06/03/2024

The match between the Melbourne Boomers and UC Capitals was the match of the round. (Photo: Melbourne Boomers)

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

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.

Here are The Inner Sanctum’s WNBL Power Rankings ahead of Round 4 of the 2023/24 season.

1. Melbourne Boomers 

Record: 5-0, Previous week ranking: 2nd 

The Melbourne Boomers played their second home game in a row and gave fans a nail-biting show against the Canberra Capitals. The Boomers did not look like themselves for nearly all of the game, until the third quarter. 

The Boomers were lifted by primarily Keely Froling and Naz Hillmon who gave Melbourne a 56-53 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was a shootout between both teams. Hillmon, Froling, and Jordin Canada steered the Boomers, eventually tying the game up at 76 even and forcing overtime on a Froling layup.  

The offense primarily ran through Hillmon in overtime as Melbourne’s experience ultimately outlasted the scrappy Capitals, defeating Canberra 87-81. 

Game this week: Perth Lynx 

2. Townsville Fire 

Record: 3-1  Previous week ranking: 4th. 

Moving up two places this week are the defending champions in Townsville, who proved that no matter the deficit, you can’t count them out.  The Fire got the win over the Perth Lynx by 16 goals after trailing by double digits in the first half. 

Like Perth last week, Townsville’s depth was on show with the reigning champions scoring 29 points from those coming off the bench. One of those players was Cassandra Brown, who finished the game with 16 points and two rebounds and was the Fire’s second highest scorer behind Zitina Aokuso who finished the game with 18 points, three assists and eight rebounds. 

Game this week: Adelaide Lightning

3.  Southside Flyers 

Record: 3-2,   Previous week ranking: 4th 

The Flyers have marked their intent in round 4, with a statement victory in the league’s most exciting fixture yet, that two point victory over the Lynx. 

Mercedes Russell continued her strong performances at the center position with 19 points and nine rebounds in the win. Russell’s co-star was the timeless Lauren Jackson, with the 42 year-old once again showing her competitive edge at this level with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

Southside this year have proven that they are a team to be reckoned with considering the talent and size they possess. Once Bec Cole gets going and Jasmine Dickey finds her feet, the Flyers are going to be the most potent offensive force in the league. 

Taking on the Capitals this week, Southside will see this as an opportunity to seize the momentum they’ve built from the win and carry it into a winning streak. 

Games this week: UC Capitals

4. Perth Lynx 

Record: 3-2,  Previous week: 1st 

It was a disappointing week for the Perth Lynx, losing both of their games to Southside Flyers and Townsville Fire which saw their undefeated record broken. 

The most disappointing part of it all was the fact that the Lynx gave up a 20 point lead after having a commanding first half at the state basketball centre in Melbourne to go down by two points. The Lynx were missing some key personnel for the Flyers match with Steph Gorman out with a foot injury while Alex Ciabattoni and Ash Hannan tested positive to covid. 

 Looking towards the positives, it was rising stars Miela Goodchild and Emily Potter who were on show against the Flyers with the former Melbourne Boomer in Goodchild scoring 21 points, five assist and five rebounds. While Potter had 22 points and 13 rebounds, seven of which were defensive. 

Against Townsville, once again the Lynx gave up a double-digit lead to go down to Townsville by 16 points and with Melbourne next week who’ve proven to run out games, it’s something coach Ryan Petrik will be looking to stop this week. 

Game this week: Melbourne Boomers 

5.   Adelaide Lightning 

Record: 1-3, Previous week ranking: 5th

The Lightning fell at the hands of the talented Fire, but more encouraging signs have emerged from the young team. After all, there’s no shame in a defeat against one of the hottest teams in the league right now.

Jocelyn Willoughby had a breakout performance, showing her scoring prowess with 20 points and only committing one turnover after having trouble with them in her past two outings. Young Izzy Borlase continues her ascent into basketball stardom although she was very well contained against the Spirit. 

If the Lightning are able to link up these two exciting talents so that both are able to perform at the high level they are capable of, then Adelaide have every chance of getting some results in their double header in round 5. 

Game this week: Townsville Fire, Bendigo Spirit 

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6. Sydney Flames 

Record- 2-2, Previous week ranking: 6th

If consistency is the key to progress, then this week has certainly seen a slight setback for the Flames. Suffering a defeat at the hands of Bendigo compounded with early foul trouble from Cayla George capped off somewhat of a disappointing round 4 for the Flames. 

It is not all doom and gloom for the team however as they enter their bye round with an even record, a better platform than what they had set at the same point last season. Import Paige Bradley put up a solid performance, continuing to improve from her shaky start to the season. 

This performance supplemented George’s 14 points and 13 rebounds in less time than she would’ve wanted due to fouling out. The key to Sydney’s success early this season will likely lean on the veteran forward as she looks to take Sydney all the way up to the finals.

Games This Week: N/A

7.  Bendigo Spirit 

Record: 1-4, Previous week ranking: 7th

Bendigo are officially on the board for the season after a come from behind win over the Sydney Flames saw the club get their first win of the season after a close encounter the week prior against the Melbourne Boomers. Bendigo did so without captain Kelsey Griffen who missed the match due to injury, but a number of players were able to step up in her absence. 

The team was led by Alicia Froling, Casey Samuels and Ally Wilson who was able to spur the team on while also hitting the scoreboard. The trio finished the match with 17 points each while Froling led the Spirit with rebounds with seven although was fouled out towards the end of the game.

Games This Week: Adelaide Lightning 

8. UC Capitals 

Record: 0-5 Previous weeks ranking: 8th

The UC Capitals were oh so close to upsetting the undefeated Melbourne Boomers on the road. They came out of the gates red hot going on a 6-0 run with contributions from Alex Sharp, Jade Melbourne, and Alexandra Fowler. 

The Capitals momentum kept going throughout all of regulation. When the Boomers threatened, Jade Melbourne came up with an answer. Even when they gave up the lead to Melbourne, the Capitals regrouped and fought until the very end. 

They may be a young team still in the process of their rebuild but the fight they put up against the star-studded Boomers is a great feat even if it meant them dropping to last in this week’s power rankings. 

Games this week: Southside Flyers 

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