The #QBL17 Grand Finals are upon us. Good luck to the Mackay Meteors and Townsville Heat as they battle it out for the men’s title. In lieu of the game this weekend, read a recap of each team in the QBL Season Review Men’s…
Brisbane Capitals (1) Record: 14-3
The Brisbane Capitals cemented their position on top of the QBL ladder on the last day of the regular season, with a victory over the Townsville Heat. They began the season winning their opening six matches, before dropping a game at home to the Logan Thunder. Their only other losses for the season were against the Kickert led Pirates and Rockhampton on the second game of a back-to-back without their top scorer and point guard, Aaron Anderson.
Their best win of the season came against Mackay in Mackay in Round 13. Anderson only played the opening four minutes of the match, yet the Capitals were able to knock off the Meteors on their home court for the only time in 2017. A big reason for the Capitals success has been their effort on the defensive end. They lead the QBL in opposition points per game (84.5) and have created the most steals by a wide margin. Aaron Anderson leads the league with 3 steals per game, and five other Capitals’ record more than a steal per game. Anderson has also led the team in points (21.38) and assists (5), whilst Dusty Rychart leads the team with 10 rebounds a night, to go along with his 16.38 points.
The Capitals are one of four teams who have only dropped one game at home throughout the regular season and are the only team who didn’t have a multiple game losing streak. Although the Capitals were unable to convert their Regular Season form into Playoff victories, losing in the Quarter Finals to the 8th seeded Rockets on their home floor.
Mackay Meteors (2) Record: 14-3
The Mackay Meteors began the season on an offensive tear, winning each of their first nine games by double digits and an impressive average winning margin of 19 points. The win streak came to an end in Round 8, with Logan being the first team to score triple figures against the ladder leaders, winning 101-92. The Meteors quickly put the loss behind them and went on another 4-game win streak, including an overtime victory in Cairns, arguably their best win of the season. This was followed by their first losing streak of the season, the first being in Townsville without Shaun Bruce, followed by a home loss to the Capitals, largely due to Brisbane hitting an incredible 22 three-point shots.
Mackay’s offensive dominance led to them leading the league in a variety of different categories: points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists per game. Shaun Bruce was the catalyst for majority of their offence, with the point guard putting up incredible averages of 24.06 points per game and a league-leading 10.06 assists per game. Shaun also recorded two triple-doubles for the QBL season and an incredible 21 assist performance against Sunshine Coast in Round 14. His stellar play resulted in two Player of the Week awards, tied with teammate Lucas Walker. Walker also averaged a double-double with 21.69 points and 10.69 rebounds on 54% shooting. Walker also managed a triple-double himself in their huge win in Cairns in Round 12. Other strong contributors over the season included Chris Cedar 18.2 ppg and captain/coach Cam Tregardh 16.89ppg.
Mackay escaped with a 10-point victory over Logan in the QBL Quarter Finals, despite the absence of Lucas Walker. Shaun Bruce was again the go to man with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. Cedar and Tregardh also had big games with 25 and 22 respectively. In their Semi Final matchup against Rockhampton, Mackay were able to run away with the match in the second half, securing a 106-90 victory. With Walker back in the lineup, he was able to put in a team-high 25 points for the home team and help them advance to the QBL Grand Final against Townsville.
Townsville Heat (3) Record: 12-5
Townsville began the 2017 QBL season 1-2, largely due to an unfavourable schedule over the first three rounds. Double-digit losses to Cairns and Mackay on the road, put the Heat behind the eight ball from the get go and they responded in convincing fashion. Townsville went on to win 11 of their next 12 games, with their only loss being at the hands of Gold Coast by two points, without their star point guard, Josh Wilcher. Over this span they reversed their early season form against Mackay and Cairns with convincing victories again both sides.
Entering the final round of the season Townsville had to the difficult task of a triple-header, with the possibility of finishing top if they were successful in all three. A disappointing 22-point loss to Sunshine Coast in the second game unfortunately removed any chance of a top place finish. A loss to the Capitals the following day dropped Townsville into third seed entering the Playoffs.
Import Justin Baker led the team in scoring with 21.65 points per game over the regular season, as well as pulling in 8.6 rebounds per contest. Josh Wilcher led the team in assists with 6.9 per game, to go with 21.24 points. Peter Crawford continued to do what he does best and hit the three-ball, knocking down 55 for the season, contributing largely to his 17.62 points per game. NBL star Todd Blanchfield returned to Townsville for a brief 3-game stint in May/June as an injury replacement for Jammell Anderson. Blanchfield scored 15.67 a game over those three outings, but most importantly contributed towards three victories. Townsville were the second best defensive team throughout the Regular Season, keeping their opponents to only 84.9 points per game, less than half a point short of the Brisbane Capitals.
The Heat managed a 3-point victory over South West Metro in the QBL Quarter Finals, despite entering the final term with a 17-point lead. The Capitals Quarter Final exit gifted Townsville with a home Semi Final against the Marlins. Townsville were able to hold off a fast-finishing, determined Marlins outfit in their Semi Final, winning by just 2 points. Josh Wilcher starred for the Heat finishing the game with 30 points, to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Townsville will now travel to Mackay for the QBL Grand Final best of three series.
Cairns Marlins (4) Record: 11-6
The reigning QBL Champions opened their season in style with two dominating victories over the Heat and Pirates at Early Setter Stadium, before dropping two games over the next month on Southern road trips to the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. As all great champions do, Cairns responded with a four-game win streak, and completed Round 9 with an impressive 8-2 record.
Entering a difficult road double against Townsville and Mackay, the Marlins made a roster change that saw Taipan Stevie Weigh replace his injured mate Alex Loughton, as well as adding Kuany Kuany to the squad. Cairns would miss Loughton’s 18 and 8 a game and have a disastrous month of July, where they lost their opening three matches, although all against Top 4 opposition. The Marlins were able to steady the ship with two home victories against the Power and Thunder, before again dropping a game on the road, this time against Rockhampton. Their final game of the Regular Season resulted in a thumping win over Gladstone, and with a Pirates upset loss to the Spartans, the Marlins were able to cement a spot in the Top 4 due to a three-way tie breaker with USC and South West.
Damon Heuir was again the standout player for the Marlins scoring 24 a night, which was good enough for 7th in the league. Six other players averaged double-digits and this depth will be pivotal come Playoff time.
Cairns made light work of USC in the QBL Quarter Finals, finishing 17 points the better, the largest of any of the Quarter Finals. The Marlins will travel to Townsville in what will be a dream Semi Final for all basketball fans. Despite a spirited comeback, Cairns were unable to get over the line in Townsville in their Semi Final matchup, going down by 2 points. After hitting some clutch shots down the stretch, young gun Kody Stattmann’s three-pointer was just off target for a chance to win the game on the buzzer. Heuir (27 points) and Weigh (21 points) were the main contributors for the Marlins.
USC Rip City (5) Record: 11-6
USC Rip City were one of three teams that quickly jumped to a large undefeated beginning to the 2017 QBL season. This came to an end against the Pirates in Round 7, who unveiled Daniel Kickert for the first time. Rip quickly recovered to put together another 4-game win streak and sit comfortably in the top three with a 9-1 record at the completion of Round 10. This is when things started to turn upside down for USC.
With the easier part of the schedule behind them, USC only managed 2 victories out of their last 7 Regular Season outings. Despite being extremely consistent and never losing by double-digits all season, USC were unable to knock off any Playoff bound teams for the remainder of the season, with losses coming to Brisbane (twice), Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton. In what seemed to be a locked-in Top 4 position after 10 games, led to a 5th placed position and somewhat limping into the Playoffs.
Isaih Tueta was a standout all season for USC, leading the team in both points (22), assists (6.27) and the league leader in three-point percentage (44.57%). Import Lance Hurdle also had strong season averaging 17.75 points, but on a disappointing sub-40% shooting. Both Zane Meehl and Josh Tueta were solid contributors all season long, also scoring in double-digits.
USC were ultimately unable to capatlise on their early season dominance and by losing home court advantage for the Quarter Finals, their trip to Cairns was a disappointment, as their season ended with a 17-point thumping.
South West Metro Pirates (6) Record: 11-6
If you take away the first month of the QBL season, SWM would be the top placed team entering the Playoffs. Unfortunately for the Pirates, this is not the case and their 0-4 start contributed largely to their sixth-place finish. Over this four-game stretch SWM was outscored on average by 15 points and this led them to being only one of two winless teams at the bottom of the ladder.
Enter Daniel Kickert. Kickert was added to the Pirates squad after a season-ending injury to Brendan Teys. Unfortunately for SWM, Kickert was only on the roster for 5 weeks before being selected for NBL All-Star and Boomers commitments. Over this 5-game span, the team went undefeated and Kickert proved to be a more than serviceable partner in crime to fellow big man Tanner McGrew. Kickert averaged an impressive 21.4 points per game, including an incredible 48% from downtown. Kickert was then replaced with reigning SEABL MVP and Bullets player Jeremy Kendle. Despite Kendle’s first game being a loss, SWM were able to string together another 6 wins straight, before losing a heartbreaking Round 15 clash against the Spartans, ultimately costing them the 4 seed and home court for the QBL Quarter Finals. Kendle’s averages of 28.86 per game was second in the league over this time, only to Gladstone’s Ray Willis. Reigning QBL MVP Tanner McGrew had another standout season in which he put in 22 points and 12 rebounds a night, to finish second in the league for rebounding.
The Pirates’ season came to an end in Townsville in the QBL Quarter Finals, going down by only 3 points. Townsville led by as many as 21 in the final term, before SWM stormed back to tie the game inside the last two minutes. Unfortunately, the Pirates’ could not capitalize down the stretch and came up agonizingly short.
Logan Thunder (7) Record: 9-8
Logan was less than convincing opening the season with 3 straight heavy defeats, with two at the hands of non-Playoff teams. These losses by 17, 17 and 14 points were at the hands of the Spartans, USC and Toowoomba, with this being Toowoomba’s only win of the season. The team were able to turn that form around and win two of their next four matches.
Entering Round 8, the Thunder were sitting at a disappointing 11th on the ladder with a 2-5 record. Two unbelievable wins in Round 8 over the previously undefeated Meteors and Capitals kickstarted their season and led to a string of 7 wins in 8 matches. The Thunder relied heavily on their star forward Mitch Young in the initial part of the season, but found a way to keep winning even in Mitch’s absence through the middle part of the season. Young was still the teams runaway MVP averaging 22.7 and 10.5 boards a night, but others stood up to contribute in big ways as the season progressed. Michael Cedar (15ppg) and Keanu Post (13ppg and 7rpg) were two of the three Thunder players to play in all 18 games. Cedar also received Player of the Week honours in Round 8.
As the 7th seed, Logan travelled to Mackay for a Quarter Final matchup with the Meteors. Mackay jumped to an early 17-point lead, before Logan rallied to get within 2 points mid-way in the third. Mackay proved to have too much firepower, ending the Thunder’s season 93-83. Mitch Young starred with 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Rockhampton Rockets (8) Record: 8-9
Rockhampton snuck into the final Playoffs spot with a sub .500 record finishing 8-9. The Rockets began their season winning only three of their first ten matches, resulting in them being placed 10th after the completion of Round 8.
Following their bye in Round 9, a triple-header in Brisbane proved to be the turning point in their season. Following a blowout loss to the Thunder on the Friday night, the Rockets rallied to win their remaining two games of the weekend against a Pirates’ outfit who had won five on the trot and also over the struggling Rollers. By this stage in the season, the Rockets had time to gel with new players Rashad Hassan and Jack Lopez, both who would prove to pivotal assets for the squad. The Rockets finished off the season winning 5 of their last 7, including huge home wins over Brisbane and Cairns. Import point guard Chris Fowler had an incredible season averaging 24.5 points per game, as big man Rashad Hassan put in an average of 22 across his 13 matches. Wagner, Mitchell and Lopez were all solid contributors scoring in double figures on a nightly basis.
Rockhampton were the story of the Quarter Finals upsetting the top-placed Brisbane Capitals at NAB Stadium 95-91. The Rockets jumped to a 19-point lead in the second quarter and defied a spirited Capitals second half comeback to hold on and advance to a Semi Final matchup with the Meteors. The Rockets season came to an end in Mackay in the QBL Semi Finals. Going into the final term within three points, Rockhampton showed they could match it with the Meteors, until Mackay hit another gear in the last to run away 16-point victors. James Mitchell was massive with 29 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 5 steals, whilst Wager and Hassan put in 24 and 22 points respectively.
Brisbane Spartans (9) Record: 8-9
The Spartans were unlucky not to finish with a Playoff berth, despite finishing with the same record as the Rockets (8-9). Despite a Round 1 victory, the Spartans only managed one more victory over their next six outings, putting them behind the eight ball from the start.
In Round 8, the Spartans added the McDowell-White brothers, who proved to be a fresh spark for the squad. This led to three consecutive victories, but with Bullets duo Adam Gibson and Tom Jervis consistently in and out and of the team, the Spartans were unable to find any consistency throughout the entire season. They proved what they were capable of with a full squad in Round 15, defeating the Pirates at home, ending their chances at a home Quarter Final. Tom Jervis was a standout in his 12 matches, scoring 23 a game, whilst adding 2 blocks and 13 rebounds, which were both the best in the league in those categories. Will McDowell-White averaged 17 a game in his 9 outings, despite a poor 34% shooting from the field. Gibson did a little bit of everything with 15,6,6 in his 9 matches. The Spartans season, in a nutshell, is that their final round win over SWM was their only victory over a team above them all season, proving to be a strong contributor to their ninth-place finish.
Gold Coast Rollers (10) Record: 6-11
The Gold Coast entered the 2017 QBL season with the big signing of Bullets import Torrey Craig. The whole league had their eyes on Torrey and how far he could lead the Rollers. Craig and the Rollers learned quickly that it takes more than one man to lead a team in the QBL. The Rollers managed only two victories in their first eight matches, before a big win in Townsville in Torrey’s final round of QBL action before jetting off for the NBA Summer League.
Life post-Torrey proved to be tough for the Rollers, as they went winless for a month, before breaking the drought with a huge 3-point upset over Ipswich in Round 13. Gold Coast finished the season in style with two more victories over the struggling Toowoomba, including a 40-point hiding in Round 14. Torrey boasted averages of 28 and 10 from 50% shooting, being the league leader in points at the time of his departure. Dwayne Vale, Devon Sullivan, Thalo Green and Tobias Cameron continued to battle all season and finished the season with double figure point averages.
Gladstone Port City Power (11) Record: 5-12
Similar to most of the bottom teams, Gladstone struggled in the initial stages of QBL Season 2017. A Round 3 victory over the Sunshine Coast and another victory over the Gold Coast in Round 7, were Gladstone’s only taste of success in the opening two months of the season. After their Round 10 bye, Ray Willis found some incredible form, leading his team three out of four straight victories and winning himself two Player of the Week awards in the process.
Willis finished the season as the QBL’s leading scorer, putting in 29.53 points and 8 rebounds a night from a solid 46% shooting. The only other Power players to score consistently in double figures were Remy Lawyer and Willie Shackleford, who led the team in rebounding with 11.71 per game. In a similar case to Gold Coast, Gladstone learned the hard way about relying on one man to try and get them over the line week in and week out.
Sunshine Coast Phoenix (12) Record: 5-12
Sunshine Coast had to wait until Round 6 before celebrating their first win of the season. The Phoenix backed this up with another win, before plummeting again to lose six of their next seven matches. Despite a rather disappointing season in whole, Sunshine Coast would have been extremely pleased with their last month, which included wins over Playoff sides Townsville and Rockhampton and going down to Mackay in overtime.
Sunshine Coast will be pleased with the number of minutes and production they received from youngsters Matthew Kenyon and Tom Fullarton. Both players finished the season averaging 12 points per game, whilst Kenyon led the team in rebounding with 9 a night. Imports Hogan and Hill were the standout performers for the Phoenix, scoring 19 and 17 points per game respectively, whilst Jeromie Hill managed this on above 50% shooting. Veteran CJ Massingale continued to prove he can score the ball at this level putting up 13.5 of his own per game.
Ipswich Force (13) Record: 4-13
Ipswich jumped out of the starting blocks in 2017 winning their first three games and being one of only four sides to do so. Unfortunately for the Force, this would be the last success they would encounter for many months. A Round 3 victory over Rockhampton was followed by 10 straight losses, 6 of which were by single-digits.
James Legan was the team’s leading scorer with 23 a game, whilst leading the league in both three pointers made and attempted by a wide margin. Legan’s season unfortunately came to an early finish in Round 12 after a sickening leg injury against the Pirates. Ipswich proved all season that they were more than capable on the scoring end, as they were second in the league for points scored, only to Mackay. The Force struggled majorly on the defensive end, consistently giving up 100 points and clearly giving up the most points in the league. Kyle Harvey contributed in a strong way all season long, finishing with 21 points per contest and being the only Ipswich player to play in every game.
Toowoomba Mountaineers (14) Record: 1-16
The Mountaineers went down by only three points in their season opener on the road to Ipswich, before winning their next matchup over the Logan Thunder. Unfortunately for Toowoomba, this is where their season both starts and ends. The Mountaineers would not win another match for the season, finishing with 15 straight losses.
Some positives to come out of the season were Jalil Abdul-Bassit’s 25 points per game and Jason Washington’s 8 assists per game, which was good enough for second most in the league. This is quite incredible by Washington considering Toowoomba’s struggles to score the ball over the course of the season. Manylok Malek had impressive season averages of 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as recorded 1.41 blocks a game. Toowoomba will be looking forward to a strong turnaro