IT was an unprecedented season as the ANZ Premiership came to a halt after Round 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but later returned in June to round out the remainder of the season, bar Round 10. The season saw plenty of intriguing battles as teams plied their trade across the court in hope to work their way up the ladder. Draft Central takes a look back at the year that was, with the Northern Mystics narrowly missing out on the finals after what was a strong 2020 season.
Ladder position: 3rd
Captain: Phoenix Karaka
Overall season review:
Despite being struck with injury early, as goaler Bailey Mes was ruled out of the season, the Northern Mystics piled on the pressure throughout the season to become a serious finals contender. A disappointing end to the season saw those hopes dashed but that did not discount the impressive performances they put out throughout the home and away season. The defensive combination of new-comer Sulu Fitzpatrick and captain Phoenix Karaka worked wonders as the duo were renowned for their impressive defensive pressure, ball hunting ability and physicality. Through the midcourt youngster Tayla Earle elevated her game throughout the season, taking the hard drive to the top of the circle and plying her trade in defence however it was Peta Toeava that was the real barometer for the Mystics. She was able to single-handedly change the course of a game with her speed of release, dynamic footwork and constant attack to drive the ball forward. One area the Mystics struggled with throughout the season however was the goal attack position with the likes of Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes often rotating through in hope to provide some scoreboard pressure. Although they did not finish the season on a high, there were plenty of positives to take out of the season as a whole, after just narrowly missing out on finals.
It is hard to go past the efforts of teenage shooting prodigy Grace Nweke who was solid as ever under the post for the Northern Mystics. The goal shooter did not skip a beat often leading the way under the post with her strong holds and sheer scoreboard dominance. She was often a lone hand in the goal circle left to fend off both defenders but that did not seem to faze the youngster who took every encounter in her stride. Nweke put on a masterclass with her aerial presence second to none while her footwork also impressed, consistently able to edge herself closer to the post. Her ability to command ball and withstand the contest in the air to strongly reel in the ball was a testament to her development throughout the season, as she was a lynchpin in attack for the Mystics.
With the goal attack position up for grabs it was Filda Vui that brought the intensity and commitment. While she did not get a wealth of court time the youngster plied her trade effectively and most importantly proved that she was not afraid to take the game on. Vui made her way onto the list midway through the season and showcased her impressive footspeed and spatial awareness to continuously deliver ball into Nweke on the hold. Her injection of speed paired flawlessly with Toeava in the attacking third while her drive along the baseline also opened up the goal circle for the Mystics. Having played in the Beko League with Nweke the combination between the two was strong often showcased through their crafty shooter to shooter interplay while Vui also highlighted her skill to shoot from range.