January 6, 2017 | WNBL news

DECEMBER COACH AND PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Leading the JCU Townsville Fire on their charge back up the ladder, Suzy Batkovic is the Player of the Week for December while Larissa Anderson of the Jayco Dandenong Rangers is the December Coach of the Month with her club maintaining their top position on the ladder.

BatkovicÕs double-double average through December saw Townsville record four victories over Melbourne and Adelaide with their only loss coming in Perth on the second of the month.

With 23.8 points, 14 rebounds and three assists per game, Batkovic was one of only two players to average a double-double and her 20 total offensive boards were a league-high.

She was very efficient at the offensive end, hitting 43% from the field and also got to the free-throw line at will, shooting 42-55.

In that loss to the Lynx on December 2, Batkovic still recorded an equal game-high 25 points with 13 rebounds (six offensive) but Perth were able to pull away late.

Following that clash, the Fire took advantage of their meetings with non-top four teams to go on a four-game winning streak and now sit just a game outside a finals position.

The day after their loss to the Lynx, Batkovic dominated under the rimÊagainst Adelaide to finish with 18 points and 19 boards, completing the performance with six assists as she played the post to perfection.

Those two performances earned her the Round 9 Player of the Week award and she backed up as Townsville took care of Melbourne 93-66 the next weekend.

Batkovic tallied 34 points and 14 rebounds while hitting 16-19 from the free-throw line, more than doubling the total of any Boomers player.

The Fire were made to work for their Round 11 win over Adelaide, overcoming a deficit in the final term to win 74-68.

TownsvilleÕs captain scored six points in that fourth period and grabbed a steal in the dying seconds to seal the contest, finishing with 24 points and nine rebounds.

Then, on New YearÕs Eve, Batkovic and the Fire carried their momentum into another win over the Boomers as the centre collected 18 points and 15 rebounds in a 13-point victory.

As they look to continue their charge into a top-four position and secure the coveted three-peat by season’s end, Townsville will play five of their remaining eight games at home but only three of those games come against teams not currently in a playoff spot.

Dandenong, meanwhile, are in a very strong position as we head into the New Year with second-year coach Larissa Anderson sitting comfortably on top of the ladder.

The Rangers are at 11-4 with a one-game lead over Bendigo and Sydney Uni and own league-best records at home (6-2) and on the road (5-2).

They are on track to finish the regular season in first place for the first time since 2004/05 while they are also chasing their fourth Championship overall.

AÊseven-game winning streak came to an end in Round 12 when Dandenong fell to the Flames but they still finished at 4-1 for December.

Their victories came on the road in Bendigo, Adelaide and Perth while also taking care of Sydney Uni in their first meeting of the season.

With an average margin of 13 points, the Rangers most impressive victory was against the Lynx as they won every term for a 92-71 thrashing while every player hit the scoreboard.

That depth is DandenongÕs biggest asset as Steph Cumming and Sara Blicavs are complemented by the likes of Aimie Clydesdale and the developing Lauren Scherf.

Coach Anderson has been able to manage the absence of Natalie Novosel as well as get the best out of Amelia Todhunter and Rosie Fadjlevic who are contributing off the bench while Chloe Bibby has also continued to grow into what looks like a player of the future for Dandenong.