Southside sneak-out with stunning comeback

Rebecca Cole is mobbed by her teammates after the final buzzer against Perth. Picture: PICS BY TRE

By Marcus Uhe

A remarkable second-half comeback saw the Southside Flyers snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a midweek WNBL contest against Perth on Wednesday night at the State Basketball Centre.

Southside trailed by as many as 21 points during the second quarter but rallied after half time to steal a 94-92 win in incredible circumstances, having trailed for nearly the entirety of the match.

Perth led by five, with two minutes remaining, when Leilani Mitchell swooped on an uncontrolled offensive rebound, before finding Lauren Jackson wide open for a three-pointer, narrowing the gap to two points.

Perth missed a chance to widen the gap on the next possession, and were made to pay when Mercedes Russell spun her way into the paint for a layup to tie the scores.

Perth captain Anneli Maley nailed a three on the next trip down the floor, before a cutting Jasmine Dickey layup rolled around the rim and dropped home, the lead back to one with a minute remaining.

The Lynx looked to milk the clock on the next possession, and attempted to set up a three-point shot in the corner, but a risky pass was expertly read by Russell in flight to record a crucial stop, and give Southside a chance to hit the front with 37 seconds remaining in the match.

With 15 seconds on the shot clock, Mitchell passed to Jackson on the right block, who sensed the impending double-team and kicked the ball to Dickey, who had spot-up on the perimeter on the opposite wing.

While over on the left side, wiley veteran Rebecca Cole sensed the numbers advantage on her side of the court, and retreated to the corner, where she had been left-alone.

Dickey drew a defender and immediately swung the ball to the Flyer’s skipper, who put her team ahead by two points with 20 seconds left in the contest, leaving Perth with the final possession to tie or force overtime.

Switched on to the fleet-footed guard, Russell made a huge block on an Aari McDonald drive that would have tied the scores once again.

McDonald went and gathered the lose ball, but missed a coinciding mid-range shot.

Her teammate, Emily Potter, attempted to clean up that miss on the offensive glass, but still couldn’t make the Flyers pay for their poor rebounding, Dickey finally securing the ball as the buzzer sounded with a rambunctious home ground out of their seats after witnessing a heist of the highest order.

The final quarter begun with Perth clinging to a seven-point lead, but a three from Cole two minutes into the match knotted the scores at 73.

Perth recovered and managed to hold the Flyers at arms-length for much of the quarter, answering every challenge with a basket or two of their own.

After working their way back into the match through playing down low, ironically it was outside shooting that Southside relied on as the game wore down.

Earlier, Southside opened the contest with the first five points of the match, before conceding the next 10.

The Lynx totalled 32 points in the first quarter and 22 in the second, whereas Southside could only manage 17 in each, as the halftime score read 54-34.

Swarming Perth defence forced turnovers at the Flyer’s end of the court and created numerous fast break opportunities at the other end against a scrambling Southside defence.

Point guard Maddison Rocci wore a hard hit from Miela Goodchild in a scramble for a lose ball, but returned to the court undeterred to help orchestrate the comeback.

Southside made their run at the beginning of the second half with an 11-4 run, with a direct focus on scoring down low through Russell and Jackson.

A zone defence, meanwhile, forced a change of approach from the Lynx who began to settle for more outside shots.

A three from Carley Ernst during a 10-0 run in the third term reduced the lead to single figures for the first time since the opening term as the threat of an upset brewed overhead in Rowville.

Southside cut the margin to just four points late in the quarter but a huge three from Goodchild in the dying stages of the quarter was successful in hushing the home crowd.

A third term of 30-17 in Southside’s favour, however, meant momentum was well and truly wearing sky blue.

Russell led the team in scoring with 19 points while Cole finished with 14, including the all-important three with the game on the line.

The Flyers next face the University of Canberra Capitals at home on Saturday 2 December.