The Robinhood Stars ended the Heritage Round in style to remain unbeaten this season after completing a comfortable 61-49 win over Splice Construction Magic in Tauranga on Monday.
The newest team in the league continued to build on their short history with another dominant finish after weathering a third quarter onslaught from the home side. Under the pump after the Magic stormed back strongly, the Stars depth and composure ensured they had the goods to regain the ascendancy.
After seeing off the Magic resurgence, the visitors were able give all their players court time, each fitting in seamlessly as the Stars, once again, showed their ability of knowing when to absorb and when to strike.
A slow start cost the Magic dearly, the home side having to dig themselves out of a deep hole after trailing by nine at the first break which proved a bridge too far. For the remaining three-quarters, the Magic were well in the contest but against the high-flying Stars, it was too little too late.
Once the Stars broke the shackles midway through the first stanza, it was a steady procession to goal as the visitors took control in a high-scoring opening.
Showing no mercy, the Stars flew through court, wing attack Gina Crampton given plenty of freedom as shooters Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson were provided with a wealth of scoring opportunities. At the other end, the ever-reliable defensive duo of Elle Temu and Anna Harrison made life difficult for the Magic shooters.
With twice as much ball at their disposal, the Stars dined out, enjoying 23 attempts at goal to the Magic’s 11 while building a handy 18-9 lead at the first break.
Chiara Semple took over from Khiarna Williams at goal attack for the Magic on the resumption which coincided with a lift in defensive pressure from the home side. The exploits of in-circle defenders Erena Mikaere and Temalisi Fakahokotau forced the Stars into error while handing more ball into the Magic’s hands.
It was a more even second term, the Magic chipping away but unable to make decisive headway, the Stars absorbing and holding their opponents at arm’s-length.
Magic import shooter Caitlin Bassett was replaced two minutes ahead of the main break but it was the Stars who retained overall control when leading 33-22.
The Magic showed they were far from done as the game came alive in an exciting third quarter, the home side engaging in a stirring comeback.
With Mikaere and Fakahokotau continuing to be a disruptive presence under the Stars hoop, young guns Williams and Kolose at the attack end sparked a thrilling Magic response as they cut the deficit to four.
After a spell on the sidelines, Harrison returned at goalkeeper for the visitors in a bid to break the home side’s impetus. It took some minutes but the league’s front-runners reasserted themselves towards the end of the quarter.
Taking the sting out of the Magic’s revival, it was the Stars who resumed control when leading 45-36 at the last turn.