Captain Watson leads the Tactix to inspiring win over the Stars
Leading by great example, The Good Oil Tactix captain Jane Watson took her team to their third victory of the season upsetting the Northern Stars, 49-46, in front of an appreciative home crowd in Christchurch.
Watson’s individual statistics from the match made impressive reading - five intercepts, seven deflections, and four rebounds – to be the obvious MVP of the game.
But more importantly, she inspired the rest of the Tactix to lift their team performance and shut down the Stars’ traditionally strong attack.
The Tactix led at every break, and although the Stars managed to win the last quarter by three and salvage a bonus point, the loss gave their standing on the third rung of the league ladder a decent wobble.
From the outset, the spirited Tactix defensive duo of Watson and Sophia Fenwick put the Stars’ No. 1 shooter Maia Wilson under terrific pressure.
At one point, Wilson took a tumble in the circle, and walked away gingerly on her ankle, but stayed on court for the quarter. Her goal attack Charlee Hodges absorbed the pressure better, rallying the Stars attack and regularly adding to their total.
The Tactix’ shooting star Ellie Bird made the most of her height advantage in the goal circle, again dominating the shooting. Nevertheless, she had to contend with some very close attention from Leana de Bruin, who was on-song with her intercepts (five for the match) and powerful deflections.
Although it was goal for goal for much of the quarter, the Tactix upped the ante on defence to lead 14-11 at the first break.
Wilson came off a few minutes into the second spell, replaced at goal shoot by Ellen Halpenny. A few minutes later, with the gap closed to two, Temepara Bailey brought her experience to the attacking end at wing attack for Mila Reuelu-Buchanan.
But the Tactix defence didn’t relent, with Charlotte Elley and Kimiora Poi turning the screws in the midcourt, and the difference slewed out to seven.
The Stars pulled back four goals in a row in the countdown to halftime, but still trailed, 25-21, going into the changing rooms.
But it was all Tactix from the restart, scoring five goals through some fine feeding from Samon Nathan, before the Stars added another to their total. Troubled by handling errors and very few options to work the ball into the shooting circle, the Stars struggled to make an impact up front.
Another Stars tactical change, with Kayla Cullen (playing her 100th combined national league match) moving from wing defence to goal defence, momentarily put some pressure on the Tactix attack.
Wilson returned to the court just before the third quarter, but by then the Tactix had stamped their control again, and went into the final break 37-31 in front.
Things started to look up for the Stars, with Bailey calling the shots, and Wilson and Halpenny finding their rhythm, closing to within four goals.
But that was pretty much as close as they would get, as the Tactix remained patient and consistent, barely putting a foot wrong.