Stars shine to post second win of the season
Picking up just their second win of the season, the Northern Stars completed a round of upsets when tipping up the WBOP Magic 56-51 in Auckland tonight.
With more bonus points than any other team in the competition, the Stars have come close on numerous occasions but were worthy of pocketing the two points on offer after fending off everything the Magic threw at them.
There were two key figures at either of the court for the Stars, in shooter Maia Wilson who slotted 42 goals from 46 attempts in a fine all-round game, and young custodian Kate Burley. Starting the season as a training partner, Burley has made the most of her elevation with another impressive outing after grabbing a strong tally of turnover ball with her aerial ability and slick footwork.
With an equal number of shots on goal, the Magic did not make the best use of their possession and were unable to shake the spirited resolve of the Stars.
There was a little tinkering from the home side when replacement player Anna Thompson got the nod at centre and Holly Fowler reverted to the more familiar position of goal defence for the Stars.
The Magic suffered an unexpected blow when a foot injury suffered during the warm-up ruled in-form captain Casey Kopua out of the match, her position at goal defence being picked up by Katherine Levien.
The home side recovered from a slow start to provide the entertainment with an impressive showing during the opening stanza. As she has done for most of the season, Wilson proved the reliable anchor under the Stars hoop with a stellar return.
There was also plenty of action at the other end, with rangy goalkeeper Burley making a storming start in grabbing three intercepts and three deflections. She was ably supported by the fleet-footed Fowler in guiding the Stars to a 16-12 lead at the first break.
The Magic started well enough on the resumption, wing attack Ariana Cable-Dixon’s strong driving play helping open up the attacking spaces. With the visitors closing the gap, scoring off turnovers became crucial and the Stars proved more adept in this phase.
The experience of captain Grace Kara and Thompson in the engine room, ensured calm heads for the Stars on attack, the pair shining with their accurate and quick release feeds.
Magic delivered several mini runs to threaten on occasion but the visitors were generally laboured on attack and unable to break the shackles.
The home side broke out to a six-goal advantage midway through the stanza for the biggest lead of the game, the Magic, however, able to keep things on an even keel when the Stars retained their four-goal buffer to lead 30-26 at the main break.
With centre Samantha Sinclair leading the charge, it was a determined Magic who returned for the start of the second half, six straight goals getting the visitors back into the lead for the first time since the opening stages.
However, they were unable to take the initiative, the Stars surging back with a flourish to build another handy six-goal lead.
Two new goal attacks, Ellen Halpenny for the Stars, and Amorangi Malesala for the visitors were injected in the latter stages as momentum went back and forth. Posting the last three goals helped the Magic trim the Stars lead to 40-37 at the last turn.