The Mandurah Magic flipped the script on their playoff series with the Rockingham Flames when Emma Klasztorny, Regina Palusna and Anita Brown starred in a dominant game one victory at the Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday night.
The Magic went into the best-of-three series against the third-placed Flames as underdogs, but they wasted little time in turning the tide with a powerful 72-48 win on the road, erasing Rockingham’s home court advantage.
Led by a rampant Klasztorny (10 points, 17 rebounds) and an emphatic Palusna (22 points, seven rebounds), the Magic bullied their way to the win in physical fashion with a blanketing defence acting as their catalyst.
Mandurah made a statement when they smashed Rockingham 23-12 in the opening quarter, but a tussle in the second saw the Flames shave a point off the lead and head into half time daring to overcome the deficit.
It was all Magic in the second half though, with the defence losing none of its tenacity and an efficient offence limiting turnovers as they cruised to the win.
The Flames, who boast an array of scoring power, weren’t able to muster any more than 14 points in a single quarter and the Magic restricted them to just eight in the final period.
Mandurah coach Randy Miegel pointed to the turnover and rebounding differentials as key factors, and lauded his side for their physicality.
“It was a tough, physical game and we were able to dictate the terms – especially in the rebounds – so I was really pleased we came into the game with that playoff mentality,” he said.
“It gives us a great deal of confidence.”
The Magic will look to use that confidence to close out the series when they return home to their Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre digs this Friday night.
Rockingham will be playing to keep their season alive while the Magic will be desperate to avoid a game-three scenario back in Flames territory.
A win would see Mandurah move onto the second round, with coach Miegel saying it would be important to “fight fire with fire.”
“I don’t think game two is going to be a blowout like game one – Rockingham is a strong side and they won’t want to be swept, so we need to make sure we match whatever intensity they bring to the game,” he said.
“We haven’t really been in this situation much in the past, so we just need to get the job done and hopefully move on to the next series.”
The Magic will take on the Flames in game two at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre this Friday night, 7pm.
If required, teams will head back to Rockingham for a deciding game three on Saturday night.