March 6, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Perth Lynx Canadian centre Emily Potter had as significant an impact as anyone in her team’s WNBL semi-final triumph over the Townsville Fire and she’ll now need to keep that going up against Lauren Jackson, Mercedes Russell and the Southside Flyers in the Grand Final.

Potter has been a star addition to the Lynx for this WNBL season and confirmed herself as one of the best genuine centres in the competition, but at the same time it hasn’t been a season without its share of frustration for the 28-year-old.

She has played some outstanding basketball putting up 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game but also found herself frustrated a lot of the time just by being unable to stay out on the court long enough due to foul trouble.

However, that wasn’t a case in the two games of the semi finals against Townsville. As a result she had a huge impact firstly with 14 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1, and then another 19 points, 13 boards and two blocks in the Game 2 win at Bendat Basketball Centre.

She will now refocus her attention on what could well be a pivotal battle of the bigs where she leads the Lynx charge in the Grand Final against Jackson and Russell from the Flyers with Game 1 in Melbourne on Sunday, and Game 2 back in Perth next Thursday.

Doing it in front of the home fans

On the back of their road win in Townsville to open the semi-final series last Thursday, the Lynx were back in front of 1275 fans at Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday for Game 2.

The crowd were fully invested and got behind the Lynx creating for a tremendous atmosphere, and their team backed them up with the 108-102 win to advance to a second Grand Final in the past three years.

Potter has fully embraced everything about being part of the Lynx this season in her first time playing in the WNBL and couldn’t have been happier to secure the Grand Final spot in front of the home supporters.

“Our fans were fantastic. We’ve got great fans over the entire season and I’ve been really pleasantly surprised just how packed the gym has been for every single home game,” Potter said.

“We have so many autographs to sign after every game and I absolutely love that. Just being able to play in a country like and to have both boys and girls be able to look up to the athletes playing is amazing.

“Obviously I’d love to have that in Canada, but just being able to inspire the next generation and seeing them here so excited about basketball is amazing. Our whole management team and everyone has done an amazing job getting our fans so invested in our team.”

Championship possibility that awaits

Potter might be in her first WNBL season, but the 28-year-old brings enormous experience with her for the Lynx into this Grand Final series against Jackson, Leilani Mitchell, Bec Cole and the Flyers.

That included four years at the University of Utah along with being a regular member of the Canadian national team which saw her win bronze at the AmeriCup and also playing internationally most recently in the EuroCup with Panathinaikos in Greece.

She now can’t wait for what is to come in the Grand Final series and will bring with her plenty of finals and big game experience.

“This is what you work all year for and this is the fun part,” Potter said.

“Even before this game, I was just excited and these are the moments that you train for, that you work for and everyone wants to play in a final but not everyone gets the opportunity.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win a championship overseas and also lose one so I know what it’s like on both ends. At this point of the season, everyone’s tired and everyone has aches and pains, but we’re going to give 100 per cent of what we’ve got and we have a really special group.

“It’s a close knit group, we’re all great friends and I haven’t been on a team with this feeling in a long time so I’m really excited to see what we can do.”

Difference in playoff basketball

Potter might have found herself understandably frustrated with the foul trouble she’s battled throughout the season, but you often hear the whistles are put away during finals and there’s nobody happier if that keeps being the case than her.

The fact Potter was able to stay out there longer and delivered 33 points and 23 rebounds in the two games against Townsville means that she enjoyed those two games a lot more, and now hopes the trend continues throughout the Grand Final series.

“It was great to be able to stay out there, it was amazing, and I really appreciate that from the ref groups in the last two games,” she said.

“Ryan’s been saying it all year and I guess it’s finally clicking for me just the style of play that we want to play. I’m setting screens and getting out really fast and rolling really hard to the rim, and we’ve got great guards who can drop it over the top to me.

“I think I’ve finally been executing that the last few games and have been able to get behind their defence and the big in that drop position. That’s helped me get some easy looks or some offensive rebounds because if I don’t get the ball, I’m in the perfect position to get the offensive rebound.”

Having a fully healthy team at the right time

It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride of a season for the Lynx as well for Potter to be part of in her first time playing in the WNBL.

They started off winning eight of the opening 11 games of the season but then lost seven of the next eight in the absence of Aari McDonald with her knee injury.

However, they fired back to beat the UC Capitals and Bendigo Spirit to close the regular season, then got into fourth spot thanks to Townsville beating Sydney in the last game of the campaign.

They then kept the momentum going impressively with the two wins against Townsville in the semi finals. While McDonald might be attracting a lot of the attention, Potter feels their depth of contributors is what is key.

“Obviously a lot of that will be Aari returning, she’s really like the glue to our team, and when she’s firing it gets all of us excited and up for the game,” Potter said.

“But we do have so many different weapons and everyone in our starting five has gone off for 20-plus points in a game so no matter what, if one player is down we’ll pick each other up because we have different weapons who can go off at any different times.

“But having players like Aari McDonald and Amy Atwell means that things are pretty good.”