March 3, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

The Perth Lynx have produced a standout performance at Bendat Basketball Centre to complete the WNBL semi-final sweep of the defending champion Townsville Fire to win 108-102 and advance to the Grand Final.

The Lynx returned home on Sunday afternoon after beating the Fire in Townsville 88-87 in Game 1 on Thursday but it was always going to be a significant test even in front of the home fans to beat the reigning champions and this season’s regular season champs.

However, the Lynx put together a strong performance with their offensive game clicking while locking in defensively and standing tall physically to lead most of the game before winning by six to now book a spot in the Grand Final against either the Southside Flyers or Melbourne Boomers.

Where the game was won

It was the closing moments of the first quarter where the Lynx started to work on top as they closed the period with an 8-2 run.

Then when Townsville was back within two late in the first half, the Lynx pulled away leading into half-time with another 12-2 run that included a couple of crucial offensive rebounds that led to buckets.

That had the Lynx leading 56-44 at the main break and the advantage got out to 17 midway through the third quarter.

That advantage was still 11 by three quarter-time and while Townsville kept on coming, they couldn’t ever get closer than six with Perth answering every challenge to prevail by six.

The Lynx finished the game shooting at 53.0 per cent while hitting 15/33 from behind the three-point arc and 23/28 at the free-throw line.

They also won the rebound count 46 to 38 and overcome the 17 turnovers Townsville forced.

The 37 fast break points and 15 made threes were illustrations of what makes this Lynx team so dangerous.

Who the standout performers were

There were plenty of Lynx players who produced massive performances with five scoring in double-figures, but even those who didn’t had a significant say in the final result.

Superstar point guard Aari McDonald was scintillating once more finishing with 27 points, 11 assists, three rebounds and two steals on 9/16 shooting from the field, 4/10 from deep and 5/6 at the free-throw line.

Vice-captain Amy Atwell came up huge too to continue her hot form with another 27 points with four rebounds while hitting 5/8 from three-point range.

Emily Potter had a lot to deal with in another physical contest but stood up admirably inside for the Lynx with 19 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocks on 7/8 shooting.

Captain Anneli Maley also closed in on a triple-double highlighting her impact which included 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists which also featured three massive three-point makes.

Alex Ciabattoni produced 12 points and two rebounds with Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard contributing four points and two boards, and Miela Goodchild four points and two rebounds.

Sami Whitcomb top-scored for Townsville with 24 points and three assists with Courtney Woods adding 22 points and four rebounds, and Steph Reid 19 points, seven assists and five boards.

How the game panned out

While Townsville opened up Game 2 with a triple from Steph Reid, Amy Atwell hit the next four points for the Lynx. Emily Potter hit a three-point bomb soon after but the Fire went on an 8-3 run either side of that to be up four.

Aari McDonald was lightning down the court to score at the rim to steady the Lynx before a couple of long-range daggers from Atwell had the home team within a point, and then leading by two following three free-throws from Atwell.

Perth would go on to close the opening period on an 8-3 run including a huge offensive board and putback from Potter on the buzzer to be leading 28-23 with the seven o-rebounds massive.

The Lynx stretched that lead out to nine to start the second quarter thanks to McDonald and Potter too. Townsville responded with triples from Amanda Zahui B and Sami Whitcomb, but McDonald answered with a pair of three balls of her own

That kept the Lynx lead at nine and then after Townsville closed back within two, the home team closed out the first half in spectacular fashion beginning with big buckets on offensive rebounds to Potter and Alex Ciabattoni.

Anneli Maley then knocked down a three and Potter scored again to give the Lynx the 56-44 half-time edge on the back of shooting 53 per cent from the field while having 29 rebounds to 17.

It was the worst possible start to the second half with two turnovers for the Lynx and four quick Fire points, but the home team responded well starting with a three ball from McDonald.

The crowd erupted shortly after when the Lynx strung together five consecutive points topped off with Atwell’s third make from beyond the arc.

Perth was leading by 17 and Shannon Seebohm called a timeout and got the response he was after with the defending champs scoring 14 of the next 19 points to close to within eight.

However, Maley hit from deep just before three quarter-time to ensure the Lynx maintained an 11-point edge.

Maley did knock down a three early in the fourth to push that lead out to 12 but the Fire were always going to mount a challenge.

The Fire scored the next seven points but the Lynx responded with the next five including another triple to Atwell.

Townsville kept on coming, though, and threes of their own to Reid and Whitcomb closed the margin to six. While that would be as close as the Fire would get, there were still some nervous moments late with what was at stake.

Every time, though, that Townsville sent a scare into the home team, the Lynx answered and that included tension easing threes from McDonald and Atwell.

It then became a free-throw contest for the Lynx to clinch their Grand Final spot and McDonald, Atwell and Maley did the job to secure the six-point win and now await to find out who they face.

What comes next

The Lynx are the first team into the WNBL Grand Final and now will await their opponents with the Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers to play their Game 3 in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Either the Flyers or Boomers will have home court advantage in the Grand Final Series with them hosting Game 1 and then if necessary, Game 3. The Lynx will be at home in Game 2 at Bendat Basketball Centre.


PERTH LYNX 108 (McDonald 27, Atwell 27, Potter 19)

TOWNSVILLE FIRE 102 (Whitcomb 24, Woods 22, Reid 19)