Hot Rockingham Flames burn Joondalup Wolves
The Rockingham Flames showed their credentials as legitimate championship contenders last Friday night, with the men’s and women’s teams recording impressive wins over their Joondalup Wolves counterparts.
New recruit Alex Ciabbatoni was influential throughout as the Flames women led at every break to win 76-62, while a 27-16 opening quarter from the men set up their 77-68 win over the league-leading Wolves.
The Wolves scored the first two points of the women’s contest but the 15 seconds that passed between Amber Land hitting the second of two successful free throws and Darcee Garbin levelling the scores was the only time the visitors would hold a lead.
Some impressive defence and eight points from Garbin and six more from Ciabbatoni saw the Flames hold a 19-12 first quarter lead, which they extended to 38-31 at half time.
The Wolves got within four points of the Flames halfway into the third quarter and then within two points with a little more than six minutes remaining in the final, but buckets to Ciabbatoni and Ella Kennedy, in her 200th game, pushed the lead back out.
A series of fouls on Garbin and Ciabbatoni, including a couple of banked and-one chances, saw the Flames’ lead out to 10 points and iced the contest with less than two minutes to play.
Garbin lead all scorers with 23 and eight rebounds, while Ciabbatoni finished with 22, six rebounds and three steals, and Maddie Allen 11 points and nine rebounds.
The industrious Ariana Hetherington, named player of the match, finished with eight points and seven rebounds, but it was her tenacity in driving to the basket and hustle in defence that stood out.
Caleb White caught a case of the hot hand early in the men’s game, hitting three from three beyond the arc.
When he hit his fourth from four attempts early in the second quarter the Flames’ lead was out to 14 points, before the Wolves rallied late in the term to reduce the margin to eight at the main break.
The Wolves had the better of the third quarter, outscoring the Flames 16-22 to send the teams into the final quarter with just a basket between them.
Player of the match Chudier Pal and White hit early buckets to keep the Wolves at arm’s length and the Flames weren’t headed thanks also to the intesity of Brad Robbins on defence, who forced a number of turnovers and got crucial tips on passes.
Pal put the cherry on top with a disrespectful dunk with no one near him and just two seconds left on the clock to round off a successful night for the club.
Coach Ryan Petrik called the nine-point win his team’s best performance of the season.
“We’ve had some very good wins with everybody, but this time no Hire, no Ritchart and Caleb playing on one leg... our two top scorers weren’t playing and our third top scorer was playing at 50 per cent,” he said.
“With all that, without our best team and to win anyway, it shows how far our defence has come in seven months and how good the win was.”
The results see the women’s team sitting a little more comfortably in sixth place, now just eight off top spot, while the men are level with Geraldton on 28 points, four adrift of Joondalup but with a game in hand.
The Flames take on the Perth Redbacks on Friday night as part of the SBL’s Heritage Round, with the men to also play the second instalment of the Anthony Exeter Cup. Tip-off for the women’s game is at 6.30pm at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
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