THE Mandurah Magic will enter the Women’s SBL playoffs from second position and while they feel ready to make a run at the championship, coach Randy Miegel knows full well they can’t afford to look too far ahead.
Miegel is in his fourth season in charge of the Magic and the way the first three seasons have gone with Mandurah being around the mark of being a contender but not quite reaching a grand final is exactly why nobody at the club is getting ahead of themselves in 2017.
The former Goldfields Giants great who captained and coached in Kalgoorlie took over the helm with the Magic women in 2014 and over the last three years he has had strong teams but were eliminated by the Lakeside Lightning, Rockingham Flames and Perry Lakes Hawks.
There was no shame in any playoff exit but what it has done is taught everyone involved that no matter how good things are clicking during the regular season and how high they might be aiming, you can’t afford to take anything for granted.
But Miegel without doubt has the best team in his four years at his disposal in 2017 with near 450-game veteran Casey Mihovilovich forming a potent three-pronged trio of stars alongside Nici Gilday and Carly Boag.
But then there’s the likes of Bree Klasztorny, Rachel Halleen, Kelly Bailey, Emma Klasztorny, Rachel Pettit, Morgan Ballanytne and Kasey Miegel who are all part of the Magic support crew that sees them currently hold a 19-2 record ahead of Saturday night’s clash with the Stirling Senators to close the regular season.
Since the Magic’s second loss of the season to the minor premier Perry Lakes Hawks, they have bounced back to beat the East Perth Eagles by 24 points and the Perth Redbacks by 23.
Miegel was especially pleased with effort against the playoff-bound Redbacks last Friday night at Belmont Oasis and while he feels his team is well-placed looking towards another finals campaign, they can’t look any further ahead than the first round.
“After this week’s game I feel like we are pretty well ready for the playoffs. That was a crucial game for us because I didn’t know really where we were at, but what I saw out of that was really pleasing,” Miegel said.
“We’re just focusing on that first round. We spoke about the possibility of going all the way a long time ago and then we just tried to hit it on the head and just focus on the job at hand and worry about playing well, and being healthy more so than looking too far forward.
“We’ve been disappointed before so we don’t want to get too far ahead ourselves. We’ve had some big games as well the past couple of years which I think holds us in good stead. They might not have been grand finals, but they are intense finals games which the majority of this group has now been through together.”
Despite the Magic losing to the Lady Hawks for a second time this season earlier this month, Miegel actually felt there was a lot to take out of that game for his team in a six-point defeat.
“I thought the Hawks game was really good and I was comfortable with where we sit with that game and we learn a bit out of that game,” he said.
“It was a big game which we needed and there was a big crowd there, and the more games we can get like that the better it will be for us. The bye then came at the right time for us and we just need to keep working hard now.”
While the Redbacks and Cockburn Cougars are the two options for the Magic in the quarter finals beginning next weekend, Miegel won’t be taking either lightly especially Perth even though Mandurah scored an impressive win against them last Friday night.
“It’s more about us focusing on ourselves than the Redbacks that we are focusing on after a game like that because we know that they are a dangerous team and could beat us on any night if we happen to play them again,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of keeping our girls focused and we want to be playing at our best at the right time. I think we took a pretty good step to doing that in this game. They have so much firepower and you don’t want to be giving them an inch. They are one of those teams we know are dangerous.”
The other reason for the Magic to be feeling good heading into the playoffs is that they are fully fit and healthy at the right time of the year.
Emma Klasztorny is back from an ankle injury, her sister Bree has got through a full season and made a significant difference and the three big stars Mihovilovich, Gilday and Boag are all up and running on top of their games.
But it’s the overall depth of the team that Miegel likes most about the Magic of 2017.
“There’s a couple of niggles like every team has, but we’ve got no serious injuries and that’s a big plus for us at this stage that we hope can stay that way,” Miegel said.
“People probably realise that we do have a good bench and everything like that, and it’s an experienced bench as well.
“Every girl there knows exactly what they need to do and against the Redbacks Rachel Halleen was good, Bree was good, Kelly Bailey came off the bench and was good, and all those girls are 25 or 26 and have been around for a long time.”
Photo by Vikki Hile Photography