MATCH REPORT – Lightning light up Fire in Indigenous festivities
A dominant opening quarter from Alanna Smith in our home Indigenous round match set the tone for a victory over the Townsville Fire at The Lights Community and Sports Centre 78-57.
Smith amassed a double double of 24 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in a strong 31-minute performance and was the dominant figure for the home side. Courtney Woods dropped a season high for the Townsville Fire with 21 points including 3 of 6 beyond the arc and 5 rebounds for the depleted Fire.
THE WRAP Q BY Q
It took two minutes for Smith to open both teams account, but she quickly got her way to the opening 6 points of the match leading the Lightning to a 10-2 opening. Steph Reid (10 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds for the match) and Woods started the scoring for the Fire with a Mia Murray triple (4 of 9 for the match) bringing it back to 12-9. It was Smith however proving tough for the Fire to handle as she notched 12 points in the opening quarter. A triple to Steph Talbot handed the Lightning the lead 20-13 after one.
Kylee Shook showed her moves with the shake n bake footwork to open the second with the Fire drawing fouls early. Shook however still ran up 6 straight points to keep the Lightning in front 26-21 despite some buckets from Reid and a triple from Micaela Cocks. A beautiful piece of side-to-side ball movement and well-timed passing found Abbey Wehrung open for some big shots as the Lightning with Talbot’s well timed pass finding Chelsea Brook on the break extended their lead to a 41-26 advantage at the half.
Smith in the third continued to pile on the pain on the Fire along with Wehrung (13 points on 3 of 4 from the perimeter) who reeled off back-to-back triples to push it out to 49-34. The Fire found a spark through Woods who grabbed a quick 5 points but Talbot created the and1 and the Lightning went on a late 9-0 run of their own to hold a comfortable lead 60-41 with one to go.
Woods dropped the first big one of the last with the Lightning starting to own the paint themselves and causing the Fire to fumble including Reid who lost control of her dribble and footing on one play; Talbot’s and Sam Simon’s triples nailing the contest shut 72-52 with 3:27 to go. The bench got a good run at it with some of South Australia’s elite talent on the floor including Tayla Brazel and Brooke Basham as the Lightning ran out 78-57 in convincing fashion.
THE MOMENTS LIGHTNING STRUCK
– 10 points came from 6 turnovers in the first quarter led by Smith’s 12 points, 3 rebounds and efficiency of 12; the Lightning limited the Fire to 8 rebounds as well
– 8 points for Shook along with 4 rebounds and an increase in 10 in efficiency saw her the dominant force in the second quarter
– At halftime the Lightning had scored 12 points from turnovers, kept the Fire to 15 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the paint (26 points) and chalked up 11 assists to 3
– The Lightning’s last three minutes of the third yielded a 9-0 run which stopped any chance of a Fire revival
– Steph Talbot still had a huge influence on this contest with 10 points, 7 rebounds and assists; 6 of those boards and 5 of those dishes in the first half setting up her team-mates
THE PLAYERS VIEW
Smith gave plaudits to her team-mates for helping her dominate the front court and her matchup with Zitina Aokuso; barely sighted in the match. “It’s a team game, my teammates made it easy for me today making good reads and passes and just made it really easy. Playing with good people in a really free flowing environment is a massive credit to our coaches Chris (Lucas) and Natty (Hurst) who make me feel confident on the floor and my teammates like I said find me when I’m open and make really good passes. If I’m not open their open so it’s fun to play when you feel confident in yourself and your team-mates as well.” Smith told Lightning legend Rachael Sporn in the ABC TV post-game interview.
Adjusting to the way the game is called in the WNBL has also been a recipe for success for the recently signed training contracted player to the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. “I think coming in I had to make a huge adjustment and had a lot of time to think when I was sitting on the bench. I think being a bit freer and knowing how this league is called which is different to playing internationally helped as did my teammates who have been supporting me in that too. We keep it really light-hearted; we are pretty fresh most of the time because we’ve got those young legs apparently and they just know how to have fun you can see; we have a lot of joy in playing basketball together.”
Chris Lucas also spoke to Sporn post-match and despite some challenging defences from Shannon Seebohm and the Fire; the Lightning were able to overcome it. “A lot of credit goes to Townsville for throwing in the zone which slowed us up and we expected that it was going to be a bit of a grind today, teams rise when there’s people missing, and we’ve done the same thing. Offensively we didn’t flow as well as we’d like at times but defensively, we had them at 26 at half time so that always puts you in a great position to get the result.”
WHEN THE NEXT STRIKE COMES
The win gives the Lightning a fourth win in succession and with a 9-3 record for the season, a tenth win on the road in the West may gift the Lightning a first finals berth since the 19-20 season. The challenge of four games in eight days will prove the mettle of this unit. We fly to Perth Sunday then the time clock which is so different playing at 10pm (SA Time) over there means we have a really tough week for the group. We play two games Monday and Wednesday night, come back on Thursday then prepare for Melbourne at home on Sunday. We’ll have no training just shooting and we’ll see how we go from there,” Lucas said about the team’s preparation for the week ahead.
Potentially its made more hazardous after the Lynx were stunned by the Flames in a bottom beating top match. The fans of the red army over there will be hungry as will the Lynx.
If the season hadn’t shifted gears, its about to this coming week. Hang on for the ride Lightning fans…
ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 78 (Smith 24, Wehrung 13, Shook 12, Talbot 10) DEFEATED TOWNSVILLE FIRE 57 (Woods 21, Murray 12, Reid 10) at the Lights Community and Sports Centre