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What a finish coming up! WNBL

FIRST place is not settled, the Final Four is not settled and only Adelaide Lightning and Canberra Capitals are out of the playoff picture. But both very clearly can influence the final outcome and play spoilers after another torrid round left six teams in the post-season hunt and Kelsey Griffin pacing a surging Bendigo.

The Spirit cleaning up Canberra with Griffin producing a 24-point (at 56 percent), 11-rebound double-double was huge in their drive for the post-season.

Playing without Opals guard Jade Melbourne, Canberra's resistance was resilient but ultimately could not hold back the inevitable.

Bendigo then hit gold when it took down WNBL-leading defending champion Townsville by a whopping 93-60, behind a 49-23 second half.

The Opals campaign in Brazil and its travel component showed on key Fire guards Sami Whitcomb and Steph Reid, Ally Wilson with 22 points and 10 boards alongside another Griffin tour de force of 21 points, 14 rebounds.

That stunning result, coupled with Adelaide's home win over Melbourne sent the Boomers crashing out of the Four for the first time all season.

Breanna Turner enjoyed a 17-point, 17-rebound double-double, Isobel Borlase showed her class and Steph Talbot was an inspiration for Lightning, the Boomers' exceptional early start devolving into a bad case of Jordin Canada dribble diarrhoea.

The WNBL's third largest crowd of all time turned up at Qudos Bank Arena to possibly see Lauren Jackson in live action for the last time and she did not disapppoint, leading Southside to a thrilling 81-78 win over the Flames.

In one of the season's better games, Cayla George had a 14-point, 14-rebound double, Didi Richards and Lauren Nicholson on 20 points apiece for Sydney. But Flyers veterans Mercedes Russell (18 points at 67 percent), Jackson (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (15 points, 4 threes, five assists, three steals) guided Southside to an important season-series clinching win.

Jade Melbourne returned to the Caps lineup with a 15-point, 11-assist double in Perth but the Lynx, with the very faint sniff of a finals berth, would not be denied.

The return of injured star import Aari McDonald with 24 points, was a huge injection for the Lynx who now must like their chances of toppling the Spirit in Bendigo.

So what a dramatic finish this round has set up.

The matches tip off with Southside (12-7) at Townsville (13-6) in the quest for first place.

Decimated by injury (Penina Davidson and Tera Reed out, Kristy Wallace just back) Melbourne (11-9) are away to the Capitals who previously beat the Boomers in Canberra.

A Boomers loss would see them conclude the regular season on 11-10 but NOT out of the finals picture.

Adelaide is at Southside and is compiling scalps, having this week beaten Melbourne and previously toppled the Flyers. 

Bendigo (11-9) hosts Perth (10-10). They are 1-1 so were the Lynx to win, they both would finish on 11-10. 

Sydney (11-9) closes the regular season in Townsville which must win to secure top spot.

At the close of proceedings it is conceivable Sydney, Melbourne, Bendigo and Perth all could be on 11-10, forcing a mini-table to decide the two teams for the playoffs.

In that table, Melbourne is 5-4 (2-1 over Sydney and Perth, 1-2 to Bendigo). Sydney is 4-5 (1-2 to both Melbourne and Perth but 2-1 over Bendigo). 

Bendigo is 2-1 over Melbourne, 1-2 to Sydney. It is 4-4 overall (1-1 with Perth) with its match against the Lynx a virtual elimination final. Perth is 1-2 to Melbourne but 2-1 over Sydney so also on 4-4. Were it to win, it would be an eleventh hour finalist as that would cause the 11-10 logjam and Perth too would be 5-4 like Melbourne.

Of course, if Bendigo wins it is 12-9 and safe as houses.

Much at stake in the last round? There has never been more! 

BENDIGO SPIRIT 85 (Griffin 24, Froling 23, Samuels, K.Wilson, A.Wilson 10; Griffin 11 rebs; K.Wilson 9 assts) d UNI of CANBERRA CAPITALS 77 (Potter 18, Fowler 17, Sharp 15, Clark 10; Fowler 11 rebs; Sharp 5 assts) at Southern Cross Stadium. Crowd: 1,222

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 70 (Turner 17, Borlase 14, Talbot 11, Bourne 10; Turner 17 rebs; Mansfield 6 assts) d MELBOURNE BOOMERS 61 (Hillmon 18, Froling 16, Canada 11; Hillmon 15 rebs; Canada 9 assts) at Adelaide 36ers Arena. Crowd: 934

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 81 (Russell 18, Jackson, Mitchell 15, Rocci 11; Puoch, Rocci, Russell 7 rebs; Mitchell 5 assts) d SYDNEY FLAMES 78 (Richards, Nicholson 20, Bradley 15, George 14; George 14 rebs; George, Nicholson 4 assts) at Qudos Bank Arena. Crowd: 6,834

BENDIGO SPIRIT 93 (A.Wilson 22, Griffin 21, Froling 12, Samuels, Kraker 11; Griffin 14 rebs; K.Wilson 7 assts) d TOWNSVILLE FIRE 60 (Aokuso 11, Brown 10, 3 with 8; Aokuso 6 rebs; Whitcomb 4 assts) at Townsville Entertainment Centre. Crowd: 2,508

PERTH LYNX 94 (McDonald 24, Atwell 19, Potter 18, Maley 17, Goodchild 10; Maley 20 rebs; Maley 8 assts) d UNI of CANBERRA CAPITALS 79 (Potter 20, Sharp 16, Melbourne 15, Okoye 11; Sharp 13 rebs; Melbourne 11 assts) at Bendat Basketball Stadium. Crowd: 1,005

Feb 18

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.