The Mandurah Magic’s stunning playoff run came to a close with a gut-wrenching loss to Lakeside in the Women’s State Basketball League grand final at Bendat Basketball Centre on Friday night.
Mandurah put in a more than admirable performance against a Lakeside team that finished their season with just one loss from 27 games, finding themselves ahead by 10 points with four minutes left, but some late-game heroics from MVP Ali Schwagmeyer saw the Lightning snatch victory from their hands.
The Magic looked to be in control of the game with a maiden championship in reach when Anita Brown scored a layup to put them up 64-54 with only half a quarter remaining, but Lakeside showed their class with a 21-0 run in the final five minutes securing them a 75-64 win.
Prior to the fourth quarter the game was a back-and-forth tussle with neither side able to break away from the other.
Mandurah looked up to the task when some fluent offence had them up seven points late in the first quarter, but Lakeside clawed back into the frame to lead by a point at the end of the period.
The Lightning looked ready to break out when they scored the first two baskets in the second but Mandurah’s Rachel Halleen hit a three on her first shot of the night to spark her side.
From there the Magic held the lead until an Ashleigh Grant jumper found the bottom of the net to tie scores up at 33 apiece at half time.
Mandurah kept motoring in the third and a three-point bomb from Emma Klasztorny had them up by eight points midway through the quarter, but as they did time and time again Lakeside hit back and cut the lead to just five heading into the final term.
The Magic stretched their lead to 10 with Brown and Regina Palusna firing early in the fourth, but the momentum shifted when Kelly Bailey – who was superb on the night – fouled out late.
Her absence opened the door for Schwagmeyer to capitalise, with the two-time league MVP scored 12 of her 25 points in the final five minutes to erase Mandurah’s lead and take the win.
Brown finished the night as Mandurah’s highest scorer with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Palusna tallied 18 points, eight rebounds.
Klasztorny notched a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds.
The loss ended a stellar playoff run for the Magic, which saw them sweep the more favoured Rockingham Flames and Perth Redbacks to reach the grand final.