FIRE & FLAMES PRODUCE THRILLER
By Laura Hanlon
In a titanic tussle, the JCU Townsville Fire managed to hold off a fast-finishing Brydens Sydney Uni Flames to win 88-85, in Sydney.
Tense, down-to-the-wire struggles seem to be the order of the day whenever the Flames and the Fire clash and this second-edition for the season did not disappoint, following the Flames downing the Fire, also by three points back in Round 3.
With both teams near the top of the ladder and both dropping their game on Wednesday night there was much to play for and the Fire responded best, rocketing out of the blocks to take Quarter 1, 26-18. Establishing this early lead would prove decisive for Townsville in the overall context of the game.
The large Flames home-crowd were transfixed as the gap between the sides narrowed to a single-point at times, with the Flames throwing everything at the Fire in the 4th Quarter, only to fall short by those elusive three points.
Townsville Fire Captain, Suzy Batkovic, was at her supreme best with a game-high 26 points; 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Hosting NSW Country Round the Flames would have been wishing one of their many country juniors might play out-of –their- skin, however it was Batkovic, a Newcastle Junior, who was the star of the promotion. Batkovic is averaging just on 20 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. Sydney Wiese off the bench was a wonderful sidekick chipping in 15 points. Playing in her city namesake seems to agree with Wiese. The ever reliable Cayla George also made her presence felt scoring 14 points.
It always hurts doubly hard when you lose at home, however, the Flames chased relentlessly, breathing down the Fires neck till the final buzzer. Katie Ebzery, also a Novocastrian junior, scored 21 points ably supported by Alex Wilson with 18 points. Flames tall timber, Jennifer Hamson played powerfully contributing 15 points and 9 rebounds.
The game was so close that even the Fire nailing 90% of their free throws to the Flames 80% was critical as so many of the main statistics were roughly equivalent for both sides, including total rebounds, assists and field goal percentages.
With just four- regular rounds left every result from here on will be pivotal as the top six teams in the League are locked in a mad- scramble for a coveted finals berth.
The Flames next face UC Capitals in Canberra next Thursday night December 7 before taking on Perth Lynx in a highly anticipated double-header extravaganza with the Sydney Kings NBL team at Qudos Bank Arena, Homebush on Saturday, December 9 from 3.00pm.