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NSW Swifts succumb to Sunshine Coast lightning’s super-shot blitz


Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner in defence, Cara Koenen and Steph Wood in attack.

Saturday night’s clash between the NSW Swifts and the Sunshine Coast Lightning offered Australian Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich an early look at two alternative pairings at both ends of the court for the fast-approaching Commonwealth Games.

Cara Koenen of the Lightning drags in a pass against the Swifts on Saturday night.

Cara Koenen of the Lightning drags in a pass against the Swifts on Saturday night.Credit:Getty

Five players named in the Diamonds squad on Thursday featured on Saturday night, including the Swifts’ Paige Hadley. None would have done their chances of playing in Birmingham any harm.

In the end, it was Wood and Koenen who came away with the bragging rights thanks to a third-quarter cameo from super shot specialist Reilley Batcheldor in a thrilling 69-62 win at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

Helen Housby, who is likely to feature prominently in Birmingham for the host nation, got off to a shaky start with a miss for the first shot of the game. That slip-up foreshadowed a messy first quarter for the Swifts, with infringements from Kelly Singleton and Maddy Proud granting the Lightning multiple chances to punish the hosts.

If Marinkovich was choosing her team on first-quarter performances alone, Koenen would surely be named starting shooter in Birmingham. While her English counterpart was often double-teamed by Kate Walsh and Mahalia Cassidy at the Swifts’ end of the court, the Queenslander was unstoppable and had 18 goals straight by quarter-time.

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A defensive reshuffle by Swifts coach Briony Akle brought Sarah Klau into goal keeper and the double-premiership winner limited Koenen to 12 goals in a much closer second quarter. After the Lightning called a timeout, the hosts capitalised on Lauren Scherian’s fumble to quickly move the ball to Housby, who converted the super shot to give the Swifts the lead for the first time. It was short-lived – Housby missed a chance to sink another super shot and put some distance on the Lightning, who shot well to maintain their lead into the main break.

It was all Swifts to start the third quarter as Sophie Fawns and Housby continued to build on their partnership in the attack end. The Swifts shot out to a four-goal lead before Lightning coach Kylee Byrne brought on super-shot specialist Batcheldor for captain Steph Wood. Batcheldor delivered, shouting four two-pointers to leave the hosts stunned and trailing into yet another break.



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