Rockingham Flames ready to ignite for home opener
State Basketball League action returns to Rockingham tomorrow night with the Flames hosting Perry Lakes Hawks in their first home games of the 2019 season.
After a round 1 bye, the Flames women are raring to get their season under way and rookie coach Craig Reynolds believes it’s a good time for his team to face a side he expects to be among the challengers for top seedings at season’s end.
The game, which tips off at 6.30pm, is Reynold’s first as a WSBL head coach and he is excited not just to take charge of his own side, but to also see the Flames’ new recruits in action.
“We’ve worked hard in the off-season with our strength and conditioning, and bringing five new girls into the program so we’re now ready to go and excited to see how we play,” he said.
“Playing at home in front of our home crowd for the first time is really exciting, we’re expecting a big crowd.
“I’m really looking forward to the new girls in our squad playing for the Flames for the first time. We’ve got Janelle Adams, Chris Boag, Tayah Burrows and Paris Duffield suiting up for the first time.”
Reynolds said the club’s showing in the Pre-Season Blitz - where they lost all three games - wasn’t a true reflection of where his side was at in its preparations and said he was actually buoyed by the 57-79 loss to Wanneroo Wolves.
“Being undermanned against a Wanneroo team we think will be top three, we were really competitive with that group of girls. We competed hard and came away from that loss feeling confident we can match their style and level and play,” he said.
“The other two (Blitz) games were about giving the juniors a run and mixing up the squad. The Wanneroo game was our main game, a full side game. We came away with a loss but they were at full strength and we were missing three starters.”
Turning his attention to tomorrow night, Reynolds said his side needed to be cautious of Perry Lakes point guard Jamie Cherry but was also confident Boag could cause the Hawks problems, which made him confident of claiming a win.
“Perry Lakes are always tough, they were the 2017 champions. They’ve got a very good young junior group coming through and they’ve recruited really well replacing some of their senior players,” he said.
“We think we’ve got an opportunity to get them this week. We match up well, we’ve got an advantage with Chris Boag inside compared to their third big. They’re going to be a top four team so it’s a good challenge for us.
“Jamie Cherry, their point guard is from North Carolina and was close to being selected in the WNBA draft, she’s a quality scorer, we’re going to have to shut her down... but they’re missing Nat Burton, so it’s an opportunity to get them early which will help us with seedings later in the year.”
Things don’t get easier for the men following a 70-86 defeat at last season’s minor premiers Geraldton last Saturday night.
The Flames men will take on the team that eliminated them in the semifinals on their way to be crowned 2018 champions, Perry Lakes, not with revenge on their mind but seeking an improvement on retaining the ball and a better effort on the glass.
“When you have 24 turnovers you’re always going to get your backside kicked, and we gave up 31 offensive rebounds; it doesn’t matter how much talent you’ve got you’ll lose that game 100 times out of 100, and that’s exactly what happened,” men’s coach Ryan Petrik said.
The Flames will likely be without Greg Hire again following his “big week” celebrating the Perth Wildcats NBL championship, while Callum Beard and Brad Robbins are still at least three weeks away from returning from hamstring injuries, but Petrik said he wouldn’t use their absence as an excuse.
“Everyone’s got injury issues. Geraldton did last week, Perry Lakes will this week,” Petrik said.
The women tip off at 6.30pm at Mike Barnett Sports Complex, with the men to follow at 8.30pm.
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