A dominant first half against a depleted Slammers team was the tale of the tape in Friday night’s Flames vs Slammers contest at a packed Mike Barnett Basketball Stadium.
With the home fans out in force, the home team registered an impressive opening 20 minutes to bounce back to the winners circle.
The first quarter action saw penetration as the Flames primary offence of choice while the Slammers tried their best to match the home team’s aggressiveness at the ring.
Rockingham then rattled off multiple stops while draining consecutive threes to see an early 20-9 first quarter lead before Coach Harper had seen enough, calling the games first time out with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Slammers reacted off the timeout with zone and had immediate success with a 6-0 run of their own. The home team’s flow was stunted by some simple turnovers while to their credit, the visitors were good enough to hit contested shots. At the conclusion of the opening quarter, the Flames held a 23-16 advantage.
Both teams opened the second quarter exchanging three point baskets but it was Slammers’ Georgia Denehey leaving the court after a head knock with six minutes remaining that was the most significant part of the second term action.
In her absence, guard Ebony Bilcich provided effective minutes off the bench as she contributed six second quarter points in place of Denehey.
With Denehey joining the already missing Raya Thomson and import Tori Fisher off court, the Slammers depth was truly tested and remarkably they were able to stay with the home team to only be down by 15 points, 48-33 at half time.
D’Lesha Lloyd led all scorers with 18 points in a dominant first half performance, scoring in a myriad of ways and giving the Slammers defence all sorts of issues. To add further headaches for the visitors, the Flames offence was pacing at an incredible 57% from the field.
South West had import Charlotte van Kleef register 13 points but she was kept in check by the Flames defence, only registering six shots for the half.
Depleted and short on experience, the Slammers struggled to match up with their more experienced opponents and the game whittled away as a contest. The Flames picked up right where they left off prior to half time, restricting the visitors to only two points in the first five minutes while piling on more points to extend the margin beyond 20 points.
With a comfortable lead established, and the game effectively done as a contest, Coach Petrik rested starters Lloyd, Hetherington, Bourne and Allen. The young Slammers used the occasion to add to their score line and at one stage reduced the deficit to 14 points, before a Chelsea Armstrong three-pointer towards the end of the third saw a 65-48 three quarter score line.
The fourth quarter showcased the home team’s offensive prowess with their ball movement particularly impressive. However, the young Slammers team never relented in their task and despite looking like they were going to be blown out, manage to hold a margin of 18 points and were only out scored by 3 points in the second half. In the end it was a comfortable 82-64 Rockingham victory.
For the winners, Lloyd finished with 26 points and 5 rebounds while Maddie Allen put up another double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Slammers had Charlotte van Kleef end up with 20 points and guard Ebony Bilcich adding 11 hard-earned points.
While the Flames will be pleased to return to winning ways, the Slammers now face the prospect of playing Joondalup Wolves without Denehey.
Having failed to return to the floor in tonight’s contest after the head knock, there is every chance that she may miss Saturday night’s contest at home.
Article by Vlad Alava
Photos by Sports Imagery Australia