Capitals' eighth straight clinches first minor premiership since 2009
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Capitals' eighth straight clinches first minor premiership since 2009

The Canberra Capitals have won their first minor premiership in 10 years after taking down the Sydney Flames with an eighth straight victory on Sunday.

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The most successful club in WNBL history will finish the season on top of the ladder for the first time since the 2008-09 season after bagging two road wins in the penultimate round of the season.

Canberra Capitals skipper Kelsey Griffin finished with 16 points against Sydney on Sunday.

Canberra Capitals skipper Kelsey Griffin finished with 16 points against Sydney on Sunday.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Canberra took down reigning champions Townsville Fire on Friday then clinched their first home final in eight years with a 99-79 win in Sydney on Sunday.

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Leilani Mitchell starred with 24 points and eight rebounds against the Flames, while MVP favourite Kelsey Griffin (16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) fell just short of a triple-double.

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The Capitals have won a record seven championships but this summer will be their first postseason in eight years and coach Paul Goriss said it's fantastic to have the club back where it belongs.

"It’s a great result for the club and our fans and the Canberra community, but it's special for us knowing where the club has been and to get it back to that place where it once was," Goriss said.

"To finish the season in top spot is great and also just knowing we’ve done a great job in respecting the rich history of the Capitals.

"We’re back."

The Canberra Capitals will finish top of the WNBL ladder for the first time in 10 years.

The Canberra Capitals will finish top of the WNBL ladder for the first time in 10 years. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Canberra will play the first of a three-game semi-finals series at the AIS Arena on January 25.

The Capitals haven't played a home final since they won through to the grand final in March 2011 and Goriss said securing home-court advantage was significant.

"To play that first game of finals series at home where you're comfortable on your court and the fans are making noise, it will really help us get off to the start we need," Goriss said.

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"Hopefully we’ll get close to a sell-out at the AIS Arena, but the important thing is we're at home getting the best preparation possible."

It marks a remarkable transformation the Canberra club that lost 13 straight games last season and Goriss put the turnaround down to his recruiting class.

Griffin, Mitchell, Kia Nurse and Kelly Wilson have enjoyed standout first seasons in the capital and they're all hitting their straps at the business end of the season.

"It's that time of the year you want your better players performing well and they know we're coming up to finals now," Goriss said.

"We have players with experience winning WNBL championships. They know what's at stake and that was a huge part of the reason I recruited them, they've been there and done it all before.

"But the job isn't done and there's no way I'm letting myself or the girls get too far ahead of ourselves and start celebrating.

"I won't even celebrate finishing top, it's nice icing on the cake but not what we want. We set out to win the WNBL championship and that's what we plan on doing.

"Winners practice winning."

The Capitals next Bendigo Spirit away in their final game of the regular season on Saturday.

AT A GLANCE:

Canberra Capitals 99 (Leilani Mitchell 24 points and eight assists, Kelsey Griffin 16 points and 11 rebounds) bt Sydney Flames 79 (Tahlia Tupaea 22 points, Belinda Snell 15 points)

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

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