FROM DARKNESS, THE STARS FINALLY BLAZE
The Northern Stars have finally claimed victory in the 2018 ANZ Premiership, showing superior passion and grit to hold out the Silvermoon Tactix, 56-53, in front of an overjoyed home crowd.
Before this match, which was played with the intensity of a finals play-off, the Stars had lost 12 games in a row, reaching back to halfway through last season. But they had promised so much this season with five bonus-point losses.
In fact, only one goal separated the Stars and the Tactix in their two previous encounters in rounds one and three, and there was just one goal in it with seven minutes left on the clock tonight. But the Stars were eventually rewarded for their urgency and hunger from the first whistle.
It was a game marked with outstanding performances from players on both sides of the court. Stars goal shoot Maia Wilson notched up another 90 percent accuracy record with her 36 from 40 goals, while wing defence Fa’amu Ioane was on fire, taking three crucial intercepts and named MVP.
The Tactix were buoyed by the shooting of Ellie Bird, who converted a hard-earned 45 from 51, while the ever-ambitious Temalisi Fakahokotau gathered in five intercepts for the visitors.
Driven for that first win, the Stars made their initial breakthrough halfway through the first quarter, suddenly getting seven goals up on the Tactix.
Goal defence Ama Agbeze caused headaches early for the Tactix shooters, and the Stars quickly capitalised on turnovers. Grace Kara and Holly Fowler didn’t hesitate to feed the Stars shooters, who in return, scored off most of their attempts.
Tactix goal attack Brooke Leaver fought back with some clever passing to her Bird. But still the Stars took out the first quarter comprehensively, 18-11.
The Tactix returned as a tighter more focused unit, with the experienced Kate Beveridge injected into the shooting circle, and Leaver’s sharp feeding put to good use at wing attack.
They closed the gap to four, but again the Stars settled into the quarter and took control. Fowler’s defensive background paid dividends at centre for the home side, while captain Kara’s eye for the intercept was also finely honed.
Paula Griffin made a big impact at goal attack for the Stars, skilfully setting up Maia Wilson, while putting up her own fair share of shots (she ended the game on 20 from 26 attempts).
Up 35-26 at halftime, the Stars were well aware that their second half performances this season haven’t been as strong as their first half efforts. And so they started by maintaining same passion and pressure.
But the Tactix weren’t giving up the fight. Fakahokotau and Jane Watson fired up their team-mates with a streak of smart intercepts, while Kimiora Poi was clever on attack.
The quarter belonged to the Tactix, 14-11, who were just six in arrears going into the final spell, 46-40.
Nerves were obvious in the first few minutes, but the Tactix regained composure quicker, closing the gap to three. Wing defence Charlotte Elley made her presence felt in the final stages, battling for every ball in the midcourt.
With seven minutes remaining, the Tactix were just one behind. But a tip from goal keep Olivia Coughlan turned the tide back in favour of the Stars, and they held on for their much-prized win.