Article by Vlad Alava, Elevate Athlete Management
DESPITE Makailah Dyer’s 42-point haul, it was the Joondalup Wolves who registered their second win for the weekend with a thrilling 91-90 away victory over the South West Slammers at Eaton Recreation Centre on Saturday night.
The win made it two wins from two for Charles Nix’s group as they begin their resurgence after snapping a spate of losses in recent weeks. But it was Dyer’s personal performance that left fans in awe during and after the game. The Slammers guard was near unstoppable with the ball making her way to 42 points off only 19 shots at 52 per cent from the field and near perfect performance at the free-throw line, going 17/18.
The game was an entertaining and even tussle from start to finish with both teams playing with the expected intensity required of understanding the importance of the win at this stage of the season.
It was Joondalup that threatened early as they stretched the lead to seven points in the first quarter courtesy of three straight three pointers but the home team responded accordingly with a closing run of their own to narrow the margin back to a single field goal, the first quarter score 26-24 in the visitors favour.
The second quarter commenced exactly as the first finished, each side continuing to push the ball in transition on offense while upping their defensive intensity. Again it was Nix’s team that threatened to blow the contest open, capitalising on consecutive defensive stops to extend the lead to 17 points midway through the second quarter. Not to be outdone, the Slammers responded and shifted the momentum of the game courtesy of Dyer and Brittni Montgomery, both of whom proved difficult to contain for the opposition.
At half time, the home team had reduced the margin back to 11 points, with Joondalup entering the break with a 51-40 advantage.
Post half time action again presented some aggressive basketball at both ends but the third exchange only saw both teams prime up for what would be an enthralling final quarter with 21 points a piece in the third.
The fourth quarter action saw Coach Nathan Grover’s group push hard for the win and the big names of Dyer, Montgomery, Bianca Donovan and Courtney Bayliss led the charge as the Slammers blasted off the three quarter time blocks, quickly disposing of Joondalup’s lead and drawing level 79-79, on Donovan’s second three pointer with still over six minutes remaining. From there, the margin did not go beyond a single basket as both teams went to work, going basket for basket towards an exciting finish. With 18 seconds left in regulation, it was Dyer, whose relentless attack on the ring was difficult to contain, who gave the home team the lead 90-88 with two made free throws.
Coach Nix summoned his girls for a timeout and the ensuing play silenced the home crowd with point guard Mikayla Pirini finding import Andee Ritter on the wing for the go-ahead three pointer to swing the advantage back to the Wolves.
Grover’s group had one last opportunity with 12 seconds remaining to draw a final play for the win but Wolves were able to defy their last gasp attempt for victory with Dyer unable to convert on a tough contested shot.
At the conclusion of the game, it was Montgomery (20 points, 22 rebounds), Bayliss (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Dyer’s MVP performance that paced the home team while the visitors had the ever-reliable Amber Land (22 points, 11 rebounds), Isabelle Miotti (14 points), Chelsea Belcher (13 points), Pirini (12 points) and Ritter (10 points) with her go- ahead three pointer to complete a balanced team scoring performance.
The win was a welcome relief for the visitors, who are still finding their way forward after the loss of experienced forwards Kayla Steindl and Amy Kidner for the season. Victory last night along with their impressive win against the Lightning on Friday night steers Charles Nix’s team back towards premiership calculations.
For their part, Coach Grover’s Slammers group were outstanding in effort and endeavour. Missing key rotation players in Kate Fielding and Ebony Bilcich, South West put forward a very young team mainly composed of junior players and put in a brave performance. In the absence of Fielding and Bilcich, youngsters Adele East and Jasmine Barrett closed out the game with the likes of Bayliss, Montgomery and Dyer and held their own and would no doubt be better for the experience.
Photo by Sports Imagery Australia