Binnian Hunt has pressed her case for a Sunshine Coast Lightning starting spot with a fine cameo performance in their 63-53 defeat of the Collingwood Magpies in Townsville.
It was impossible to overlook the dynamism of defender Phumza Maweni or the silky baseline footwork of Cara Koenen (41 points), who is unlikely to play a national league game closer to her childhood home on Magnetic Island.
Less than a fortnight away from her first finals campaign as a head coach, Sunshine Coast boss Kylee Byrne has another option at wing attack.
She took the opportunity on Wednesday evening against the struggling Magpies to rest dual premiership players Laura Scherian and Maddy McAuliffe during the second half and it was Hunt who gave her coach much to ponder.
Hunt only played 19 minutes and she will kick herself for coughing up two last-quarter turnovers but her height, athleticism and clean hands gave the side an edge.
They will need more variety to challenge minor premiers the Melbourne Vixens, who they will face at home in the final regular season round.
“It’s a great achievement as a club to reach the semi-finals again this year and we’ll prepare for that,” Maweni said after her five-intercept performance.
Shimona Nelson scored 40 points at 91 per cent for the Magpies who finished strongly thanks largely to their stoic defence.
The second-placed Lightning would have liked to assert more authority in the first half against this season’s wooden spooners.
They had control of the game but quick ball movement through the centre court was difficult to achieve against Collingwood’s defiant defence.
Captain Geva Mentor and wing defence Melissa Bragg did just enough to disrupt the Lightning’s feeders.
The pair had five gains and nine deflections between them at halftime to suggest the Lightning would have to find another gear to sweep the Magpies aside.
Sunshine Coast kept their opponents at arm’s length with their ability to convert possession gains into goals.
Q1: Magpies 12 v Lightning 16
Q2: Magpies 15 v Lightning 19
Q3: Magpies 13 v Lightning 14
Q4: Magpies 13 v Lightning 14
Nissan Player of The Match – Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Magpies shooting statistics
Shimona Nelson: Total points – 40 G1 40/44 (91%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Gabby Sinclair: Total points – 13 G1 7/9 (78%) G2 3/6 (50%)
Nyah Allen: Total points – 0 G1 0/0 (0%) G2 0/1 (0%)
Lightning shooting statistics
Cara Koenen: Total points – 41 G1 41/45 (91%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Steph Wood: Total points – 14 G1 6/7 (86%) G2 4/5 (80%)
Peace Proscovia: Total points – 8 G1 8/9 (89%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Magpies starting seven: GS – Shimona Nelson GA – Gabby Sinclair WA – Kelly Altmann C – Molly Jovic WD – Mel Bragg GD – Jod-Ann Ward GK – Geva Mentor
Lightning starting seven: GS – Cara Koenen GA – Steph Wood WA – Laura Scherian C – Maddy McAuliffe WD – Laura Langman GD – Karla Pretorius GK – Phumza Maweni