Rockingham Flames women facing season defining weekend, says coach Reynolds
It might only be round 8 in the State Basketball League, but this weekend’s double-header against Warwick and Willetton shapes as season defining for the Rockingham Flames women’s team according to coach Craig Reynolds.
The Flames have only played six games in the opening seven rounds of the season and sit in fifth spot with a 4-2 record, and are six points behind Willetton in fourth place thanks to early season scheduling.
Because the Geraldton Buccaneers and Goldfields Giants don’t field women’s teams, and three of the Flames men’s nine games have come against those opponents, the women have played four fewer games than the Tigers.
Reynolds, whose team split last weekend’s double header with Lakeside (an 85-109 loss) and Cockburn (an 86-67 win), said the “tough” weekend fixtures could either see his side set a solid foundation for the rest of the season or see them dragged into the mid-table mire.
“Both teams (Warwick and Willetton) are in form with winning streaks so this is a tough weekend for us, almost a season setting up weekend,” he said.
“If we win both we go 6-2, if not we’re 5-3 or 4-4 and that brings us back into the pack.
“Warwick has a really good starting five that we match up well with and a big-time scorer in Stacey Barr, who has lit up the league for years, and a couple of good Americans. We feel our bench depth will get us over the line, but they’re a really good team.”
The third-placed Senators have suffered just a single defeat from their opening six fixtures, while Saturday night’s opponent Willetton is 7-3 from 10.
“Willetton have been a bit of a surprise this season and have picked up a really good import in Laina Snyder,” Reynolds said.
“She’s pretty big but pretty mobile, so we’re going to have to work out ways to slow her down. She’s in really hot form coming into the weekend.”
Snyder was named the WSBL player of the week following a 25 points, 14 rebounds and 2 assist showing against Kalamunda last Thursday night and backing up with 18/6/4 against Mandurah on Sunday.
The Flames will be hoping for repeated big efforts from Maddie Allen and Chris Boag after the pair combined for 34 points and 32 rebounds in last Saturday night’s win over Cockburn, with both still recovering from recent bouts of illness.
Boag, recruited from QBL side Rockhampton Cyclones in the off season, has had a solid start to her Flames career, averaging just under 15 points and 9 rebounds per game despite admitting to the Hall of Flame podcast this week to feeling a little underdone at times this season.
“Friday night was not my best, especially defensively it was horrendous. To play a lot better on Saturday night was a lot better for me to feel I contributed to the team,” she said.
“Stats don’t always necessarily tell how well a player has performed. You can have horrible stats but defensively have a better game. It doesn’t always tell how a player has performed.”
Reynolds will also be hoping for continued improvement from busy guard Janelle Adams, whose effort in a losing side against Lakeside he called “fantastic”.
The men’s team will be without Greg Hire for its games against the Senators and Tigers, with the four-time NBL champ selected in Australia’s FIBA 3x3 World Cup qualifiers against Puerto Rico, Romania and Czech Republic in Puerto Rico on May 4 and 5.
Hire recently had a taste of 3x3 - an ‘urbanised’ form of basketball played three a side on one hoop - at the NBL 3x3 Pro Hustle in Geelong last month.
While the Flames expected to be without Hire at times throughout the season given his commitments to the Wildcats and his A Stitch in Time charity, coach Ryan Petrik hadn’t factored in losing him to 3x3 basketball.
“We hadn’t guessed he’d be missing for 3x3 but we’d mentally factored in he’d play 18 games, give or take, from the 26 game season given he’s got his charity stuff, the Wildcats and having some time off after the NBL season,” he said.
“(Warwick) are really good and really big, so not having Greg this weekend is not ideal, but we’ll have enough length in the bank and hopefully get Ryan Godfrey back (from a hamstring injury). The Friday night game will be really, really good.”
The 6-3 Flames face the fourth-placed 5-2 Senators at Mike Barnett Stadium on Friday before facing the 4-6 Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
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