March 10, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Play fast, shoot three-pointers, crash the boards and exhaust the opposition. That’s what the Perth Lynx wanted to do this WNBL season and after a stunning Game 1 Grand Final performance to beat the Southside Flyers 101-79, they are one win from a championship.

That elusive drought breaking championship to match what the then Perth Breakers did in 1992 is now one win away for the Lynx after they put in a scintillating performance in Melbourne on Sunday for the 22-point Game 1 Grand Final victory over the Flyers.

Amy Atwell set the tone on her way to nine three-pointers, but as a team they knocked down 22 of them to lead by as much as 31 and win by 22 with the chance now to secure the championship at home on Thursday night.

Where the game was won

The three-point shooting of the Lynx is where they blew the game wide open. They finished off going 22/38 at 57 per cent for the game led by nine from Amy Atwell while Steph Gorman hit three, Anneli Maley three, Aari McDonald two, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard two, Aari McDonald two and Alex Ciabattoni two.

However, it was more than just that for the Lynx because by forcing the pace, they took the Flyers out of their strengths of making it a half-court game and also took advantage of the edges they have at the offensive end.

That’s where winning the rebound count 45 to 42 was crucial while 16 fast break points to zero for the game tells quite the story of the playing styles of both teams.

While the Flyers bigs of Lauren Jackson, Mercedes Russell and Carly Ernst were solid enough combining for 46 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks, they had no answers for the pace and shooting of the Lynx.

The starting Southside backcourt of Bec Cole, Leilani Mitchell and Maddy Rocci scored 19 points on 3/10 three-point shooting. Perth’s Atwell, McDonald and Miela Goodchild combined for 53 points on 11/22 shooting from beyond the arc.

Who the standout performers were

All 10 players who hit the court for the Lynx scored and made a real contribution, but the performance of Amy Atwell was out of this world. She finished the game with 30 points with 9/14 shooting from behind the three-point line to go with four rebounds.

Captain Anneli Maley added 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists with 3/5 three-point shooting of her own with Aari McDonald delivering 15 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in a masterful playmaking performance.

Alex Ciabattoni came up huge too in her 21 and-a-half minutes with 12 points and three assists while Steph Gorman contributed nine points on 3/3 three-point shooting.

Miela Goodchild added eight points and three rebounds, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard six points, four boards and three assists, Chloe Forster three points, Ash Hannan two points and Emily Potter played a massive role with 10 points and two steals even if she only scored one point.

Lauren Jackson top-scored for the Flyers with 21 points with 5/6 three-point shooting to go with six rebounds and three blocks. Carly Ernst also hit 3/5 from downtown for 13 points with Mercedes Russell adding 12 points and eight boards.

How the game panned out

The tone was set for the opening half of the Grand Final Series with Amy Atwell beginning the scoring with a three-pointer. The Lynx would go on to score the first nine points with a couple of buckets to Miela Goodchild and Anneli Maley.

Lauren Jackson got Southside on the board, but there was no let up from Perth with Aari McDonald and Maley knocking down three-pointers to make it a 15-2 start.

The Flyers did manage the next eight points, but the stunning shooting of the Lynx continued with a pair of three balls to Atwell, and another to Steph Gorman to make it a 24-10 lead.

It was still 27-16 by quarter-time with another three from Maley for the team to go 6/12 overall from deep before McDonald opened the second frame with a three-point play after a crafty inside finish.

Goodchild stretched the lead back out to 15 but it was Atwell who caught fire in a way that only she can to truly blow Game 1 wide open.

Her fourth three pushed Perth back out to a 14-point lead but seconds later it was her four-point play that was remarkable.

She jacked up the prayer and then was fouled on the landing by Mercedes Russell. Her back was to the basket as it bounced in and she assumed she was going to the line for three, but it was instead to convert a four-point play which she did.

She wasn’t done either. She made another two three-point bombs to close the half with seven of them while Gorman and Maley joined the fun as the Lynx as a team went 14/25 from three-point land to go into half-time leading the Flyers 60-37.

Southside did open the second half with a 9-2 run, but it was Atwell that helped the Lynx remain in control beginning when she banked in her eighth triple of the game.

Alex Ciabattoni then took charge the rest of the third quarter scoring seven points and helping set up her teammates including Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard to knock down two more three-pointers, and Perth was in control 82-53 by three quarter-time.

Jackson opened up the final period with three consecutive three-point shots for the Flyers, but all that did was cut the margin to 20 points and then the Lynx got going again.

The Lynx scored the game’s next 11 points including the first five points from Ciabattoni. Then to close things out Atwell made a ninth triple of the game, Ash Hannan and Chloe Forster both came in to score, and the final winning margin was 22.

What comes next

Game 2 will be back in Perth at a sold out Bendat Basketball Centre on Thursday night with the Lynx having the chance to clinch the club’s first WNBL championship since 1992.

Should that not happen, Game 3 will be back in Melbourne next Sunday where the championship will be decided.


PERTH LYNX 101 (Atwell 30, Maley 15, McDonald 15)

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 79 (Jackson 21, Ernst 13, Russell 12)