South Pac Magic seals place against old foe in final

The South Pac Magic will get to defend its title next week.

It claimed the second spot in the women’s club basketball final on Tuesday at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin.

A 60-39 win over Varsity gives it the opportunity to line up against undefeated Ajax, which beat the defending champion Magic to claim the first spot a week ago.

It will be the fifth year in a row the teams have contested the final, each having won two over the past four years.

The Magic’s dominance through the middle of the game was key in claiming its semifinal win.

It led 12-10 at the end of an even first quarter, but extended that to 27-17 at halftime and 48-31 at the end of the third quarter.

Magic guard Te Araroa Sopoaga was a constant threat and piled on 20 points, while its front line crashed the glass effectively.

Lisa Wallbutton (12 points) and Natalie Visger (seven points) were key in that regard, not only creating second-chance opportunities but denying Varsity transition chances.

Back-to-back threes to Kylie Maihi and Visger helped the Magic extend its 10-point gap, giving it control of the game just after halftime.

It held a comfortable buffer, although Varsity threatened to pull back through the middle of the third quarter.

Holly McCleery (11 points) drained two three-pointers and Alex Bennett found her way to the line to create a mini-run.

But the Magic stemmed the flow to keep the margin in double-digits and then locked in to close the game out.

The final is scheduled for Tuesday next week.

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