The Mission Queensland Firebirds pulled off a dramatic victory over the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, hanging on the win 55-54 in Rotorua on Monday night. Craigie Mac reports.
With their season on the line, the Firebirds had to play one of their most perfect games to get over the top New Zealand side.
Shooting around 95% for the entire match, and displaying some outstanding full court defence, they took the early lead and were ahead 19-14 at quarter’s end.
The Magic came back to draw level with the Firebirds in the second, but the girls dug deep and took a handy three goal buffer into the main break.
A see-sawing third quarter saw the margin range from six to two goals and back again, always in the Firebirds favour, until our girls finally led 43-38 at the last change.
The final term, was one of the most gripping I have seen all season, with the margin closing to just one goal with just over a minute remaining.
Nova’s favourite, Sarah Wall, was helped from the court with 50 seconds remaining, following a knee injury, bringing an untested Laura Scherian to the court for her first run in the ANZ Championship.
The girls then held on for the dying seconds to come away one goal victors.
An amazing result, which now bumps our girls up to fifth spot, just one game behind fourth and with a healthy win/loss percentage.
This is great news as the Firebirds now have probably the easiest run home possible, taking on all three of the bottom teams, while the other teams chasing a finals berth have some pretty tough matches ahead.
The win we had to have, now let’s bring it home with a wet sail.
Craigie Mac’s player of the match: Sarah Sparkles Wall – Was in everything. Was such a physical presence, the Magic tried three opponents on her. Probably Wallzy’s best game this season.
Craigie Mac’s benchwarmer of the week: Laura Scherian – At only 167cm tall, she might be mistaken for a school girl on court. Terrifying to have your very first run with only a minute to go and the margin at one goal, she was as cool as a cucumber (although I suspect it may have been over all too quick to really sink in!) Nice job, squirt.