THE Rockingham Flames looked the team to beat when the roster was assembled for 2019, that became even more the case with Alex Ciabattoni added and they delivered a dominant Grand Final display against Warwick Senators on Friday night.
While there were hurdles along the way including the change of coach midway through the season, it looked like a Flames team that if things all came together could prove unstoppable come finals time and that has proven the case.
With the youngest championship winning coach in SBL history, Keegan Crawford, in charge Rockingham were unstoppable in the Grand Final on the back of having eliminated the Mandurah Magic and Perry Lakes Hawks to get there.
“It really hasn’t sunk in and it won’t for a long time,” the 23-year-old said post-match.
“I’m having a lot of people tell me straight away telling me I should retire having won one from one, but the feeling won’t sink in for a while.
“But even just my initial reactions are that it’s so surreal and I couldn’t be happier doing it with this club and this group of girls.”
The trio of bigs all came up trumps for Rockingham with Christina Boag, Maddie Allen and Darcee Garbin all influential as was Ciabattoni as point guard who was the last piece of the puzzle to fall for the Flames.
The Flames role players all delivered too including Ariana Hetherington, Chelsea Petrik, Tayah Burrows and Janelle Adams as they dominated from start to finish on Grand Final night, leading by as much as 33 before winning 85-56.
Allen was named Grand Final MVP but it was a night where the contributions from so many of the Flames players was key to victory.
It’s a first championship win for Rockingham since going back-to-back in 2014 and 2015.
While it was a Grand Final night to forget for Warwick, it was a tremendous job by coach Dion Dagostino to get the Senators to their first decider since 2007 in his first season in charge.
WOMEN’S SBL GRAND FINAL PREVIEW
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DAGOSTINO HOPES IT’S THIRD TIME LUCKY AS COACH
CRAWFORD PROUD TO HAVE FLAMES FIRING INTO GRAND FINAL
Maddie Allen was Grand Final MVP for her efforts at both ends of the floor for Rockingham with 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Christina Boag added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Flames while Alex Ciabattoni was superb running the ship with 14 points, 10 boards and four assists.
Darcee Garbin didn’t have the shooting night she’d hope for but still had 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Chelsea Petrik contributed eight points, Ariana Hetherington six points and three rebounds, Janelle Adams four points, Ella Kennedy three points and two boards, and Tayah Burrows two points, four rebounds and four assists.
Petrik was playing her 299th game and having played in one Grand Final before in a loss for Kalamunda against the Joondalup Wolves, this means the world to her especially to be co-captain.
“It’s a crazy feeling, it really is. It literally is all I’ve been wanting for the last 14 years so it’s very exciting,” Petrik said.
“It definitely makes it mean more to be one of the captains too and it’s nice to be on the side of the team playing well this time. The only other Grand Final I’ve been in I was the other team so this was very good.
“All I wanted was to have our whole bench play. I really wanted all the girls to get on the court and to be able to win like that meant that everyone could play. That’s what I wanted more than anything in the end.”
It was a tough Grand Final night for the Senators with Stacey Barr top-scoring with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Samaria Howard finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, and Bianca Villegas eight points, four boards and four blocks.
Sam Roscoe finished with five points and four rebounds, Nicole Jorre De St Jorre five points and three boards, and Tayla Hepburn five points and three rebounds.
Tayla Hepburn scored first in the Grand Final but that would prove Warwick’s only lead of the night. Christina Boag responded for Rockingham before Chelsea Petrik knocked down a triple to get the Flames rolling.
By the time Tayah Burrows scored it was a 12-6 advantage and then 19-9 by quarter-time when Ariana Hetherington hit from downtown on the buzzer.
Rockingham opened the second term with a 13-2 run and with a 32-11 lead the game was just about over. With Boag and Maddie Allen finishing inside and then Alex Ciabattoni converting an and-one, the Flames were scoring at will and tormenting the Senators up the other end.
The Flames were up 23 when Ciabattoni hit from downtown but then just before half-time Stacey Barr caught fire for the Senators with three quick threes and 13 of her 16 points for the game in the space of three minutes.
Rockingham still led 51-31 at the half but the Flames weren’t done, going on a 9-0 early in the third quarter as the lead grew to 28.
Warwick didn’t give up the ghost and did manage a 7-0 run before three quarter-time but again Rockingham caught fire in the fourth. Petrik, Ciabattoni, Garbin and Ella Kennedy all hit threes as the lead ballooned to 33 before the Flames went on to win by 29.
WOMEN’S SBL GRAND FINAL 2019
CLASS 1 ORTHODONTICS ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 85 (Boag 17, Allen 17, Ciabattoni 14, Garbin 14)
BETHANIE WARWICK SENATORS 56 (Barr 16, Howard 12, Villegas 8)
Grand Final MVP: Maddie Allen