Sydney Flames guard/forward Kiera Rowe reaches 100 WNBL games

At the Quay Centre tonight, Wednesday 18 January Sydney Flames guard/forward Kiera Rowe reaches 100 WNBL games in the club’s home game against Southside Flyers. Rowe reaches the milestone in the first Round 11 game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season during her sixth WNBL season, nine days after her 24th birthday.

Kiera Rowe playing for Sydney Flames against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 1 December 2022

Rowe commenced her junior basketball career with Bulleen-Templestowe Basketball Club and represented Victorian teams at six Australian Junior Championships from the Under 16’s through to the Under 20’s. Rowe was a member of five Victorian teams that won a national title.

In 2016 and 2017 Rowe was a scholarship holder at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence in Canberra and played for the BA CoE in the 2016 and 2017 South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) seasons. Rowe also played on Australian junior teams at several tournaments.

The highlight of Rowe’s junior basketball career for Australia was being a member of the Australian Sapphires team that won the gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Under 17 World Championships held in Zaragoza, Spain from 22 June to 2 July. At the tournament Rowe ranked in the top five for the Sapphires in minutes, points and rebounds per game.

At 18 years of age Rowe made her WNBL debut with the Dandenong Rangers in the opening game of the 2017/18 regular season on 5 October 2017. Due to injuries to her Rangers teammates 183 centimetre tall Rowe took on more responsibility in the second half of the season and was in the Jayco Rangers starting line-up for a few games. Rowe played 14 games for the Rangers in 2017/18 and finished third in the WNBL’s 2017/18 Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award.

Rowe played a total of three seasons for the WNBL’s Dandenong based club who were rebranded as the Southside Flyers in July 2019. The Southside Flyers finished on top of the ladder at the end of the 2019/20 season and were defeated by the University of Canberra Capitals in the Grand Final. In each of Rowe’s first three WNBL seasons from 2017/18 to 2019/20 she averaged between 12 and 13 minutes per game.

For the 2020 WNBL season Rowe joined the Sydney Flames. After being a core rotation member of the Flames line-up in 2020 Rowe took on more responsibility with the club during the 2021/22 season. Rowe started 15 of Sydney’s 17 games in 2021/22, averaged 27.5 minutes per game and was nominated for the  WNBL’s 2021/22 Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award. At the Sydney Flames 2021/22 Awards Rowe won the Most Inspirational Award. Rowe has played all 13 games for Sydney in the first 10 Rounds of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season including four starts.

Tonight Rowe will become the 28th player on a 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL roster that has reached 100 WNBL games during their career and the second Sydney Flames player in this category, joining club captain Keely Froling (142 games).

Rowe’s basketball career from juniors with Victoria and Australia though to playing in the SEABL, NBL1 South and in the WNBL is covered below:

Early life, junior career and playing at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence

Kiera Rowe was born on 9 January 1999 and commenced her junior basketball career with Bulleen-Templestowe Basketball Club. Rowe represented Victorian teams in six consecutive Australian Junior Championships comprised of playing for Victoria Metro in the Under 16’s and Under 18’s and playing for Victoria in the Under 20’s. Rowe was a member of five Victorian teams that won a gold medal at Australian Junior Championships. At the 2018 Under 20 Australian Junior Championships Rowe was a member of the Victorian team coached by Katrina Hibbert that defeated Queensland 72-62 in the Grand Final with Kiera scoring 15 points to play an important role in Victoria winning the gold medal. For much of her basketball career including playing for Bulleen and Victoria Rowe has been teammates with power forward/centre Bec Pizzey. 

At the 2015 FIBA Under 16 Oceania Championships held in Rotorua and Tauranga, New Zealand from 14 to 17 August Rowe and Pizzey were members of the Australian team that won the gold medal. Australia defeated New Zealand 75-54 in the final and won all four games at the tournament.

On 6 November 2015 Basketball Australia announced that Rowe was one of 11 female athletes that had been offered and accepted a scholarship at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence for 2016. Rowe was one of eight new players accepting a scholarship along with Pizzey, Lucy Cochrane, Abby Cubillo, Lara McSpadden, Maddison Rocci, Jasmine Shelley and Samantha Simons. Three 2015 scholarship holders returned in 2016 – Chantel Horvat, Ezi Magbegor and Jasmine Simmons.

Rowe was a member of the Australian Sapphires team at the 2016 FIBA Under 17 World Championships held in Zaragoza, Spain from 22 June to 2 July. The Sapphires previous best result at the tournament was fifth placed. Shannon Seebohm who is currently the Head Coach of the Townsville Fire in the WNBL was the Sapphires Head Coach. Some impressive lead-up form including a three point loss to the United States of America (USA) in a warm-up game had the Australian camp confident that they could surpass the Sapphires previous best performance. Nine of the 12 players in the Sapphires team were players on 2016 scholarships at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence – Rowe, Pizzey, Magbegor, Simmons, Simons, Shelley, Cubillo, Cochrane and McSpadden. Completing the Sapphires 12 player team for the 2016 FIBA Under 17 World Championships were Monique Conti, Cassidy McLean and Miela Goodchild.

Australia started the tournament in great fashion, winning all three of their group games against Mexico (98-38), the People’s Republic of China (66-41) and France (55-48). In the quarter final against Czech Republic Rowe made three of six field goal attempts at an accuracy of 50%, scored nine points and took six rebounds in the Sapphires 83-53 victory.

In a semi final against the USA Rowe scored nine points, took two rebounds and made an equal team-high two steals in Australia’s 73-60 victory which ended the USA’s 28 game winning streak at the Under-17 FIBA World Championships and advanced the Sapphires to the gold medal game.

The Australian Sapphires outscored Italy in every quarter of the final to have a convincing 62-38 victory to win the gold medal at the 2016 Under 17 FIBA World Championships and be crowned world champions. In the final Rowe scored five points, took three rebounds and made one steal. Rowe played all six games at the World Championships, ranking fourth for the Sapphires for minutes played per game and fifth for points and rebounds.

In August 2020 Rowe commented to upstart.net.au on winning a gold medal with the Australian Sapphires at the 2016 Under 17 World Championships, saying “It was probably my biggest achievement so far; it was just unbelievable and still you look back now almost like you forget about it and don’t believe it. I find myself sitting there sometimes thinking ‘wow I actually did that, that’s awesome!’”1

At the 2016 FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships held in Fiji from December 5 to 10 Rowe was a member of the gold medal winning Australian team. Australia won all five games at the tournament culminating with a 107-52 victory against New Zealand in the final. Rowe ranked third for Australia in three-pointers made, making five of 12 shots from behind the arc at an accuracy of 41.7%.

Rowe represented the Australian Gems at the 2017 FIBA Under 19 World Championships held in Italy from 22 to 30 July. Australia had four wins, three losses and finished sixth at the tournament.  The Gems three losses were by an aggregate of just nine points, having a five point loss to Japan in their opening group game and then having two point losses to eventual champions Russia in a quarter final and France in a classification game. In Australia’s second group game against Mexico Rowe made three of five field goal attempts at an accuracy of 60%, scored seven points, took two rebounds, made two assists and two steals.

During 2016 and 2017 Rowe played in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) for the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence. In each season Rowe played 12 games and averaged more than 4.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. 

Playing in the WNBL for the Dandenong Rangers in 2017/18 and 2018/19

In late May 2017 Rowe and Pizzey both signed two-year contracts with WNBL club, the Jayco Dandenong Rangers. Before the start of the 2017/18 WNBL pre-season the only players on the Rangers team that Rowe and Pizzey knew were each other. Six Australians on the Jayco Rangers 2017/18 roster each had more than 100 games WNBL experience before the start of the season – Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming), Sara Blicavs, Tessa Lavey, Carly Ernst (nee Mijovic), Amelia Todhunter and Tayla Roberts. The Rangers two imports were American power forward/centre Kayla Pedersen and Spanish point guard Laia Palau. Larissa Anderson was in her third season as the Head Coach of the Jayco Dandenong Rangers.

At 18 years of age Rowe made her WNBL debut with the Dandenong Rangers in the opening game of the 2017/18 season against the Melbourne Boomers on 5 October 2017 at Dandenong Stadium, playing five minutes court-time and took two rebounds. There were several games early in the season both at home and on the road where the Rangers had a core rotation of eight players and Rowe and Pizzey didn’t play any court-time.

Kiera Rowe taking a free-throw for Dandenong Rangers against Bendigo Spirit at Traralgon Stadium on 19 November 2017

A season ending knee injury to Rangers forward Sara Blicavs in Round 6 resulted in Kiera spending more time on court. Several more injuries to Rangers team-mates contributed to Rowe being elevated into the Rangers starting line-up at 18 years of age for several games late in the season. Rowe made the first start of her WNBL career in a home game an Dandenong Stadium on 9 December 2017 against the University of Canberra Capitals, starting for the Rangers alongside Todhunter, Steph Blicavs, Pedersen and Ernst.

On being elevated into the Rangers starting five Rowe told journalist Roy Ward in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald “I got to the game and [Rangers coach] Larissa Anderson said you are starting today and I was like “oh OK”. It was nerve racking but exciting and I just listened to the coach’s instructions and went out there. The hardest thing is remembering to have confidence in yourself. It’s easy to get down when you make a mistake but you just have to learn from it. I’m still adjusting to when I should back myself and the coaches are helping me but I’ve always been taught to shoot when you are open – if you have second thoughts then it’s probably not the best option.”2

In a Round 12 road game against Bendigo Spirit Rowe scored four points, had two rebounds, made two assists and one steal. In an interview Rangers TV had with Rowe and Pizzey late in the 2017/18 season Rowe commented “It has been a pretty up and down season for us, obviously injuries have hit us quite hard this season but I have certainly enjoyed it, learnt so much having the experience of learning from older players, everyone at training everyday and then whatever minutes we get in the game just going with it and trying to improve as much as we can.”  

Kiera Rowe playing defense for Dandenong Rangers against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 30 December 2017

Rowe played 14 games for the Rangers in 2017/18 and averaged 1.9 points, 1.2 rebounds and 12.5 minutes per game. Pizzey played six games and averaged 2.5 minutes court-time per game. The Dandenong Rangers finished seventh on the ladder with a record of seven wins and 14 losses. Rowe was one of nine Rangers players that played at least five games for the season and averaged more than 10.0 minutes per game along with Steph Blicavs, Sara Blicavs, Pedersen, Lavey, Ernst, Palau, Todhunter and Roberts.

In the WNBL’s 2017/18 Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award Rowe polled 14 votes to finish third behind University of Canberra Capitals duo Ezi Magbegor (41 votes) and Maddison Rocci (24 votes). Rowe was the recipient of the Jayco Rangers 2017/18 Caitlin Ryan – Rookie of the Year Award.

Rowe receiving the the Jayco Rangers 2017/18 Caitlin Ryan – Rookie of the Year Award from Larissa Anderson at Dandenong Stadium on 23 December 2017

During the 2018 SEABL season Rowe and Pizzey were teammates at the Dandenong Rangers along with Lavey, Todhunter and Roberts from the Jayco Rangers 2017/18 WNBL team. Other members of the Rangers 2018 SEABL team included current Australian Opals captain Tess Madgen, Rosie Fadljevic and Taylah Giliam.

In a SEABL home game at Dandenong Stadium against Sandringham Sabres on 14 April 2018 Rowe made five of nine three-pointers at an accuracy of 55.6%, scored a season-high and team-high 21 points, took three rebounds, made two assists and had a game-high five steals in the Rangers 74-61 victory.

Rowe played 20 games for the Dandenong Rangers during the 2018 SEABL season and averaged 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Rowe made 37 of 96 three-pointers at an accuracy of 38.5% to lead the Rangers for total three’s made. Rowe scored at least 14 points in a game seven times.

For the 2018/19 WNBL season Rowe was one of eight members of the Rangers 2017/18 roster that returned to the club from the 2017/18 season along with Sara Blicavs, Lavey, Ernst, Todhunter, Pedersen, Roberts and Pizzey. New additions to the Rangers line-up for 2018/19 were shooting guard Bec Cole, two-time Opals Olympian guard/forward Rachel Jarry and American guard/forward Betnijah Laney.

Dandenong’s starting line-up at the start of the 2018/19 season was comprised of Lavey and Cole in the back-court along with Jarry and American imports Laney and Pedersen in the front-court. Throughout the 2018/19 season Rowe played all 21 games for the Rangers and had a more consistent role than in her 2017/18 debut season.

In a road game against Bendigo Spirit at Bendigo Stadium on 20 October 2018 Rowe made two of five three-pointers at an accuracy of 40%, scored eight points, took three rebounds, made one assist and blocked one shot in 26 minutes and 21 seconds court-time.

On the road against Adelaide Lightning on 10 November at Adelaide Arena Rowe in 13 minutes and 49 seconds court-time made four of eight field goal attempts at an accuracy of 50% and scored 10 points – ranked second for the Rangers behind Cole who scored a game-high 27 points.  

The Rangers finished fifth on the ladder in 2018/19 with nine wins and 12 losses. Rowe played all 21 games for the Jayco Rangers and averaged 2.1 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 12.1 minutes per game. Rowe was one of nine Rangers that played at least 18 games for the season and averaged more than 9.0 minutes per game.   

In 2019 a new league NBL1 was established as the premier winter basketball league in Southern Australia consisting of 18 teams, succeeding the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) which was disbanded.

During the 2019 NBL1 season Rowe played 21 games for the Nunawading Spectres including 16 as a starter and averaged 4.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

2019/20 WNBL season with the Southside Flyers

In July 2019 the Dandenong Rangers WNBL license was transferred from the Dandenong Basketball Association to Gerry Ryan who in 1975 founded Jayco who were the naming rights sponsor of the Dandenong Rangers WNBL team from 1997 to 2019. The Southside Flyers played their home games for the 2019/20 season at Dandenong Stadium and respect the history of the Dandenong Rangers.

Six players on the Southside Flyers 2019/20 roster played for the Jayco Rangers in 2018/19 – Rowe,  Cole, Sara Blicavs, Pizzey, Taylah Giliam and Steph Reid whilst another four had played for the Jayco Rangers previously – Jenna O’Hea, Leilani Mitchell, Aimie Rocci (nee Clydesdale) and Louella Tomlinson. Two members of the Flyers 2019/20 core rotation that hadn’t represented the Rangers in the WNBL previously were Anneli Maley who played for the Dandenong Rangers SEABL team in 2017 and American import Mercedes Russell.

Cheryl Chambers was appointed as the inaugural head coach of the Southside Flyers. Chambers is currently an Assistant Coach of the Australian Opals and had two stints as a WNBL head coach previously – with the Bulleen (now Melbourne) Boomers for eight seasons from 2001/02 to 2008/09 and with the Sydney Uni Flames for three seasons from 2016/17 to 2018/19, with the Flames winning the WNBL Championship in 2016/17 after defeating Dandenong 2-0 in the Grand Final series. Jenna O’Hea was appointed as the Southside Flyers inaugural captain and was one of the most decorated players in the WNBL, having been selected in the WNBL All-Star Five four times when she joined the Flyers.  

The Southside Flyers regular starting line-up throughout the 2019/20 season was Cole in the backcourt alongside Mitchell whilst Sara Blicavs, O’Hea and Russell started in the front-court. All five Flyers starters averaged more than 28.0 minutes per game and sixth woman Rocci averaged 22.5 minutes per game. Rowe was one of three players in the Flyers nine player core rotation along with Anneli Maley and Louella Tomlinson that averaged between 8.0 and 13.0 minutes per game.

In a home game against Townsville at Dandenong Stadium on 13 December 2019 Rowe scored nine points to have her highest scoring game of the season and also took one rebound, made two assists and one steal in Southside’s 81-62 victory. Rowe shot the ball proficiently to make three of four field goal attempts for the game – all three-pointers at an accuracy of 75%. Rowe’s three made shots from behind the arc were an equal game-high along with her idol and teammate O’Hea and Townsville’s Canadian import Bridget Carleton.

During Southside’s overtime victory against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 12 January 2020 O’Hea diving after a loose ball collided with Ezi Magbegor and suffered a broken wrist. O’Hea was expected to miss 10 to 12 weeks which would cause her to miss the remainder of the WNBL season.

The Flyers had been in great form however they were more reliant on their starting five than the other teams in the top four with all five starters Cole, Russell, Mitchell, O’Hea and Blicavs ranking in the top 20 of the league for scoring. One of the queries experts had about the Flyers roster was how they would fare without one of their starters for an extended time so O’Hea’s wrist injury would test the depth of the Flyers, guard Aimie Rocci was brought into the starting line-up.

In the road game against Bendigo Spirit on 18 January at Bendigo Stadium Rowe scored eight points, took one rebound and made one assist in Southside’s 91-76 victory. Rowe made three of four field goal attempts at an accuracy of 75% and two of three three-pointers at 66.7%.

The Southside Flyers recorded 17 wins and four losses during the 2019/20 regular season to finish on top of the ladder, two wins ahead of the University of Canberra Capitals and Melbourne Boomers who finished second and third respectively, followed by Adelaide Lightning in fourth position on 12 wins.

Southside defeated Adelaide Lightning in a close semi final series two games to nil, winning game one at home 68-65 and game 2 on the road 82-79. Rowe played a total of 17 minutes and 25 seconds in the semi final series.

O’Hea recovered from her broken wrist quicker than expected and returned for the Grand Final series against Canberra. In an extremely close Grand Final series Southside were defeated two games to nil with an aggregate margin of just five points. Southside were defeated in game 1 at home 80-82 and lost game 2 at AIS Arena 68-71. Rowe didn’t play any court-time in the Grand Final. Only eight players played for Southside played in the Grand Final series against Canberra with the top six players in the rotation playing the vast majority of minutes. Maley and Tomlinson each played less than five minutes in total for the Grand Final series. Rowe was one of three players in Southside’s 12 player Grand Final team for both games that didn’t play any court-time along with Pizzey and Steph Reid. 

In August 2020 Rowe commented to upstart.net.au on the challenge of having WNBL games when you play limited or no court-time, saying “Honestly, it’s tough, very tough…you got to try and prove yourself often with quite limited opportunity especially because every game, in something like the WNBL, is a tough game and the coach and team want to win. If you go out there and you’re not playing your best you’re going to get subbed and not play the rest of the game straight away, so it is tough.”3

Rowe played 22 of a possible 25 games for Southside in 2019/20 and averaged 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 12.2 minutes per game. Rowe ranked seventh at Southside for minutes per game, equal seventh for scoring with Maley and eighth for assists.

NBL1 expanded for the 2020 season with the original NBL1 league which was comprised mainly of Victorian teams rebranded as NBL1 South. The former Queensland Basketball League was rebranded as NBL1 North and the former South Australian Premier League was rebranded NBL1 Central, both new NBL1 conferences were scheduled to commence in 2020.

Rowe signed with the Frankston Blues for the 2020 NBL1 South season. On 21 March, 2020 NBL1 released a statement saying “All three conferences of the forthcoming 2020 NBL1 season have been cancelled. The NBL in conjunction with Basketball Victoria, Basketball Queensland and Basketball South Australia have notified clubs of the decision not to proceed with the 2020 season. The decision follows the indefinite closure of indoor sports centres because of COVID-19. All three conferences, NBL1 South, NBL1 North and NBL1 Central, had already been postponed until May.”4

Playing in the WNBL for the Sydney Flames in 2020 and 2021/22

On 15 July 2020 the Sydney Uni Flames announced that Rowe signed with the Sydney Flames for one WNBL season. Katrina Hibbert was in her second season as the Sydney Flames Head Coach and told WNBL Media “I was fortunate enough to coach Kiera at the U20 Australian Championships in 2018 where I grew to respect her work ethic and leadership within the group. She brings versatility, an eagerness to learn and grow as a basketballer player, and she has a competitive drive to win. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to coach Kiera again and continue to help develop her at the WNBL level.”5

In an article for The Pick and Roll written by Lachy France in August 2020 Rowe commented “At Flyers, it’s amazing getting to play under those star players who’ve been in the league for so long, and just learning from them at training is amazing, and I’m so grateful for that. But I’m also ready now to take that next step and start getting my own opportunities and see where it takes me. There’s only so much you can keep learning at training before you need that next level of more consistent game opportunity and development in that way. So just getting to that next level, but also having that bit more opportunity to take that onto the court is what I’m hoping for this season.”6 One of Rowe’s teammates at the Southside Flyers during the 2019/20 season, Maley also joined Sydney for the 2020 season.

Restrictions in place due to COVID-19 was one of the factors that Rowe considered when deciding which team to join for the 2020 season. Rowe told The Pick and Roll “I’m studying physiotherapy at La Trobe in Melbourne, but given the current circumstances with COVID, all of my uni this year got put online. So that opened up another opportunity for me to explore other options, because in the past it made it a bit more difficult to look at any other options other than Melbourne.”7

Due to the impact of COVID-19 the 2020 WNBL season had a very different structure to previous seasons and imports weren’t eligible to play in the league. All eight WNBL clubs were located in North Queensland for the duration of the 2020 WNBL season which was played at three locations, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay. The regular season was condensed to five rounds commencing 11 November and each team played 13 regular season games.

Five players averaged more than 23.0 minutes each per game for Sydney in 2020 – Lauren Mansfield, Lauren Scherf, Maley, Alison Schwagmeyer-Belger and Nat Burton. Rowe was a member of Sydney’s nine player core rotation that each played at least seven games for the season and averaged more than 8.0 minutes per game.

Against Bendigo Spirit at on 6 December at Cairns Pop-Up Arena Rowe scored six points, took three rebounds and made two assists in Sydney’s 62-54 victory. Rowe made two of four field goal attempts for the game at an accuracy of 50%, all three-pointers to make an equal game-high two three-pointers along with teammate Schwagmeyer-Belger and Bendigo forward Ernst.

On 8 December against Perth at Townsville Stadium Rowe scored five points, made her only three-point attempt, took two rebounds – both offensive and made one assist in Sydney’s 71-68 victory.

Rowe played 12 of a possible 13 games for the Sydney Flames in 2020 and averaged 2.5 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 13.7 minutes per game. Rowe ranked equal seventh at Sydney for minutes played per game along with Carly Boag.

On 3 May 2021 the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames announced that Rowe had signed with the club for the next two seasons. Shane Heal had been signed as the Flames Head Coach for three seasons from 2021/22 to 2023/24. Rowe told WNBL Media “I am very excited to return to the Flames as we continue to build on last season. I am really looking forward to being coached by Shane and taking my game to the next level, as we work hard as a team striving for on court success.”8

Sydney Head Coach Heal commented on Rowe “Kiera will be a really good fit for the direction and style of play we will be looking to implement for the Flames. Her toughness and ability to defend multiple positions will be a big help and I know that we can help develop her offensive game to new heights. Kiera’s versatility will prove to be very valuable within our system.”9

In Sydney’s opening game of the 2021/22 WNBL season on 5 December against the University of Canberra Capitals Rowe was a starter for the Flames along with Shyla Heal, American import Stephanie Watts and co-captains Lauren Mansfield and Keely Froling. Other members of Sydney’s core rotation at the start of the season included Kalani Purcell, Chelsea Dungee and Funda Nakkasoglu

Kiera Rowe in a huddle with Sydney Flames teammates during the game against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 20 February 2022

Due to injury the first two imports that Sydney signed played one game between them. Before the season commenced American forward Leonna Odom was ruled out for an extended period due to an Achilles injury and as a result didn’t join the Flames for the 2021/22 season. In Sydney’s opening game of the season American import guard Stephanie Watts scored an equal game-high 16 points. At training Watts tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her knee which ended her season before Sydney’s second game. American import guard Chelsea Dungee was released by the Flames after three games.

During the 2021/22 season Rowe started the majority of games for the Sydney Flames and performed a 3 and D role for the team. More than two thirds of Rowe’s field goal attempts were three-pointers and at 183 centimetres tall and with her defensive prowess Kiera was able to defend a wide range of opponents.

Against the UC Capitals on 28 January Flames co-captain Mansfield suffered a calf injury which ended her season. Mansfield played seven games for the season and Sydney’s American imports played a total of seven games between them comprised of one for Watts, three for Dungee and three games for Rennia Davis. The combination of a high turnover of imports and injuries resulted in the Sydney Flames being undermanned for most of the 2021/22 WNBL season and provided additional playing opportunities on the roster for several players including Rowe.

In a home game at Qudos Bank Arena on 6 February 2022 Rowe scored an equal season-high 11 points – ranked third for Sydney, took two rebounds and made one assist against Townsville. Rowe made three of six field goal attempts at an accuracy of 50%, two of five three-pointers at 40% and three of four free-throws at 75%.

Against Perth Lynx on 16 March 2022 Rowe made four of six field goals at an accuracy of 66.7%, three of five three-pointers at 60%, scored an equal season-high 11 points, took five rebounds, had one assist and blocked one shot. Rowe ranked third for the Sydney in the game for both scoring and rebounds.

Sydney had four wins and 13 losses during the regular season and finished in last place. During the 2021/22 WNBL season Rowe played all 17 games for Sydney Flames including 15 as a starter and averaged 4.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 24.5 minutes court-time per game. Among players that played at least five games for Sydney in 2021/22 Rowe ranked third for steals per game, fifth for minutes played and rebounds and seventh in scoring. Rowe made 0.9 three-pointers per game, ranked fifth at Sydney.

“Prior to the end of the regular season coaches from each team nominate the two best defensive players within their team, these nominations form a list from which each Head Coach and Captain casts a vote for first, second and third place selections.”10 Rowe was one of the seven nominees in the WNBL’s 2021/22 Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award along with teammate Purcell who finished runner-up behind Canberra Capitals American import Brittney Sykes. Froling and Shyla Heal were joint winners of the Sydney Flames 2021/22 MVP Award.

At the Sydney Flames 2021/22 Awards Rowe won the Most Inspirational Award. Flames Head Coach Shane Heal commented “Kiera displayed all of the traits and attributes that we are looking to build our Flames culture around. Desire and toughness were keys to her best WNBL season as she took the challenge to shut down big name players in multiple positions. She embraced whatever role she was given, and she worked as hard as anyone to execute it for the good of the team.”11

2021 and 2022 NBL1 South seasons with the Knox Raiders

Rowe joined the Knox Raiders for the 2021 NBL1 South season. Knox play their home games at the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South. Due to social restrictions in place to combat COVID-19 it was an interrupted NBL1 South season and only about half of it was completely before the season was cancelled. During the 2021 NBL1 South season Rowe played 12 games for Knox and averaged 9.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

For Knox Raiders in an NBL1 South game against Waverley Falcons at the State Basketball Centre on 30 April 2022 Rowe made eight of 10 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 80%, made five of seven three-pointers, scored an equal game-high 22 points, took five rebounds and made two assists. During the 2022 NBL1 South season with Knox Rowe averaged 7.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

Kiera Rowe playing for Knox Raiders against Kilsyth Cobras at the State Basketball Centre on 21 May 2022

2022/23 WNBL season with the Sydney Flames

On 1 August 2022 the Sydney Flames announced that the club was being rebranded with several changes taking place including the club playing the majority of their games for the 2022/23 WNBL season at the Quaycentre and the club colours changing from navy and gold to silver and black.

Hoops Capital Pty Ltd own the Sydney Flames and 2021/22 NBL Champions Sydney Kings. Hoops Capital Pty Ltd Co-Owner and Chairman Paul Smith told WNBL Media“We have an incredible opportunity to bring about change for women in the sport of basketball in NSW. To do so, we have to commit to continually evolve, developing new and innovative strategies for the Sydney Flames to lead the way. Our new brand design and venue for the majority of our games are just the first of many steps we are taking. But this is Sydney and building a winning program remains the central plank of success in a competitive and strong WNBL, a revamped roster put together by Head Coach Shane Heal will give us the best chance of success on court.”12 

During the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season the Sydney Flames play six home games at the Quaycentre and four double-headers with the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena. Rowe’s boyfriend of six years Angus Glover is in his third consecutive season playing as a guard for the Sydney Kings during the 2022/23 NBL season.  

Rowe was one of only three players from Sydney’s 2021/22 roster that have suited up for the club again in 2022/23 along with Froling and Heal. Kalani Purcell had signed with Sydney for the 2022/23 season but the day before the Flames first game of the 2022/23 season the club announced that Purcell had withdrawn from Sydney’s squad for the season due to personal reasons. On 22 November Purcell announced on Instagram that she was pregnant.

For the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Sydney signed two American imports, guard/forward Jocelyn Willoughby and centre Hannah Sjerven. In the off-season Sydney recruited a trio of players that were named in their NBL1 Conference’s 2022 All-Star Five –  Tiana Mangakahia (NBL1 North), Vanessa Panousis (NBL1 East) and Emma Clarke (NBL1 West).

Sydney Flames team huddle after the game against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 1 December 2022

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On 12 November a Sydney Flames player profiles and preview of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season article was published on Milestones and Misses. Detailed profiles of all 10 members on the Sydney Flames 2022/23 main roster and Head Coach Shane Heal are provided in this article.

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In Sydney’s opening game of the season their starting line-up was Heal, Mangakahia, Willoughby, Froling and Sjerven for the Round 2 road game against Bendigo on 12 November at Red Energy Arena. Rowe, Clarke and Panousis have each averaged between 10 and 20 minutes per game.

In Sydney’s first 13 games of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Rowe has started for the Flames four times with Head Coach Heal prepared to change the starting line-up based on match-ups with the opposition team. Rowe was brought into Sydney’s starting line-up for the Round 6 road game against Bendigo for her ability to play defense against reigning league MVP Anneli Maley. In the game on 14 December at Red Energy Arena Rowe was able to restrict Maley to 14 points and seven rebounds, well below her season average in both categories. In 25 minutes and 57 seconds court-time Rowe made two of three field goal attempts at an accuracy of 66.7%, scored five points, took two rebounds and made one assist.

Rowe and Glover were interviewed on Fox Sports News on 29 December 2022. On the Sydney Flames playing double headers with the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena Rowe told Fox Sports News “It is great to have the double-header with the Kings at Qudos. It is a great atmosphere and it is great to have the fans being able to go to both games, it really lifts the atmosphere for both of us and just the excitement of a whole day experience for the fans.”

Kiera Rowe at half-time of Sydney Flames game against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 1 December 2022

On Christmas Day the Sydney Kings played a home game against Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena which Glover played in and Rowe attended. On her relationship with Glover and actually being able to spend a Christmas together Rowe told Fox Sports News “Yes, first time in six years which was really nice. Unfortunately until now basketball has kept as apart so it was great to have a Christmas together. We have done a lot of long distance because of basketball but I think we have a very good understanding of the sport world and how it works and just know that’s what we are both there to do, but it is great now that we are both in Sydney.”  

In the Sydney Flames upset 81-77 victory against Adelaide on the road on 12 January at Adelaide Arena Rowe made two of four field goal attempts at 50%, her only three-pointer and scored five points in 13 minutes and 16 seconds court-time.   

In the Sydney Flames home game against Southside Flyers to commence Round 11 of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season at Quay Centre tonight Rowe plays the 100th WNBL game of her career, achieving the milestone in her sixth season.

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Since December 2021 articles have been published on Milestones and Misses to celebrate the following WNBL games milestones:

Chelsea Brook 100 WNBL games

Sami Whitcomb 100 WNBL games

Abbey Wehrung 150 WNBL games

Maddison Rocci 100 WNBL games

Kelly Wilson 400 WNBL games

Steph Talbot 150 WNBL games

Bec Cole 200 WNBL games

Aimie Rocci 200 WNBL games

Abby Bishop 250 WNBL games

Below is a link to the WNBL milestone games category of Milestones and Misses as well as the home page:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/wnbl/games-milestones/

https://milestonesandmisses.com/

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After Round 10 of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Sydney are sixth on the ladder with four wins and nine losses. Three of Sydney’s four victories have been against the University of Canberra Capitals. Sydney are three wins behind the fourth placed Townsville Fire and only have eight games to play whereas Townsville have 10 games left. Five of Sydney’s last eight games of the season are at home including the next three games. Sydney have two Round 11 home games at the Quay Centre commencing at 5.30pm, tonight Wednesday 18 January against the Southside Flyers and Saturday 21 January against Perth Lynx. On Sunday 29 January the Sydney Flames play their fourth and final double header of the season with the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena. The Sydney Flames host Townsville Fire at 1.30 pm followed by the game between the Sydney Kings and S.E. Melbourne commencing at 4.00 pm.

Rowe has played all 13 games for Sydney during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season including four starts and is averaging 2.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 18.2 minutes per game. Rowe ranks sixth at the Flames for minutes player per game and seventh in scoring and rebounds. Rowe is performing a team first role being given defensive assignments on some of the league’s best players and spacing the floor on offense. From limited opportunities Rowe has been effective from long range in 2022/23, making five of 13 three-pointers at an accuracy of 38.5%.

Kiera Rowe playing defense for Sydney Flames against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 1 December 2022

Epilogue

At junior level Rowe had success on Victorian teams at Australian Junior Championships and playing for Australia at international tournaments. Rowe was a member of the Australian Sapphires team that won the gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Under 17 World Championships.

In her debut WNBL season at 18 years of age in 2017/18 Kiera Rowe made an immediate impact with the Dandenong Rangers to finish third in the WNBL’s Rookie of the Year Award. In each of her first four WNBL seasons from 2017/18 to 2020 Rowe averaged between 12.0 and 15.0 minutes per game.

Playing her second season with the Sydney Flames in 2021/22 Kiera Rowe had a breakout WNBL season to start the majority of Sydney’s games and be nominated for the WNBL’s Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award. Halfway through her sixth WNBL season Rowe achieves a milestone tonight, reaching 100 WNBL games in a Sydney Round 11 home game at the Quay Centre.

Article and photographs by Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

References

1 https://www.upstart.net.au/kiera-rowe-more-than-an-athlete/

2 https://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/dandenong-rangers-rookie-kiera-rowe-takes-opportunities-chases-final-round-win-over-melbourne-boomers-20171229-h0bbbn.html

3 https://www.upstart.net.au/kiera-rowe-more-than-an-athlete/

4 https://nbl.com.au/news/nbl1-season-cancelled

5 https://wnbl.basketball/sydneyflames/news/kiera-rowe-joins-the-flames/

6 https://pickandroll.com.au/p/for-kiera-rowe-its-time-to-shine

 7 https://pickandroll.com.au/p/for-kiera-rowe-its-time-to-shine

8 https://wnbl.basketball/sydneyflames/news/kiera-rowe-recommits-to-the-flames/

9 https://wnbl.basketball/sydneyflames/news/kiera-rowe-recommits-to-the-flames/

10 https://wnbl.basketball/blog/news/wnbl-awards-candidates-announced/

11 https://wnbl.basketball/sydneyflames/news/keely-froling-and-shyla-heal-joint-mvp-winners-for-flames/#:~:text=Keely%20Froling%20and%20Shyla%20Heal%20have%20been%20named%20the%20joint,at%20Bendigo%20Stadium%20on%20Sunday.

12 https://wnbl.basketball/sydneyflames/news/the-sydney-flames-reignited-and-reimagined/

Milestones and Misses

Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.

A link to Milestones and Misses homepage and WNBL category is below:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/wnbl/

The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:

WNBL

Chelsea Brook

Sami Whitcomb

Abbey Wehrung

Penny Taylor

Rachel Jarry

Steph Reid

Kristy Wallace

Anneli Maley

Lindsay Allen

Jade Melbourne

Maddison Rocci

Cayla George

Kelly Wilson

Steph Talbot

Bec Cole

Aimie Rocci

Abby Bishop

Tessa Lavey

Ezi Magbegor

Zitina Aokuso

Leilani Mitchell

Maddie Garrick

Sara Blicavs

NBL

Nathan Sobey

AFLW

Ashleigh Riddell

Hayley Miller

Darcy Vescio

Tessa Lavey

Georgia Patrikios

Alyce Parker

Tyla Hanks

Tyanna Smith

Tarni White

Caitlin Greiser

AFL

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin

Nicky Winmar

Sam Walsh

Jack Steele

Luke Jackson

Harry McKay

Seb Ross

Jayden Short

Clayton Oliver

Lenny Hayes

Tim Membrey

Rowan Marshall

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