Stars notch first win to get season back on track
Still finding their way as a new team, the Northern Stars took an encouraging step in the right direction when posting a 48-37 win over the Silvermoon Tactix in Christchurch on Sunday.
With both teams coming off heavy first-round losses, the Stars shook off a determined first half effort from the Tactix with a powerful third quarter to take control. After setting the groundwork, the talented Stars delivered on some of their early promise to notch a deserved first-up win.
A tight arm wrestle highlighted the first half as both teams came into the game intent on opening their account for the season.
The Tactix welcomed back Temalisi Fakahokotau from injury, the athletic defender having immediate impact with her strength in the air and ability to disrupt as she worked expertly with fellow defender Zoe Walker to give the home team the early edge.
The Stars got back on level terms, midcourter Fa’amu Ioane also coming back from injury, adding presence and intensity in helping the visitors creep out to an 11-9 lead at the first break.
Both teams used the new substitution rule liberally, new combinations a feature on the resumption of play. However, it was a messy second stanza that followed as the lead changed hands several times.
Neither side was able to wrest control, errors and turnovers becoming a feature in a low-scoring spectacle.
Both ends of the court produced strong defensive outings, getting the ball into the hands of their shooters proving a difficult mission. There were too many soft turnovers, the Tactix in particular, missing numerous opportunities to forge a lead.
On the back of strong defensive play, the Stars held their narrow advantage when taking a 21-19 lead into the main break.
The combined defensive efforts of Sulu Fitzpatrick, Leana de Bruin and Kayla Cullen paid off handsomely for the Stars as the visitors produced an influential third stanza. The trio stopped the Tactix attacking line in its tracks, picking off a number of intercepts and deflections.
The home team shooters struggled to respond while at the other end, Malia Vaka and Fiji import Afa Rusivakula had no such problems. The visiting shooters took advantage of every extra opportunity, slotting seven unanswered goals in a row to hand momentum the Stars’ way.
Restricting the Tactix to just eight goals while scoring 15 of their own propelled the Stars into a 36-27 lead at the last break and on their way to notching their first win.