South Adelaide Panthers 57 | Eastern Mavericks 67
The Mavericks did just enough to see off a persistent South Adelaide, scraping home by 10 points, despite leading by over 30 points during the second half.
It was the Panthers that initially started the match with good energy, aiming to quell Eastern’s run by pressing up on the ball carrier and double teaming at every opportunity.
This did work briefly, but the Mavericks were able to think through their offence and get some easy points over the top.
Alex Wilson was at her lively best with eight first quarter points, proving deadly accurate from the line- converting all of her chances.
As South struggled to penetrate the arc with any conviction, Eastern was firmly in control taking a 12 point lead into the first change.
The second quarter progressed in a similar fashion, as the Panthers couldn’t get their passing game into swing, working more as individuals than a cohesive team- with just three assists compared to the Mavericks ten for the half.
Despite scoring just seven points for the quarter, it was South that actually put up more shots but a paltry 18% conversion rate was really hampering their efforts.
In stark contrast, Eastern looked sharp and swung the ball effectively with speed. Kedeisha Kartinyeri was causing headaches, driving hard into the key and finishing off some nice moves.
Both she and Wilson had 12 points to the half, as the lead pushed out to a worrying 27 points.
As the Mavericks continued to force turnovers and travels, the match threatened to get blown out.
However, South started to find a new gear and slowly began to claw back the margin. Teonna Campbell (14 points, nine rebounds and six steals) began to assert herself, finding space within the key- culminating with a classy one-handed jumper. Phoebe Wittwer-Smith (14 points, 11 boards) was also showing positive signs, battling hard under the rim and winning some crucial boards.
When Maddie Cunningham (12 points) picked Kartinyeri’s pocket, South had cut the margin to less than 20.
It ultimately proved too little, too late for South, as the clock became another enemy- with Eastern outlasting the plucky Panthers side.
Whilst it would be pleasing for South’s coaches to see a response like that, when there is little to play for, they’ll be left wondering why they have struggled to string together consistent performances over this season.
Conversely, the Mavericks found a way to win ugly- holding firm late on, after worryingly switching off and allowing South back into the match.
Wilson was again Eastern’s best, with a 23 point, 11 rebound double-double. She was nicely complemented by the tireless Kartinyeri (17 points, five assists, five boards) and Shayde Quintrell, 11 rebounds and seven points.
Going into the final minor round, we await a tantalising clash between the Mavericks and Tigers to decide who will earn the all-important top spot and be in the box seat to take out the championship.