FOR the second time in a week the Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Mandurah Magic played out a Women’s SBL thriller, with the Magic once again prevailing this time by a solitary point on Saturday night at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The two teams went at it the previous Saturday night in Round 1 of the 2019 Women’s SBL season with Mandurah winning 69-67 in a contest featuring two sides that reached the semi finals in 2018.
It was always likely to be another tight affair with the return encounter seven days later this time with Kalamunda playing its home-opener for 2019.
And the Eastern Suns did start promisingly to lead 21-13 by quarter-time but things were tight by half-time with the Suns narrowly on top 37-35.
Jennie Rintala hit six points on her own to start the second half and the Suns took control leading 46-37 after just two minutes. Kalamunda still remained in control leading by nine soon after when Jewel Williams hit a three.
Their lead grew to 10 when Rintala hit a pair of free-throws and remained that with a minute to go in the third quarter when Rintala nailed a three.
But the Magic put on some full-court pressure and that unsettled the Suns with the visitors able to go on a 6-0 run to close the quarter to be just four down at three quarter-time.
Emma Klasztorny continued her monster night for Mandurah with another offensive board and put back to start the fourth term. She added another bucket to bring the Magic within two before a Casey Mihovilovich three put them in front 66-65.
The game then took a significant turn the way of the Magic when Rintala fouled out with seven minutes remaining before Klasztorny and Rebecca Motroni traded baskets with Mandurah leading 68-67.
Mandurah were then four up with less than four minutes remaining but some strong drives to the bucket from Lauren Jeffers in her fascinating match up with Mihovilovich got her to the stripe and she put the Suns back on top.
A Kasey Miegel steal and layup had Mandurah back in front soon after before Jeffers responded with a huge three for the Suns to lead 75-74. Magic import Delany Junkermeir answered with a mid-range jumper before a frantic finish full of turnovers by either side with the pressure right up.
In the end, ex-Magic guard Georgia Adams had a chance at the game-winner for the Suns but it wouldn’t fall and Mandurah held on for the 76-75 win.
Despite having 26 turnovers for the night and taking 15 fewer shots, the Magic found that will to win that comes from the confidence of playing in the past two Grand Finals.
That was despite coach Craig Watts having Bree Klasztorny, Carly Boag and Ginka Palusna all sitting on the sidelines alongside him. They also lost Kelly Bailey to injury before half-time.
Emma Klasztorny put in a warrior-like performance for the Magic finishing with 19 points, 17 rebounds and two steals while shooting 7/14 from the field.
She got superb support from 469-game veteran Casey Mihovilovich who had 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists, six steals and two blocked shots.
Delany Junkermeir also had 12 points and five rebounds for Mandurah, and Kasey Miegel eight points and two steals.
There was a lot for Kalamunda coach Tom Knowles to like but ultimately a period where they struggled with Mandurah’s full-court pressure allowed the Magic back into the game. While some soft and inopportune turnovers were costly.
“We did have a pretty good plan for that but unfortunately a couple of people didn’t stick with the plan which always makes it tough. We adjusted that in a timeout and were OK after that,” Knowles said.
“But just out of rebounding situations, having people come to take the ball off you when you’ve done the hard work to take the rebound, that really sucks. It makes it very difficult when they take it off you and go and score making it two more points that you have to get back that they have on the board.”
Losing Jennie Rintala with seven minutes to go when she fouled out undoubtedly hurt the Eastern Suns too with her still finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Lauren Jeffers showed how important a pick up as an experienced point guard she will be for the Suns. Just 18 months ago she almost won Grand Final MVP at the Perry Lakes Hawks and the 155-game veteran had a strong night with 15 points and four rebounds.
Rebecca Motroni added 12 points, eight rebounds and four steals with Georgia Adams contributing nine points, four rebounds and three steals, and Jewel Williams eight points and three boards. Carla Drennan finished with four points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
In the end, sending Mandurah to the foul line 31 times and then only shooting 29 per cent from the field themselves were things that the Suns couldn’t quite overcome despite only losing by a point.
“I was actually happier this week. We got in foul trouble again for a number of reasons and we had a pretty junior team on the floor, and we’ve actually got a pretty junior team in general this year,” Knowles said.
“We actually had the game probably at least three times and we choked a bit under pressure in some pretty soft situations to give the ball back to them. We have to learn from that and those individuals have to learn from it, and then we have to learn to put the ball in the hole.
“To get 79 possessions to their 64, that’s a pretty good effort against Mandurah and to be one rebound down on them with the team we’ve got, particularly when our best rebounder is sitting on the bench for a chunk of the game, I’m actually pretty happy with that. The foul count is something we need to work on.”
Kalamunda backs up on the road this Friday night against the winless Willetton Tigers while Mandurah is back home to host the East Perth Eagles on Saturday night.
WEEK 2 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames 85 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 72
Willetton Tigers 69 lost to Lakeside Lightning 76
Schweigen East Perth Eagles 66 lost to Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 98
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 92 defeated Bethanie Warwick Senators 71
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 75 lost to Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic 76