The NBL1 Cobra Women have bounced back from a shock loss at home, riding a dominant frontcourt performance to defeat the Dandenong Rangers on the road, 80-61 on Saturday night.


After a horror start saw their eight game win streak come to an end the week prior against Nunawading, the Cobras were laser focused on getting the jump on Saturday night, with Sarah Boothe, Lauren Nicholson and Taylor Mathers dominating the interior from the get go. With Nicholson at her spectacular slashing best, Boothe scoring at will on the low block, and Mathers proving too much to contain off the dribble, the Cobras raced out to a ten point halftime, with the trio combining for 36 of the Cobras 45 first half points.


The Rangers would trim the deficit to seven late in the third period, but Nicholson and Boothe turned it on once again, spearheading a 26-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to blow the lead out to 29 midway through the final period. The Cobras would cruise the rest of the way, recording their tenth win of the season and leapfrogging Dandenong in the NBL1 standings in the process.


Kilsyth head coach Sam Woosnam was pleased with her team’s response to their home loss to the Spectres, while overcoming a key injury and illness to two key Cobras. Veteran forward Alison Downie was a late week addition to the injury report after straining her calf, while starting point guard Kara Tessari dealt with the flu throughout the week, playing just three minutes on Saturday before Woosnam decided to shut her down for the evening.


It was great to get the win on the weekend to keep us in touch with the top four,” Woosnam said.


“The ladder is so tight from (positions) three through eight, so we can’t afford to lose any games and it’s important to win by big margins to win the head to head advantage.


“Alison strained her calf last week but should hopefully be back this weekend and Kara had been in bed with the flu all week.  She managed to start the game but wasn’t right so she sat out the rest of the game.”

Boothe and Nicholson shouldered the scoring load for the Cobras, with Boothe dropping a season-high 24 points on 11-16 shooting, while Nicholson added 23 in the win. Boothe’s impact was felt far beyond her scoring, though, with the centre pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds while adding five steals and four assists in 28 uber-efficient minutes. Mathers added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench, while Klara Wischer, Emily Fryters and Bek O’Donnell were big on the glass, pulling down eight rebounds apiece and accounting for 12 of the Cobras 21 assists.


“Sarah had a great game and it was really pleasing to see her find some touch under the basket,” Woosnam said about about the former Stanford University big.


“Loz (Nicholson) continues to play well each week – she receives so much attention defensively every game and together as a team we need to keep making her job easier. We got some great minutes from Taylor, Bek and Frit (Emily Fryters) so overall as a group it was good to get the win and some added confidence.”


The Cobras 19 point win was made even more impressive due to the fact that they struggled mightily from the perimeter, going a seasons-worst 3-27 from three point land. As has been the focus all season long for Woosnam, her team’s issues – whether they be shooting, defensive rotations or rebounding – will be addressed in a pair of competitive, detailed practices this week.


“We aren’t shooting the ball great at the moment, so we will focus on getting each other better shots this week at practice,” Woosnam added.


The Cobras record now sits at 10-5, moving them up into fifth in the league standings. With just five regular season games remaining, the race for top four positioning is set to go right down to the wire, with the Cobras sitting two games behind Knox for third but just a half-game ahead of Nunawading for sixth. They’ll look to continue their late push got for top-four this weekend, when they head south of the mainland to take on the Hobart Huskies (Friday) and Launceston Tornadoes (Saturday) in the notoriously tough Tasmanian doubleheader.