QBL Game Previews – Quarter Finals
Brisbane Capitals (1) v Rockhampton Rockets (8)
Last time they met: Round 13 – Rockhampton 93 (Hassan 27) def Brisbane 82 (Rychart 23)
Two huge home wins in Round 15 has gifted the Capitals with the number 1 seed for the entirety of the Playoffs. Brisbane boasts an incredible 8-1 record at NAB Stadium throughout 2017, with the only minor hiccup being a 3-point loss to Logan in Round 8. The Capitals have also managed to win 6 of their past 7 matches in the lead up to the Playoffs, with the one loss being at the hands of Rockhampton three weeks ago, although without star point guard Aaron Anderson.
Rockhampton on the other hand have only managed a 3-6 record away from Hevgold Stadium throughout 2017. The Rockets were able to cement a finals berth with an impressive 103-93 victory over the now fourth-placed Cairns Marlins, which proved to be extremely vital considering the Spartans upsetting South West Metro on Sunday. Hassan (38), Fowler (25) and Wager (20) all managed to hit the scoreboard in a big way.
When these two sides met in Rockhampton in Round 13, Brisbane were coming off a massive win over McKay the previous night, whilst the Rockets were fresh and waiting for their opponents. Considering the absence of Anderson, the Capitals put up a solid fight in going down by only 11 points. Rockhampton have proved over the course of the year that they rely heavily on their 5 starters and do not rotate their bench often. Depth is an extremely important factor come Playoff time and especially on the road. Rockhampton will need a big input from the Christensen brother’s and Trevor Corrigan if they are able to match the juggernaut that is the Brisbane Capitals. The Capitals defense is the backbone for their 2017 success to date, as they led the league in steals throughout the regular season, as well as being fourth in blocks.
It is always going to be difficult to pick an 8-seed to upset the 1-seed and although the Playoffs are a completely different ball game, it is extremely difficult to see Rockhampton getting over the line in this contest. Brisbane should prove to have too much depth and class for the travelling rockets.
Prediction: Brisbane by 12
Mackay Meteors (2) v Logan Thunder (7)
Last time they met: Round 8 – Logan 101 (Young 28) def Mackay 92 (Bruce 27)
Both teams had byes in Round 15, resulting in them sitting back and watching the results waiting to see who they’d play. Logan were locked into the 7-seed before Round 15, whilst Mackay was hoping for a Townsville victory on Sunday which would have seen them finish on top with home court advantage for the Playoffs.
Mackay were almost invincible for their first 9 matches of 2017, going undefeated with an average winning margin of 19 over this stretch. Mackay suffered their first loss on June 17 at the hands of Logan. Despite still putting up similar offensive numbers, it is fair to say that Mackay has not been the same beast since that loss to Logan. Mackay has given up 99 points per game in their past 8 games (5-3), compared to only 83 over their first 9. The Golden State Warriors have proved recently that the best offensive team can win Championships, although Mackay will need to get their defense back to what it was throughout that 9-0 start if they want to win this year’s QBL Title.
Logan had a sluggish start to their season losing their first three matches, but have since gone 9-5. Four of these five losses have been by 8 points or less, further highlighting their competitiveness over this span. Mitch Young missed 6 games, with majority of these being throughout June and July, where the team was still able to record victories. Without Young, the Thunder were able to prove that they are one of the deepest and most even teams in this year’s competition. Despite not having a lot of match experience with a full roster, if Logan can click by inserting Mitch back into the lineup they will be extremely dangerous throughout August.
The Mitch Young v Lucas Walker matchup will be extremely exciting, as well as seeing the Cedar brothers going head to head. The clear difference in the teams on paper is the point guard position, with Shaun Bruce proving that he is the league’s best facilitator all year and largely responsible for Mackay being the best offense in the league. Considering Mackay’s only loss at Candle Stick Park all season was to Brisbane, it is difficult to see them losing this one at home.
Prediction: Mackay by 7
Townsville Heat (3) v South West Metro Pirates (6)
Last time they met: Round 2 – Townsville 98 (Wilcher 25) def South West Metro 79 (Vines 28)
Townsville were unable to secure top spot on the QBL ladder suffering two losses in Round 15. The Heat were able to defeat USC, before being blown out by 22 to Sunshine Coast the following night, which ended all hope of receiving home court advantage for the entire Playoffs. Although they will have gained confidence with an extremely competitive hit out against Brisbane on Sunday, only going down by 7.
South West Metro will be extremely disappointed after dropping Sunday’s match against the Spartans despite a 9-point half time lead. A Pirate’s victory would have given them the fourth seed and a home match against USC, rather than having to make the trek up to Townsville.
It is best to ignore the Round 2 contest between these two sides, as South West now boast a completely different squad. Starters Kendle, Allen and Bairstow did not feature for the Pirate’s throughout the early stages of the season, and this being a big reason for their 0-4 start. After bringing in Daniel Kickert to replace the injured Brendan Teys, the squad went 5-0, before losing Kickert and replacing him with Jeremy Kendle. South West finished the season on a 11-2 run and are the hottest team entering the Playoffs. Townsville only suffered one loss at 106.3FM Stadium all season, a loss to Gold Coast without Josh Wilcher. The Heat also managed to close the season winning 11 of 12 before dropping their final two.
Considering Townsville’s incredible home record, it is difficult to back against them. They are coming off three huge games in Round 15 and could potentially enter the Playoffs battered and bruised. South West will be raring to go after only having themselves to blame for being in this position. The Pirates are more than capable of causing an upset here, but we believe that the Townsville home court advantage will get them over the line.
Prediction: Townsville by 8
Cairns Marlins (4) v USC Rip City (5)
Last time they met: Round 5 – USC 95 (Ilton 23) def Cairns 84 (Heuir 23)
Both sides have somewhat limped into the Playoffs and will be looking to turn around their recent form and that most important time of the year. Cairns have only managed to win 3 of their past 7 games, whilst USC has only won 2 of 7. The Marlins made changes to their roster at the beginning of July and since losing Alex Loughton have not been the same team since. USC has had a much tougher fixture compared to their first two months, including three games North in the month of July.
Cairns will be counting their blessings for the Spartans getting over the top of South West Metro on Sunday, giving Cairns the 4th seed and pushing USC to 5th on a three-way head to head tiebreaker. A Pirates victory would have resulted in both the Marlins and USC finishing outside the Top 4 and both being on the road this weekend.
Despite Cairns average form of late, they have still been able to dominate at Early Setter Stadium and being one of many sides who suffered only one loss at home all season. This loss came to Mackay in overtime in Round 12. USC on the other hand managed a solid 5-3 record on the road throughout 2017, although losing 3 of their past 4.
Cairns are QBL reigning Champions and can keep their dream of going back-to-back alive in front of their home crowd this coming weekend. Considering their dominance at home all season, it is difficult to see them losing against a USC side which has struggled to get W’s of late. Since losing Loughton, Cairns have been forced to play more ‘small ball’ which is a similar style of play to USC. Both teams are strong at guard and with Heuir and Tueta both averaging more than 22 points per game, we are looking forward to watching these guys go at it Saturday night. Home court gets Cairns over the line in a close one.
Prediction: Cairns by 4
Brisbane Spartans (1) vs South West Metro Pirates (8)
Last time they met: Round 15 – Brisbane Spartans 82 (Allen 19) def South West Metro 64 (Bairstow 23)
The Brisbane Spartans have finished the regular season undefeated and have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Spartans have dominated all year long leading the league in assists, blocks, steals, offensive and defensive rebounds and points per game. They have also given away the least number of turnovers and committed the second lowest number of fouls. Ashleigh Karaitiana has led the team in points per game averaging over 20 for season 2017. Kalani Purcell and Maddie Allen finished the regular season averaging over 9 rebounds a game with Allen also registering over 40 total blocks.
The Pirates come in to the quarter finals having lost their last encounter against the Spartans last weekend. South West have been led strongly all season long by Stephanie Bairstow who has averaged 23 points per game. Shelby Cheslek has recorded 13 rebounds per game and Madelyn Willey has led the team in assists with almost 6 a game.
Last week’s game between these two sides ended in another big win for the Spartans. Maddie Allen top scored with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Spartans, whilst Kalani Purcell managed 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. The Pirates shot at just 29% despite a big game from Stephanie Bairstow who put up 23 points. Madelyn Willey and Shelby Cheslek gained 13 boards each but couldn’t stop the powerful Spartan’s offense.
The Spartans were able to keep their stars off the court on Sunday to keep fresh for this game and despite more minutes for the bench, the end result will more than impress the Spartan’s coaching staff.
No one was able to knock off the Spartans in the regular season and it would take an almighty effort from the Pirates to pull off a shocking upset.
Prediction: Spartans by 22
Mackay Meteorettes (3) vs Ipswich Force (6)
Last time they met: Round 5 – Mackay 84 (Payne 25) def Ipswich 64 (Landry 16)
Mackay had the week off in Round 15 and have kept their bodies fresh ready for their quarter final matchup with the Ipswich Force. Mackay have been a consistent team all season long with four players (Payne, Willey, Cocks and Paalvast) all averaging double figure points per game. Nadeen Payne and Tami Willey have both averaged over 8 rebounds a game and Jillian Haughton has led the team in assists with an average of 5.
Ipswich have come into the quarter finals on the back of a 7-point win against the Pirates. Markel Walker was dominant for the Force scoring 33 points and grabbing a whopping 22 rebounds for the game. Shenita Landry was also strong scoring 15 points, 11 total rebounds and 3 steals in the win.
Ipswich have leant on Walker’s scoring prowess all season with the star averaging over 20 points per and 13 rebounds per game. The Force have been strong shooters throughout the season and at 43% they have the best field goal percentage of all teams after 17 rounds.
These two teams last met way back in May with Mackay surging to a 20-point win in Ipswich. On that night Nadeen Payne top scored with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Chevennah Paalvast also had 10 assists as Mackay shot at 43% to Ipswich’s 32%.
No road game in the playoffs is easy and Mackay is one of the hardest places to win a knockout game. The Meteorettes are primed after a week off and will surely be too strong for the Force at home.
Prediction: Mackay by 14
Gladstone Port City Power (4) vs Townsville Flames (5)
Last time they met: Round 13 – Gladstone 86 (Richardson Smith 40) def Townsville 69 (Garbin 27)
Gladstone are the form team of the competition after winning five straight games to finish the season in 4th spot and secure a home quarter final.
The Power have been led by the incredible Tabatha Richardson Smith who was the leading point scorer in 2017, averaging over 31 points per game. Richardson Smith has had support all year with Cassie Rochel and Charmaine Mellars both averaging close to 10 rebounds per game. Rochel has also shot at 60% which is the best shooting percentage of any player with over 100 baskets.
The Power knocked out Cairns on Sunday thanks to another dominant effort from Richardson Smith. TRS scored 39 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists in the big win to further cement her position as one of or if not the best player of the 2017 season.
Townsville had a tough triple header over the weekend but despite the amount of games were able to win all three to qualify 5th.
Darcee Garbin was a standout for the Flames averaging 23 points a game including 34 against USC. She also averaged 13 rebounds a game, whilst Mia Murray scored 14 and 10 per game. Townsville’s discipline has been strong all year committing the least amount of fouls throughout the regular season. They must continue this statistic especially against Tabatha Richardson Smith who buried them back in Round 13 scoring 40 points and shooting at 46%.
With Darcee Garbin on one side and TRS on the other this contest could turn out to be a shootout with the winner to most likely face a semi-final in Brisbane. Considering the impact of Townsville’s triple header in Round 15 and Tabatha’s continued dominance, it looks unlikely that the Flames can continue their season past this match. However, this is the playoffs and anything can happen, especially if Townsville shut down TRS.
Prediction: Gladstone by 8
Logan Thunder (2) vs Brisbane Capitals (7)
Last time they met: Logan 73 (Gaze 25) def Brisbane Capitals 52 (Lloyd, Butts 13)
Logan enjoyed a week off in Round 15, happy to watch the rest of the competition battle it out for the remaining playoff spots. The Thunder have had a great season including a 13-game winning streak but have lost 2 out of their last 3 matches. Logan finished the regular season with the second-best shooting percentage, assists and points per game.
Kate Gaze has been the leading point scorer with the Thunder averaging 24 points per game despite shooting at 37%. Cassie Smith and Miela Goodchild have been strong with 11 points per game, whilst Mikhaela Donnelly has been setting the baskets up averaging over 6 assists per game throughout the season.
The Caps have had an up and down season culminating in a 0-2 record in their double header over the weekend. The Capitals have now lost four in a row and their form shooting the basket has suffered dramatically. D’Lesha Lloyd has been their top scorer for the season and led the team again on Saturday with 20 points against the USC. Lloyd didn’t play the following day against Townsville and her absence was felt by the Capitals with the team putting up their joint lowest total of the year – just 52 points.
Ironically the only other time the Capitals scored 52 was against their quarter final opponents the Logan Thunder back in Round 8. On that day Brisbane were unable to stop Kate Gaze who scored 25 points including 4-7 from downtown. The Caps committed 27 turnovers and fell away in the final quarter to go down by 19 points.
This is the only match of the QBL finals on Sunday so all eyes will be on both teams battling it out for a spot in the semis. Logan have had a more consistent season and deserve their second place on the ladder after an amazing 13-game run. The Capitals have not had a good last two months and this matchup suits Logan more with their shooting ability. At home in front of a rowdy crowd, Logan should be far too strong.
Prediction: Logan by 16