Garbin performance buoys Flames women’s coach, while men’s coach ‘won’t lose sleep’ over lacklustre second half as sides overcome East Perth

Stuart HortonSound Telegraph
Rockingham's Darcee Garbin was the stand out performer in the Flames win over East Perth.
Camera IconRockingham's Darcee Garbin was the stand out performer in the Flames win over East Perth. Credit: Stuart Horton

It was a tale of two third quarters for the Rockingham Flames on Saturday night at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.

While the club won both contests against East Perth Eagles, the manner of each victory left both coaches with plenty to ponder ahead of Friday’s clashes with Willetton.

The Flames women prevailed 83-53, and while the 30-point margin was comfortable in the end, for much of the first half they found themselves in a gruelling contest, with multiple lead changes and the Eagles’ hustle and determination belying their status as the bottom team in the WSBL.

In the absence of Maddie Allen, star recruit Darcee Garbin found herself playing at centre and took some time to adjust to the new role before finishing with 25 points, while Paris Duffield started at point guard after a calf injury ruled out Janelle Adams, and added 16 to the score.

Darcee Garbin added five from the free throw line on her way to 25 points.
Camera IconDarcee Garbin added five from the free throw line on her way to 25 points.

Coach Craig Reynolds said his team knew the Eagles would play a zone defence and it took time for the players to adapt, as well as some readjustments at half-time, before they broke the shackles and started to run up the score after the main break.

“We forced things, we tried to force the ball into the high and low post, so we made adjustments into how we got into the zone, adjustments to the scout, and that really opened the game for us in the second half,” he said.

“We adjusted our defensive style in the second half too and I think that contributed to us pulling away. We kept them to 20-something points in the second half, which was good.”

Flames women's co-captain Ella Kennedy puts up a three point attempt.
Camera IconFlames women's co-captain Ella Kennedy puts up a three point attempt.

Reynolds admitted his team’s starts to games in recent weeks “haven’t been good”, but he was positive about the impact Garbin had had on the team in just two games since returning to Rockingham from Germany, especially her link-up with fellow big Chris Boag.

“At this stage, you can’t take any team for granted in the league this year, we’ve got to come ready to play every game and our starts the past few weeks haven’t been good,” Reynolds said.

Ariana Wheki saw 10 minutes of court time agains East Perth.
Camera IconAriana Wheki saw 10 minutes of court time agains East Perth.

The men’s clash threw up the opposite scenario, with the Flames men dominant on their way to 52 first-half points, before taking their foot off the gas in the second to overcome the Eagles 77-60.

Coach Ryan Petrik said after being up by more than 30 points, and leading by 27 at half time, he understood why his side lacked application in the second half but he wouldn’t “lose much sleep” over it.

He also pointed to the Flames holding an opponent to a score in the 60s for the fourth straight time, but added he was less than happy with a second-half performance that saw the Flames cough up the ball 17 times and add just 25 to the scoreboard.

Caleb White and Chudier Pal were valuable contributors in the win over the Eagles.
Camera IconCaleb White and Chudier Pal were valuable contributors in the win over the Eagles.

“We let it get away from us by trying to get fancy with the ball, like we did in Bunbury the week before and we’ve done many times through the season after building a big lead,” he said.

“It was all us trying to make highlight reel passes and not making the simple play like we did in the first half. We didn’t care about looking after the ball, but in fairness to the boys, we were up 30 at one point in the first half so you can kind of understand where it comes from.

“I don’t like it, and they’ll get reminded in game review that we don’t like it, but I kind of understand it as well.”

Home fans got their first look at former Wildcats skipper Brad Robbins on court in Rockingham.
Camera IconHome fans got their first look at former Wildcats skipper Brad Robbins on court in Rockingham.

Petrik also shouldered some of the responsibility for a lacklustre second half, saying he felt he rotated the team “too hard and too suddenly”, which resulted in an imbalance of combinations on the floor.

“When you get up that much you naturally rotate more than you would normally and have these weird combinations of players on the floor together,” he said.

“We’re a big team, but I think at one point we had three guards that are all 6’1 on the court together at the same time, which for us never happens because we’re so gigantic in our first eight guys.

Luke Travers put up 13 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists.
Camera IconLuke Travers put up 13 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists.

“I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it because the reality is when we had to be good, we were really good. Offensively, we moved the ball beautifully and defensively we were phenomenal.

“We’re now top three in each of our key defensive KPIs in the league, which is really good and holds us in good stead,” he said.

The Flames take on Willetton Tigers at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Friday night. The women tip-off at 6.30pm and the men at 8.30pm.

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