Facing Raiders at home for the first time since 2014, the Cobras did not disappoint, with Nicholson’s all-around masterpiece fuelling Kilsyth’s eighth consecutive win. Nicholson was simply unstoppable from the get-go, lighting the Raiders up on a variety of slashing drives and tough jumpers en-route to 24 first half points, giving the Cobras a four point lead at the main break. And she would stay hot in the second half, answering every Raider push with a big bucket of her own to keep Knox at bay.
With the Raiders trailing by just six late in the third, Nicholson picked off an errant pass and found Bek O’Donnell with a beautiful feed in transition for a buzzer-beating layup, and kept it going with a trio of clutch baskets early in the fourth period to push the lead out to 11. She then turned the reigns over to Sarah Boothe, Klara Wischer and Kara Tessari, with Tessari dishing and Boothe and Wischer swishing to spark a game-clinching 12-2 run, avenging the Cobras season-opening loss to the Raiders on the road.
Head coach Sam Woosnam was impressed – but not surprised – by Nicholson’s dominance on Saturday, with Woosnam a step ahead of the Raiders on Saturday night as she was able to get some significant second half production out of Tessari, Boothe and Wischer as Knox keyed in on the Cobras top gun.
“Loz’s performances week-in, week-out, are a credit to how much work she puts in to her game,” Woosnam said about her scoring machine.
“She was unstoppable on Saturday – when you have as many options as she does offensively it makes it so difficult to shut her down.
“We spoke at half time about how Knox would adjust (to Nicholson), and they tried a box and one and some different defensive tactics but she continued to dominate the game. We also addressed that we needed more scorers on the board so it was great to see Kara, Boothey (Sarah Boothe) and Wisch (Klara Wischer) step up when we needed them.”
Nicholson shot a blistering 17-for-25 from the field on Saturday night, adding 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in a spectacular all-around performance. Wischer added 15 points and three assists; Boothe recorded a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double; while Tessari put on a passing clinic, scoring 12 points and adding a season-best 10 assists in the win.
After falling to Knox in their NBL1 debut in March, Woosnam knew the Cobras needed to be locked-in on Saturday to get their revenge – and remain in the hunt for the Ashes trophy –against the third-placed Raiders. And following a standout week of practice, Woosnam felt good about the Cobras chances heading into the weekend, with the league’s hottest team continuing their scintillating form of late to win their eighth straight game in emphatic fashion.
“I had a really good feeling going into Saturday night’s game against Knox as we’d had a great week at training,” Woosnam said.
“It was just a great team effort – everyone is playing their role and doing what’s best for the team. We are still improving defensively and are really tough in that area right now, and it’s so good to see the hard work paying off for them.“
Saturday’s win was a vital one for the Cobra Women, who not only helped secure the Ashes trophy for 2019, but moved into a tie for fourth in the league standings while inching to within a game of the Raiders for third. And with a huge home showdown against the Nunawading Spectres – who are tied with the Cobras at 9-4 – on the cards this Saturday night, Woosnam and co. were laser-focused on taking care of business against the Raiders as they embark on a challenging home stretch to the regular season.
“The girls are really focused on our goal of a top-four finish, and with such a hard run home, Saturday night was a must win game to get us off to a good start after the (Queen’s Birthday) break,” Woosnam added.
“Now we need to focus on building from here – we really are starting to click and gel on both ends of the floor and I know we can only get better.”
With the 17 point win giving the Cobra Women the season series advantage over the Raiders, a win by the Cobra Men – by any margin – ensured that the prestigious Ashes trophy would remain at Kilsyth for another year. They now turn their attention to the Spectres this Saturday night, with a chance to take sole possession of fourth in the league standings on the line.
The Cobra Women take on Nunawading at 5.30pm on Saturday night, with the Men to follow – in a battle of the NBL1’s #2 and #3 ranked teams – at 7.30pm.
The VYC Cobra Men and Women are headed to the Big-V Playoffs this weekend. Mark Landells’ Men will head to Dandenong on Saturday night to take on the Rangers (7pm), who own the league’s second best record at 18-4. The Cobras (14-8) draw the Rangers after finish fourth in the Watson Conference standings, falling
The NBL1 Cobra Women have continued their climb up the league standings, recording a key road win over the Nunawading Spectres before dropping a surprise game at home to the Frankston Blues during Indigenous Round. The Cobras were at their best on Saturday night, riding yet another spectacular performance by Lauren Nicholson to down