With their season on the line, Rockingham Flames remain confident says Petrik

Stuart HortonSound Telegraph
Josh Ritchart, Caleb White and Greg Hire confer during the Flames' loss to Perry Lakes.
Camera IconJosh Ritchart, Caleb White and Greg Hire confer during the Flames' loss to Perry Lakes. Credit: Stuart Horton

The 2019 State Basketball League has thrown up plenty of challenges for the Rockingham Flames men’s team, but few have been as difficult as the one they face tomorrow night at Bendat Basketball Centre.

The Flames are a game down and have surrendered home court advantage to the Perry Lakes Hawks after last Saturday night’s 81-89 quaterfinal game 1 loss in Rockingham, and now face a fight to save their season.

But coach Ryan Petrik remains steadfastly confident his players can turn things around against the reigning champions, despite gifting their opponents 19 points off turnovers, and shooting poorly from the free throw line and beyond the arc last week.

Greg Hire made 1-6 from three.
Camera IconGreg Hire made 1-6 from three. Credit: Stuart Horton

Petrik said his players were more subdued than usual at training this week, which he called “a little bit out of character”, but their performances against the same opponent during the regular season had showed the Flames were capable of playing much better.

“The general feeling after the game was with having to change our starting five five minutes before the game starts, we go 19-4 points on turnovers, 11-21 from the foul line, 10-41 from three... all that and we only lost by eight,” he said.

“That game screams of a 30-point blowout and we lost by eight. We should’ve lost by 35 or 40 but we lost by eight, so we haven’t lost confidence.

“Perry Lakes have seen the good Rockingham twice and we got them by 20-odd both times, and they’ve seen the awful Rockingham once and they beat us by eight.

“They’re clearly very good but we know we can be a helluva lot better than that.”

Flames skipper Ryan Godfrey drives to the basket.
Camera IconFlames skipper Ryan Godfrey drives to the basket. Credit: Stuart Horton

The Flames’ game plan went out the window before tip-off, forced into a late change to their starting line-up, which is a problem they won’t encounter tomorrow night.

Although the solution - starting Josh Ritchart, who has been on restricted minutes since returning from eight weeks out with a calf injury - is less than ideal according to Petrik.

“Suddenly Greg Hire’s trying to guard Brian Carlwell to start the game, which is clearly not a match-up we’d worked on,” Petrik said of last Saturday night.

Ryan Godfrey sends up one of the Flames 41 attempts from three-point range.
Camera IconRyan Godfrey sends up one of the Flames 41 attempts from three-point range. Credit: Stuart Horton

“We had a plan we worked on the entire week and that plan went out the window before we’d even started. We’ll change our starting five and make it more stable.

“Unfortunately we’ve got to really test him (Ritchart) and his injury when he’s clearly nowhere near 100 per cent fit. But we’re now down 1-0 so what do you do?”

What do you do? Get the ball in the hoop, for a start.

“Clearly we’ve got to shoot it better,” Petrik said.

“We can play as well as we want but if you shoot 11-21 from the foul line you’re probably going to lose, same as 10-41 from three.”

Petrik said the Flames’ coaching staff watched back clips of their 41 three-point attempts and classified 34 as “wide open looks”, which made it clear the team’s issue wasn’t with the plays they ran.

Justin Beard watches on as one of his three-point attempts misses.
Camera IconJustin Beard watches on as one of his three-point attempts misses. Credit: Stuart Horton

“(Perry Lakes) did everything we thought they’d try and do and they ran all the plays we scouted and knew, and they got out of it anyway,” he said.

“Hopefully it was just one of those nights. Our guys didn’t catch fire at all and consequently it was game over. It’s as simple as putting the ball in the hoop...sometimes it is that simple unfortunately.

“That’s the hard part, we can’t shoot it for them. So we’ve got some adjustments in rotations to make and we’ve done a boatload of shooting at practice.”

The Flames play Perry Lakes at Bendat Basketball Centre tomorrow night. Tip-off is at 8.30pm. If the Flames win, game three will be at Mike Barnett Sports Complex at 8pm on Saturday night.

Lose and their season is over.

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