By Nick Creely
At the final hurdle the Dandenong Rangers have failed to deliver with the Sydney Uni Flames claiming the WNBL title on Friday night.
In front of their home crowd, the Rangers were uncharacteristically sloppy despite starting like a house on fire, eventually going down 75-62.
Trying to force the grand final into a third game on Sunday, the signs were strong early as the Rangers skipped out to 22-11 lead at the first-break.
But the Flames tightened up defensively and became irresistible at the three-point-line, and started to wrestle back control despite the deafening noise produced from the crowd.
It then culminated in over two-quarters of dominance from the Flames, with the Rangers unable to find an answer.
By the start of the last-term, in which the Flames opened up a 12-point buffer, the fizz in the game faded away, with the Rangers bravely fighting it out to the end despite the inevitable loss.
Leliani Mitchell was the outstanding force throughout the grand final series, taking out the Rachel Sporn Medal for the MVP, but it was Belinda Snell (15 points and 11 rebounds) who stole the show with a truly dominant display. Steph Cumming (17 points) and Sara Blicavs (10 points and six rebounds) both ended their respective season’s on a high.
Retiring legend Jacinta Kennedy did all she could to drag her team over the line with 9 points and two assists, and paid tribute to the club immediately after the game.
“It’s definitely not the way we wanted to end the year, but I could not be prouder to be part of this team, to be playing alongside the girls and for the coaching staff – I fully believe that this group can go one step further next year, and I’ll be here cheering every step of the way,” she said.