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 the Spectres, 80-72.


Nicholson was simply unstoppable in the first half erupting for 24 first half points – the second time in as many weeks she’s gone for 24-plus in the opening two periods – to give the Cobras a commanding 49-32 halftime lead. Nicholson’s early explosion proved to be enough, as the Cobras would keep hold of their double-digit lead for most of the second half as they cruised to victory.


Saturday’s game wasn’t without some late drama, though, as the Spectres cut a 17 point fourth quarter deficit to just eight with 30 seconds remaining. While they were not in danger of losing this one, winning margin came into play for the Cobras, who needed to win by eight or more to secure the season tiebreaker over the Spectres, as Nunawading defeated Kilsyth three weeks earlier by seven points. But a late basket by Klara Wischer pushed the Kilsyth lead back out to ten, and the Spectres Maddie Garrick scored inside in the final seconds to cap the scoring, ensuring the Cobras would win the season head-to-head by the slimmest of margins.


Nicholson finished Saturday night with a game-high 32 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists in another MVP-esque performance. Kara Tessari scored 11; Sarah Boothe recorded 10 points and seven rebounds; Alison Downie added nine points; and Wischer (eight rebounds) and Clare Camac chipped-in with eight points apiece.

The Cobras were unable to make it a weekend sweep, though, running out of gas out late to fall at home to Frankston, 71-78.


The Cobras appeared on track for their fifth straight victory as they raced out to a 12 point quarter time lead, but the tired legs quickly kicked in, surrendering a 16-2 run spanning the second and third periods to give the Blues the lead. After a sluggish start, Nicholson got going in the second half to keep Kilsyth in the game, scoring 18 points in the third and fourth periods to keep the Cobras close.


Trailing by five early in the final stanza, Nicholson scored six straight points to pull the Cobras to within one, and a jumper from Camac moments later gave Kilsyth a 63-62 lead with five minutes remaining. The Cobras would go ice-cold the rest of the way, though, going 1-for-8 from the field to close the game, while the Blues scored on nine of their last 11 possessions to run away with a surprise road victory.


Cobras head coach, Sam Woosnam, was not accepting fatigue as an excuse for Sunday’s loss, pointing to a lack of focus and a case of overlooking a Frankston team that was eliminated from playoff contention the week prior.


“After a great game against Nunawading on Saturday night, it was really disappointing not to get the win on Sunday at home,” Woosnam said.


“It really showed we need to apply ourselves each game regardless of who we are playing.


“Saturday we knuckled down on defence and our offence flowed from that resulting in us playing some great team basketball. But Sunday we couldn’t contain defensively and our offence was really stagnant.”


Nicholson led the Cobras with 25 points on Sunday, adding nine rebounds and five assists in another impressive all-around performance. Downie added 14 points and eight rebounds and Wischer recorded a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in defeat.


The loss dropped the Cobras to 13-6, but kept Kilsyth in fourth position in the NBL1 standings with one game remaining. The Cobras will take on the Dandenong Rangers at home on Saturday night in their final regular season game, a key game for Kilsyth in what is shaping up to be a wild final round of the season. With a number of scenarios in play, the Cobras can clinch fourth place with a win – but also slip to fifth with a Ringwood loss and Knox win, which would force a three-team tiebreaker. A loss against the Rangers could potentially see them fall into a four-team tiebreaker with the Spectres, Rangers and Raiders, making Saturday’s game a must-win at home.


It won’t be easy, though, with Nicholson set to miss Saturday’s game while she attends an Australian Opals training camp, while Taylor Mathers (family commitments) is also away in the United States this weekend. But despite a pair of key outs, Woosnam remains confident in the depth and cohesiveness of her group, with a milestone game for Camac against her former team serving as additional motivation.


“We now need to get the win on Saturday night to guarantee a top-four finish,” Woosnam said.


“It will be a tough task without Lauren and Taylor away, however it’s Clare’s 350th SEABL/NBL1 game and I know the girls will rise the the occasion for her.”


Tip-off for Saturday’s showdown against the Rangers is scheduled for 5.30pm, with the Men to follow at 7.30pm. All Kilsyth Junior Domestic Players (under 18) who wear their club gear will receive FREE ENTRY to both games on Saturday night.