December 27, 2023 | Perth Lynx news

The Perth Lynx took some impressive momentum and form into Christmas sitting second in the WNBL and now will look to keep that going on Wednesday night at home to the UC Capitals before hitting the road.

The Lynx beat the Southside Flyers at Bendat Basketball Centre two days before Christmas and it was on the back of a terrific second half performance to win 95-85.

That improved Perth to a 7-3 record on the season to date to sit in second position in the standings just behind the league-leading defending champion Townsville Fire (8-2) and ahead of the Melbourne Boomers (7-4), Southside Flyers (6-4) and Sydney Flames (6-5).

The Lynx do have 11 games remaining in the season so haven’t quite reached the halfway point, but only four of those are at home at Bendat Basketball Centre with one of those this Wednesday night against the UC Capitals.

Those four home games are going to be crucial as the Lynx look to secure another playoff position which coach Ryan Petrik is fully aware of before a pair of games in Townsville against the Fire either side of 2023 turning into 2024.

“I don’t want to be The Grinch at Christmas time but sitting second is irrelevant, but it’s a race to 12 wins and there’s clearly right now five teams in the playoff hunt and someone’s going to miss out,” Petrik said.

“We’re at seven and that’s great, but Bendigo were in a better position than what we are now last season and missed so we’re on seven and have to get five more.

“We’ve got Canberra at home next and then we’re on the road for what feels like the better half of the second half of the season. We need to keep clocking them up because we have at least five more wins we need to get.”

What Petrik was expecting this season based on the lessons learned of seasons past is that it was around the halfway mark that he expected the Lynx would start to fully click, and find their groove.

To be now reaching that point sitting in the second spot in the standings and with a 7-3 record might be slightly above expectations, but he knows they do need to keep improving with the tough schedule ahead and knowing the playoff race will go right down to the wire.

“After we were 3-0 we still weren’t that impressed with how we were playing and were still trying to get a feel for our roster, but we had last year in our heads,” Petrik said.

“We were 2-5 and it took to game seven for us to change some things drastically and for people to settle into their roles by about games nine or 10 last season.

“We’re hitting that right now so it was kind of expected a little bit to take to this time. We’ve got some data that it’s about when our team falls into a sync and they figure out the shots that we like because we play very differently so early on it can be chaos.

“Last season it was chaotic in the first half and then in the second it made a lot more sense, and the shot quality was a lot better. We thought from last year we’d have a similar result this season and it’s tracking that way.”

Going back to Saturday night’s win against the Flyers and while there were plenty of strong performers for the Lynx, there was none better than vice-captain Amy Atwell.

She finished with 27 points for the game including knocking down 5/9 of her three-point attempts, but it’s that sort of brilliant offence performance that Atwell is known for.

What Petrik is even more impressed by is the continued improvement she’s showing at the defensive end.

“You listen to Steve Kerr talk about Steph Curry and they’re the ultimate no, no, no, yes kind of shots,” Petrik said.

“I think Amy shot three or four of them where you’re thinking what the heck and then it goes in so we’ll ride the hot hand, but geez she was incredible. Her offence has been really good, especially when she’s on, and when she is she’s world class, but it’s at the defensive end we liked way more.

“That will go way more unrecognised too but some of the defensive things she did especially in the third quarter when she was on, she was the first player on the ground fighting for loose balls and that’s what we were way more impressed with.

“We know what she can do on offence but if she’s going to make it to the Opals and next level, it’s the defensive end she has to get better at. She did a great job of that in this game.”