Fire enjoy pre-season hit-out

October 7, 2018 | Townsville Fire news

The JCU Townsville Fire will hit the floor full of confidence next week after sharing the spoils with Under-23 Townsville Heat in today’s pre-season hit-out.

With the match going down to the wire, Darcee Garbin secured a clutch offensive rebound and reversal to secure a go-ahead free throw before the Heat made an in-bounds play to level the scores at 71-71 as time expired.

While the strong Townsville crowd hoped for overtime, the opponents opted to call it a day as both teams had gotten what they wanted out of the contest.

For the reigning champions, the Fire looked impressive in their offensive structures as six-time MVP Suzy Batkovic top-scored with 22 points on 9/13 shooting from the floor at more than a point per minute.

Young gun Zitina Aokuso (11 points and 10 rebounds) was also ultra-impressive as she posted a double-double, while Garbin (12 points) and Casey Samuels (11 points) finished in double figures.

With just seven days until the season opener against Dandenong, championship winning coach Claudia Brassard said she was pleased with what she saw.

“I was really happy with that,” Brassard said.

“It was nice to see our offence working well – introducing some new players (with) Casey coming in and hitting some shots…and them just understanding our systems and the shots that we were after.”

During the opening quarter, the Fire hit the ground running as they shot an incredible 82% from the floor.

Laurin Mincy opened the scoring with a clean look from beyond the arc before Batkovic opened her account in her 17th and final pre-season in the Chemist Warehouse WNBL.

The introduction of World Cup silver medallist Tess Madgen paid immediate dividends as she drained a three-point shot on her opening touch.

A neat looking jumper from Ally Malott was followed by two power plays from Aokuso as the Fire went into the first change leading 23-15.

Batkovic went to work in the second term as she became the first player in the game to double figures, but to the Heat’s credit, they failed to be deterred as they narrowed the margin to 33-38 at the main change.

In the second half, the Fire continued to look strong – and patient – looking for ways to score as Garbin and Aokuso began to find their rhythm.

While Madgen was rested for the second half and Batkovic sat out the fourth term, the Fire were still able to hit the lead in the dying moments before the Heat levelled the scores as the clock ran out.

Samuels proved she had the hot hand from beyond the arc as she drilled two clutch three-point shots.

The Fire will host Dandenong at Townsville Stadium on Sunday, October 14.

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