Sa South Theside Flyers won an impressive WNBL season by beating Fire 99-82 in a spectacular final in Townsville.
- The Flyers led by just two points at half-time, before firing into the final two quarters.
- Lilani Mitchell praised the flyer with 31 points
- This is the club’s first WNBL championship since it was republished as the sideside flyers.
The Flyers, who completed the regular season at the top of the standings, were hit hard by fire in the first two quarters, closing the score 22-22 on the first break.
Leading 48-46 at the end of the second term, the Flyers began to take control of the season referee when they opened up a half-point advantage in the third quarter.
They then led 71-61 on the final break, recording their winning streak before putting up a strong performance in the fourth quarter.
Lilani Mitchell, who won the Rachel Sporan medal as the final MVP, was brilliant at 31 points for the Flyers, while Rebecca Cole had 22 points.
Liz Cambridge overcame her early trouble to post 14 points for the Flyers.
Flyers captain Jenna Oh said the victory would ease some of the pain of losing to the capital in last season’s impressive final series.
“She is OK,” he told ABC Sport.
“We came so close last year. So to cross today’s hurdle, 2020 has been a rollercoaster for everyone.
The victory marked the end of a WNBL season that was narrowly held due to the coronavirus epidemic.
All eight teams joined the North Queensland hub, with players from overseas competitions forced to quarantine before the start of the season.
“It’s been 55 days, it’s been a marathon,” Cambridge said.
“It’s the biggest peak of the basketball season I’ve ever felt. It’s just a relief. We did it.”
This is the club’s first WNBL title since it was republished as the Sightside Flyers before the 2019/20 season.
It won three championships when known as the Dandenong Rangers.
Michelle steps up for the flyers
The Flyers suffered an initial setback when Cambridge was sent off just three minutes into the first quarter following his second personal error.
The Opels star did not return to court until the beginning of the third quarter.
Cambridge’s absence in the first half forced the Flyers to make a significant strategic change, and it was Michelle who stepped up to the plate.
Mitchell blocked five-six-six-point attempts in the first half to maintain his lead in the match, and Cambridge scored 12 points in the third quarter and opened the game wide.
Starfire guard Sheila Hale, who scored 30 and 28 points in the final series, was retained by the Flyers.
The 19-year-old finished with just 11 points on a four-of-18 shootout, with Lauren Nicholson (20 points) left to fire on the score.
The flyers were given a big boost before the game when they were cleared to play after recovering faster than expected from a knee injury.
Ohio finished with five points from 17 minutes of action.
Cambridge and O’Aa helped the Bullen Boomers win the 2010/2011 WNBL title, and the pair were in tears after the game.
“I sent Jena a text message back in March,” Cambridge said. I saw a photo of us celebrating Boomers Grand Final 10 years ago and I sent it to him and I said, ‘Jenna, I want this again’, “Cambridge said.
“I hadn’t even thought about signing yet, I just wanted that moment with Jenna again.
“I’m glad I got to do it again with him.”
ABC / Aap