December 6, 2023 | Perth Lynx news

Perth Lynx turned a third straight impressive first half against a fellow top four team into a terrific road win against the Melbourne Boomers on Sunday but coach Ryan Petrik knows to expect a motivated and different looking opponent this Thursday.

The good news for the Lynx was that they handed the Boomers their first loss of the WNBL season on Sunday in Melbourne with the 80-63 victory.

The bad news from Petrik’s perspective is that it also means the Boomers will have no shortage of motivation to hit back this Thursday night in the rematch at Bendat Basketball Centre and that makes them challenging to prepare for from his perspective.

Another match up against Boomers

There was so much to like from what the Lynx did in handing the Boomers their first loss of the season on Sunday. After being overrun by the Southside Flyers and Townsville Fire, responding to Melbourne’s third quarter fightback showed terrific signs.

The two teams now meet just four days later in Perth this Friday night and while Petrik was delighted with what his team did against the Boomers, he knows they have to change things up a little this time around and he certainly expects Melbourne to have a different game plan.

“They’re annoying games when you win the first one because the reality is you kind of want to copy and paste a bit whereas you know Melbourne are going to come out with something totally different,” Petrik said.

“We have to change our game plan a little bit and also have a guess at what Melbourne are going to change at their end.

“I’m not really sure what to expect because we know whatever Melbourne’s game plan was last week will be different this week, and we need to make sure we have a plan for whatever that might be, and also make sure we’ve change enough to try to catch them on the hop a little bit as well.”

Feeling after road win

The Lynx had done plenty right in the previous two games against the Southside Flyers and Townsville Fire to open up significant first half leads.

However, they were overrun on both occasions and that put Perth in a precarious position in the third quarter on Sunday when the Boomers grabbed the momentum to draw back level.

On this occasion, though, the Lynx responded to put together a dominant fourth quarter and end up scoring the mighty impressive win much to the relief of Petrik.

“Not going to lie, probably felt a little bit relieved after the last two to build up a lead and hold onto it so that was nice. Melbourne are good, we made some shots in the fourth that helped and they didn’t. Sometimes basketball is pretty simple,” Petrik said.

“What was the best part was that we actually looked like we were trying to run our playbook for a change in the second half. Both the Southside third quarter and the Townsville third quarter, we couldn’t label any of the actual offences that we were in.

“That was a problem, whereas the Melbourne third quarter we didn’t make shots but they were all wide open looks, and layups or wide open threes. They just didn’t go in so whilst they hauled the lead back in, we were really happy with the shots we were getting.

“They just didn’t drop but then in the third quarter the dam wall broke, so to speak, and we suddenly made everything. That was probably the most pleasing part, the third quarter whilst they caught up and got back to even, we were at least in our stuff.”

Having so many contributors

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of what the Lynx have been doing so far this season is the number of players making strong contributions.

That was never more evident than in Sunday’s win against the Boomers and at the offensive end it was Miela Goodchild and Emily Potter instrumental in building the lead, and then Anneli Maley and Aari McDonald in completing the job.

On top of that, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard hit two huge three-pointers, Amy Atwell still contributed even without having a good shooting game and Alex Ciabattoni came in to provide some important minutes.

Those number of contributors is something Petrik is pleased with so far with this team.

“We’re doing it by committee and obviously Aari’s as good a player as there is in the competition, but she picks her spots really well if someone else has it going,” Petrik said.

“Potter and Goodchild had 21 of our first 26 points I think so Aari could sit back and focus on defending Jordin whereas in the fourth quarter obviously Anneli had it going, and then when we had some bad possessions or got in a bit of a rut, Aari could almost take over a little bit. Having contributors across the board gives us a multi-prong attack.”

Captain was quite incredible

Lynx captain Maley is a WNBL MVP winner so it’s no surprise to see her doing what’s she’s doing so far this season with her rebounding, hustling and energy infectious for her teammates.

She had another 17 rebounds in Sunday’s win and the offensive boards were especially crucial, but she also scored 17 points including three crucial fourth quarter three-pointers, which Petrik feels makes her virtually unstoppable.

“We spoke during the week that pick-and-roll with Aari and Emily is really tough to guard then you have Goodchild in one corner and Atwell in another corner, where do you help from,” he said.

“Obviously Townsville tried to help of Anneli and gunked it up a little bit whereas if she’s also making shots it almost becomes a case of what can’t she do because everyone knows how good she is at doing everything else.

“She’s been impressive all year long and once that three ball drops as well it takes her offence to a whole other level.”

Significantly improved defensively

While Petrik did build a team that could have plenty of offensive firepower this season and who could get out and run, and jack up the three-point shots, there’s also been a significant focus on defence.

Given his assistant coaches Nat Burton and Brad Robbins were among the standout defenders in the WNBL and NBL during their respective careers, it’s no surprise that Petrik has let them take charge on the defensive work, and it’s certainly working.

Perth is giving up 80.2 points a game this season but that is significantly bloated because of the second half showings that the Flyers and Fire had against them.

In the other four games they are only conceding 73.8 points a game and that included only 63 to the previously undefeated Boomers this past Sunday. Petrik is delighted with the defensive improvements he’s seeing but he’s not surprised by it.

“Brad Robbins and Nat Burton have been really good with them obviously devoting a lot more time this year in practice to defence but we obviously thought we’d lost some offensive firepower on paper,” Petrik said.

“We also knew we’d brought in some pretty good defenders and Gorman is elite but unfortunately she’s out right now.

“Aari McDonald is the same and you watched her play Jordin on the weekend and Whitcomb the weekend before, and she’s as good defensively as there is in this whole competition. Those two have really made a difference to our program and the added focus on it in practice has also helped.”