It was a perfect weekend for the Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames in Round 6 of the NBL1 West, with the club coming away with four wins from as many games in a tough doubleheader.
The Flames started off with a couple of hard-fought wins over the Perry Lakes Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre on Friday night and followed it up with two more Ws against the Perth Redbacks at home on Saturday.
The margins couldn’t have been finer for the women as they prevailed by a single point in each of their contests, defeating Perry Lakes 62-61 and coming from behind late to bite the Redbacks 88-87, while the men held on in a tight clash against the Hawks 77-74 before running away from the Redbacks to seal an 89-75 win.
Alex Ciabattoni carried much of the offensive load on Friday night, collecting 23 points as the only Flames’ player to register double figures in scoring, as the visitors held on in the final stanza despite going into it with an 11-point lead.
Chris Boag was vital at both ends with 4 offensive rebounds among her 8 total, 9 points, block and steal, while Tayah Burrows had 6 assists to go with 9 points and two steals.
On Saturday, the Flames jumped out to a 12-0 lead inside the opening three minutes before the Redbacks wrested their way back into the contest thanks largely to some lockdown shooting from Makailah Dyer and Briana Bailey, with the latter landing 7 of 10 attempts from outside the arc.
The Flames lead at the main break but surrendered the lead for the first time in the opening seconds of a seesawing second half, as the lead swapped 14 times before Jorjah Smith held her nerve late to send the home fans into raptures.
The recent arrival hit a crucial three-point attempt with 41 seconds remaining to bring it back to within a single possession game after the Redbacks jumped out to a five-point lead with less than a minute to go, and then, with 18 only seconds remaining, Smith again found herself in possession with a clear shooting opportunity outside the arc.
Those inside Mike Barnett Sports Complex held their collective breaths as the ball left Smith’s hand, and their exhalation was a mighty roar as the shot kissed the net on its way through to put the home side back in front.
Bailey threw up a prayer of her own in the final seconds for the Redbacks, but the basketball gods smiled on the Flames as her attempt hit the iron and bounced safely away.
Burrows (22 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds), Boag (20 points and 6 rebounds) and Ciabattoni (19 points and 9 assists) were again instrumental in the win, while former Flame Maddie Allen registered a rare rebounds and assists double-double (12 and 14 respectively) on her first competitive return to the Hot House.
In the men’s games, an excellent opening quarter, in which they scored 33 points, set up the Flames’ win over the Hawks on Friday, with the two sides scoring just 25 points between them in an attritional final quarter.
The Flames were restricted to just 10 points in the second quarter to trail at the break, but in turn restricted the Hawks to just 27 second-half points to put the hurt of last weekend’s controversial loss to Geraldton behind them, as they showed great grit and character to hold on late and followed up on Saturday with another tough showing.
Skipper Ryan Godfrey impacted the scoresheet in both games, scoring 17 on Friday and 23 against the Redbacks, while Cirkook Riak went for 17 points in both games, and Justin Beard scored 16 against the Hawks.
Travis Durnin registered a double-double of 12 and 10 on Saturday to mark a successful 100th SBL/NBL1 West game, while Greg Hire’s 200th game saw him collect 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists after missing Friday’s game.
The results see the Flames jump to third on both the men’s and women’s ladders ahead of this weekend’s home fixture against the Cockburn Cougars on Saturday night.
Tip-off for the women is at 6pm with the men’s game at 8pm. Purchase your tickets here.