Capitals fan sinks $10,000 shot at half-time in grand final

The best shot on WNBL grand final night wasn't made by a Canberra Capitals or Adelaide Lightning player.

It was made by teenager Caitlin Rowe who won $10,000 after sinking a half-court shot to send the sold-out AIS Arena crowd into raptures at half-time.

Teenager Caitlin Rowe won $10,000 after sinking a half-court shot. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Rowe had one shot at glory and made it count with the ACT under-20 point guard draining a basket that never looked like missing.

"It was pretty straight, I was surprised how straight it was, I didn’t think it was going to go in, I thought it might have been an air-ball, but it was good," Rowe said.

"It was such an awesome feeling, I honestly can’t explain it, I’m still shaking. I did it for my teammates, I’ll have to take them all out to dinner.

"Maybe I’ll go on a trip or something too."

Graf oversees another title

Seven banners hung from the AIS Arena ceiling and Canberra Capitals legend Carrie Graf was responsible for six of them as the coach.

Graf now oversees the Capitals program for the University of Canberra and was running around handing out drinks and pumping up the crowd on Saturday.

It had been nine years since the Capitals won the WNBL under Graf's guidance and she celebrated just as hard for the record-extending eighth title.

Kia might not be back 

Star Canadian import Kia Nurse called the Capitals a championship team in December and her teammates proved her correct two months later.

Nurse has been sensational for the Capitals this season, averaging 18.38 points and 4.92 rebounds per game, but she might not be back.

It was the biggest AIS Arena crowd in 10 years. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

There's a lingering feeling that Nurse's work in the capital is done and she'll likely explore another overseas league in the WNBA offseason.

Sellout crowd

The biggest crowd the AIS Arena has seen in more than a decade watched the Capitals clinch a record-extending eighth title.

There 4817 screaming fans packed into the arena for the historic title and they rose as one in the final minute to applaud their championship team.

Capitals skipper Marianna Tolo made a passionate plea for the fans to keep coming to their home games at the National Convention Centre next season.

"If just one in four of you turn up to our games next season, we'll have a sell-out every week. So please come support us and help us grow this incredible league," Tolo said.

Goddard's success crosses codes

AFLW premiership coach Bec Goddard joined the Capitals as an assistant coach and the former Adelaide Crows mentor brought her success to Canberra.

Goddard could return to the AFLW next year after talking with the Gold Coast Suns, who will enter the AFLW for the 2020 season when it expands from 10 to 14 teams, about leading their program.

The Capitals title will only improve her credentials for the next round of interviews.

Sports Minister picks WNBL over W-League

Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie attended the WNBL decider instead of the W-League grand final being played between Sydney FC and Perth Glory.

WNBL boss Sally Phillips said this year's grand final series had put Australian basketball on the map and called for more sponsorship to grow the game.

She might now be able to sit down with McKenzie and secure some federal funding as women's sport continues to boom in Australia.

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Canberra Capitals set sights on magic number eight

There is just something about the number eight in Canberra.

Eight years since their last WNBL finals appearance, the Canberra Capitals have set their sights on a new league-record eighth championship.

Capitals coaching staff Paul Goriss and Carly Wilson.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

The person more rapt than anyone about the end of the playoff exile? Capitals assistant coach Carly Wilson, who donned the No. 8 jersey for the final eight seasons of her decorated 363-game career.

Wilson will be sitting on the bench when Canberra host the Perth Lynx in a best-of-three semi-finals series with the club making its long-awaited finals return at the AIS Arena on Friday night.

Capitals co-captain Marianna Tolo says "more than anyone else, she is excited for us to get back into the finals to try to win a championship", having been there for the highs and lows before hanging up the shoes two years ago.

The lows have been all too familiar for the Capitals since 2011, and coach Paul Goriss has made sure his players know about it.

"One of the things we spoke about very early on with this group was knowing the history of the Caps, seven championships, where the club has been and where it’s been of late," Goriss said.

"We wanted to be the team to make sure we got the history and tradition back, and making sure we were a top four team this season. We’ve ticked that goal, but obviously we’ve got loftier goals we want to achieve come these playoffs.

"It’s not going to be easy, finals basketball is different to being in a season game. It’s just a matter of making sure we continue with what we have done well."

Perth slipped to fourth after coughing up a 21-point lead against the Adelaide Lightning on Saturday night, with the latter leapfrogging the Lynx into third and a date with the Melbourne Boomers.

Keely Froling is gearing up for the finals.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

A game one triumph is vital for the Capitals against a Perth outfit traditionally strong on their own hardwood and all eyes will be on the club's marquee stars to produce under the bright lights.

Everybody knows what to expect from the likes of most valuable player favourite Kelsey Griffin, Marianna Tolo, Leilani Mitchell and Kelly Wilson in big games – all four are championship-winners.

But an intriguing subplot in the finals will be the performances of rising stars Maddison Rocci, Lauren Scherf and Keely Froling.

All three have come on in leaps and bounds this season – so much so for Scherf that she is now an Opals squad member – and Goriss has no doubt they can stand up when it matters most.

"The WNBL is a different thing but they’ve played in big games," Goriss said.

"We spoke about that six weeks ago, a WNBL championship may be different, but whether they have been in junior basketball or world uni games, or national championships, they’ve all played in big games.

"Nothing changes, it’s just making sure we’re on task with our scout and continue to play how we play. Obviously there will be some nerves around the group but that could be a good thing."


Series one: Canberra Capitals v Perth Lynx

Friday, January 25: Game one – Canberra Capitals v Perth Lynx at AIS Arena, 7pm.

Thursday, January 31: Game two – Perth Lynx v Canberra Capitals at Bendat Basketball Centre, 9.30pm (AEDT).

Saturday, February 2: Game three (if necessary) – Canberra Capitals v Perth Lynx at AIS Arena, 7.30pm.

Series two: Melbourne Boomers v Adelaide Lightning

Sunday, January 27: Game one – Melbourne Boomers v Adelaide Lightning at State Basketball Centre, 5pm.

Thursday, January 31: Game two – Adelaide Lightning v Melbourne Boomers at Adelaide Arena, 7.30pm.

Sunday, February 3: Game three (if necessary) – Melbourne Boomers v Adelaide Lightning at State Basketball Centre, 7.30pm.

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Capitals invite youth hockey team that stood up for player who heard racial taunts

The Washington Capitals had a surprise for a local youth hockey team that stood up after an African-American teammate was subjected to racial taunts.

Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly and defenseman John Carlson told the Metro Maple Leafs, based in nearly Odenton, Md., via video that they would be getting tickets to Monday's home game against the St. Louis Blues at Capital One Arena.

Divyne Apollon II, 13, was the player who heard the taunts at a tournament in late December. According to The Washington Post, he heard monkey sounds and chants that he should play basketball. When he was suspended for getting into a fight, his teammates wore a sticker decrying racism — featuring the word racism surrounded by a circle with a hockey stick crossing through it — at the next game.

The story caught the attention of Smith-Pelley, who had heard basketball chants last season while he sat in the penalty box during a game at the Chicago Blackhawks.

His video with Carlson was played for the Metro Maple Leafs, earning excited cheers from the team. Sixty tickets are being made available, and team members will get to meet with Capitals players afterward.

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London murders: 2018 ends as capital’s bloodiest year in a DECADE

London’s bloodiest year in a decade: 2018 ends with 132 murders – including 70 stab deaths and 24 young people killed

  • Scotland Yard invesigate 132 murders in 2018 – the highest since 154 in 2008
  • Police battle against 180 violent gangs in London dragging children into crim
  • More than 70 deaths this year involving a knife as well as a dozen with a gun
  • This year will be the worst on record for the knife murders of young people 

London’s bloodiest year in a decade will end tonight with more than 130 people murdered in the capital over the past 12 months.

Rising gun and knife crime has brought the total 2018 figure of homicides being investigated by Scotland Yard to 132 – the highest since 2008 when there were 154.

Police are battling against 180 violent gangs across London dragging children into crime, amid more than 70 deaths this year involving a knife, and a dozen with a gun.

Vijay Patel (left), 49, died on January 6 after being beaten in Mill Hill, while Hannah Leonard (right), 55, was stabbed in a flat in Camden a month later on February 8

Nikolai Glushkov (left), 68, died from compression to the neck in New Malden on March 13, while Tanesha Melbourne (right), 17, was shot on April 2 in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham

Rosina Coleman (left), 85, was found battered to death at her home in Romford on May 15, while Katerina Makunova (right), 17, was stabbed to death in Camberwell on July 12

Jordan Douherty (left), 15, was stabbed to death after a birthday party in Romford on June 23, and Joel Urhie (right), seven, died in an arson attack on his Deptford home on August 7

Guled Farah (left), 19, was sitting in a car in Walthamstow when he was attacked on September 22, while Ian Tomlin (right), 46, was killed in Battersea on October 17

Ayodeji Azeez (left), 22, was killed after suffering stab wounds on a street in Anerley on November 4, while Aron Warren (right), 18, was stabbed to death in Greenwich on December 8

This year will be the worst on record for the knife murders of young people – with 37 children and teenagers stabbed to death in Britain, including 24 in London.

  • Horrified witnesses tell how man was stabbed in the chest…

    Woman, 21, performs a dance tribute to her mother who died…

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Murders in London peaked in February when the rate rose past that of New York, with Scotland Yard looking at 15 suspicious deaths and the NYPD investigating 11.

The year of murders which was spread across the capital began on New Year’s Eve 2017, with four people stabbed to death either side of midnight.

And it concluded as 39 people were questioned on suspicion of attempted murder after a ‘minor argument’ in a shop ended in a man being chased down and stabbed in Hammersmith, West London, early this morning. 

Although not confined to certain areas, the boroughs of Greenwich and Southwark registered the highest murder rate, with three people killed per 100,000 population.

The two bloodiest months, February and March, saw 16 and 21 people die – and the longest period without murder was just 16 days from September 25 until October 10.

According to Home Office figures, the number of police-recorded homicides in London, for both the Metropolitan and City of London forces, was 118 last year.

Similar murder figures of 111 and 122 were recorded in 2016 and 2015 respectively – with just 94 in 2014, which was the lowest rate in the capital since 1990.

This map shows where the murders across London have happened over the past year

The homicides recorded in London boroughs over the past 12 months show high murder levels in Greenwich and Southwark – along with Haringey (Press Association calculation as of Dec 15)

Offences involving knives are also on the way up, with more than 22,000 in the past year

Knife offences across England and Wales are rising too, with 40,000 recorded in the past year

In 2018 there were 72 deaths involving a knife, 13 involving a gun, one involving a knife and a gun and one a crossbow.

Knives seized at ports and airports doubles 

The number of knives seized at UK ports and airports more than doubled in a year to almost 8,000, Government figures revealed last week

Border Force officials confiscated 7,668 bladed items in the 12 months to September, up from 3,800 the year before.

In the same period, there was also a 61 per cent increase in the number of other ‘offensive weapons’ seized, to 6,534 from 4,056.

The combined haul of prohibited knives and offensive weapons found by the agency was 14,202, compared with 7,856 in the year before.

Just over a third of victims, 44, were aged 16 to 24, of whom 10 were shot, 32 were stabbed and one was killed in an attack involving a knife and gun.

Earlier this month Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick insisted the tide was turning against knife and gun offences.

This came after September to November this year saw 176 fewer victims of knife crime with injury aged under 25 than in the same three months in 2017.

Scotland Yard has acknowledged the high numbers and said they are committed to tackling it, with special task forces in operation – but insist numbers are ‘stabilising’.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has been under fire over the rise but said keeping Londoners safe is his ‘number one priority’ despite Government cuts limiting what he can do.

In mid-November, the number of killings in London soared past the total in the whole of 2017, following a week of violence that brought the total to 121. 

Police and forensic officers investigate after a murder in Queensbury, North London, in May

Forensics investigate at Turnpike Lane Tube station in North London after a stabbing in June

Police carry out fingertip searches in Hackney, East London, in April after a boy was stabbed

A woman holds flowers as people take part in an anti knife and gun rally in Hackney in April

Earlier this month, Prince Charles called for action to combat spiralling knife crime in Britain, declaring: ‘Enough is enough.’

How it’s not just London battling rise in murders 

National figures show forces in England and Wales have also registered a jump in recorded homicides and offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.

Criminals using knives include ruthless county lines gangs which send young people out from large cities to smaller towns and villages to sell drugs.

Some police forces outside London have experienced increases in knife crime of 150 per cent, linked to the spread of county lines gangs. 

One of the largest increases in blade-related incidents was in Hertfordshire – from 229 in 2014 to 573 in 2017. In West Mercia, it rose from 324 in 2015 to 470 in 2017.

He made the appeal with Prince Harry at a summit on youth violence at Clarence House.

Two in five murders in London have been linked to gang violence on streets increasingly resembling the Wild West.

Last month, it also emerged that the number of children being admitted to hospital with stab wounds has almost doubled in four years.

A total of 573 under-18s were taken to A&E with potentially life-threatening knife injuries last year. This was up 86 per cent from 308 in 2014 to 2015.

Around 50 who received treatment for wounds were aged ten to 14. 

Ministers have announced a number of measures designed to combat the rise in violent crime. 

A key plank of the crackdown is the Offensive Weapons Bill, which includes a proposed ban on delivering potentially dangerous bladed items to a buyer’s home following warnings that age-verification checks can be sidestepped online.

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Griffin stars as Capitals bounce back and thrash table-toppers Perth

Canberra Capitals star Kelsey Griffin needed stitches after facing the Perth Lynx last month but in the rematch she was the one inflicting pain with a masterclass performance.

Canberra followed their worst game of the season with their best after thrashing ladder-leaders Perth 92-60 at the National Convention Centre on Sunday.

Leilani Mitchell finished with 22 points against Perth. Credit:Canberra Capitals

The Capitals bounced back from a dismal road loss against Adelaide on Friday as Opals forward Griffin put on a clinic bagging 27 points and 15 rebounds.

Griffin said the performance was what they've been striving towards all season.

Kelsey Griffin dropped 27 points and 15 rebounds. Credit:Canberra Capitals

"That’s what we want to be known as. We just didn’t come out and execute against Adelaide … and I think we took it to heart," Griffin said.

"We know Perth is a great team, they’ve had a tough road trip but we had to travel too and today was about coming out and playing what we want to be known for and that’s really good defence.

"To hold such an offensively talented team like Perth to 60 points, that’s a good sign.

"I have to come ready to play every game, it’s my job, I’m lucky enough to play basketball for a living so there’s a certain expectation of what I need to do day in day out and I just wanted to do my job today."

It was the first clash between the sides since Griffin had her head split open and Capitals coach Paul Goriss was fined $2500 for inflammatory comments over officiating three weeks ago.

Goriss had no complaints with the refereeing this time and labelled Canberra's first half the best of their Women's National Basketball League season.

"We were really disappointed in our effort and how we played against Adelaide," Goriss said.

"We knew we had to bounce back and that we had it in us and I guess coming home was always nice but tonight it was about defence and playing smart and doing those one percenters.

"It was some of the best basketball we’ve seen this season because we played smart and we played together. The deal with us now is just being consistent."

Capitals centre Mariana Tolo continued her impressive return from a knee reconstruction with 14 points, six boards and five assists.

Leilani Mitchell looks to have found her shooting range with 22 points at 50 per cent while wearing an historic indigenous strip.

"I know the team needs more from me, especially offensively, but defensively as well, so I’ve really been locked in," Mitchell said.

"We played hard and together today and now it’s about putting a string of games together."

Kelly Wilson looks for options against Perth on Sunday.Credit:Canberra Capitals

Perth guard Lauren Mansfield was dangerous every time she touched the ball against her former club but Asia Taylor was the Lynx best with 14 points and six rebounds.

Perth coach Andy Stewart was left stunned his side remained in the top two after three straight losses.

"That's crazy because we don't deserve it at the moment," Stewart said.

"Our shot percentage, wide open shots, we are just horrendous. We must have hit the front of the rim on wide opens 10 or 15 times today.

"It's very frustrating."

The win takes Canberra third on the ladder with eight games left in the regular season as they charge towards playing finals for the first time in eight years.

CANBERRA CAPITALS 92 (Kelsey Griffin 27, Leilani Mitchell 22, Marianna Tolo 14)  bt PERTH LYNX 60 (Asia Taylor 14, Alison Schwagmeyer 14) at the National Convention Centre on Sunday. Crowd: 1386.

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