It was finals day on Sunday at Eaton Recreation Centre with all four Busselton Magpies teams vying for a spot in the grand final against the Bridgetown Ravens.
The first game of the day was the Reserves in a top of the table clash. After one-goal margins and a draw during the season, Magpies Reserves shaped up for another even match with consistent front position and a high standard of defensive discipline to minor premiers Bunbury, falling short by five goals.
Then it was the Magpies League team’s turn taking on HBL in the knockout semi final. A re-match of last year’s grand final, Magpies opened with a first quarter reminiscent of that last victory over the Lions, smashing out a lead which would prove insurmountable in the end. Magpies GK Riley Culnane dominated in defence, countering the high ball delivered to Lions GS Giselle Taylor, with Tammy Thornley picking up the crumbs. Despite close attention from the HBL defenders, Maia Bratten was unflappable at the coalface, shooting truly. Quarter time saw Magpies lead 15-6. HBL pulled up their socks in the second term and steadfastly refused to concede the game so early. Impressive mid court defence from the powerful Brooke Repacholi forced Busselton into costly errors and saw them make hard work of the long court transition. The fightback saw HBL win the quarter by one goal.
HBL moved Taylor to GK in the third quarter but perhaps they should have cloned her. The move shored up HBL circle defences but left a gaping 6 foot 2 inch hole in the attacking circle. The Magpies swooped to take advantage of the change, pulling ahead to 35-23 goal lead. A hearty last stand from the Lions saw the final quarter score locked. Solid mid-court defence from relentless Ritto Ritson and the steely Tenieka Handley, kept the Busselton Magpies in touch. Final score was in Busseltons favour, 45-33 winning the right to prove themselves against the juggernaut of the highly fancied Carey Park Panthers in next week’s preliminary final.
In another top of the table clash in the 18s, the Bridgetown Ravens smashed out an early lead with lots of pressure causing errant passes by the Magpies which resulted in plenty of ball going into their tall and very accurate GS. With the scoreline at 9-18 Magpies made some changes but this didn’t deter the Ravens who were relentless in their full court pressure and contest.
With the score 18-33 big changes were made at the main break with Teniele Smith and Phoebe Pethybridge being tasked the job of shutting down the Ravens goalies and SW Jets player Mia Pethybridge was moved into centre. This combination came as a surprise to a few, but had been tried and tested the week before against the Hawks. With the youngster Asha Hughes taking to the court again for the 18s she combined beautifully with Matilda Cann who had been moved out to GA as the Magpies mounted their attack. They managed to take it to the Ravens and led for most of the quarter but in the end it was only stopping the Ravens from extending their lead but it was their highest scoring quarter 13-16. In the final quarter the Ravens had more players to bring on and with the fresh legs ran away with another 9-15 quarter. With the final score 40-64.
The 15s won their top of the table clash and have gone through the season undefeated, advancing straight into the grand final.
Preliminary finals will once again be held at Eaton Recreation Centre on Sunday, September 16, with three Magpies teams playing off: Reserves at 10.30am against the HBL Lions; League at 12 noon against the Carey Park Panthers; and 18s at 1.30pm against the Bunbury Bulldogs.