The Integra Ballarat Rush are back in action this weekend after having a Round 17 bye, heading to the State Basketball Centre Saturday night to take on the Knox Raiders, and then returning to the MARS® MINERDOME to face the Kilsyth Cobras from midday.
In the first meeting between the Rush and the Knox Raiders, the Rush shot at an impressive accuracy of 57% in the first quarter to jump out to an eight-point lead and put the Knox Raiders on their toes. Their shooting efficiency continued into the second quarter and they were able to go into the main break with a 14-point lead. Outrebounding the Raiders for the game, and holding them to a woeful 32% shooting for the game, the Rush were able to come out on top against the Raiders, 70-48, in their second game of a doubleheader weekend.
Steph Cumming top-scored for the game, recording 20 points and seven rebounds, followed by import Nya Mason, with 14 points and six rebounds. Kristy Rinaldi produced an outstanding double-double effort, with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the Rush victory.
Shanae Greaves and Jess May gave their best effort for the Raiders, scoring 12 points apiece (Greaves with nine rebounds and May with seven) but the Rush proved too much for the undermanned Knox team.
Opals commitments have kept the Knox Raiders without their stars Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson on various occasions, and because of this inconsistency in playing roster, the Raiders have struggled throughout the season. However, the quality of Knox play increases significantly when Richards and Wilson are on the playing roster for the weekend and as they are presumably available for the weekend, the Rush may have a tough task ahead of them. With Richards averaging 23 points and 14 rebounds a game, and Wilson averaging a remarkable 22 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists a game, the Rush will need to employ a strong defensive effort towards keeping the powerful Knox duo below their averages in order to come out of the match on top.
The Rush, however, had the luxury of a bye last weekend and will be coming into the weekend rejuvenated and hungry for a win. With Cumming and Rinaldi leading the way, young gun Abbey Wehrung having an outstanding season, and solid contribution from Mason, Sophie Alexander and Bronte Clark, the Rush have all the tools necessary to come out on top against a tough Knox outfit. Tip-off starts from 6pm, followed by the GMHBA Ballarat Miners taking on the Knox Raiders from 8pm. Follow the action live at seabl.com.au/livestats.
The Rush will then have a quick turnaround as they return home to the Minerdome for their first meeting against the Kilsyth Lady Cobras. Sitting second on the South Conference Ladder, the Cobras boast a roster full of talent, especially in their starting five.
They are led primarily by guard Yvonne Anderson, their top-scorer with 18.2 points a game, along with 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game. Moreover, forward Sarah Parsons has proven herself to be a formidable opponent in the paint against other teams, averaging 12 points and nine rebounds a game. Despite being undersized in the post, Parsons is capable of holding her own against other successful forwards in the league, as well as being able to accurately shoot from behind the arc.
The arrival of centre Louella Tomlinson has also bolstered the Kilsyth Roster. Tomlinson is averaging 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game since her first SEABL appearance in Round 8. With the assistance of Rosie Moult averaging 13 points and six rebounds a game, the Kilsyth Lady Cobras have shown week in and week out why they are one of the top teams in the competition.
While the Rush seemingly have their work cut out for them with the Lady Cobras, they are more than ready for the challenge. The match-ups between Cumming and Anderson, Rinaldi and Parsons, and Mason and Tomlinson will make for a very thrilling contest. The production from the bench will be a major component in deciding who will get over the line on Sunday between these two hard-hitting teams. Get behind your Ballarat Rush in one of your last chances to catch them in action at home; tip-off is from 12pm, following the GMHBA Ballarat Miners taking on the Kilysth Cobras from 2pm.