05/03/2024

It was a cracking game at the Boom Box (Photo: WNBL/X)

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

The fifth edition of The Inner Sanctum’s WNBL Power Rankings for season 2023/24 has dropped, presented by Inner Sanctum 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 5 of the 2023/24 season.

1. Townsville Fire 

Record: 4-1:  Previous week ranking: 2nd

The Fire rages on in the season’s early stages as Zitina Aokuso’s breakout season continues. A modest margin of victory over the hungry Lightning team saw Aokuso post a season-high 23 points to go along with seven rebounds in the hard-fought contest. 

Holding off the scoring push made by Izzy Borlase and Lauren Mansfield, the Fire’s starting lineup and strength in rebounding shone through as veterans Sami Whitcomb and Mikaela Ruef chipped in with 13 points each and an astounding 19 rebounds for Ruef in what was a dominant performance in the paint. 

Townsville’s next encounter comes against the Capitals and if these last couple of weeks are anything to go by, don’t be surprised if they once again top our power rankings next week. 

Game this week: UC Capitals             

2. Melbourne Boomers 

Record: 5-1, Previous week ranking: 1st

The Melbourne Boomers’ undefeated streak came to an end after an upset loss at home against the Perth Lynx. From the start, the Boomers looked utterly depleted. The Boomers’ only actual fight came late in the third quarter when Sara Blicavs and Jordin Canada took over the scoring. 

In the end, the Lynx held the Boomers to a measly ten points in the fourth quarter, and there was nothing Melbourne could do to stop the bleeding. 

Canada led the way with another stellar stat line of 21 points, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Froling dominated the boards, recording a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, with ten on the offensive end.

Game this week: Perth Lynx 

3. Perth Lynx 

Record: 4-2,  Previous week: 4th

The Perth Lynx absolutely stunned an undefeated Melbourne Boomers team, handing them their first loss of the season with a score of 80-63.

The Lynx dominated on all ends of the game while keeping their poise when the Boomers started storming back. They kept their composure on the defensive end in the fourth quarter, only allowing 10 Boomers’ points while scoring 24. 

Anneli Maley led the way for the Lynx fourth-quarter surge, almost single-handedly taking over the whole game. Maley crashed the boards hard and got hot from scoring beyond the arc.

She finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Aari McDonald was a consistent force throughout the game as she anchored the Lynx to the upset. She finished with 21 points, five rebounds, and nine assists.

Game this week: Melbourne Boomers and Adelaide Lightning 

4.  Southside Flyers 

Record: 4-2  Previous week ranking: 3rd

Speaking of strong performances against the Capitals, Southside posted a 17-point victory over the struggling UC side off the back of stars Mercedes Russell and Rebecca Cole. 

Russell had what may be her most impressive performance yet, quickly becoming an MVP candidate, posting 21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 34 minutes of play.

That level of production over a prolonged period of time has been crucial to Southside’s strong showings so far this season, and it seems like this is just the start of a potentially huge season for the American. 

Cole also showed her class, chipping in with 17 points on over 50% shooting from the field to help the Flyers cruise to another win in their campaign. 

Games this week: Bendigo Spirit

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5.  Bendigo Spirit 

Record: 2-4, Previous week ranking: 7th

Bendigo Spirit got their second win of the season after an overtime blitz saw the side get the win over a young Adelaide Lightning outfit. 

The charge was led by former Lightning player Ally Wilson, who could score crucial points and force offensive contact against Lightning’s Isabel Borlase. Wilson was awarded Player of the Match, finishing with 16 points, four assists and four rebounds 

The other learning out of the match was that captain Kelsey Griffin makes the side instantly better, with her experience really shining through. It was like that missing piece of the puzzle coming together, with Abbey Wehrung and Mehryn Kraker along with Wilson, having become consistent contributors over the last few weeks. 

Games This Week: Southside Flyers 

6. Sydney Flames 

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

The Sydney Flames didn’t feature in round five but will be back in action against Adelaide Lightning on Thursday. 

Games This Week: Adelaide Lightning, UC Capitals 

7.   Adelaide Lightning 

Record: 1-4, Previous week ranking: 5th

Adelaide had the double game this week, coming up against reigning champions in Townsville and Bendigo Spirit. Unfortunately, the team weren’t able to pull off a second win but was able to send the game against Spirit into overtime. 

Isabel Borlase was once again front and centre in the game against Townsville, scoring 18 points to go with two assists and one rebound. Veteran Lauren Mansfield was also a key contributor, scoring 15 points with three assists and two rebounds. 

While rebounding was strong defensively for the Lightning it was offensive that they struggled, recording just five offensive rebounds for the match 

The game against Bendigo was a tough pill to swallow after a comeback led by Borlase sent the game into extra time. Unfortunately, a few errors, whether it be missed shots or an offensive contact in the dying stages saw the side go down by five points.

It was the Izzy squared combo on show for the Lightning with Borlase and Bourne leading from the front when it came to scoring with 17 points each. To go with Borlase’s six rebounds and five assists whilst Bourne had four rebounds. 

Game this week: Sydney Flames, Perth Lynx 

8. UC Capitals 

Record: 0-6 Previous weeks ranking: 8th

It was another tough week for the Capitals as they fell comfortably short against Southside. The Canberra team are still hunting their first win of the season, and perhaps the fixture against the Flames presents them with a chance to pick up that first win. 

The inconsistency of the Capitals was once again evident in this game, with Munger top-scoring this time in a 15-point, eight-rebound performance. Capitals fans can take solace in the fact that Jade Melbourne continues to develop, and we may soon see her take another step forward and help UC push up the standings. 

While there have been some inconsistencies, Melbourne’s playmaking and Alex Sharp’s rebounding have been reliable so far this season, with Melbourne averaging over eight assists per game and Sharp comfortably in double digits for rebounds. If the scoring and defence can catch up, UC may yet prove to be a potent force as the season picks up through the summer.

Games this week: Sydney Flames, Townsville Fire

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