The Dandenong Rangers have been crowned 2011/12 WNBL Champions after a storming win over the Bulleen Boomers at the Cage on Sunday afternoon, sealing the victory and the title 94-70.
For the Rangers, who finished the season with nine straight wins to take home the title, team captain Kath MacLeod led the side with 22 points, while dishing out nine assists — she was subsequently named Grand Final MVP for her efforts. Jenna O’Hea was again dominant finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds.
For the Bulleen Boomers, Liz Cambage finished with 22 points and reeled in 14 rebounds, while Rachel Jarry added 14 points.
Bulleen came out of the blocks like a team that had been to a Grand Final before, leaving nerves at the door and attacking the basket to jump out to an early 9-2 lead with Cambage featuring in the scoring. They pressured Dandenong at the other end of the floor, causing multiple turnovers to see the Rangers on the back foot early.
Cambage took a quick breather and head coach for Dandenong, Mark Wright immediately put Tegan Cunningham into the game to give their own centre Krista Phillips a rest of her own. The move turned out to be a masterstroke, the young gun firing up with eight of Dandenong’s next 10 points to see them go on a 17-4 run to close out the quarter and take an eight point lead into the first break.
Dandenong continued to push at the beginning of the second, MacLeod and O’Hea both continually attacking the basket, seeing the Rangers out to a 31-15 lead three minutes into the second, prompting a Bulleen time-out.
The Boomers needed a spark and it came from Jo Leedham, who knocked two consecutive three-pointers to bring the lead back to within 11, and after Cambage and Sam Richards both connected late in the half, Bulleen were within eight points heading into the change-rooms, and looking dangerous.
Out of the half, Liz scored four straight points to bring Bulleen to within four points. Both sides traded baskets, with MacLeod and Leedham trading threes. Six points separated the two sides inside seven minutes to play in the term.
Dandenong then went on a run that would ultimately win them a championship — Cummings, MacLeod and Cunningham all combined to see Dandenong race back out to a 16 point lead with 3:41 to play in the quarter, Bulleen calling a quick time-out in a bid to settle the side.
MacLeod and O’Hea saw the lead extend further, out to 18 points, before Cambage and Perera pulled it back to 14 with the last quarter to play.
Frustration set in for the Boomers in the last quarter as they struggled to score from the field, as the inevitable crept up on them, and when Cambage recklessly charged through O’Hea on a drive to the basket and Phillips scored at the other end of the floor to see the lead back out to 17 with half a quarter left to play, Bulleen looked spent.
Desperate to turn things around, Tom Maher called a time-out and delivered a strong address to the players, but the damage had been done, Dandenong running away with the game late to secure the 24-point win.
Dandenong Rangers 94 (MacLeod 22, O’Hea 20) defeated Bulleen Boomers 70 (Cambage 22, Jarry 14)