Wilson shines as Stars keep faint hopes alive
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.
Stars goal shoot Maia Wilson scored from all 39 of her attempts against the Steel yesterday.