THE Women’s SBL Grand Final for 2018 is set after the Lakeside Lightning and Mandurah Magic wrapped up their semi-final series’ on Friday night and based on their battle this time 12 months ago, it’s going to be quite the championship decider.
The Lightning and Magic both won Game 1 of their respective semi-final series’ last Friday night meaning they needed just the one victory this weekend to advance to next Friday’s Grand Final at Bendat Basketball Centre.
That didn’t mean anything would be handed to them given the outstanding seasons that both the Perth Redbacks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns had put together though.
The Lakeside Lightning proved too strongly for a Kalamunda team still missing Alex Ciabattoni, however, cruising to the 94-71 to advance to the Grand Final on the back of losing just once in all of 2018.
It was a much different story in front of a tremendous crowd at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre. The Magic had just beaten the Redbacks by a solitary point in Game 1 and remarkably it was once more a one-point result on Friday night in front of their home fans.
Mandurah beat Perth 83-82 to win its way into a second straight Women’s SBL Grand Final on the back of finishing sixth at the end of the regular season.
WOMEN’S SBL PREVIEW – SEMI FINALS WEEK 2
REDBACK DONOVAN BACKS HER DEFENCE AGAINST BROWN, MAGIC
MOYLE GRATEFUL TO MAKE IT BACK FOR LIGHTNING IN TITLE PUSH
JOB AHEAD OF SUNS BUT RINTALA PROUD TO CALL KALAMUNDA HOME
MANSFIELD CREDITS DRIVE OF LIGHTNING PLAYERS WITH THEIR SUCCESS
PASSION, DEDICATION FOR SUNS DRIVES MOTRONI ON
BELIEF AND CHARACTER DRIVES MAGIC BACK TO SEMI FINALS
Coming into Game 2 at home the job was ahead of the Eastern Suns after a 51-point Game 1 loss to the Lightning, but Kalamunda had a big home crowd behind them at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
They did regain Jewel Williams while captain Jennie Rintala shook off an ankle injury to play too but making their job tougher was the continued absence of Alex Ciabattoni with a shoulder complaint while the Lightning regained two-time MVP Ali Schwagmeyer.
The Suns did stick with the Lightning for the first quarter but Lakeside pulled away from there and ended up leading by as much as 23 points.
Kalamunda never gave in on their home floor but it was a bridge too far to try and hand Lakeside its second loss of 2018 with the Lightning going on to win by 23 points and advance to a first Women’s Grand Final since 2014.
Sydnee Fipps once again top-scored for the Lightning with 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists on the back of knocking down 6/10 from three-point territory.
Ash Grant added 18 points and six rebounds for Lakeside, Ali Schwagmeyer 17 points, eight assists and seven boards, Sam Roscoe 15 points and five rebounds, Courtney Byrnes 11 points, four boards and four assists, Jess van Schie five points and three rebounds, and Melissa Moyle five points and three boards.
The semi finals might not have quite gone to plan for the Eastern Suns but they had done a tremendous job to make it in 2018.
Jessie Edwards equal top-scored with 18 points and seven rebounds with Jennie Rintala bravely playing almost 29 minutes for 18 points and eight rebounds.
Jewel Williams added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Suns, Rebecca Motroni 11 points, six boards and four steals, and Hannah King seven points and three rebounds.
The stage was then set for a cracking battle at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with a big crowd turning out to see if the Magic could keep their winning playoff run going having finished the regular season in sixth position.
The Redbacks had such a brilliant regular season in coach Charles Nix’s first season in charge to rise to second position on the ladder so they sure weren’t going to hand anything to the Magic either.
The Redbacks raced to an 8-1 lead in a stunning opening and they were still in front 27-22 by quarter-time.
The visitors were still on top 49-45 at half-time before seven consecutive points from Kayla Steindl to start the second half saw the Redbacks open a game-high 11-point lead.
That put the onus back on Mandurah respond and the Magic did and were just three points down by three quarter-time.
By the time Regina Palusna delivered a three-point play for Mandurah with seven minutes left, scores were level before Anita Brown put the home side up by two.
The Redbacks weren’t done yet with a three from Mikayla Pirini levelling scores and then Bianca Donovan put them two points up with three minutes remaining.
Pirini again levelled scores with 1:45 left before Anita Brown put Mandurah back up by two with under a minute remaining. Jess Jakens was able to level scores again before Palusna was fouled and made one at the line.
That ended up being the winning score and the Magic advanced to a second straight Grand Final and sixth in club history as they chase that elusive maiden championship.
Regina Palusna was huge for the Magic finishing the night with 28 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots with fellow import Anita Brown adding 26 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Casey Mihovilovich added 10 points and three rebounds for Mandurah, Bree Klasztorny six points and three boards, Kelly Bailey six points and four rebounds, and Emma Klasztorny four points and seven boards.
Kayla Steindl top-scored for the Redbacks with 23 points to go with five rebounds while Mikayla Pirini contributed 18 points and three boards, Makailah Dyer 10 points and five assists, and Jess Jakens nine points and three rebounds.
SEMI FINALS WEEK 2 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
GAME 2 (Best of 3)
Mandurah Magic 83 defeated Perth Redbacks 82 (Mandurah wins 2-0)
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 71 lost to Lakeside Lightning 94 (Lakeside wins 2-0)