Magic, Varsity prevail in top three matches

Both wins were convincing in the end, but neither were comfortable until the final quarter.

The South Pac Magic beat the Falcons Dandelions 79-53 in their top three match on Tuesday night, in the first week of women’s club basketball’s split round-robin.

Meanwhile, Varsity claimed a 73-55 win over South Pac OGHS, taking a step towards securing the final place in the playoffs.

The league has split into a top three and bottom three, the top group playing each other for playoff seedings and the bottom trio competing for the fourth semifinal spot.

It was a heavily depleted Dandelions side which took the court, although the Magic — which has lost just one game this year — was missing several key players too.

But the Magic’s extra numbers was perhaps the biggest factor, winning the final quarter 25-5 as fatigue set in on the Dandelions side.

The Magic led 40-26 at halftime as Millie Simpson (17 points) and Fay Fualau (16 points) did most of the damage early.

However, the Dandelions remained in touch through key duo Annabelle Ring (23 points) and Dre Whaanga (18 points).

They helped spark a third-quarter comeback and reduced the deficit to 54-48 at the end of the third quarter.

At that point the Dandelions’ scoring dried up, while Magic guard duo Stirling Walker-Pitman and Georgia Te Au (both 15 points) started attacking in transition to combine for 19 fourth-quarter points.

In the bottom three game, Varsity trailed until early in the third quarter and took until midway through the fourth quarter to give itself a buffer.

OGHS led 12-2 early on and carried on to 18-10 as Libby Briggs and Oceana Campbell had seven first-quarter points each.

Meanwhile, Varsity struggled to hit from deep, while OGHS’ pack defence made getting to the hoop difficult.

Varsity guard Elly Koehler (15 points) hit a three-pointer just before halftime to close the gap to 26-21, before Rosie Davison and Petra Sparks began getting to the hoop for the students.

Two more three-pointers from Koehler put Varsity ahead, but OGHS stayed in touch notably via Briggs (17 points) and Abby Harris (11 points).

Varsity began getting to the line late in the third quarter to lead 48-45 at the end of the third quarter, before its shots began to fall in the fourth quarter to pull away.

The league now takes a two-week break for university holidays.

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