By Jarrod Potter
FOUR emphatic wins has put the Victoria Dandenong Rangers atop the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL) ladder after the first round at Dandenong Stadium.
Dandenong’s WNWBL team coasted past all four opponents, with winning margins of 42 points, 40, 49 and 62 as the Rangers’ height and defensive pressure forced mistakes from their opponents throughout the weekend.
Cobi Crispin debuted for the Rangers and made her presence felt instantly, tallying 28 points and 16 rebounds in the 77-35 point win over the Western Stars on Friday night. Leanne Del Toso also recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Rangers defeated returning champions, the Sydney Uni Flames, 64-24. An amazing defensive first quarter saw the Rangers hold an 18-2 advantage at the first break. Sydney was unable to form any tangible offence against Victoria Dandenong, with the Rangers keeping the pressure on throughout the remaining quarters. Four Rangers players recorded double figures (Del Toso 17, Crispin 16, O’Kelly- Kennedy 13, Chaplin 10) in the 40-point win.
The Rangers second match for Saturday was against the North Sydney Bears, as Victoria Dandenong set upon dismantling their opponents defensively, with tight tagging and blocking to negate the speed of Bears’ players Kylie Guaci and Tina MacKenzie.
A 24-5 opening quarter was stymied by the Bears retaliating to get the margin back to 40-15 at half time.
Victoria Dandenong continued to push the gap out, with Crispin and Del Toso once again proving impenetrable in defence and unstoppable in attack.
Four players were again in double figures (Crispin 22, Del Toso 18, Seing 12, O’Kelly Kennedy 10) as Dandenong went about setting impressive margins to cement their number one spot on the WNWBL ladder.
The weekend whitewash was completed when the Rangers tore apart the Queensland Comets 90-28. The quarter scores of 29-4, 21-8, 22-6 and 18-10 highlighted how dominant the Rangers were, especially considering Crispin was rested for the game. Del Toso and O’Kelly-Kennedy showed the Rangers’ depth, as they continued their scorching form, each recording double doubles.
Rangers captain Amanda Carter and Leanne Del Toso, who are also Australian Gliders representatives (national women’s wheelchair basketball team), attributed the wins to a great team dynamic and hard pressure on the opposition at both ends of the court.
“I think we’ve got really good teamwork. Everyone is working to free everyone else,” Carter said. “The defence has been so tight; teams are finding it hard to get big scores against us.”
“We’ve learned from previous seasons that the way other teams played us is to get us in the back court,” Del Toso said. “This year we’ve got a couple of stronger players so we want to utilise that and give back what has been given to us the last few seasons. It’s a matter of never switching off and to always keep at it.
“We’ve been drilled to give up a good shot for a great shot. We work really well and work really hard to get in the key, so we have to reward the low pointers by making our shots.”
The Victoria Dandenong Rangers Women head to Queensland on 1 July for the second round of the competition.
@BT Sub Sport News:Mighty wins to men
The Rangers men travelled to Adelaide for the opening round of NWBL action, to play a Saturday/Sunday double against the Adelaide Thunder.
Saturday night saw a Rangers team hungry for action following an eight month pre-season.
It didn’t take long for the long pre-season to pay dividends, the Rangers taking a 21-9 advantage into the first break. Not content, the Rangers continued to apply the pressure with their full court defensive trap, frustrating the Thunder. At the half, the Rangers led 40-25 and extended the lead to the final whistle, winning 86-46.
“This was a real team effort, with all nine players getting double figure minutes and everyone contributing at both ends of the floor,” coach Brett Paxton said.
Daniel Del Toso finished the game with 38 points and 16 rebounds.
On Sunday, the Rangers played the second leg of their Adelaide series. The Rangers extended their defensive pressure full court and ran out easy winners 102-46. Victoria Dandenong continued to frustrate the Adelaide Thunder, forcing 29 turnovers for the game, a great strength for the Rangers, according to Paxton.
“Our defence was extremely effective. Offensively we executed well, shooting at 55 per cent for the game,” Paxton said.
Four Rangers finished with double figures in points (Ferguson 32, Del Toso 23, Quinn 17, Synot 10).
The Victoria Dandenong Rangers return to Dandenong Stadium on 25 and 26 June, where they will take on the Perth Wheelcats, winners of the past five NWBL Championships.