IN both teams’ final game of the home and away season, it was the Northern Stars that claimed the win over Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by 19 goals (65-46). It was a one-sided affair as the Stars came out with a point to prove after dropping all the way down the ladder and missing finals.
Caitlin Bassett picked up where she left off hitting the scoreboard within the first 20 seconds of the game for the Magic meanwhile up the other end of the court it was Jamie Hume that carried her hot form into the round with a beautiful long bomb. An early deflection from Lisa Mather around circle edge gifted possession to the Stars as the home side opened up an early lead. The first few minutes of the term was riddled with ball handling errors and uncharacteristic turnovers. Anna Harrison was proving to be a nuisance in the goal circle for the Magic with the long limbed defender picking up intercepts and deflections aplenty. Maia Wilson started with a point to prove with the goal shooter finding some good space inside the ring making the Magic pay for their turnovers. Six goals in a row from the Stars allowed them to open up a five-goal lead with the momentum well and truly favouring them.
Sam Winders’ never-say-die attitude well and truly came to the fore, with the centre streaming through for an intercept and rewarded for her efforts up the other end of the court thanks to Khiarna Wiliams scoring the first goal of the game. If it was not Harrison competing in the air, it was Elle Temu that came up big with the goal keeper using her outside arm to sway ball away. The Stars defence was up and about early forcing Bassett high and out of her comfort zone. Hume was running riot against Erena Mikaere using her speed and drive to receive ball in the circle and most importantly score as the lead ballooned out to six goals. The Magic managed to stem the bleeding momentarily with Bassett upping the ante inside the circle but the Stars still had control of the match heading into quarter time up by seven goals.
Looking for something new in attack, Chiara Semple made her way onto the court for the Magic, and while it did not immediately go to plan with Harrison blocking the shot, she followed up and got the job done. Gina Crampton was providing a real spark around circle edge for the Stars with her quick hands and dynamic movement while Wilson seemed to go off the boil after her strong start. Temalisi Fakahoktau was injected into the game to replace Georgia Tong as the lead extended out to nine goals. The Stars went back to basics in attack utilising the the angles around circle edge. Every time the Magic looked like pushing forward the Stars found a way to win ball back with Mather using her acceleration to full effect.
The Stars pushed out to a 10-goal lead and with that the Magic made a host of changes with Winders swinging back to wing defence as Tori Kolose came on in centre. Monica Falkner came entered the game in goal shooter for the Stars and did not skip a beat instantly in on the action. She was put under all sorts of pressure but managed to stay composed and add to the Stars 11-goal lead. Grace Kara was struggling to find her rhythm in attack for the Magic with the wing attack well covered every step of the way by Mather while Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was also imposing herself in defence and attack with her ability to scrap for the loose ball.
The Stars made a change in the goal shooter role once again as Wilson re-entered the contest while defensively Harrison continued to be a menace coming up for a huge intercept. Things were falling apart for the Magic as the Stars steadily picked away at their structures with their silky ball movement and constant pressure enabling them to capitalise. The Stars were humming in all aspects of the court creating a 16-goal lead with Hume dominating to post meaning the Magic needed to find something to spark them back into action with the midcourt bibs thrown around once again. The messiness of the game started to get a bit out of control with missed shots aplenty and turnovers left, right and centre stopping any type of fluidity across the court.
The Magic started to rally with the changes starting to come together as they reduced the deficit from 14 goals to 10 within a blink of an eye. Semple was finding some nice space as Georgie Edgecombe was proving to be a key contributor in wing defence. Fakahokotau and Mikaere were putting some real pressure on the shot but the Stars goalers held their nerve to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Up by 17 goals the Stars were eager to apply more scoreboard pain with Harrison impressing with her go-go gadget like arms to regain possession for her side. The Stars were working like a well-oiled machine in attack with the Magic unable to quell the influence of the home side as they run away with a convincing win. It was a disappointing final game for Magic coach Amigene Metcalfe as her side simply had no answers for a rampaging Stars outfit.
Bassett finished with 32 goals from 35 attempts while Semple relished her court time nailing 12 goals at 80 per cent. Wilson had a slightly better day at the office for the Stars converting 17 goals from 29 attempts. Hume continued her hot form with her 26 goals while Falkner found her groove finishing with 20 from 28 at 71 per cent. Crampton was crafty around circle edge amassing 24 goal assists as Winders continued her charge for the Magic with 10 goal assists. Defensively Harrison was an imposing force collecting a whopping eight intercepts and five gains. Temu was also in fine form down back racking up five intercepts and three gains. Meanwhile Fakahokotau and Mikaere combined for six deflections and five gains.