February 22, 2023 | Melbourne Boomers news

The Deakin Melbourne Boomers faced a red-hot Southside Flyers, which came into the game winning five of their last six, and were the only team to be unbeaten against the Boomers, having won both games earlier this season. The blockbuster was ultimately also a battle for a home semi-final and second spot on the ladder as Finals loom.

Kristy Wallace and Tiffany Mitchell got the Boomers off to a hot start on offence at the State Basketball Centre, but the Flyers we equal to the task and poured in the points to gain an early lead  Cayla George levelled scores midway through the quarter, but the Flyers continued to push the pace and quickly put a six-point buffer between themselves and their cross-town rivals. A timeout by Coach Chris Lucas did nothing to stem the bleeding, as the Flyers went out by 10. New recruit, Leilani Mitchell, checked in for her first minutes as a Boomer at the two-minute mark, and a late-quarter surge by Melbourne cut the deficit to six – 26-20 Flyers at the quarter.

The fast-paced offence continued in the second as both teams traded baskets, but the Flyers forced a timeout as they broke the deadlock and jumped out to a nine-point lead. Southside showed signs of slowing down offensively, however the Boomers were unable to take advantage as they struggled to find the bottom of the basket, shooting just 36% from the field compared to over 60% for the Flyers. Tiffany Mitchell got going offensively, but so did the Flyers, and the lead ballooned to 14 late in the quarter. Southside were dominant on the glass, gaining second-chance opportunities and capitalising to enjoy a comfortable 51-34 lead at the half.

Wallace opened the scoring in the third from mid-range, and pushed pace soon after to earn a trip to the line in an attempt to set the tone and right the ship. Southside showed no signs of slowing down, and the lead was soon out to 20 as the Boomers looked listless. Miela Goodchild did her best to gain any kind of momentum for the Boomers, and Penina Davidson was a bright spot in the paint, however the Flyers continued to grab offensive rebounds to keep the lead large at 19 – 66-47 Flyers after three.

Coach Lucas went back to his starters to begin the fourth, and George provided an early spark from deep, however the Southside defence stifled any momentum gained. Both Tiffany Mitchell and Wallace fouled out, leaving the bench to play out the game, which could not end soon enough for the Boomers. The Flyers eventually ran out comfortable winners, 81-67, to sweep the Boomers 3-0 on the season and cement themselves in second spot on the ladder with only 10 days left in the regular season.

The loss is a blow for the Boomers, which are now unable to move up the ladder and must play away during the upcoming semi-finals which commence on March 8. Southside will play top-team, Townsville, next Wednesday, with this result sure to have a say in Melbourne’s opponent for the first round of the Cygnett WNBL Finals.

The Boomers have no time for self-pity as they must head to Canberra to play the Capitals in 72 hours on Saturday night. The team then returns to Melbourne eight days later for a March five clash with the Sydney Flames in their final home game of the season. Tickets are available by clicking here.