Local community rescues team on the brink
rallied around the embattled team, which will remain licenced to Townsville Basketb a l l . F i r e g u n R a c h a e l Flanagan, who hobbled to the event following recent knee surgery, was given added reason to celebrate when she was crowned the club’s Most Valuable Player for a second straight campaign.
Averaging 14 points and five assists, Flanagan was the catalyst behind the Fire’s unlikely charge at a play-offs berth. In other awards on the night, Amy Lewis clinched the Excellence Award, while retiring WNBL legend Jo Hill bowed out with a deserving double, claiming Players’ Player and the Fans’ Choice Award.
B u t t h e n i g h t w a s Flanagan’s. After the 28-yearold’s blistering 2009-10, coach Peter Buckle said she had soared to even greater heights this season.
‘‘ She was good in the first half of the season, but her back end was outstanding,’’ Buckle said. ‘‘ Her points production, her assists and her defensive efforts are unquestionable, I think her game we n t t o a n o t h e r l e v e l . ’ ’ Flanagan, who is the WNBL’s reigning defender of the year and found herself on the Australian Opals’ radar following last season, could be among the first chosen for 2011 international duties, the national assistant coach said.
‘‘ From my mind, Flanagan’s going to be right up there,’’ Buckle said.
‘‘ Her battles with ( highlyrated WNBL point guards) Tully Bevilaqua and Kristi Harrower have been great and she’s certainly set herself a standard. A lot of people talk about Kath Macleod but I think Flanagan’s coming into her own. She’s one of the few point guards that can defend well on the ball and be an attacking offensive player.’’
It was an emotional night for Hill, officially farewelling a 16-year career.
FAREWELL: Jo Hill who claimed the Players’ Player and the Fans’ Choice Awards at the Fire dinner