Southside flies into top two in blockbuster clash

IN ONE of the most important games in the WNBL fixture, the Southside Flyers have secured a spot in the top-two after defeating the Melbourne Boomers 81-67 at State Basketball Centre on Wednesday night.

The latest instalment of the Melbourne Derby had plenty of anticipation, given the stakes for both sides on the eve of finals. The Flyers took a strong lead in the first half, and although Melbourne attempted a comeback in the last two quarters, Southside’s form was too much as it cruised home to a 14-point triumph.

As a result of their win on Wednesday, the Flyers have locked in a home final in the coming weeks, in what was a crucial clash between two of the top three sides in the competition. For the Boomers, their top-two destiny is now out of their hands, as they will now need to go undefeated for the rest of the fixture and hope that Southside loses to Townsville in Round 16.

For the victors, Kayla Thornton was again the star of the show with a game-high 20 points to go with nine rebounds in another emphatic outing. She shot 8/18 from the field, forcing her way into scoring positions with her strength and size.

Also impressing for the Flyers were consistent performers Sara Blicavs (13 points, 10 rebounds), Abby Bishop (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Maddison Rocci (10 points, five rebounds, six assists). The trio played an important role in getting Southside to the title last season and look a chance of repeating that feat in the 2022/23 season.

For the Boomers, Cayla George led the way on the scoring front with 15 points on 5/14 shooting from the field, while Kristy Wallace and Penina Davidson poured in 12 points apiece to try and kickstart Melbourne’s offence.

Overall, the Flyers were much more accurate from the field, shooting 39 per cent to Melbourne’s 33.9 per cent. That was the biggest discrepancy between the two sides, although Southside controlled the skies to good effect as well. On the offensive end, the Flyers pulled down seven more rebounds than the opposition, as the likes of Blicavs, Thornton and Bishop went to work on the glass.

Round 15 continues on Friday night, and there are a number of vital clashes that will shape the standings by the end of the regular season next week. Keep an eye on Saturday night’s matchup between the Perth Lynx and the Bendigo Spirit, with both sides looking to lock in a top four spot, but just one is up for grabs.

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