the currently last, largely due to four losses by under 10 points. Despite their record Jalil Abdul-Bassit’s 25ppg and Jason Washington’s 9apg have been impressive.