The NBL1 Cobra Women have continued their midseason surge with an impressive 79-66 road win over the Albury-Wodonga Bandits on Saturday Night.

The Cobras exploded out of the gates, riding a spectacular first half performance by Lauren Nicholson and some stifling defence to race out to a 43-19 lead midway through the second period. Nicholson was simply unstoppable to start the game, singlehandedly outscoring the Bandits, 20-15, over the opening 15 minutes of action, scoring on a variety of slashing drives and deep jumpers to help the Cobras build an insurmountable lead.


The hometown Bandits would make a late push, clawing to within 53-60 early in the final period, but three key baskets by Alison Downie and a pair of deep bombs by Kara Tessari kept Albury-Wodonga at bay and cemented the Cobras fifth straight victory, supplanting the Bandits for eighth in the NBL1 standings in the process.


Facing a road trip that has proven to be one of the league’s most challenging – dating back to the days of the SEABL – the Cobras could be excused for starting slow and playing from behind for much of the evening. But that wasn’t the case on the Cobras lone trip up north this year, with their first half eruption and response to the Bandits late push impressing Kilsyth head coach, Sam Woosnam.


”It was great to get the road win in Albury – the girls came out firing in the first half and really set themselves up for the win,” Woosnam, said.


“Albury did a great job in the 2nd half adjusting and we dried up a little on the offensive end, but we responded well and finished off strong.”


Nicholson’s scintillating start saw her finish with game-highs of 26 points and five assists, adding seven rebounds to cap a stellar all-around performance. Tessari scored all 12 of her points in the second half; Sarah Boothe pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds; and Downie continued her remarkable late-career resurgence, with the 34 year old recording 15 points, ten rebounds and a pair of steals in the win. It was Downie’s third straight double-digit scoring outing, with her increased scoring output a welcome addition to her still-elite level defence — which sees her currently ranked second in the NBL1 for steals per game (2.7spg).


“Lauren and Alison were outstanding again, but we still need to find some consistency from others on the scoring end as we can’t rely on one or two players every game,” Woosnam said.


While Woosnam searches for more scoring consistency, of late she has recevied significant contributions from a variety of players, with Tessari, Boothe, Klara Wischer and Clare Camac all enjoying some shining moments during the Cobras five game tear. After a 1-4 start left many doubting whether the Cobras could recover to contend for a playoff berth, Woosnam was never fazed, with her team’s willingness to improve day-to-day – a message she has emphasised since the start of the season – and gel as a unit helping to overcome some early obstacles.


“They are a wonderful group to work with and everyone wants to get better for the team,” Woosnam added.


“We are looking forward to the challenge of the second half of the season, and we need to continue to improve through this mid-section as we finish off with some really tough games.”


With consecutive matchups against Knox, Nunawading and Dandenong – each top-six teams – following the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, the Cobras road to the playoffs is set to be a challenging one. But with a pair of road games against Eltham (7th in standings) and Waverley (14th) to come prior to the mini-break, the Cobras have a chance to continue their rapid climb up the standings, with just two games separating positions 3-9.


The Cobras will take aim at their sixth straight win on Saturday night when they head to Eltham to take on the Wildcats at 6pm, followed by a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Falcons at Waverley at 12.30pm. As with every NBL1 Men’s and Women’s game this season, you can watch the Cobras live over on the NBL’s official YouTube channel.