Undefeated Ajax cleans up in final

The Ajax players and supporters celebrate after winning the Dunedin women’s club basketball...
The Ajax players and supporters celebrate after winning the Dunedin women’s club basketball competition at the Edgar Centre last night. Ajax downed South Pac Magic 60-47 in the final. Front row from left: Hudson Frost (5), Kate Edwards, Kaylee Bezett, Nicole Ruske, Aleisha Ruske, Olivia O'Neill, Hanna Gallaher and Bex Tremlow. Back row from left: Danielle Frost, Brieana Shea, Zoe Richards, Natalie Ivamy, Bronwyn Kjestrup, Todd Marshall and Paul Tremlow. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Ajax had one more test and it emerged victorious.

The side completed an undefeated season at the Edgar Centre last night, claiming the women's club basketball title in the process.

It led the whole way as it beat the South Pac Magic 60-47 in the final.

League most valuable player Zoe Richards led the way with 23 points, giving her team an early buffer which proved crucial.

While the Magic made a handful of runs, Ajax responded every time its lead threatened to evaporate.

Both sides made a nervy start but Richards got Ajax going.

She scored its opening nine points, using her footwork to get clean looks around the hoop before splashing a three-pointer to force the Magic into a timeout at 9-3.

The Magic began to gets its bigs touches and it pulled back to 11-7.

Richards added another two points, before picking up her second foul.

She exited the game late in the first quarter having scored all but two of Ajax's points.

It had potential to be a key moment for the Magic.

Initially it was.

The Magic ate into the deficit and brought it back to 17-15 on a Te Araroa Sopoaga (13 points) step-through lay-up.

But Ajax hit back with a run of its own.

A three-point play to Nicole Ruske (10 points) sparked its offence and eight quick points to Hanna Gallaher gave Ajax a 30-19 halftime lead.

Significantly, it did that while protecting Richards on the bench the entire second quarter.

The Magic hit back once more after the break with two baskets to Natalie Visger (16 points).

But Richards responded with two of her own to restore the double-digit lead.

It held that margin until a Millie Simpson lay-up through contact sparked the Magic on a run which took it back to 39-35.

But again Ajax answered.

A baseline jumper from Natalie Ivamy stemmed the flow, before a three-pointer from Olivia O'Neill seconds before the buzzer restored Ajax's double-digit lead at 46-35.

The Magic stayed in touch throughout the fourth.

But every time it threatened to pull in the lead Ajax responded, Richards and Ruske both coming up with key plays.

The margin stood at eight with three minutes to go, but the Magic could not execute to make it a two-possession game.

Ajax hit its free throws to close out the win.

The win avenged its loss to the Magic in last year's final.

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