IT is the Women’s SBL Grand Final 12 months in the making and with no love lost between them, the Lakeside Lightning and Mandurah Magic will put it all on the line on Friday night at Bendat Basketball Centre.
While the Perry Lakes Hawks took out the 2017 Women’s SBL championship on the back of claiming the regular season title as well, the Magic and Lightning were both hot on their heels throughout the season.
That led to an intense, close and fascinating three-game semi-final series that the Magic ended up winning on the way to the Grand Final leaving the Lightning with 12 months to plot revenge.
While they have taken vastly different journeys to now reach the 2018 Women’s SBL Grand Final, the stage is set for another fascinating battle on Friday night with the Lightning chasing their first championship since 2006 and the Magic their first ever.
Lakeside will be playing in its fourth Grand Final and first since losing to the Rockingham Flames in 2014 while attempting to win their second championship to go with the one in 2006.
Mandurah, meanwhile, is playing in its sixth Women’s Grand Final having lost the previous five to the Perry Lakes Hawks in 2003, Willetton Tigers in 2005, Lakeside in 2006, Willetton again in 2009 and then Perry Lakes last year.
INSPIRING BROWN WANTS TO HELP BRING TITLE BACK TO MANDURAH
SCHWAGMEYER HOPES TO CAP THREE LIGHTNING YEARS WITH CHAMPIONSHIP
‘GINKA’ LIVING THE DREAM WITH MAGIC AHEAD OF GRAND FINAL
BYRNES HOPING FOR ICING ON CAKE OF SPECIAL LAKESIDE YEAR
EMMA KLASZTORNY PROUD OF NEVER-GIVE-UP MAGIC
MANSFIELD PROUD OF LIGHTNING AS HE LEARNS FROM GRAND FINAL PAST
MAGIC IN BEST FORM AND AT HEALTHIEST AHEAD OF GRAND FINAL
FIPPS HOPING TO ‘MIC DROP’ ON CAREER WITH LIGHTNING CHAMPIONSHIP
MOYLE GRATEFUL TO MAKE IT BACK FOR LIGHTNING IN TITLE PUSH
With that history of having met in the 2006 Grand Final where Lakeside’s Jess van Schie and Mandurah’s Casey Mihovilovich were still playing, and added to by the rivalry built in last year’s semi finals, and everything points to a tantalising 2018 championship decider.
Coming off that semi-final appearance last year, Lakeside has improved further in 2018 going on to lose just the once the whole season including going straight through the playoffs sweeping both the Perry Lakes Hawks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
They now enter the Grand Final on a 17-game winning streak with their only loss in 2018 at the hands of the Perth Redbacks.
It has been anything but a smooth ride for Mandurah to reach the Grand Final in 2018 despite starting off winning the opening five matches.
Injuries then began to take over with Carly Boag done for the season and Mihovilovich, Rachel Halleen and Bree Klasztorny among those sidelined.
They went through a period of losing 10 of 13 matches before finishing off winning of three their last four games to finish sixth at 11-11 before winning both their playoff series’ in two games against the Rockingham Flames and Perth Redbacks.
The game is set to feature a host of cracking match ups too including the battle of bigs with Lakeside’s Sam Roscoe and Ash Grant up against Mandurah’s Regina Palusna, Bree Klasztorny and Emma Klasztorny.
The Magic will then need to curtail the influence of dynamic Lightning duo Ali Schwagmeyer and Sydnee Fipps while Anita Brown and Mihovilovich are capable of being the match-winning pair for the Magic.
Getting contributions from the likes of Jess van Schie, Courtney Byrnes and Melissa Moyle for the Lightning, and Kelly Bailey, Morgan Ballantyne, Rachel Halleen and Rachel Pettit could be crucial too.
Lightning coach Craig Mansfield is chasing his first championship as a coach and can’t help but think the right two teams are in the 2018 Grand Final.
“All it makes me think is that it’s nice to know that there’s two deserving programs in the Grand Final in terms of club structure and how they go about their stuff,” Mansfield said.
“They are two deserving coaches in terms of how history with the league, many deserving players who have been great servants to basketball in WA and their community, and great imports in both teams.
“At least I can walk away and whoever wins it, I will feel like they earned it rather than pieced something together to have success for one year.”
Magic coach Randy Miegel is also chasing a first championship and knows that the Lightning will be seeing his team as their ideal Grand Final opponents.
“We obviously have a lot of respect for them and they have had a great season, which I knew they would as soon as I saw the team the Craig had put together and the personnel he had kept. They were always going to be the team to beat and they still are,” Miegel said.
“If Lakeside ever wanted to pick a team to beat in a Grand Final given our history then it probably would be us and the games we played last year in that semi finals was one of the best series’ that I’ve been involved in.
“There’s definitely a healthy rivalry there and there are a few girls who have bumped heads for sure who will bump heads again. I think it will be a good game for sure and there’s some underlying things there between the teams, but that all helps to build a healthy rivalry.”
WOMEN’S GRAND FINAL
FRIDAY AUGUST 31 – Bendat Basketball Centre 7.30pm
Lakeside Lightning (21-1, 1st) v Mandurah Magic (11-11, 6th)