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Magic halt Mystics winning run in extra time thriller

Magic halt Mystics winning run in extra time thriller

On the back foot early, a rejuvenated Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic stormed back in style to pip the MG Mystics 57-56 in an extra time thriller in Hamilton on Sunday.

Rebounding from a 19-goal loss last week, the Magic were again staring down the barrel when surrendering a 10-goal deficit at the first quarter break against the Mystics but from there, produced a courageous response to win the following three-quarters.

It was the second biggest quarter time deficit during which a team has gone on to win an ANZ Premiership match, the Steel prevailing over the Tactix after being down by 13 at the first quarter break in 2019.

That left the scores tied up at 53-all at fulltime, resulting in two three-minute spells of extra time. In a nail-biter, the home side nudged to a one-goal advantage after the first three minutes. 

With a minute to go and the scores level, the Magic secured the all-important turnover with captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio nailing the winning penalty shot with time up.

Finding her feet after the opening quarter, Ekenasio was an immense figure through the remainder of the match, taking control of the attack line while sinking shots from all points of the circle as the Magic got their season back on track.

For the previously unbeaten Mystics, there will be plenty of reflection in how this one got away.

The visitors were quickly into their work, making the best of openings with explosive midcourter Peta Toeava conducting play at will from the Mystics attack end. With impeccable timing and the ball seemingly on a string, Toeava was instrumental in providing the flair and flow with a steady stream of ball into shooter Grace Nweke.

The speed and accuracy of the Mystics through-court flow was a feature of the opening stanza, rocking the Magic, who had to work a lot harder and surviving on scraps.

At the defence end, the well-schooled trio of Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick ensured there was no let-up for the Magic attackers.

The signs looked ominous for the home side when the Mystics strode into the first break with a handy 19-9 lead.

Showing improved resilience, the Magic made a much better fist of the second stanza, finding more flow on attack and improved shooting returns. Ekenasio and her shooting partner Bailey Mes made better use of their opportunities with strong positional play, improved accuracy and solid rebounding.

There were some inaccuracies both ways but the Magic kept the Mystics honest to trim the margin to 32-25 at halftime.

The switch of experienced campaigner Claire Kersten, from centre to wing defence, and introduction of Georgie Edgecombe to centre, helped inspire the Magic to well and truly liven up the contest. 

With Kersten restricting the influence of Toeava, and the attackers showing strong driving play the Magic chipped away at the deficit. Mes found her range under the hoop while Ekenasio carried a big workload around the fringes as well as sinking a flurry of her trademark long bombs.

Inching ever-closer, the Magic ensured the contest would remain tight when finishing with a flourish, scoring four in a row to whittle the deficit to three when the Mystics took a 43-40 lead into the last turn.