Stars reward captain Kara with turnaround victory
Led by captain Grace Kara in her milestone match, a re-energised Robinhood Northern Stars triumphed over The Good Oil Tactix, 49-43, to finish Round 2 of the ANZ Premiership.
Coming off a tough loss to the Pulse the night before, the Stars played like a completely different side, dominating in all thirds of the court to score their first win from three games this season.
The team put their turnaround down to a “boot up the bottom” and a tough captain’s run in the morning from former Silver Fern legend Temepara Bailey.
After a messy start by both sides, Te Paea Selby-Rickit made her intentions known for the Tactix – drilling the ball into her shooting partner Ellie Bird, and putting up some clean long-range shots.
Tactix goal keep Temalisi Fakahokotau was on the prowl and helped the Mainlanders to stay one step ahead.
But as the first quarter wore on, the Stars began to show more patience working the ball into their shooters. Kara, playing in her 150th national league game, led the attack with some fine precision passing – especially to Maia Wilson, who proved to be in stellar form under the hoop in her 50th game.
Right before the first break, a steal by Stars goal defence Kate Burley (who would earn MVP for the match with three intercepts) ensured the Northerners stayed ahead 13-12.
The second quarter belonged to the Stars, whose through court defence disrupted the Tactix; towards the end of the 14-minute spell, they scored seven goals on the fly.
A confident Jamie Hume provided great support to Wilson at goal attack, and on defence Burley and Storm Purvis forced the Tactix shooters to work tirelessly to get free for incoming ball.
The Tactix suffered another knockback when Watson left the court just before halftime, needing treatment for a bump to the knee.
The Stars built on their 26-18 lead at halftime, with another run of five. Leading 33-25, the Tactix made a change to their shooting circle - Jess Prosser coming on at goal attack as Bird went to the bench. Prosser, who’s worked her way up from the Beko League, made an impressive appearance, shooting six from six.
Down 37-29 at three-quarter time, the Tactix continued to switch their on-court seven. Watson returned to the court and rallied her side to a brief comeback. But the Stars poured on the intensity again, pulling out to nine, and Wilson continued to rule her circle, shooting 37 out of 40 for the game.