Mitchell breaks through exhilarating Melbourne derby tall ball battle

Tiff Mitchell broke the game open in the third quarter of the Melbourne derby. (Photo: Melbourne Boomers/Twitter)

In a fierce Melbourne derby where neither side could gain a significant lead, Tiffany Mitchell was the difference-maker.

The Boomers guard sparked to life in the third quarter, as the Boomers and Flyers came into the long break with seven points between them.

With her side trailing, the American import made her move, following up Cayla George’s jump shot with a strong drive into the rim for two, evading her would-be-guarders left and right.

In the span of 15 seconds late into the quarter, Mitchell nailed a lay-up to extend the Boomers lead to three, stole the ball straight out of the hands of Kristy Wallace as she looked to create her own attack, and ran right down the other end for another two.

After a quiet first half, Mitchell finished the game with 17 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals. Not only was she creating plenty of her own scoring chances, but dishing off dimes to her teammates with her elite vision in the arc.

She also knocked down an important three in the second quarter, halting the scoring momentum of Aimie Rocci.

It was an important change in a game that was largely dominated by tall ball on both sides. Most prominent in this was the battle that was Cayla George and Penina Davidson’s match up on Abby Bishop.

Bishop was very near unstoppable in the first quarter, with five points, four rebounds and an assist. She was the definition of a two-way player in centre, setting the scene for the Flyers from the first buzzer.

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But by half time, George and Bec Cole had both joined the party as well, in a game that was defined by the battles under the rim.

Cole went into the second half with 17 points at 71.4 per cent shooting and four rebounds, while George was a force on the defensive glass, with six points and six rebounds.

After Mitchell and Lindsay Allen began to take over in the third, the game shifted once again in the final quarter, as the passing and picking out of targets outside the paint picked up for both sides.

In a span of a minute and a half of gameplay, the Flyers and the Boomers traded three balls, as the lead ebbed and flowed and the Melbourne Sports Centres crowd came to life.

Mitchell sealed the game while she was at it, scoring five last quarter points to claim the Boomers’ third derby win of the season, firmly holding the wood over the Flyers.

There were positives for the Flyers in a season that hasn’t gone their way yet, getting the closest to their city rivals they have so far this season.

After back-to-back losses that have come right down to the wire, question marks are beginning to rise over the Flyers’ ability to close out games.

Southside last played on Wednesday, going down to the Perth Lynx in overtime.

Wallowing towards the lower end of the ladder, the Flyers have to quickly get their season back on track in a Friday night match up with the UC Capitals.

The Boomers will next be in for a match against the Townsville Fire, hosting them in another home game in Parkville.

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About Alex Catalano 341 Articles
Alex is a studying journalist from Melbourne with an obsession for all things Aussie rules, and a commitment to providing equal coverage and recognition to women's sport. A sport all-rounder, Alex reports on Aussie rules, football, basketball, netball, cricket and esports.

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