March 2, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Perth Lynx vice-captain Amy Atwell is in some blistering form but all she is focused on is that one more win her team needs to make the WNBL Grand Final ahead of Game 2 at home to the Townsville Fire.

Whether it’s coming up against former captain Sami Whitcomb, trying to eliminate the defending champions who they lost to a season ago or whatever outside noise there is, it’s a fully focused Atwell heading into Sunday’s semi-final Game 2 at Bendat Basketball Centre.

The Lynx are just one win away from reaching a second WNBL Grand Final in three seasons on the back of the Thursday night 88-87 Game 1 victory against Townsville at Townsville Entertainment Centre.

Atwell put together another standout performance in that win on her way to 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals on the back of knocking down 4/7 from behind the three-point line.

That was on the back of being named to the All-WNBL Second Team but all she is focused on now is helping to Lynx get that one extra win to book in a Grand Final place against either the Southside Flyers or Melbourne Boomers.

Sole focus on job at hand

There might be plenty of other storylines that could be a distraction or that Atwell keeps getting asked about like coming up against Whitcomb who has joined Townsville this season after being captain of the Lynx as recently as 12 months ago.

However, all Atwell is worrying about what needs to be done to win Sunday’s Game 2 in front of the home fans at Bendat Basketball Centre with a Grand Final spot the reward if they can do it.

“I don’t think it plays any bigger of a part against any opponent no matter who it is,” Atwell said.

“We’re coming home with one win under our belt and are going to do anything we can to win another one at home. It’s finals time and we’re going to throw everything out there anyway, it doesn’t matter who is on the other team.”

Dealing with hostile opposition crowd

Looking back to Thursday night’s Game 1 victory in Townsville by a point and Atwell was proud of how the Lynx got the job done despite the raucous home crowd for the Fire working against them.

That might have played a part in the Lynx going 1/7 late in the game at the foul line or with some of the other missed shots, but Atwell is glad they’ll have their own fans behind them now on Sunday.

“I left three free-throws up there in the last quarter, which is really fun, and I think there was six back-to-back that we missed and in finals on the road those are the things that win you games,” Atwell said.

“The crowd definitely plays a part in that and you start over thinking a lot when you’re standing there on the free-throw line and everyone is screaming at the top of their lungs at you.”


Getting out of Townsville with the win

Overall Atwell was just glad to get out of Townsville with the win and is hoping they don’t have to return for a Game 3 now.

“It’s tough playing here because the crowd gets so involved with everything and that three feels so much worse than it is because their crowd is ear piercingly loud, and obviously they are making momentum runs,” she said.

“But basketball is a game of momentum and it’s about who can throw the next punch and it might have been a little scary at the time, but you have one second to think ‘damn’. Then you move on but the crowd gets behind their team and is electric up here so that’s the tough part.”

Different feeling to 12 months ago

While it was also Townsville that Perth faced in the semi finals last season and lost in two games with the Fire then going on to win the championship, there’s a whole heap of new faces on either side for this return encounter 12 months later.

However, Atwell was part of that loss last season for the Lynx to the Fire as was Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard while Chloe Forster has stepped up to a full roster spot to be the only players who were part of it.

There might be that little bit of added spice because of that, but really when you are playing for a Grand Final spot that’s the only motivation you need.

“We have a pretty new team this year, I think me and Mackenzie are the only returners from last season so we’re a completely different time and don’t look back too much,” Atwell said.

“But it still is in the back of your mind that they are the ones that ended our season last year so it does play somewhat of a part of your thinking.”