DANDENONG Rangers showed newfound depth and athleticism in a winning start to the WNBL season on Friday night.
The Rangers beat Bulleen Boomers 90-75 at Dandenong Stadium with the highlights of the night pointing to the Rangers' recent past and exciting future as the club raised its 2011-2012 championship banner, then teenage duo Sara Blicavs and Carley Mijovic stole the show.
Blicavs had a game-high 19 points and Mijovic had 12 points, with both players coming off the bench in their Rangers debut.
Rangers mainstays Kath Macleod (13 points), Steph Cumming (12 points) and Tegan Cunningham (eight points, 13 rebounds) were all impressive, as was returned import centre Krista Phillips (12 points).
Rangers coach Mark Wright said Blicavs and Mijovic put on an amazing performance and gave the side more than he had expected.
"I think our style of play suits them both," he said. "We like to get out and run and we look to attack and it works for them.
"They are both tall and athletic and it gives us some different looks this season. We can run some different line-ups out there."
But Wright and the Rangers weren't taking the winning margin as an accurate reflection of their own side or Bulleen's as both clubs were missing key players.
The Rangers played without star Jenna O'Hea, who is still playing in the WNBA play-offs with the LA Sparks, while the Boomers were without centre Elyse Penaluna and point guards Rebecca Cole and Kerry Harrington, with all three missing due to injury. O'Hea and the Sparks will be playing for their play-off lives early this week in their Western Conference final against the Minnesota Lynx and Wright made it clear who he was supporting.
"Go Lynx," he joked.
"I'd love Jenna to do well personally and I'm cheering for her but we'd love to have her back as soon as we can, so I'm going for Minnesota."
The Rangers can expect a much tougher match-up this Saturday night when they host Bendigo Spirit, which upset Adelaide in Adelaide on Friday night.
The Rangers host Bendigo Spirit at Dandenong Stadium, 7pm Saturday.