JCU Townsville Fire captain Suzy Batkovic has led her side within a win of back-to-back Wattle Valley WNBL titles.
Playing away from home, the Fire, who were categorically outplayed by Perth in the Major Semi-Final, were intent on a smash-and-grab mission in Western Australia and achieved the feat as the defeated the Lynx 73-57.
Batkovic was simply devastating for the reigning WNBL champions, collecting 10 first quarter points en route to a game-high 25 as she mauled the hosts inside.
It was an unexpected hero who delivered the knockout blow, however, as Cherie Gallagher hit eight points in the final quarter – including two three-point bombs – during a stunning cameo.
Despite early foul trouble, Micaela Cocks stood up when it counted as she posted 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Cayla George finished with eight points and 12 telling boards.
During a see-sawing affair, scores were tied at the first change before the Fire led by four points at the half before trailing by five at the final change.
A 28-7 final term that include Gallagher’s heroics ensured the Fire would return to their home floor needing just a solitary win to secure consecutive titles.
“It was a typical Grand Final, it wasn’t pretty and for us to finish that last quarter 28-7 was just a super effort defensively,” Fire coach Chris Lucas said.
“There was some momentum swings throughout and at one stage we were six or eight down but the girls did a great job at getting back into the game.
“Even at three quarter time we were five down but we still felt good about where we were at and what we were trying to do … and the girls really followed that in the fourth quarter.”
Up to 100 seats remain available for the second Grand Final – http://bit.ly/WNBLGF2Tix – at Townsville RSL Stadium.
Click here to review box scores from the opening Grand Final.