Lauren Jackson’s future clouded by season-ending injury

Lauren Jackson may have played her last game after suffering an achilles tendon tear.

Lauren Jackson may have played her last game after suffering an achilles tendon tear. Photo: AP

Lauren Jackson’s WNBL season is over and her long-term playing future uncertain after Australia’s greatest-ever basketballer suffered a partial tear in her right achilles tendon in her tribute game.

In front of a WNBL record crowd of 7681 on Saturday, the 41-year-old superstar limped off John Cain Arena after just 61 seconds before returning to the bench, aided by crutches and with her right leg iced, to watch her Southside Flyers suffer a shock 68-67 loss to the Sydney Flames.

Scans on Sunday confirmed Jackson, who has been playing with a broken foot, sustained a partial achilles tear, which won’t require surgery but will end her season.

Melbourne Boomers pinched top spot from Jackson’s Flyers by annihilating fellow championship contenders Bendigo Spirit 115-72 at Parkville on Sunday.

Boomers captain Cayla George starred with 27 points at 84 per cent, while teammate Miela Goodchild scored 18 points on 6-of-6 three-pointers.

Yapping at Melbourne’s heels with an identical 12-4 record are Townsville Fire, which extended its winning streak to seven after posting back-to-back road victories over Perth Lynx at Bendat Basketball Centre.

On Wednesday, Townsville prevailed 91-81, thanks chiefly to a 25-2 second-quarter, during which Perth missed 15 of 16 shots.

Then on Saturday, the Fire kept their cool down the stretch to win 95-91.

After centre Lauren Scherf (27 points) buried a three to give the Lynx a one-point lead with 27 seconds left, Fire import Tianna Hawkins (26 points) responded with a trey of her own before surprise packet Courtney Woods (22 points) – who had the weekend of her life – made a pair of free throws in the dying stages.

Townsville’s title hopes have been further bolstered by the likelihood of Shyla Heal being eligible to play finals for it, following her shock late-season defection from Sydney.

Signed by Fire on Wednesday, Heal played both games in Perth and needs to play all five of Townsville’s remaining fixtures to reach the minimum for finals eligibility of seven.

The dramatic development came after Heal and her father – Sydney coach Shane Heal – had been mysteriously absent for the Flames’ previous three matches while Shane faced a club investigation.

Shyla became the first WNBL player to change teams midseason since American DeNesha Stallworth switched from one-year wonder South East Queensland Stars – who were also coached by Shane Heal – to Canberra in 2015.

On Thursday, the Capitals notched just their second win of the season, creeping past Adelaide Lightning 97-90 in overtime at the National Convention Centre.

Captain Jade Melbourne (21 points, 11 assists) led the way for Canberra, while rival skipper Steph Talbot was lion-hearted for Lightning, playing all 45 minutes, scoring a career-high 33 points and grabbing 17 boards.


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