THE Mandurah Magic look set to finish top two in the Women’s SBL and first place is now theirs to lose but coach Randy Miegel is taking nothing for granted despite his three stars continuing to develop and their support cast more than holding their own.
The Magic have suffered just the one loss this season and that was at the hands of the Perry Lakes Hawks who were undefeated up until last Friday night.
Mandurah was on the road and without Carly Boag that night, but before that the Magic had won eight straight games and they’ve won another eight in-a-row since to currently be in first place with a 16-1 record.
With the Magic’s back to back home wins last weekend over the Lakeside Lightning and Willetton Tigers, they improved to that 16-1 record to remain clear of the Lady Hawks who went to 15-1 with a win Friday night against the Cockburn Cougars.
The Magic team has no chink in the armour with everything working perfectly right now with Boag’s work inside with support from Bree Klasztorny while the back court of Casey Mihovilovich and Nici Gilday is the best in the league.
Rachel Halleen, Kasey Miegel, Kelly Bailey, Rachell Pettit, Morgan Ballantyne and Emmah Gardner are among the others at the Magic playing their role while Emma Klasztorny is still to return from injury.
Miegel rightfully is happy with the way the Magic are travelling heading into this Saturday night’s clash with the Perth Redbacks at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
“I just think that if we can continue to play the way we are I’ll be happy. I think we’re just about guaranteed of finishing first or second from now no matter what happens,” Miegel said.
“We just want to be going into the important part of the season with some momentum, I don’t want to be mixing things up and changing too much. There might be a bit about player management as we get towards the end of the season to try and keep everyone fresh as well.”
Mihovilovich is nearing her 450-game SBL milestone with the Magic and she is a rejuvenated figure in 2017. She is playing as well as perhaps she ever has just about during her career and a lot of that has to go down to the arrival of Gilday this season.
The two guards are forming a duo that is without doubt the best back court combination in the SBL.
Miegel has no question that by battling with one another at training means that the step up to game day isn’t too different in terms of competitiveness.
“They are actually pushing each other along during the week and then when they get on the court together they complement each other,” he said.
“They go at each other pretty hard at training so that only makes them better on game day as well.”
The addition this year of Boag has proven massive as well for the Magic proving to be quite the influential big coming off her championship-winning WNBL season with the Sydney Uni Flames.
She could very well be the best big in the league if not the leading MVP candidate.
Miegel knew she had the potential to be a difference-maker when signing her this season and without doubt she’s delivering averaging 19.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game.
What has impressed Miegel even more is the way she has fitted in at the Magic and that she wants to be part of a successful team.
“I probably just thought that what she’s given us is what we were expecting in terms of production, but I’m actually really impressed with the way she reads the play and with her quickness. She is a competitive lady and a winner, and she’s brought all of that into our program,” Miegel said.
“She fits in well off the court also so she has been a great addition. The beauty of her is that she’s a really hard match up. When we play the bigger teams she can take them outside and she can also take them inside as we’ve seen. I’m over the moon with what she’s giving us.”
While the efforts of Boag, Gilday and Mihovilovich are deservedly receiving plenty of attention this season and the credit for the way Mandurah is performing this season, it’s far from a three-woman team
There’s every chance that Bree Klasztorny might even be their most important player.
She has been hindered by knee troubles the past two years, but she has played every game this season and been a significant influence inside for the Magic.
She is the heart and soul of the Magic and Miegel is delighted to have her back on the court on a regular basis.
“She’s really professional in the way she prepares for games and during the week she’s always doing the right thing off the court,” he said.
“She always does the right thing with her rehab and every time she comes to the game she’s ready to go. At this stage we’ve done a good job managing her and hopefully that will continue.”
There’s a lot more to the Magic than their big names, though, and Miegel is just as happy with his rotation when he turns to the bench as he is with those playing the big minutes and starring roles.
“With the rotations we can get, we can adjust to the team that we are playing pretty well. Some nights it’s horses for courses in some ways. We’ve obviously got our core group of girls that score the majority of our points, but the other girls in the team all play their roles really well,” he said.
“The bench have been in the system for three or four years and they might not have been exposed as much as I would have liked, but last year we had a horrid run with injury and a lot of girls got minutes which has held us in good stead this year.”
The Magic are locked in a battle with the Lady Hawks over top spot with each of them looking certain of sharing the top two positions considering they have just lost the one game each in 2017.
They did meet one another back on May 12 with the Hawks winning 82-62 at Bendat Basketball Centre.
But the Magic were missing Boag on that night and Miegel is looking forward to the second chance of taking on Perry Lakes at home next Saturday.
“It was disappointing because that game had a bit of a build up, but Carly had injured herself the week before and didn’t suit up,” Miegel said.
“That made it really difficult for us to match their bigs so we sort of don’t know where we sit with Perry Lakes. We will be looking forward to it but we have to get next week’s game before we worry about that.”
Photo by Vikki Hile