05/03/2024

Cayla George in action for the Flames. (Photo: Kris Saad/Supplied)

The tenth edition of the Inner Sanctum’s WNBL Power Rankings for season 2023/24 has dropped, presented by The Inner Sanctum contributors Callum Logie, Elly McNerney and Lauren Rosenberg. 

Round 10 had just about everything with Townsville and Melbourne winning both matches this week, while there were upsets galore with Southside going down to Canberra while Sydney came up short against Adelaide.

These WNBL Power Rankings are based on the squads’ current form and short-term expectations. They aren’t a prediction of where teams will finish the season on the ladder, but rather an expectation on how they will perform in their upcoming games with consideration given to injuries and form.

You can view last week’s Power Rankings here

Here are The Inner Sanctum’s WNBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 11 of the 2023/24 season.

1. Townsville Fire

Record: 11-3, Previous week ranking: 1st 

It was a perfect (round) 10 for the Fire as they netted back-to-back wins to firmly cement their position at the top of the standings. First was a 13-point road win at home before travelling to Geelong for an away win against the Spirit.

In what was an offensive barrage for both sides, the superior firepower of Townsville proved to be the difference in a gripping midweek fixture.

Weathering the storm of the Lynx wing scoring, Michaela Ruef led the way for the Fire with a 21 point, 10 rebound double-double. Townsville’s size and strength up front paid dividends as Zitina Aokuso also chipped in with an 18 point, 10 rebound double-double. 

Ruef and Aokuso again contributed 21 rebounds between them in their win over the Spirit, showing just how effective size and rebounding can be on the court. Stephanie Reid was the top scorer in this fixture with 23 points while playing the entire 40 minutes in the win. Cassandra Brown also impressed with 17 points in 25 minutes.

Taking on Melbourne who are on a climb back up the standings, Townsville should look to use its size and strength to outmuscle Melbourne and get the right results in round 11.

Games this week: Melbourne Boomers double-header

2. Perth Lynx

Record: 8-4,  Previous week ranking: 2nd

Despite going 1-1 on the week, the Perth Lynx barely edge out the Melbourne Boomers in this round’s power rankings.

In their first game against the Townsville Fire, the Lynx suffered a 104-91 loss in a game that lacked defense for both teams.

Perth got great production out of Miela Goodchild (22 points on 70 per cent shooting), Amy Atwell (25 points, three rebounds, and three assists), and Anneli Maley (23 points, eight rebounds, and two assists).

As a team, they shot 44.3% from the field and 41.7% from three, but their defence was unable to put up a fight against the Fire’s hot shooting. Perth allowed Townsville to shoot 50.7 per cent from the field and 45 per cent from three.

Perth returned home, regrouped, and secured an 84-68 win over the Adelaide Lightning. Their hot offense continued as they shot 40.6 per cent from the field but struggled from three. Emily Potter shined throughout the whole game, finishing with 26 points and 11 rebounds. 

Perth’s defense was absolutely stellar, it limited Adelaide’s shooting to 38.4 per cent from the floor and 15.6 per cent from three while forcing 12 steals and 18 total turnovers. Alex Ciabattoni and Amy Atwell led the way in steals with four and three, respectively.

Perth takes on Canberra and Sydney in two matchups that can easily shake up the ladder.  

Games this week: UC Capitals, Sydney Flames 

3. Melbourne Boomers 

Record: 9-5, Previous week ranking: 5th

The Melbourne Boomers have moved back up the rankings this week with strong performances over the Sydney Flames and Southside Flyers, while claiming the Michele Timms Cup after the season series against the Flyers stands at 2-0.

The Boomers were able to bounce back from what was a disappointing first half to then get the win by seven points against their cross-town rivals.

The win against the Flyers was led by Monique Conti and Jordin Canada with the pair strong when it came to transitioning the ball with both able to hit the scoreboard. Canada was named player of the match with an impressive 18 points, five assists, seven rebounds, and five steals. While Conti wasn’t too far behind with 17 points.

While against the Flames, it was head to head all match with the Boomers able to pull ahead in the final quarter thanks to the likes of Naz Hilmon and Canada stepping up when the side needed it. Hillmon finished the match with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Canada had 12 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals. 

This week is going to be a big week for Melbourne with a doubleheader at the Boom Box against Townsville as it looks to cement a spot in the top four.

Games this week: Townsville Fire double-header

4. Sydney Flames

Record: 7-7, Previous week ranking: 4th

It was a tough week for the Flames as they were leapfrogged by the Boomers, suffering two losses to the aforementioned Melbourne side and to the struggling Adelaide Lightning.

The Flames were unable to score effectively enough in the Lightning fixture with only three players reaching double digits in scoring. Encouragingly, Didi Richards continued her strong form with 21 points and seven rebounds while Cayla George filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. 

Coming from what was a tough scoring night against Adelaide, Sydney were determined to bounce back at home but struggled even more with scoring against Melbourne.

Lauren Nicholson scored a game-high 19 points but Richards and George were kept quiet, despite Richards herculean rebounding effort, a season-high 15.

As we head downhill toward the end of the season, Sydney will be determined to get good results out of clashes against Southside and Perth into round 11. 

Games this week: Southside Flyers, Perth Lynx 

5.  Southside Flyers

Record: 7-6, Previous week ranking: 3rd

It was a disappointing week for the Flyers this week with the side unable to collect a win for the round, which sees them drop to 5th in this week’s rankings.

The side was strong in patches in its two games against the Melbourne Boomers and UC Capitals but wasn’t able to get over the line.

Against the Boomers, the team started strong having an 11 point advantage going into the main break but they wasn’t able to contain the likes of Jordin Canada and Monique Conti who were able to lift the intensity for the Boomers.

The Flyers were led by import Mercedes Russell who had 17 points to go with 12 rebounds. Nyadiew Puoch did everything she could in the second half to get her team over the line, finishing with 11 points and three rebounds.

In the game against the Capitals, it was a similar story with the Flyers having the upper hand in the opening half but the Capitals were able to turn it on in the second half.

Looking to the positives, Lauren Jackson was the standout with 16 points and four rebounds while Maddi Rocci wasn’t far behind with 14 points, three assists, and seven rebounds. 

Games this week: Sydney Flames

More Basketball News

6. UC Capitals 

Record: 3-9, Previous week ranking: 7th

The UC Capitals young core is showing they can contend with the best of them. This was made extremely evident in their upset against Southside Flyers.

Jade Melbourne continued to lead the way for the Capitals squad and didn’t slow down even if her shots weren’t always falling. She finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Gemma Potter recorded 14 points and five steals while Nicole Munger recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, and two steals.

The star of the game has to go to Alex Sharp. She was the Capitals’ most consistent player and her numbers prove it. She scored 17 points on 75 per cent shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.

Overall, their defense is what led them to victory. The Capitals limited the Flyers shooting to 38.1 per cent from the field and 20 per cent from three. They also forced 18 turnovers and finished with 12 steals as a team to disrupt the Flyers’ flow.

Canberra is proving each game that its on the rise and can contend with the best teams in the league. Its victory over Southside proves this young core is always ready for a battle.

The Capitals have the opportunity to continue displaying their grit this upcoming round against the Lynx and Spirit. 

Games this week: Perth Lynx, Bendigo Spirit  

7.  Bendigo Spirit 

Record: 4-7, Previous week ranking: 6th

The Bendigo Spirit weren’t able to extinguish the Townsville Fire, going down by 14 points at home with the Fire running away with the game in the final quarter.

Alicia Froling once again was a key contributor coming from the bench, scoring 13 points to go with six rebounds. The charge from the Spirit was led by Ally Wilson who scored 19 points to go with her four assists and four rebounds.

Skipper Kelsey Griffin was strong defensively, recording six defensive rebounds as well as two blocks to go with her nine points.

The Spirit will be looking to turn things around this week, being one of the teams with two games in round 11.

The Spirit will come up against the Adelaide Lightning and UC Capitals and if they can bring the same intensity they did when they played the Boomers in round nine, it’ll be a step in the right direction to getting back up the board.

Games this week: Adelaide Lightning, UC Capitals

8.   Adelaide Lightning

Record: 4-11, Previous week ranking: 8th

While still at the bottom of our list due to a heavy volume of losses, the Lightning were able to get an important win over the Flames alongside their defeat to Perth.

Liz Tonks and Izzy Borlase led a well-rounded effort from the Lightning at home with 15 and 14 points respectively.

Getting scoring from across the lineup has been a focus point of these rankings with respect to Adelaide improving and this performance had five contributors put up double digit points which is an encouraging sign for Lightning fans.

While the loss to Perth was rather comprehensive, Borlase showed why she’s one of the most exciting young prospects in Australian basketball, putting up 31 points against one of the most talented teams in the league.

Isabelle Bourne was also able to contribute off the bench with 14 points but the Lightning were overpowered in the Lynx fixture.

Round 11 presents a promising fixture for the Lightning as they look to buy back some momentum. 

Game this week: Bendigo Spirit

About Author