Article by Vlad Alava, Elevate Athlete Management
NOT even the return of star player Darcee Garbin was enough to secure the win for her Rockingham Flames as they lost a nail biter 77-76 away to the South West Slammers in a Friday night special at the Eaton Recreation Centre.
Garbin’s much-anticipated return was impressive but ultimately not enough to get her team to victory.
A fast-paced first quarter by both teams ended in 26-20 advantage for the visitors.
Both sides showed a willingness to move the ball on offense and it was a close contest for the opening 10 minutes of the game with the Flames playing from the front most of the first quarter.
The visitors got early value from their bench with eight early points while for the home side, Courtney Bayliss’ three-point accuracy kept the Flames zone honest early.
The Slammers continued to exchange baskets with the visitors and showed their typical hunger for the contest to even the score with four minutes to go in the first half at 34-apiece and the close nature of the game continued as the first half fizzled out to 39-38 Flames lead.
Coaches of both teams would’ve been displeased with the interior defense of their teams in the first half but it took a back seat to what was a pulsating third period of play.
The two opponents again pressed their claims for ascendency with the Slammers attempting to stifle the Flames offence with zone while Makailah Dyer caught rhythm in the third to amass a quick 22 points for the game.
The Slammers even held the lead for the better part of the third quarter before Garbin and Christina Boag steadied the ship to help Flames to a one-point advantage leading into the fourth.
South West started the last quarter with back to back Bayliss three pointers to claw back the lead early in the last and the close trend of the game continued deep into the last seconds of the game.
Again, both sides exchanged baskets with Dyer and Maddie Allen helping to keep the scoreboard ticking over for their respective teams. The visitors edged ahead courtesy of an Allen to Boag layup with 1:41 to go but the Slammers were able to again re-gain the lead with a Brittni Montgomery layup off a smart pass by Kate Fielding with 37 seconds left in regulation.
Coming off a timeout, a well executed Flames set saw them attack a mismatch inside with Garbin edging the game back in favour of Rockingham with 17 seconds remaining.
With coach Nathan Grover calling the last play of the game and with a chance to snap their losing streak, the home team were able to again hit Montgomery on a lay-up to win the game despite Allen last gasp shot going through the hoop after the siren.
Makailah Dyer finished with 29 points while the go-ahead basket was part of Brittni Montgomery’s haul of 18 points along with 13 rebounds.
The Flames were led by the duo of Darcee Garbin and Christina Boag who finished with 28 and 25 points respectively along with nine rebounds each.
The Slammers upset win snaps their losing streak and breathes their season back to life heading into next week’s home game against the Suns.
Rockingham would be disappointed not to come away with victory but allowing 40 points in the paint including the crucial last two baskets of the Slammers run did not help their cause.
Adding to their woes was the loss of guard Janelle Adams (calf) through the game with emerging point guard Tayah Burrows already out indefinitely due to injury. Craig Reynolds’ team will face off against East Perth next week.
Photo by Sports Imagery Australia