The #QBL17 Grand Finals are upon us. Good luck to the Brisbane Spartans and Mackay Meteorettes as they battle it out for the women’s title. In lieu of the game this weekend, read a recap of each team in the QBL Season Review Womens …
Brisbane Spartans (1) Record: 17-0
The Brisbane Spartans have dominated season 2017 winning all their regular season games and they finished first in points scored per game and fewest points allowed per game. The Spartans also led the league in assists, blocks, steals, total rebounds and fewest turnovers.
The Spartans had many big contributors over the course of the season with Ashleigh Karaitiana the leading point scorer averaging over 20 points per game. Ashleigh’s biggest game came against Ipswich in Round 8 when she scored 36 points away from home. Maddie Allen, Aja Parham, Kalani Purcell and Natalie Taylor all averaged over 10 points per game. Kalani Purcell led the team with rebounds averaging over 10 boards a game and she also averaged the most assists. Maddie Allen was a dominant defender all season long with a total of 48 blocks, by far the most of any player in the league.
The most impressive takeaway from the Spartans season was their depth and willingness to use their bench players. Many of the Spartans were on representative duty throughout the year, but despite this the team had enough replacements to fill their shoes and perform well above expectations.
The Spartans ensured home court advantage throughout the playoffs and with an unbeaten record are the big favourites to take home the 2017 QBL Championship. Their playoffs started well with a 77-45 win over the Pirates in the quarter-final. The Spartans then fought off a determined Gladstone outfit in the semis to eventually run out 89-67 winners to book their place in the QBL Grand Final Series against Mackay. Ashleigh Karaitiana was the top scorer in both finals with 20 and 27 respectively.
Logan Thunder (2) Record: 14-3
After dropping their first game of the season against the Brisbane Spartans, the Logan Thunder went on a 13-game winning streak to cement second place at the end of the regular season. Logan finished the season with the best free throw percentage and were second best in field goal shooting, assists and points per game.
Logan had two massive results in the season with a 102-49 win against the Phoenix and a 113-29 thrashing of the Gold Coast Rollers. Logan’s most surprising loss came in Round 13 when they were beaten at home by Ipswich which ultimately ended their winning streak. The Thunder enjoyed a bye heading into the playoffs sitting in second position and could face the Spartans in the Grand Final series.
Kate Gaze was outstanding all season long for the Thunder averaging over 25 points per game as well as 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Jackie Luna-Castro registered almost 9 rebounds a game plus 14 blocks for the season, whilst no player had more assists in the league than Mikhaela Donnelly who had 119 in total and averaged close to 7 a game. Cassie Smith was a strong contributor in both points and assists and rising star Miela Goodchild was impressive beyond the arc knocking down 26 threes for the season. Logan’s bench was also consistent throughout the season with good contributions from Ula Motuga and Jayden Fuiava.
Logan won their quarter-final against the Capitals comfortably by 31 points thanks to a massive game from Kate Gaze who scored 33 points in the win. Gaze was again the leading scorer for the Thunder in their semi-final matchup against Mackay with a whopping 37 points but it wasn’t enough to knock off the Meteorettes to advance to the Grand Final Series. The Thunder eventually went down by 13 points.
Mackay Meteorettes (3) Record: 13-4
Mackay had a fantastic start to the season winning their first 7 games to share top spot with the Spartans. By mid-June however the Meteorettes lost two of three games to the Spartans and Logan, surrendering top spot on the table. Mackay bounced back to win their next four games before losing to Townsville and being upset by the Capitals at home in Round 13.
Mackay recorded the best 3-point percentage of any team shooting at 34.5% from downtown and were also in the top two for free throw percentage and total rebounds. Nadeen Payne led the team in scoring and rebounds averaging 19 and 9 respectively. Tami Willey averaged over 15 a game, whilst Micaela Cocks and Chevennah Paalvast both scored over 12 a game. Willey was one of Mackay’s best defenders grabbing over 8 rebounds a game and registered 8 blocks for the season.
The Meteorettes have been somewhat of a dark horse in this year’s competition with two strong wins against Gladstone and a close 3-point loss to the Spartans. They have plenty of experience on the big stage and will be a tough assignment for any team in the playoffs especially in Mackay.
Mackay faced a fired-up Ipswich outfit at home in the quarter-finals and only managed to come away with a close 4-point win. The Meteorettes were far better in their semi-final against Logan winning strongly by 13 points to advance to another Grand Final series. Nadeen Payne was huge for Mackay in their semi-final scoring 32 points and 18 rebounds to lead Mackay over the line.
Gladstone Port City Power (4) Record: 12-5
Early July saw Gladstone hovering around 6th to 8th on the QBL ladder but after an impressive 5-game winning streak to end the season, the Power finished in 4th spot to guarantee a home final.
Gladstone’s season has had many fine contributors but none bigger than American star Tabatha Richardson Smith. TRS has dominated the QBL in 2017 leading the league in scoring with over 31 points per game. As well as putting up massive scoring numbers, Richardson Smith has also averaged over 10 rebounds and 5 assists per game and has won two QBL Player of the Week Awards in the season.
Richardson Smith was well supported all season long by Cassie Rochel who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game as well as 29 blocks for the year. Charmaine Mellars recorded 9 rebounds a game and had 39 steals, second only to Tabatha with 49.
Gladstone’s best result came off a double header in Round 13 when they beat both Townsville and Cairns away from home. The two victories cemented their 4th place with a head-to-head win over Townsville. These wins came on the back of two disappointing losses earlier in July against Ipswich and Logan.
With arguably the best player in the league in 2017 and on the back of a 5-game winning streak, Gladstone have become a real danger side leading into the playoffs. They showed their power in week one of the playoffs with a tough 4-point win over the Flames. Richardson Smith top scored that night and was again influential in their semi-final against the Spartans scoring 34 points but didn’t get the help she needed as the Power eventually fell away to lose by 22 points to the championship favourites.
Townsville Flames (5) Record: 12-5
Townsville finished with an identical record to Gladstone but lost twice to the Power in 2017 and thus were consigned to 5th spot on the ladder. Townsville’s season was up and down and after winning their first two games of the year, the Flames went 0-3 in the backend of May. June was a much better month for Townsville winning all four games at home to get their season back on track. The Flames had wins against both Logan and Mackay but suffered a loss against Rockhampton in Round 5. Another loss to Gladstone late in the season killed off their hopes of a home final in the first week of the playoffs.
Townsville ranked third in free throw percentage and total rebounds in 2017 and their discipline was the best in the league, committing the fewest fouls of any team with 16 per game. Darcee Garbin was the Flames best all year putting up 23 ppg (shooting at 48% from the field) and had 10 rebounds a game as well as 27 blocks in the season. Her partnership with Mia Murray was instrumental with Murray averaging 15 and 6 a game. Rachel McCully had a good season too averaging over 5 assists and collected 34 steals in the year.
Townsville’s best was enough to knock off some of the better teams in the competition, but if teams kept Garbin quiet they suffered and fell to teams below them on the ladder. On their day though Townsville have been as good as anyone in this competition.
Unfortunately for Townsville, Garbin was out of action in their quarter-final against the Power and her absence was felt as the Flames went down by 4 points to see their season end in Gladstone.
Ipswich Force (6) Record: 10-7
Ipswich have had a rollercoaster season with a winning streak of 4 and a losing streak of 5, the Force haven’t been able to find enough wins to get into the top 4. The Force suffered an early season collapse losing 5 straight games in May to early June. It was a tough draw with 4 of the 5 losses coming against the top 5 teams on the ladder. Since Round 7 however, Ipswich won 8 out of their last 10 games including big wins over the Capitals and Gladstone as well as a massive upset over Logan in Round 13 to end the Thunder’s 13-game winning streak. The Force did however lose games against Cairns and Rockhampton who both finished well below them on the ladder.
Ipswich had the best field goal shooting percentage at the end of the regular season and had the third highest average of points per game. Markel Walker led the team in scoring, rebounds and assists with an average of 20, 13 and 4 per game. Shenita Landry put up 15 points and 8 rebounds a game, whilst Bree Farley managed 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists playing the most minutes of any Ipswich player. Walker and Landry combined for 56 points in their upset win at Logan, fuelling a late season winning streak heading into the playoffs.
Ipswich put up a great fight in their quarter-final matchup with the Meteorettes in Mackay, but despite their resilience, they were unable to get the job done and eventually went down by 4 points.
Brisbane Capitals (7) Record: 8-9
After a strong start to the season, the wheels started to come off for the Capitals after the Round 4 bye in May with the team losing five of their next six games. Brisbane then managed to win four in a row including an incredible win in Mackay before dropping their last four games to narrowly scrape into the playoffs.
D’Lesha Lloyd was the Capitals best all season picking up 21 points and 7 rebounds a game. Amy Lewis averaged 16 points and 5 rebounds, whilst Ariel Butts was averaging 10 rebounds a game before her departure midway through the season. The Caps were the third best team in steals thanks to Madison Woodford (37), Lloyd (34), Lewis (28) and Heidi Freeburn with 27.
Brisbane’s poor home record was a real concern with the Caps losing 5 games at NAB Stadium in 2017, which also included their last three.
The Capitals season ended in the quarter-finals with a disappointing 31-point loss to the Logan Thunder. D’Lesha Lloyd was the top scorer that day for the Capitals but as was the case throughout the season, she didn’t get the support needed and Brisbane were ultimately bundled out of the playoffs.
South West Metro Pirates (8) Record: 8-9
Despite a losing record the Pirates managed to squeeze into the playoffs after an impressive month in July which saw them win 5 of their 6 games. The Pirates only managed to beat one team above them on the ladder though which was the Ipswich Force back in Round 12.
Defensively the Pirates were quite strong throughout the year and recorded the third highest amount of blocks thanks to Shelby Cheslek who had 36 – the second best in the league. Cheslek also recorded 13 rebounds a game which was by far the most of any Pirate in 2017. Stephanie Bairstow led the team in scoring with 23.2ppg, whilst Madelyn Willey averaged 14 points and 6 assists per game.
The Pirates faced an ultimighty task having to play the undefeated Spartans in the quarter-finals. Despite playing well and keeping with Brisbane early, the Pirates were no match for the Spartans going down 77-45. Steph Bairstow led the team in points with 14 to cap off a brilliant season for her.
Cairns Dolphins (9) Record: 7-10
By the end of June at the conclusion of Round 9, the Cairns Dolphins had won 7 out of their first 10 games and were comfortably in the top 8 on the ladder and pushing for a top 4 berth. Round 9 however would prove to be Cairns last victory as the Dolphins went on to lose their last 7 games and eventually miss the playoffs altogether. Cairns suffered in their pool losing 7 of their 8 games against their northern rivals with the only win coming against Rockhampton in Round 8.
The Dolphins had the second worst three-point shooting percentage in the league as well as being ranked 12th for fouls committed. Alli Gloyd was the Dolphins best with 17 points and 9 rebounds a game. Gloyd was named QBL Player of the Week in Round 6 after scoring 28 points and 13 rebounds against Ipswich. Rachel Pryor and Myra Donkin both averaged over 12 points per game, while Donkin averaged 4 assists and had 26 steals for the year.
The late season collapse from the Dolphins would be hard to swallow in Cairns considering the team hasn’t won a championship since 1994.
USC Rip City (10) Record: 6-11
USC Rip City failed to string together back to back wins in season 2017 and finished with a 6-11 record. The Rip faced a tough schedule having to play the Brisbane Spartans three times in the season. Their best win of 2017 came against the Brisbane Capitals in their final game winning 85-70 to finish above Rockhampton after beating the Cyclones earlier in the year.
The Rip struggled defensively all year long, conceding the most points per game as well as ranking last in blocks and offensive rebounds. Leah Scott was the Rip’s leading scorer with 20 per game and she also led the team in rebounds with an average of 9. Brooke Le Mar (15ppg, 4rpg) and Claire O’Bryan (14ppg, 5rbp) were also strong contributors. Le Mar led the team in steals and assists with 32 and 85 respectively.
Rockhampton Cyclones (11) Record: 6-11
Rockhampton have been by far the biggest disappointment of the Women’s QBL Competition in 2017. The two-time defending champions finished with a 6-11 record to end their season in 11th place. The Cyclones enjoyed good wins against Townsville and the Capitals but fell to the Sunshine Coast Phoenix in Round 14.
The Cyclones welcomed star Abby Bishop to the team earlier in the season, however despite her numbers and a brief 3-game winning streak, the team weren’t able to capitalise on this and lost 8 out of their next 9 games. Shanavia Dowdell was picked up midway through the year after Rocky lost Natalie Novosel after just 5 games and played strongly for the Cyclones.
Abby Bishop’s brief stint made her the highest average point scorer and rebounder in the team with 22 and 12 respectively. Shanavia Dowdell also averaged 22 points from her 8 games. Christina Boag and Katrina Clifford played the most minutes for the Cyclones and both scored over 10 a game. Boag also ranked third in the league for assists, with 40.
Sunshine Coast Phoenix (12) Record: 4-13
The Phoenix managed just two wins in the first two months of the QBL season before finishing with a 4-13 record. Sunshine Coast’s best win came against the Capitals in Brisbane in Round 7 and they also had a big road win against the Cyclones in Rockhampton winning 88-70 towards the end of the season.
The Phoenix were ranked third in the league for blocks thanks to Erica Carlson who had 31 in the season, however the team were ranked last in turnovers (20 per game) and personal fouls (21 per game).
Erica Carlson and Ashlee Wallis were the only two players to average more than 10 points per game, whilst Carlson also led the team in rebounds, blocks and assists.
Toowoomba Mountaineers (13) Record: 2-15
The Mountaineers were winless through to Round 14 before they came up against fellow cellar-dwellers the Gold Coast Rollers. Toowoomba managed to beat the Gold Coast in consecutive weeks to finish the year at 2-15.
The Mountaineers were the worst ranked attacking team in the competition scoring an average of just 50 points per game and were last in free throw percentage and assists. Francis Donders was a shining light for Toowoomba leading the league in steals with 56. She also led the team in points scored with 15 a game and was the leading three-point shooter. Ezy Parsons was the only other Mountaineer to average more than 10 a game and she led the team in rebounds (8 per game) and assists (2.7 per game).
Gold Coast Rollers (14) Record: 0-17
The Rollers failed to win a game and were consigned the wooden spoon in season 2017. Gold Coast ranked worst in field goal and three-point shooting, steals and total rebounds. The Rollers managed to score more than 70 points just once in the year and were handed a massive 113-29 loss at the hands of Logan in Round 5, the biggest margin of defeat by any team.
Ashli Payne was the standout in an otherwise disappointing season for the Coast and despite playing just 9 games she led the team in points and rebounds per game with 16 and 9 respectively. Sophie Johnston averaged 9 points a game, whilst Courtney Vera had 14 blocks and Siarn Woods had 30 assists and 24 steals.