Record: 13-2, 1ST
Leading Scorer: Amber Merritt- 32.45 points per game
Why They Can Win the Title: The Wheelcats faced the loss of Chihiro Kitada this season with many wondering if this loss would be too great to overcome even for a list as talented as the Wheelcats. The Wheelcats have silenced the questioners in style rocketing from 3rd in 2018 to 1st placing in 2019. After winning their way into last seasons Gold Medal game the Wheelcats will be looking to capitalise on their strong performance across the season and finish with the Gold.
Amber Merritt continues to be the most dominant offensive player in the competition, leading the league in scoring and sitting second for rebounds with 13.64. Georgia Inglis (13.53 points per game) and Sarah Vinci (11.6 points per game) have also both upped their output to help fill the void.
Why They Can’t: No team is infallible and finals pressure can do funny things even to the most seasoned of campaigners. Perth’s 2 losses for the season come at the hands of Kilsyth and Sydney University Flames which will fill them with the knowledge that it has been done, and can be done again, as they look to replicate the form from those games.
X-Factor: For Georgia Inglis this has been the year of redemption. Inglis was dropped from the Gliders squad in 2018 and rather than wallow in heart ache Inglis has turned it into determination seeing her step up her output for 2019. She has gone from 15th in the league for scoring to 8th, 15th in rebounding to 11th and maintained her top 2 placing for assists. This form has seen Inglis earn a recall to the Gliders squad for the international series held against the USA and the upcoming tour of Japan. Can Inglis top off her year of redemption by assisting her team to a Gold Medal win?
SYDNEY UNIVERSITY FLAMES
Record: 12-3, 2nd
Leading Scorer: Annabelle Lindsay- 23.8 points per game
Why They Can Win the Title: The Flames only missed top spot by a game but have still earned a double-chance as they look to improve on last year’s bronze medal.
They fell in the Preliminary Final to the Wheelcats in 2018 and get a chance to make amends in the Semi Final this season. Their defence will be the key, giving up a league-low 40.3 points per game but they will require a strong team effort to counter the Wheelcats who average 62.1 per game.
Liesl Tesch has been instrumental for the Flames this season leading the league in assists (9) and fourth for rebounds (12.2). The return of Annabelle Lindsay will bolster the line up that also features the experience of seasoned campaigner Hannah Dodd. This team has not been at full strength throughout the season so keep an eye out for the Flames to turn up the heat.
Why They Can’t: Sydney Uni Flames have a 1-2 record against the Wheelcats this season, in their solitary win the Wheelcats were without the fire power of Amber Merritt.
Will having the full squad for the first time this season throw a spanner in the works?
X-Factor: Annabelle Lindsay was a revelation in Australian wheelchair basketball in 2018 on the international and national stage. Annabelle Lindsay had been out injured for most of the season so look for her to come out ready and rearing to go, keen to help her team improve from last year’s Bronze Medal placing.
SYDNEY METRO BLUE HORNETS
Record: 9-6, 3rd
Leading Scorer: Georgia Munro-Cook- 26 points per game
Why They Can Win the Title: Despite sitting 3rd on the ladder Sydney Metro Blue Hornets have proven their fire power finishing 2nd for total points for averaging 58.6 per game. They have been consistent performers with their average losing margin being less than 10 points. Sydney Metro will be looking to improve on their 2018 standing after having missed out on a Medal last year.
Sydney Metro Blue Hornets face Kilsyth in Friday’s Semi whom they have beaten in all 3 matches this season. Sydney Metro Blue Hornets have pushed the Wheelcats and Flames this season going down by less than single digits in half of their match ups this season, can they up the pressure in finals and change a narrow L to a W?
Jessica Cronje and Kylie Gauci’s experience shows every week and alongside Muno-Cook the Blue Hornets will be looking for these ladies to set the standard early to control these games.
Why They Can’t: Sydney Metro have struggled to prove themselves against the Wheelcats and Flames. Despite some close results the Blue Hornets have not been able to get the W finishing the season with 0-6 record against them.
If the Wheelcats and Flames can hold Munro-Cook is the Sydney Metro Blue Hornets line up deep enough to get past the Preliminary Final and all the way to the top of the podium?
X-Factor: Munro-Cook lead Sydney Metro Blue Hornets in scoring in 2018, not content with her figures from last year Munro-Cook has improved out of sight this season seeing her increase her average points per game from 17.65 to a nice round 26. Watch out for her to lead from the front by controlling the glass and scoring tempo.
Record: 7-8, 4th
Leading Scorer: Teisha Shadwell 16.67 points per game
Why They Can Win the Title: Kilsyth missed out on Finals last season. 2019 has seen them put in the hard yards and be rewarded with a Finals berth.
Teisha Shadwell not only leads her team in scoring, this lady is a monster on the boards averaging 14.73 rebounds per game. Combining with team mate Leanne Del Toso, (16.25 points per game) Kilsyth will provide a tough match up for their opponents this weekend.
Having reached the finals, the Cobras have improved on last year and they can now play with abandon and embrace their underdog status.
Why They Can’t: While they did finish in the top four, the Cobras face Sydney Metro Blue Hornets first up who not only have they not had a win against this season but are second both offensively and defensively this season (points for and points against). The Cobras will have to up their output at both ends if they are to get the W in the Semi
X-Factor: Bree Mellberg is having a breakout season and is one to watch this weekend. Her hard work and efforts this season have seen her become a pivotal part of this Kilsyth outfit. Second in the team for assists (5), third for scoring (9.29) and fourth for rebounding (4.21) her ball movement and 1%ers will see her play a pivotal role in determining whether or not Kilsyth can get the W this weekend.
Friday 16th August Semi Final 1 – Sydney Metro Blue Hornets v Kilsyth Cobras @4pm
Friday 16th August Semi Final 2 – Perth Wheelcats v Sydney University Flames @7pm
Saturday 17th August Preliminary Final- Loser of Semi Final 2 v Winner of Semi Final 1 @2pm
Sunday 18th August Bronze Medal- Loser of Qualifying Final 1 v Loser of Preliminary Final @9am
Sunday 18th August Gold Medal- Winner of Semi Final 2 v Winner of Preliminary Final @12pm