March 20, 2022 | Sydney Flames news

Keely Froling and Shyla Heal joint MVP winners for Flames

Picture: (from left) Robyn Denholm, Shyla Heal, Victoria Denholm and Keely Froling at the Flames’ award ceremony in Sydney on Sunday night. Pictures: Sam Tolhurst. 

Keely Froling and Shyla Heal have been named the joint winners of the 2021-22 Most Valuable Player Award for the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames.  

The announcement was made as part of a club awards ceremony to celebrate the season after the Flames’ final game against the Bendigo Spirit at Bendigo Stadium on Sunday.  

In wrapping up the season Flames coach Shane Heal acknowledged the adversity his young charges have had to confront and overcome this season.  

“We started the season with the mindset of dealing with things we couldn’t control … and it’s lucky we did because no one could’ve predicted the things thrown at our team this season,” Heal said. 
 

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our team took those challenges, stayed together, continued to work hard and played harder than any other team in the WNBL. Bar none. 

“We fell just short on multiple occasions but continued to learn and kept belief in each other and finished the season beating teams with way more experience and talent. The girls deserved these wins under difficult circumstances as we continued to talk about laying the foundations for years to come. “
Heal paid tribute to his hard-working assistant coaches Shelley Gorman, Will Granger and Rachel Menapa. 

He said the improvement individually in many of his players was “extremely pleasing” and “multiple players had career years”. 

“I’m so excited to plan for next year,” Heal said. 

“To work out the things I can do better as a coach. To find ways we can continue to improve our overall program in a bid to win a championship. And to add some key players to a core nucleus that has shown we can compete with any team in the league.  

“The culture is set. And now the plans start to build something bigger and better … but with the same mindset of being ready to work thru challenges and adversity because that’s who we are.” 

Below are our 2021-22 Flames Award winners and comments from coach Shane Heal. 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Keely Froling and Shyla Heal (joint winners) 
 

“Keely Froling had a tremendous second half of the year. She improved in all aspects of the game and carried our team to wins when we were without key players. Her toughness and desire are elite in the WNBL and she displayed fantastic leadership for our young squad.” 

“Shyla had a very consistent year again finishing in the top scorers in the league and top ten for assists. Teams doubled her off the majority of on-balls but she found a way to contribute game in and game out. Her defence and toughness set the tone for us to compete against more talented rosters.” 

 

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kalani Purcell

“I couldn’t be prouder of Kalani and the season she had. It was by far the best in her WNBL career. She proved that she is a top three defender in the whole league and she played with a toughness that made it so difficult for opposing players in so many ways. Her ability to read the defence and get deflections and steals as well as defending her man one-on-one was incredible.“

MOST INSPIRATIONAL: Kiera Rowe

“Kiera displayed all of the traits and attributes that we are looking to build our flames culture around.  Desire and toughness were keys to her best WNBL season as she took the challenge to shut down big name players in multiple positions. She embraced whatever role she was given, and she worked as hard as anyone to execute it for the good of the team.”

COACHES AWARD: Funda Nakkasoglu

“Funda came into the season after nose surgery and she was clearly behind everyone else in regard to fitness. She didn’t play much early in the season but stayed focussed and worked hard for the time her opportunities came. Her positive nature and mindset helped her keep belief. She took those opportunities and played some great basketball. Funda is a much-improved defender and showed everyone why she is regarded as one of the best three-point shooters in the WNBL.”