March 17, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Grand Final Game 3 didn’t go the way of the Perth Lynx and congratulations to the Southside Flyers on winning the WNBL championship, but getting so close is something everyone involved at the Lynx should be tremendously proud of.

It won’t do much to dull the pain right now after the Flyers secured the WNBL championship on Sunday in Melbourne with the 115-81 Game 3 victory, but just to be in that position of being 40 minutes from a title was a terrific effort from the Lynx.

Everyone from the coaching staff of Ryan Petrik, Nat Burton and Brad Robbins, and playing group led by captain Anneli Maley and vice-captain Amy Atwell deserve to be enormously proud to be where they ended up.

After all, just a month ago and the Lynx were in sixth position on the WNBL table. However, they won the last two games of the regular season, finished fourth and beat the defending champion Townsville Fire in two games of the semi finals.

They then hammered the Flyers by 22 points in Game 1 of the Grand Final series in Melbourne before Game 2 at Bendat Basketball Centre was a heartbreaking loss on Thursday night, and then the Flyers proved too much on Sunday in the decider.

Who the standout performers were

It was tough going in Game 3 for the Lynx and the defence of the Flyers led by captain Bec Cole was to be commended, but the Perth players can still hold their heads high.

Amy Atwell top-scored once again for the Lynx with 22 points, three rebounds and three steals with 2/3 three-point shooting and going 10/11 at the foul line.

Aari McDonald had another 21 points, five rebounds and three assists with Miela Goodchild contributing 15 points and three boards, Emily Potter eight points and four rebounds, and Alex Ciabattoni seven points and four boards.

Anneli Maley also finished with five points, six rebounds and three steals, and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard three points and two assists with Steph Gorman picking up three rebounds and Ash Hannan two.

The number of contributors the Flyers had was ultimately a crucial difference with Mercedes Russell having another 13 points and 13 rebounds to secure the Rachael Sporn Award as Grand Final MVP.

Jaz Dickey scored another 19 points, Bec Cole 17, Maddy Rocci 15, Carley Ernst 15, Leilani Mitchell 14 and six-time champion Lauren Jackson 12 to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

How the game panned out

The Flyers opened Game 3 with the first four points but the Lynx soon settled with three free-throws to Amy Atwell and a bucket to Aari McDonald.

Miela Goodchild and Emily Potter both dropped three-pointers to see the Lynx lead by four, and the lead was out to five when Goodchild hit a second from downtown.

While the Flyers scored the next 11 points, Perth answered with the following six with a triple from Alex Ciabattoni and three-point play from McDonald.

Another three-point bomb from McDonald just before quarter-time cut the Flyers lead to 28-27 after one.

It was the start of the second quarter where things began to unravel for the Lynx with Southside coming out and scoring the opening 10 points. It took almost four minutes for Perth to score thanks to Atwell.

But the Lynx only managed two points in the first seven minutes of the period with the Flyers opening up a 15-point edge, and to be up 52-39 going into the half-time edge on the back of shooting 52 per cent from the field to 38.

The Flyers did come out with the opening five points of the second half too but the Lynx built some momentum and ended up going on a 12-5 run midway through the third quarter to breathe some life back into the contest.

That included triples from Potter and Atwell, and an and-one from McDonald with the margin back to 11 points but then former Lynx big Carley Ernst hit three triples for the Flyers in two minutes.

That saw the lead grow to 24 points before the Lynx did manage the last four points of the period.

Unfortunately for the Lynx there would be no signs of a fightback in the final quarter with the Flyers going on to celebrate the championship with the 34-point win.

What comes next

The Lynx will immediately start preparing for next season in the attempt to go one better and put an end to that championship drought.

In the meantime, a host of players will be playing in various NBL1 competitions around the country while contending for spots at the Paris Olympics will be on the radar for some members of the squad as well.


PERTH LYNX 81 (Atwell 22, McDonald 21, Goodchild 15)

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 115 (Dickey 19, Cole 17, Ernst 15, Rocci 15)