Fall from Grace – Mystics continue slide as Stars shine

IF the past three matches have proven anything for the Northern Mystics, it is the importance of Grace Nweke to their lineup. The teenage shooter has been unable to take to the court since sustaining an ankle injury a couple of weeks back, and the Mystics have sunk to three consecutive losses the most recent of which was to the Northern Stars. The Stars handed their northern rivals the biggest hiding of the past three games, piling on 59 goals to 38 and winning all four quarters to capitalise on the Mystics hole in attack.

NORTHERN STARS 13 | 19 | 15 | 12 (59)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 7 | 9 | 11 (38)

There was little joy for the top of the table Mystics, who have built enough of a lead this season to ensure they will still play finals, but the automatic grand final spot position of first has gone from a certainty, to a clear uncertainty. Not once did the Mystics hold the lead, as the Stars took control, though the first 20 minutes was still fairly even, until the Stars put the foot down.

The home team lead by as much as five goals in the first term thanks to a power of work from Maia Wilson, before the Mystics scored three consecutive goals late in the term – to Filda Vui and Monica Falkner – to cut the deficit to two at the first break. After being relatively competitive early in the second term – to only trail by a goal two minutes into the match the Mystics ran into a snag with Vui missing back-to-back chances. Jamie Hume and Wilson took full advantage to scored the next five goals – and 17 of the next 21 to blow their opposition away and lead by 14 goals at half-time.

Things got so dire for the Mystics they switched Phoenix Karaka from defence into goal shooter, but it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the Stars defence stepped it up another notch piling on the last seven goals of the half. Wilson was up to 20 goals from 22 attempts, whilst Gina Crampton (13 goal assists) and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (12) were strong in midcourt.

With the game in the bag, the Stars enjoyed the second half, scoring 27 goals to 20 and blowing the lead right out to 21 in a massive result for the club looking to secure a top three spot. The largest lead got out to 24 goals at one stage, with the Stars scoring 14 goals from and 12 from unforced turnovers compared to the Mystics’ eight and six repectively.

Elle Temu earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) for her work in defence that featured a massive 10 gains, five intercepts,, nine deflections and three rebounds in a starring effort. Wilson (37 goals from 47 attempts) and Hume (18 from 28) still missed plenty but were able to put up a winning score, while Crampton (21 goal assists) and Reuelu-Buchanan (21) were both impressive. Elisapeta Toeava tried hard in wing attack with 17 goal assists, while Sulu Fitzpatrick helped herself to eight gains, four deflections and six rebounds. Falkner (14 goals from 17 attempts) and Vui (14 from 19) put up the most goals in a disappointing defeat.

Northern Mystics have a crucial game up against Central Pulse next Saturday, May 28, while Northern Stars travel to take on Southern Steel next Sunday.

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