Mackay Meteors (1) v Cairns Marlins (6)
Last time they met: Round 10 – Cairns 81 (Fisher 30) def Mackay 77 (Blanchfield 22)
The Meteors jumped out of the gate and led from start to finish against the 8th placed Rockets in their Quarter Final. Mackay led by 15 at the half and extended the lead to as much as 25 in the third quarter before the Rockets won the final quarter to bring the final margin back to 18. All starters hit double figures and despite no player shooting 50% or better, Mackay’s ability to hit the offensive glass and get second chance opportunities was a major catalyst for the victory. Larkins was the team’s top scorer with 18, closely followed by 17 from Cedar and 16 from Robinson.
Cairns pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season with a 18-point thumping of the 3rd placed Logan Thunder. The Thunder were previously undefeated at home and the Marlins were able to record a 50-point turnaround since their Round 13 game. Cairns put up a massive 112 points on 55% shooting, including a whopping 15 made three-pointers on 57% behind the arc. Christian Jurlina led the way with 32 for the visitors as each Marlins starter scored at least 17 points. Fisher recorded a near triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
Cairns handed Mackay their lone home loss of the season in Round 10 and in order to record another upset the Marlins will need to keep the hot shooting alive. A major positive out of the weekend for Mackay was their ability to still win comfortably despite an off-shooting night, if they are able to find their groove on the offensive end this is dangerous for the rest of the league. Both teams will be full of confidence as they look to make their second Grand Final Series in the past three seasons, although Mackay may prove to be too strong with their home crowd behind them as they look to host the Grand Final for the second year straight.
Prediction: Mackay by 8
Townsville Heat (2) v Brisbane Capitals (5)
Last time they met: Round 14 – Townsville 89 (Froling 24) def Brisbane 80 (Coenraad 20)
The Heat were able to survive a spirited effort from the 7th placed Gold Coast Rollers as they came away with an 8-point victory. In what was a close contest for majority of the night, Townsville blew the lead out to as much as 15 inside the final four minutes before a late Gold Coast run resulted in the scores looking more respectable. Froling, Baker and Wilcher were again the top scorers for the Heat with 30, 25 and 20 respectively, with Wilcher faciliting in impressive fashion adding 12 assists.
Brisbane cemented a Semi Final berth with an exciting overtime victory over USC Rip City. With scores tied USC’s Lance Hurdle missed a go ahead three-point attempt as the buzzer sounded. The Capital’s took advantage of Hurdle’s miss running away 11 points the better in overtime. Tim Coenraad put up a huge 37 points to go along with 13 rebounds, with teammate Aaron Anderson adding 25 with 8 assists. The Capital’s ability to take care of the ball was a major factor in the victory as they were -10 in the turnover count on the night.
Brisbane are now 9-2 in their past 11 matches with one of the two losses coming to Townsville on the road in Round 14 by 9 points. The Capitals will get the opportunity to go one better this weekend and are still an outside hope of hosting a Grand Final Series if results fall their way. This is an extremely even matchup and we give Brisbane every possible opportunity to get the win and advance to the Grand Final, although we are giving the Heat the advantage at home and we expect to see Mackay v Townsville Part II in 2018.
Prediction: Townsville by 5
Townsville Flames (1) v Rockhampton Cyclones (6)
Last time they met: Round 13 – Rockhampton 86 (Dowdell 26) def Townsville 71 (Goodchild 27)
Townsville march on towards another home final after a convincing 23-point win over the Seahawks in the quarter finals. Miela Goodchild led the way for a Flames outfit missing Darcee Garbin. Goodchild scored 19 points and 7 assists in the win with Andrews, Walsh, Brennan and Beck all scoring double-digits. If the Flames can manage to squeeze past the Cyclones this weekend they will host the best-of-three Grand Final Series the following week and any team travelling to Townsville will have their work cut out for them.
The Cyclones caused the upset of the quarter finals last week downing the South West Metro Pirates in Brisbane by 12 points. Despite their opponents missing their best player in Nicole Seekamp the Cyclones surged to victory thanks to a massive performance from Aaryn Ellenberg. The star put up 38 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists as Rockhampton dominated from the start. Brooke Blair scored 18 points, whilst Christina Boag had another strong game registering 10 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Cyclones will be full of confidence heading into their semi-final matchup with the Flames. In their last encounter Rocky managed to claw back an early deficit to claim a 15-point victory at home. The Flames were missing a couple of starters in that game and may have a similar line-up this weekend. The smart money would be on Townsville in front of a raucous home crowd, but an upset could be brewing if Ellenberg and co can fire once again for the Cyclones.
Prediction: Townsville by 4
Ipswich Force (2) v Southern Districts Spartans (4)
Last time they met: Round 4 – Ipswich 72 (Johnson 22) def Southern Districts 63 (McDowell-White 16)
This game has all the potential to be a blockbuster at Llewellyn Stadium with two teams in red-hot form on show with a spot in the Grand Final Series up for grabs. Ipswich had a comfortable win last weekend knocking out the Meteorettes 95-72. The Force shared the points around on Saturday and did not rely heavily on Amanda Johnson’s scoring. Bree Farley, Georgia Williams and Gintare Mazionyte all top-scored with 20 points each, whilst Johnson although quiet on the scoresheet with 12 points still managed a game-high 9 assists and 17 rebounds. Ipswich’s shooting was close to 50% and with 29 assists for the game – the offense is in top form leading into their clash with the Spartans.
Against two of the league’s top players in Bishop and Hurst, the Spartans were tremendous last Saturday crushing the Sunshine Coast Phoenix by 25 points. Ambrosia Anderson top-scored with 29 points, whilst Aja Parham had 16, Rebecca Haynes had 12 and Jess McDowell-White chipped in with 11. Romy Baer was again instrumental in defence with 10 rebounds and 5 steals.
The Spartans are a vastly different team to the one that lost to Ipswich back in Round 4 and will be confident of causing an upset this week. They will look to control Amanda Johnson but as was the case for Mackay, with all attention on Johnson there is enough depth in the Force outfit to keep them scoring big totals thanks to the form of Farley, Williams and Mazionyte. It promises to be a close, hard-fought contest with either side capable of clinching a Grand Final berth.
Prediction: Ipswich by 3