Perth powers past Fire to book grand final berth

THE Perth Lynx have secured a spot in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final series after stunning the Townsville Fire with a six-point win at Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday night.

Coming into the series, the Lynx were not expected to advance given the fact that they faced off against the ladder-leaders at season’s end and the reigning champions as well. The Fire finished at the top of the table and were the favourites to take home a second consecutive title coming into the postseason.

However, Townsville was stunned at home by the Lynx in game one, shaking up the series and sending last year’s winners out West with a tougher task than expected in game two.

Despite having a 1-0 lead in the series, it was still going to be a big ask for Perth given Townsville’s star power and winning experience in big games, but Perth delivered a masterful offensive performance to get the job done and eliminate the Fire.

Perth Lynx (108) def. Townsville Fire (102)

The opening quarter saw Steph Reid open the account with a triple, in a perfect indicator of how prevalent scoring would be throughout the match. Both teams traded blows in the first quarter, with momentum switching hands on plenty of occasions. However, it was the home side that finished the term on top, ending the period on an 8-3 run (capped off by a buzzer-beating putback from Emily Potter) to lead by five at the first change.

Perth’s lead ballooned out to nine points in the second quarter and it was evident that the home side were going to prove tough to stop. Townsville showed its class to draw back within two thanks to some hardworking offence, before the Lynx got on top again to lead 56-44 at the main break, completely in control of the match.

Quarter number three was more of the same, as Perth rallied behind the fired up crowd at Bendat Basketball Centre to jump out to a whopping 17-point lead before Shannon Seebohm called a much-needed timeout. His side lifted in effort and ensured the deficit only stood at 11 heading into the last, and although they still needed a big fourth term, the Fire were still within striking distance.

Townsville was always going to mount a last quarter challenge, and struck from behind the arc to get within six points. However, that would be as close as the visitors would get, as Perth held on for a truly special victory.

Star guard Aari McDonald may have missed a fair chunk of the season through injury, but she stood up when it counted and showed why she was in early-season conversations for the MVP award. The import posted 27 points and 11 assists in a match-winning performance.

Also impressing was Amy Atwell, with the vice-captain posting 27 points of her own in an impressive offensive showing.

The Lynx will now take on the winner of Wednesday night’s clash between the Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers, while it is season over for the Fire.

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