February 26, 2024 | Townsville Fire news

While the Fire’s focus is now on Perth and the playoffs there’s no harm in recapping an incredible final day of the regular season. On a super Sunday for the club, Townsville finished first on the ladder for the second year running and scored more wins at the WNBL Awards. Courtney Woods won the Cygnett Community Award.

“It’s been going for 2 years and Townsville’s won it twice with Steph getting it last year so I think that just that speaks a lot to kind of what we value here, and what we pride ourselves on. I think anyone on our team could have got it. And Cygnet gives us $5000 so I’ll be pledging it to the Ronald McDonald house so that’s the most exciting part of it for me.”

Shannon Seebohm was named best coach for the third time and usurpingly praised plenty of people other than himself.

“I think any of the candidates could have won it even some of the others outside of that top 3. But you know I just want the players to do well and achieve the goals we set and I’m just grateful for the all the support that I get from the club. It starts with our general Manager Sam Pascoe. She allows me to bring in the players that I believe are going to make us successful, and same as our board they’re so supportive of me and my family, they have been since day one and even that first year when we were losing games and not going well, they stuck with me and they backed me.”

Those tough times are distant memories. The reigning champions head into this year’s playoffs as back to back minor premiers, and they’re hopeful home court advantage helps them deliver consecutive titles. Townsville secured top spot by beating Sydney 90-78 at the Fire Pit, in a game where both teams had everything to play for. Seebohm’s side smothered the Flames offence.

“You know that a real good side and Sydney have been one of the most in form teams the second half of the season. Obviously, they were desperate they needed to win to make the finals so they had a lot of incentive to come out and play their best and I think we did a great job of defending consistently hard throughout the game and making things tough for them.”

Zitina Aokuso injured her ribs after crashing into advertising boards; in what was a physical and at times feisty battle. But the centre’s unrelenting efforts inspired Woods and her teammates to step up their hustle.

“I think we did a good job. I’ve never seen her play that hard so that was incredible to see.”

Z finished with 21 points and 4 rebounds while, fellow big Mikaela Ruef scored 22 points and pulled down 9 boards. And another key component of the front court returned to action following her lengthy lay off. Amanda Zahui slotted a couple of baskets playing restricted minutes. She’ll likely see more floor time when the Fire hosts the Lynx in game one of their semi final series on Thursday night.