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Peel Finance Rockingham Flames are one win away from a historic Kickz101 WSBL grand final berth after taking a one-nil lead over the Wanneroo Wolves in their best of three semi final series.
Rockingham led from start to finish recording a 77-66 victory at Mike Barnett Sports Complex in front of a packed home crowd.
The height of Rockingham’s frontcourt proved to be an issue right from the tipoff as Ainsleigh Sanders battled hard to contain Flames’ star import Emma Cannon, but the additional threat of Kaye Tucker proved to be too much for Sanders as she found herself in foul trouble early.
Shani Amos and Nikita Martin tried valiantly to provide some offence for the Wolves, and were assisted by Megan Lee and Whitney Perret but turnovers proved costly for Wanneroo as Talisia Bourne made the most of some sloppy offense and helped herself to some easy layups.
The third quarter proved to be the winner for the Flames as they outscored the Wolves 20-9 and also recorded 12 more rebounds. Despite recording two technical fouls, Cannon kept her composure to dominate the paint while Tucker’s mid range game was lethal.
Wanneroo were able to limit the impact of Jacinta Bourne who fouled out mid way through the second half and only played 13 minutes, but the solid backup from Casey Ware helped kept the Wolves at bay.
The Wolves had a much better fourth quarter and managed to bring the margin back to five with time winding down, but it was too little too late as free throws sealed the win for the Flames, who will look to inflict a second straight semi finals exit for the minor premiers.
“It would have been really tough for us if we had to go back to Wanneroo after losing this one,” Flames coach Ryan Petrik said.
“We have some things that we need to change heading into game two, Wanneroo ran some things that we knew they would and we didn’t execute how we wanted to so we will look at that,” he added.
Cannon continued her amazing season finishing with 33 points and 19 rebounds while Tucker also had a double-double recording 17 points and ten rebounds. Talisia Bourne was solid with 11 points.
Amos led the way for the Wolves with 15 points while Martin finished with 11. The Flames shot 43% from the floor while restricting the Wolves to 36% and 13 less rebounds.
“It was definitely a semi final game, both teams were aggressive and wanted the win badly,” Cannon said.
“The girls know there is still a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be and that’s a grand final,” she added.
Game two will be played this Friday night at the Joondalup Basketball Stadium, with game three if necessary on Saturday night. The winner of this series will progress to the Kickz 101 Grand Final to be played on August 31 at the WA Basketball Centre.
Article by Nathan Winch
Photo by Darren Speedie (Vision Inspired Photography)