Saturday 23rd March @ Ray Owen Stadium
The Kalamunda Eastern Suns are through to their first grand final appearance during the club’s six-year history in the women’s State Basketball League, following a win against the Southwest Slammers.
The young Suns side were triumphant in a thrilling 92 – 77 win over last year’s champions on Saturday night.
Kalamunda appeared to always have control in a game that saw Southwest with the lead just once, with a Dannielle Smith basket for the first score of the game.
The Suns quickly replied with forward Sarah-Jane Knox getting fouled on her way to the ring, making the double and heading to the free throw line to set up a three-point play.
In a high-tempo game, which saw both teams trading basket for basket early, Kalamunda made Southwest pay for defensive errors.
Southwest coach Darren Austin knew his team had to make adjustments defensively after losing the first game of the three game series the following week.
“Unfortunately we just had one or two people that got away from our defensive rules and they made us hurt,” Austin said.
“Once they (Kalamunda) get out and get on a run, they’re pretty hard to peg back.”
Coach Austin’s defensive plan was not enough to stop Suns guard Melissa Moyle who led her team in scoring with 23 points and six assists.
Moyle had support from import Jennie Rintala with 22 points and 10 rebounds, along with captain Ajay Jones who added 18 points and five assists for the Suns
Jones praised her team for playing their own style of basketball in the historic win.
“We had great off-ball movement which worked well under the basket,” she said.
“I’m really happy at how we went and we trained well this week and it showed on the court.”
Suns came out firing taking a lead at the first quarter break of 12 points.
The second quarter did not start any better for the Slammers, who gave the ball up twice which equaled a Jennie Rintala two point basket to open the quarter.
Southwest failed to create scoring opportunities, until a Donnell Wallam two-pointer gave some relief.
However, another bad pass turnover forced Coach Austin to call a timeout.
Austin’s timeout seemed to have worked, with Slammers import Kim Sitzmann coming out and hitting three of her six three-pointers throughout the remainder of the quarter.
Sitzmann was Southwest’s biggest standout with 30 points, nine rebounds and three steals and helped pegged the score line back to 12 going into half time.
The Slammer’s looked hopeful coming into the third with guard Lauren Jeffers getting an easy drive to the basket and two points to start the half.
Kalamunda again responded with Ajay Jones hitting a long three.
The game continued in this fashion with Slammers scores being answered by a Suns score, be it a two or three pointer, Kalamunda always had a reply.
Southwest “upped” the pressure, throwing zone, traps and full court presses at the in-sync Suns side, but it was not enough with the Suns coming out 15-point victors.
The Suns will meet season favourites Wanneroo Wolves in the grand final, which captain Ajay Jones says will be a very tough game.
“We haven’t beaten them this season and we’re really looking forward to it.
Article by Kate Fielding
Photo by Mick Cronin