Tactix deliver in must-win clash with Magic
Desperate for the win, the Trident Homes Tactix pulled out a defining performance to outclass AVIS Magic 65-56 in Christchurch on Saturday to stay in reach of the top three.
Hanging by a thread to make the cut for the Finals Series, the Tactix returned from three straight losses to produce a strong must-win response, achieving the desired result and keeping their hopes alive.
With the Magic out of the running for the Finals Series but wanting to finish their season strongly and with nothing to lose, there was plenty on the line for the home side.
A big second quarter tipped the weight of possession in the Tactix favour, the home side quickly finding their feet and going on to deliver their best all-round outing of the season as all parts of their court fired in unison.
With their season on the line, the Tactix had double reasons to push for the result with coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek lining up for her 100th courtside match at the helm of the team.
There were no surprises in the Magic starting seven with versatile midcourter Claire Kersten filling the centre role and Charlotte Elley, up against her old team, slotting in at wing defence.
Both teams opened up with furious defensive efforts, the home side getting their hand on extra ball through the non-stop speed and hunting abilities of wing attack Kimiora Poi. The Tactix midcourt was particularly effective in shutting down the Magic’s attacking options, where they struggled mightily to find space and penetration.
The movement and timing of Tactix shooter Aliyah Dunn also proved a prosperous option. Stretching out to a six-goal lead, the Tactix had that trimmed when taking a 15-12 lead at the first break where both teams had 100 percent shooting returns.
The Tactix couldn’t have asked for a better start on the resumption, scoring the first four to set them on their way for a dominant second stanza. An 8-1 start for the home side prompted changes for the Magic with Georgie Edgecombe coming off the bench and into centre while Kersten moved to wing defence in the hope of slowing the Tactix speed on attack.
Scooting out to a 10-goal advantage, the confidence levels were evident in the Tactix camp, their attacking enterprise where Laura Malcolm and Poi delivered a slick service to impressive shooting duo Dunn and Te Paea Selby-Rickit.
At the other end, the defensive pressure of Karin Burger and Jane Watson had the better of Magic shooters Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio in and all-Silver Ferns circle.
Both sets of shooters returned near perfect returns with just one miss from the Magic but with more opportunities, the Tactix completed a rampant 15 minutes with a healthy 35-24 lead at the main break.
Edgecombe was at the heart of a strong showing from the Magic during a high-scoring and competitive third quarter. Tall and fast, Edgecombe provided the impetus for the Magic to find their flow and ball speed. That complimented the movement and accuracy of Ekenasio and Mes, who shone when in full flight.
Amy Christophers was injected at goalkeeper for the Magic in a bid to unsettle the dominance of Dunn and Selby-Rickit who barely put a foot wrong in an impressive outing under the hoop.
The Tactix were quick to shut down the Magic’s mini run and while the visitors took the third quarter spoils by two goals, still had a mountain to climb when the Tactix led 50-41 at the last turn.