05/03/2024

Southside Flyer Maddison Rocci (Photo: Elly McNerney/The Inner Sanctum)

The sixth 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 6 of the 2023/24 season.

1. Townsville Fire 

Record: 6-1:  Previous week ranking: 1st 

It was another successful week for the Fire as they were able to get a dominant 29-point win over the struggling Capitals. 

It was a comprehensive team display, as five players registered double digits in points with Courtney Woods top scoring with 17 along with six rebounds. Opals star Sami Whitcomb netted 16 points, while also leading the assist category with seven. 

The guards in particular for the Fire have really shone as of late, and they are fast proving that they are a legit contender who could indeed make noise in the finals.

Game this week: Southside Flyers, Sydney Flames       

2. Melbourne Boomers 

Record: 6-1, Previous week ranking: 2nd 

The Melbourne Boomers were able to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Lynx last week to defeat the Perth side, in what was a double-header on Thursday night. 

Many described the first half of the game as a finals-type game, which led to some pretty solid basketball being played. Melbourne was able to storm home in the second half to win by 31 points. 

The team was led by import Naz Hillmon, who scored 20 points to go with eight rebounds. Although Jordin Canada only scored 10 points for the game, she was a real playmaker out there for the Boomers with 12 assists.

The likes of Sara Blicavs and Keely Froling started to make their mark on the game as the game wore on, Blicavs finished with 17 points and two rebounds, while Froling had 16 points, four assists and two rebounds

Game this week: UC Capitals, Adelaide Lightning 

3. Perth Lynx 

Record: 5-3,  Previous week: 3rd

It was a mixed bag of results for the Perth Lynx this week, going down to the Melbourne Boomers in Perth by 31 points before having a 23-point turnaround to defeat the Adelaide Lightning. 

It was a disappointing result against the Boomers considering the side put together a strong performance against them just under a week earlier. The match was close for the first half with the broadcast comparing the game to one with a finals-like intensity, but Perth couldn’t stop Melbourne in the second half. 

The win in Adelaide was let by Aari McDonald who had a stunning 35 point game as well as three assists and a rebound. The import continues to push her case for MVP selection.

New captain Anneli Maley is continuing her strong first season in red, having 22 points, three assists and 15 rebounds. The Lynx were also strong off the fast break, scoring 16 fast break points to Adelaide’s eight. 

Game this week: Sydney Flames 

4. Southside Flyers 

Record: 5-2  Previous week ranking: 4th 

The Southside Flyers completely rolled through the Bendigo Spirit, comprehensively taking the game 76-51. They exploded early on offense and kept great pace on both ends of the floor. 

Overall, it was a well-balanced game for Southside with four players scoring in double digits with Mercedes Russell dominating the boards with a double-double (10 points and 11 rebounds).

Nyadiew Puoch nearly notched a double-double, ending the game with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Bec Cole added 13 points, and Leilani Mitchell recorded 10. 

Southside will face the same Spirit later this week, who will seek revenge after the blow-out. 

Games this week: Townsville Fire, Bendigo Spirit 

5. Sydney Flames 

Record- 4-3, Previous week ranking: 6th

It was exactly the pair of results that the Flames needed to get their season back on track. They performed excellently, netting back-to-back two point victories over the Lightning and the Capitals.

While defeating that set of teams may not necessarily set the world alight in isolation, the fact that they were able to secure two close victories in a double-up round will give the players some much needed confidence as they progress with the season.

Their first game saw the usual suspects dominate for the flames, with Lauren Nicholson, Tess Madgen and Cayla George combining for 51 points against the Lightning. Then Nicholson and Madgen went off again, scoring 26 and 21 points respectively in their win against Canberra. 

Madgen will be missed as she’s been confirmed to be injured, however with Nicholson’s firepower and George’s influence, the Flames may once again raise a few eyebrows.

Games This Week: Perth Lynx, Townsville Fire

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6.  Bendigo Spirit 

Record: 2-5, Previous week ranking: 5th

The Bendigo Spirit looked completely depleted in their 51-76 loss at the hands of the Southside Flyers. The length and explosiveness of Southside’s offense overwhelmed Bendigo’s defensive scheme and they couldn’t come up with any responses. 

Kelsey Griffin anchored the Spirit with an impressive night. When nothing was going right for Bendigo, Griffin shined bright. She was the only player on the Spirit to hit double-digits in points recorded 16 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and three assists. 

The Spirit didn’t have any spark in them throughout the whole game which ultimately caused their loss. They have the opportunity this week to redeem themselves once again against the Flyers. 

Games This Week: Adelaide Lightning, Southside Flyers  

7.   Adelaide Lightning 

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

Adelaide Lightning have once again fallen just short in another set of close games, this week going down to the Sydney Flames by three points in what was a see-sawing game to open the round. 

The Lightning then went down to the Perth Lynx by three points, after the Lynx were able to launch a comeback. With the Lightning unable to weather the storm of Aari McDonald, who put on a show-stopping performance to get her team over the line. 

In the match against Sydney it was an even spread of contributors led by none other than young gun Isobel Borlase, she scored 14 points, four assists and nine rebounds.  

Then against Perth it was Lauren Mansfield and Jocelyn Willoughby who led the way for the Lightning when it came to scoring, both scoring 23 points each. While Mansfield had four assists and five rebounds while Willoughby had two assist and six rebounds. 

Game this week: Bendigo Spirit, Melbourne Boomers  

8. UC Capitals 

Record: 0-8 Previous weeks ranking: 8th

The poor Capitals just can’t catch a break, but they are working hard to improve. Alex Sharp and Jade Melbourne, in particular are starting to come into their own for the side.

The Capitals first suffered a tight defeat against the Flames, despite a 38 minute, 19-point effort from Jade Melbourne. After this they stumbled in a big way with a big home loss to the high flying Fire. 

For UC, it looks to be a matter of better rotation management, combined with perhaps getting certain players more time with the ball. Import Monica Okoye was only able to take seven shots in those two games after being a very important, positive influence in the first three. 

Being able to get consistent production from players outside of Sharp and Melbourne would go a long way towards breaking this losing streak.

Games this week: Melbourne Boomers 

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