March 9, 2023 | Perth Lynx news

The Perth Lynx battled hard with the Townsville Fire in what was a grind of a Game 1 of the WNBL semi-final series but ultimately the home team shut down the visitor’s outside shooting and a big run to close the first half was pivotal in the 81-68 win.

Both teams came into the semi-final match up in some hot form with Townsville locking away top spot on the back of closing the regular season with a 12-game winning streak.

However, Perth also won 11 of the last 14 matches of the regular season to clinch fourth position and a finals spot setting up the match up with the Fire.

It was a hard fought battle with Townsville prevailing by 13 points with Game 2 now in Perth on Sunday afternoon.

Last minutes of first half was pivotal

While the Townsville defensive game plan of limiting the ability for Perth to take three-point shots worked throughout the night, the reality was precious little separated the two teams outside of the Fire’s run to close the first half.

Scores were all tied with two minutes to go in the half, but Townsville would score the last 11 points including a last seven seconds that would have made Ryan Petrik seeing red going into the half-time break.

He wanted his team to use up one of their fouls with Townsville having the last possession and not in the bonus. But when Tayah Burrows gave up the unsportsmanlike, it turned into a five-point play for the Fire with Karlie Samuelson nailing both free-throws and a three-pointer.

The Lynx were never quite able to make up that gap in the second half with Townsville ending up winning by 13 points to make it 13 consecutive wins having limited the Lynx to 1/15 three-point shooting and forcing them into 15 turnovers.

Who the star performers were

Lynx captain Sami Whitcomb did all she could to will her team to victory finishing the evening with 22 points and five assists.

Vice-captain Lauren Scherf produced a strong performance as well for 18 points, six rebounds and five assists on 8/14 shooting from the field.

Where Townsville did especially well was limiting the influence of the rest of the Lynx players with Robbi Ryan finishing with 10 points and four assists, Amy Atwell nine points, nine rebounds and three steals, and Chloe Bibby two points and nine boards.

Alex Sharp also contributed four points and four rebounds, and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard three points and two boards.

Steph Reid top-scored for the Fire with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists with Shyla Heal adding 14 points and two assists, Karlie Samuelson 13 points, and Tianna Hawkins 11 points and five rebounds.

How the game unfolded

Sami Whitcomb came out firing scoring the game’s first five points including converting a three-point play but the Fire answered back with the next six points before a couple of Perth buckets from Lauren Scherf.

A couple of Townsville threes from Lauren Nicholson and Karlie Samuelson pushed the home team out to a five-point lead, but the Lynx responded with their own 6-0 run to reclaim the lead with the first four of those points courtesy of Whitcomb.

However, it was Steph Reid who put the Fire back on top with the next seven points before the last four points of the quarter came Perth’s way through Robbi Ryan and Scherf to cut the Townville lead to 21-19.

Shyla Heal stretched that Townsville lead to seven to start the second quarter but the Lynx then had their best period of the night going on a 13-4 run which included the first, and ultimately only, three-point make of the game courtesy of Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard.

That run saw the Lynx briefly move back in front and scores were still tied at 37-37 with two minutes of the first half to go. However, from there the Fire scored 11 straight points to go into the break 48-37 and it would prove pivotal.

Right throughout the second half the Lynx would stay in touch and threaten to get close enough to the Fire to strike, but on each and every occasion the home team were able to find the answers to keep them at arm’s length.

That saw Townsville still leading 64-57 by three quarter-time and when Mikaela Ruef banked in a three early in the fourth quarter, you had a sense it just wasn’t the Lynx’s night.

Perth kept fighting but could never close the gap with Townsville going on to win 81-68 at Townsville Entertainment Centre.

What’s coming next

Game 2 of the semi finals will now be played on Sunday afternoon at Bendat Basketball Centre at 3.30pm WST. Should the Lynx win, Game 3 will be on Thursday night back in Townsville.

The other semi-final series saw the Southside Flyers defeat the Melbourne Boomers in Game 1 on Wednesday night with Game 2 to be played on Saturday night with the Flyers a chance to be the first team into the Grand Final this season.


PERTH LYNX 68 (Whitcomb 22, Scherf 18, Ryan 10)

TOWNSVILLE FIRE 81 (Reid 24, Heal 14, Samuelson 13)