The Dandenong Rangers have finally found their vintage touch at the perfect time, crushing Perth Lynx 81-59 in a dominant display on the stroke of finals.
It’s been a different looking Rangers outfit post-Christmas, with mental lapses plaguing them for the most part.
But their early season dominance rewarded them with a guaranteed spot in the finals heading into the clash with the Lynx, but both teams were still searching for that elusive home-final next week.
With everything on the line for both teams to put themselves in a strong position come next week’s highly anticipated finals series, the crowd was packed to the rafters to see some high-quality finals-like basketball.
The atmosphere resembled that of a final – both teams primed to pounce and in the spotlight with a live feed and commentary of the match available for people unable to make it to the game.
The match played at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night was the perfect tune-up for the Rangers, who were looking to build some momentum after enduring patchy and inconsistent form which has worried the coaching staff and supporters.
Rangers coach Larissa Anderson spoke about her side’s performance last week against Sydney Uni, lamenting that her team was almost back to their best, and it certainly proved to be right when the Rangers shot out to a 21-12 quarter-time lead.
Sara Blicavs, as she has all year, looked electric early, and seemed like she would almost drag her team over the line herself.
That accuracy and potency in their shooting made a triumphant return, with passages of play spectacularly similar to how they played earlier in the season.
Their dominance continued into the second-quarter, with the Rangers doubling their score and then some, as the Lynx struggled to contain the shooting prowess of Blicavs, Steph Cumming and Aimee Clydesdale.
And it was no turning back for the Rangers, who with the crowd on their side, comfortably held on after being briefly challenged to temporarily occupy second-spot on the WNBL ladder.
Blicavs (20 points, 6 rebounds), Clydesdale (12 points, six assists and 2 rebounds), Nat Novosel (18 points, 7 rebounds) and Cumming (19 points, 4 rebounds, three assists) were all prominent as usual for the Rangers, while for the Lynx Sami Whitcomb (17 points) starred.
The Rangers finish in second-spot after the home-and-away season, and will have to back it up against the Lynx once again next Saturday night in a cut-throat final at Dandenong Stadium.
Anderson is likely to careful manage her stars’ workloads this week, as yet another finals series for the highly successful franchise out of Dandenong beckons.