State Basketball League: Mandurah Magic women embracing ‘underdog’ status ahead of Lakeside clash

The Mandurah Magic women’s team will welcome the return of starting forward Bree Klasztorny when they take to the court against the league-leading Lakeside on Friday night.

Klasztorny missed the team’s win over East Perth in round eight with injury and hasn’t played since their loss to Perth on Anzac Day, with the side sitting through two bye weeks over the past three rounds.

But her return from a short stint on the sidelines will be a huge boost for the Magic, as they look to tough defence and a raised intensity to see them to success against the Lightning.

Bree Klasztorny returns for the Magic this week. Photo: Justin Rake.

Bree Klasztorny returns for the Magic this week. Photo: Justin Rake.

Klasztorny is an immediate boost to both of those facets, with coach Randy Miegel looking to a tough brand of basketball to help his side overcome the top-of-the-table Lakeside outfit.

“They are an offensive powerhouse, so we need to clamp down on defence,” Miegel said.

“They average something like 32 three-point attempts a game and if they’re knocking them down it’s going to give us headaches, so we need to be pretty vigilant on that.”

The 2017 coach of the year is anticipating a hotly-contested battle between the two sides, which are squaring off for the first time since Mandurah sent Lakeside packing in round two of the playoffs last season.

“It’s going to be a really good battle,” he said.

“We’ve been a bit frustrated in terms of not having regular games with all the bye weeks lately, so to get back on the court in such a big game is exciting.

“There’s a fair bit of recent history – neither side’s going to give an inch.”

Highlighting the game is the inevitable match-up between Mandurah captain Rachel Halleen and Lakeside MVP Ali Schwagmeyer.

Rachel Halleen is likely to line up on Ali Schwagmeyer once again. Photo: Justin Rake.

Rachel Halleen is likely to line up on Ali Schwagmeyer once again. Photo: Justin Rake.

A perennial powerhouse of the league, Schwagmeyer has been a catalyst in Lakeside’s 9-1 start to the year.

But Halleen has had the better of the superstar in the past, most recently in their playoff series, where the pair went toe-to-toe for three games.

Though it won’t be just Schwagmeyer that Mandurah has to put time into, with all-stars Sydnee Fipps, Ashleigh Grant and Courtney Byrnes also posing a threat.

The Magic will look to their own all-star backcourt of Anita Brown and Casey Mihovilovich to combat the Lightning’s line-up, while import Regina Palusna will look to make an impact.

The game is the first of two in a double-header of action for the Magic over the weekend, as they travel to take on Kalamunda on Saturday.

Their clash with Lakeside tips off at 6.30pm at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.