The Southside Flyers remain undefeated after their impressive round two win against their cross town rivals the Melbourne Boomers in front of another big crowd at the State Basketball Centre. In an all-star showdown, with Australian Opals on both teams, the Flyers took down the defending champions in a game of gritty defence and hard-earned baskets, winning 67-57 at the final buzzer.
Rebecca Cole starred for the Flyers, posting 14 points, four assists and four steals, while Kayla Thornton backed up her round one performance with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Young gun Nyadiew Puoch also contributed with nine points on 60 percent from the field, on a night where scoring was hard to come by.
Flyers guard Maddy Rocci said the team had focused on the defensive side of the ball heading into the Melbourne derby against the Boomers.
“To get that win is obviously massive to have on the board, but I think there’s still a lot of work to do… I think for us it’s working on our defence and getting consecutive stops as it helps us flow into our offense,” she said.
“To hold a team to 57 points is something that’s pretty good so we will continue to work on that.”
Kayla Thornton led the narrative for the first quarter, scoring 10 of the Flyer’s 21 total points, converting two tough ‘and ones’ along the way with aggressive drives to the basket. Both teams were defending hard and forcing tough shots, but the Flyers won the turnover battle, forcing six by the Boomers by the end of period while only having two of their own.
Sarah Blicavs set the tone early in the second, immediately answering back a Boomers three with a three of her own, and followed it up with two trips to the foul line to keep the Flyers in front. Their determined defence continued, grabbing three steals and making the Boomers earn their shots in close. Rebecca Cole took over on the offensive end, scoring seven in the period without missing an attempt, to dampen Tiffany Mitchell’s five quick points before the end of the quarter. The Flyers led 37-30 going into the half-time break.
The Flyers were forcing the Boomers to chuck shots at the end of the shot clock to begin the third, but they eventually broke through with consecutive three pointers to cut the lead to within three. Kayla Thornton revved up again, along with Rebecca Cole to keep the Flyers in font with threes of their own. Tiffany Mitchell was left on the ground for two minutes with an injury scare from a hard collision, as former Flyer Kristy Wallace scored nine in the quarter to get the Boomers within two points to make it 51-49 heading into the last.
Both teams failed to score until a minute and a half through into last quarter, as prominent defence led to turnovers and stops at either end. It was the Flyers who eventually broke through, finding baskets, while continuing to stop the Boomers. Nyadiew Puoch came up big in the clutch to put the game out of reach, scoring seven in the last to ice the game for the Flyers in the first Melbourne derby of season.
Flyers guard Maddy Rocci said the team chemistry is flowing at the moment and the mutual support is helping them claim their early wins.
“We’re a team that’s up and about, we love each other on and off the court, so it’s good to have a team that loves each other’s’ successes. No matter who’s out there at the time it’s always good and I think our bench energy is something that’s going to help us throughout the season,” she said.
The win gives the Flyers a one-nil lead in the race for the Michele Timms Cup for the 2022/23 season. The Flyers and Boomers battle for the Cup, named in honour of one of Australia’s legendary basketballers, with the winner decided by the team wining the most games between the teams each season.
The Flyers next game is in Townsville next Wednesday, November 16 against Townsville Fire at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. Tip off is 6:30pm (AEDT) and will be live on ESPN.
Next Home Game – vs Sydney Flames on Thursday Decmeber 1st at the State Basketball Centre. Tip Off at 6:30pm. Click Here to purchase tickets
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