Image via Perth Wheelcats.
Maintaining their undefeated start to the 2019 season, the Wollongong Rollerhawks took care of the Sydney Metro Blues across all three meetings in Round 2.
The Perth Wheelcats kept pace them on the ladder though with three wins over the West Adelaide Thunder while Kilsyth Cobras narrowly escaped the Queensland Spinning Bullets in their three-match series.
Winning by an average margin of 33.3 points, Wollongong moved to 7-0 on the season as Brett Stibners and Shawn Russell paced them offensively.
Stibners culminated Round 2 with a triple-double on Sunday, recording 31 points, 12 rebounds and ten assists while Russell started the weekend with a bang, top-scoring with 23 points on Friday night.
Nick Taylor and Luke Pople were also instrumental while Clay Kelly added 12 points on 6-10 shooting in their first meeting as the Rollerhawks showcased their imposing depth.
For the Blues, CJ McCarthy-Grogan was again outstanding and Courtney Ryan hit double-figures on Sunday while a couple of past and present Australian Gliders in Kylie Gauci and Georgia Munro-Cook impressed.
Perth did not have it easy against the Thunder, succeeding by only 13 points per game which included a 69-60 victory on Friday night but their three wins keeps them in a top-two position on the ladder.
West Adelaide were efficient offensively across the weekend, scoring in bulk in the paint via Eamon Wood (16.7 points, six assists per game) and Jay Dohnt (13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds) while Adam Roocke (11.7 points) and Phillip Stephens were able to out-score the Wheelcats from beyond the arc as well.
Ultimately, they could not match Michael Auprince (29 points, 9.7 boards) and Shaun Norris (24.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 12 assists, 4.3 steals) though, while Amber Merritt backed up a strong outing in Round 1 with 11 points per game this weekend.
Leading by only five points at half-time on Friday night, Perth benefited from Auprince’s 13-point third quarter as he equalled West Adelaide’s output as a team to put the match beyond doubt.
It was then Norris’ turn in the third term on Sunday, knocking down three three-pointers on his way to 11 points as the Wheelcats used a 27-14 quarter to win 75-65.
The closest series in Round 2 belonged to the Cobras and Spinning Bullets but it did not look like it would go that way after Friday night when Kilsyth prevailed by 20 points following a 34-22 first half.
The following night, the Cobras led by nine at half-time but Queensland turned things around by doubling their total for the third quarter.
Tom O’Neill-Thorne (18 points, eight assists, four steals) turned up the pressure defensively and Matt McShane (17 points, nine rebounds) and Jordan Bartley (nine points) began to find the bottom of the basket.
Bartley then gave the Spinning Bullets their first lead of the game and they subsequently tied the contest four times but a late shot from Shaun Groenewegen (20 points, seven assists) and a missed free-throw from O’Neill-Thorne saw Queensland fall agonisingly short, 64-65.
On Sunday, a determined Queensland side controlled proceedings for most of the first half but as the game wore on, Kilsyth slowly wore them down and grabbed a 77-73 win, consolidating their move up the ladder.
Tristan Knowles had 23 points and 12 assists to finish with a double-double average for Round 2 of 22.7 points and 10.3 dimes while Jontee Brown capped off a strong weekend that began with 25 points on Friday night with another 15 points on 5-11 shooting.
The NWBL returns for Round 3 in a fortnight’s time as Red Dust Heelers come back from the bye and the Cobras get to test themselves against the pacesetters in Wollongong.