Wil­son shines as Stars keep faint hopes alive

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - Mer­ryn An­der­son

A per­fect shoot­ing per­for­mance from Maia Wil­son has kept the North­ern Stars’ slim hopes alive of mak­ing the ANZ Premier­ship fi­nal.

Shoot­ing 39 goals from 39 at­tempts, Wil­son car­ried her side to a 50-43 win over the South­ern Steel yes­ter­day to stay in the mix for the race to take on the Cen­tral Pulse in the Au­gust 23 fi­nal.

After two cru­cial de­feats to the Main­land Tac­tix, the Stars bounced back against the Steel, but re­main seven points be­hind the sec­ond­placed Tac­tix, who have a game in hand, and four points be­hind the North­ern Mys­tics, who have two games in hand.

The Stars will need to win their re­main­ing three games to have an out­side shot at mak­ing the fi­nal, and if they are to do so, Wil­son will be the key. She’s had an in­cred­i­ble season for the Stars which should put the 22-year-old as the start­ing goal shoot for the Sil­ver Ferns if any

in­ter­na­tion­als are played this year.

The Stars dom­i­nated the match from the start, lim­it­ing the Steel to just one goal in the fi­nal four min­utes of

the first quar­ter. The Stars won the quar­ter 16-7, and the Steel never re­cov­ered, de­spite win­ning the sec­ond and fourth quar­ters.

Stars cap­tain Grace Kara said the first quar­ter was key.

“We came out to a great start and we were able to sus­tain that for most of the game,” said Kara.

The in­tro­duc­tion of Ellen Halpenny at goal shoot made a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence for the Steel in the sec­ond quar­ter. De­spite hav­ing very lit­tle train­ing with the team, Halpenny worked with Kal­ifa McCollin — re­cov­ered from an an­kle in­jury — to cre­ate space for the feed­ers, and the Steel won the quar­ter by two to re­duce the deficit to seven at half­time.

The Steel had great ac­cu­racy, with the only missed shot in the first half com­ing from young shooter Kiana Pe­la­sio, who was re­placed by Halpenny for the sec­ond quar­ter after mus­ter­ing only one at­tempt.

Sil­ver Ferns mid­courter Shan­non Saun­ders was rested after the first quar­ter for the Steel, bat­tling a neck in­jury. Kate Hef­fer­nan moved from wing de­fence to centre and was equally strong on at­tack and de­fence, ably sup­ported by Gina Crampton at wing at­tack. But the Stars’ low turnover rate and Wil­son’s flaw­less shoot­ing en­sured the Steel, who had beaten the Mys­tics in their last out­ing, would not claim a sec­ond straight up­set.

The Steel re­main fifth, four points above the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. This af­ter­noon, the Magic take on the Tac­tix and the Pulse face the Mys­tics.

Photo / Pho­to­sport

Stars goal shoot Maia Wil­son scored from all 39 of her at­tempts against the Steel yes­ter­day.

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