date_range Published 19 Aug 2019

A second-half comeback helped the Mid City Magic take the direct route to the final, with an 83-80 win over the St Kilda Saints.

It will be the fourth consecutive final for the Magic.

Both teams came out strong defensively, forcing each to be aggressive to the rim, to draw fouls and fill the first quarter with free throws.

That led to a messy off-ball game where players fought relentlessly to claim possession for their side in 50-50 opportunities.

The second quarter began with the same intense level of defensive focus by both teams.

St Kilda held its lead strongly for the first half of the quarter, before a small lapse in focus opened the door for the Magic to fight back.

It brought the score to within two and played strong through its inside presence Aaron Roydhouse and usual duo Josh Aitcheson and Darcy Knox.

As the Magic tired at the end the quarter, the Saints went on a late run.

Captain James Ross found open men and the Saints took the the lead back to eight by the end of the half.

The Saints found their shooters Matt Gillan and Connor Coll on the three-point line to push the lead out to 15.

But the Magic stuck with it in the third quarter and went on its own run with two minutes to go.

It found Matt Dukes, Brent Cheshire and Knox to go on a 12-0 run from the three ball, on the way to gaining a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Magic started strong inside, dominating the boards and post offence.

But Saints shooter Tyler Lapham stepped up to the line and knocked down three three-pointers in row to push St Kilda into the lead.

That was not without a consistent battle as the Magic continued to push it.

Aitcheson drew an and-one lay-up to tie up the game 75-75 with three minutes to play.

Magic big man Roydhouse pulled off some massive plays late in the game to lead his side to a four point lead.

But with 40 seconds on the clock Saints guard Jamie MacDonald forced himself to the line to bring his side within one.

The Magic forced another basket leading to the side’s 83-80 win, as well as its ride to the final.

In the other semifinal, Varsity edged the Magic Lions 75-72 in another tough physical matchup.

Varsity’s shooting proved to be too strong for the Lions, who were made to suffer from consistent three pointers from Micah Lepaio, Isaac Smiler and Elijah Smiler.

Varsity will now play the Saints on Thursday night to earn a spot against the Magic in Saturday’s final.

 - Harry Thorp

A Grade results

Varsity Starters 75 def 71 Magic Lions 

Magic 83 def 80 St Kilda Saints

A Res Grade results

St Kilda Dragons 79 def 72 Andy Bay Falcons 3

OB’s Elite 116 def 72 Varsity Blue

Varsity Thunder 100 def 99 Magic Muddogs

B Grade results

South Pac Kings 88 def 66 Magic Vipers