Panthers crush Flames to secure grand final berth
Panthers have easily brushed aside Flames to keep their hopes of back-to-back women’s A-grade premierships alive, booking a place in tomorrow night’s grand final on the back of the emphatic 14-point result.
Ella Scamozzi and Jade Dimer returned to the Panthers line-up for Tuesday night’s preliminary final and, despite having the bare five players, Flames put up a strong fight in the opening half.
After their combined heroics last week, Indianna Weeden and Alyssa Ward were again at the front of the Flames’ charge, but Panthers slowly began to grow their lead as the first 20 minutes wore on.
Dimer’s presence was evident as she collected nine first-half points and guard Savannah Hill added six points to help Panthers to an eight-point advantage.
Flames were destined to have their fate decided on their long-range shooting, and after early success with Weeden, it proved to be their downfall.
They finished the first half successful in two of 12 attempts and it continued in a slow-moving second period.
Both sides struggled to sink baskets for the early part of the second half, but slowly the class of Panthers rose to the top as the margin ballooned towards 20 points.
Kayla Thomas began to have impact and Casey Griffiths provided great spark off the bench.
Flames’ shooting simply dried up as they missed 10 straight three-point attempts and scored three points in a miserable 15-minute period that effectively ended their season.
They may have finished with a flurry of points and Shianne Arthur ended their long-range drought on the buzzer, but Flames were no match for the reigning premiers, losing 36-50.
Ward was brilliant in a losing affair, hitting 17 points, but Weeden (9) could only manage one point after the break.
Thomas (10 points) had her moments, while Dimer was busy at either end and Scamozzi (6) moved well in her return from an ankle injury.
Panthers coach David Arthur said his side welcomed the return of their two key players with open arms ahead of the title decider.
“Both games we’ve lost to Magpies we haven’t had Ella or Jade,” he said.
“It was great to get them back.
“They are important to how we play given we lost a couple of girls this season.
“It’s always a big game with Magpies, and I think the difference with them in the last four games is that they’ve got a coach.
“If we can penetrate and reduce their shooting, find the right match-ups then we can win.”
It will be a replay of last season’s grand final tomorrow as Panthers chase back-to-back victories.
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