Dominant women’s sides to battle for title again

Nicole Ruske
Nicole Ruske
The powerhouses were both pushed, but pulled away in the end.

Ajax will meet the South Pac Magic in next week’s Dunedin women’s club basketball final for the sixth consecutive year.

Both claimed what were, in the end, comfortable victories, although they had to work for them in Tuesday’s semifinals.

The Magic beat the Falcons Dandelions 76-61 in the early game.

It was a Magic side without key injured duo Millie Simpson and Fay Fualau and initially that looked as if it would have an impact.

The Dandelions shot out to an early lead, as Annabelle Ring (23 points) scored nine of their first 14 points.

However, the Magic hit back and drew level at 18-18 at the end of the first quarter.

It began finding its bigs, who helped it into the lead.

Natalie Visger (13 points) scored six of its first eight points after the break, before a strong finish to the quarter from Lisa Wallbutton (12 points) helped it to 36-28 at halftime.

The Dandelions stayed in touch early in the third quarter.

But the Magic again finished strongly as left-handed forward Letitia Mullaly (17 points) began getting to the hoop to propel the Magic to a 60-48 lead.

While the Dandelions did not go away, they were unable to haul in the deficit.

The Magic began pushing in transition and guard Georgia Te Au (13 points) attacked well there to help seal the win.

In the late game, a barrage of second-half three-point shooting helped Ajax to an 80-59 win over Varsity.

Nicole Ruske poured in five three-pointers in a 30-point display, including a devastating third-quarter stint which took the game away from the students.

She gave Ajax its first separation, helping it to a 23-16 lead early in the second quarter and forcing Varsity into a timeout.

But Varsity hit back with a run of its own and took the lead to force Ajax into a timeout of its own.

Ajax led 33-29 at halftime and from there it pulled away.

Ruske hit three triples in a run in which she scored 13 consecutive points for Ajax.

Tara Clement (16 points) kept Varsity in touch as she hit from deep too.

Hannah Matehaere (20 points) hit a three-pointer late in the quarter to help Ajax to a 58-47 lead at the end of the third spell.

From there she hit three more triples of her own, extending the lead and securing the defending champion a final spot.

In the fifth and sixth playoff the Andy Bay Falcons beat South Pac OGHS 50-43.

Alexa Duff had 15 points for the Falcons, the 14-year-old again showing she is one of Otago basketball’s best prospects.

Abby Harris had 18 points for OGHS.


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