Delays hit QBL drive
A TOUGH weekend on the road has ended in mixed fortunes for the Townsville Heat and Flames in the Queensland Basketball League.
Both sides were due to play the Brisbane Capitals on Saturday night but flight delays at the Brisbane and Cairns airports meant the two fixtures had to be postponed.
After arriving late on Saturday night the two sides suited up to play the Brisbane Spartans yesterday and the Flames were left to rue a third- quarter fade that led to their 87- 76 loss.
Trailing 45- 44 at halftime, the Flames conceded 25 points in the following term while sinking just eight of their own to all but jettison their hopes of securing a sixth consecutive win.
The Spartans – who remain unbeaten from 12 games – were led by New Zealand international Natalie Taylor ( 20 points, 8 rebounds) and Ashleigh Karaitiana ( 21 points), while Mia Murray ( 21 points, 7 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin ( 19 points, 6 rebounds) stood tall for the Flames.
The unbeaten Spartans were always going to be a tough test for the Flames, who went unbeaten from their recent run of home games, but the strong contributions from the Flames’ topscoring duo, along with Rachel McCully’s usual hustle, had the visitors well in the hunt in terms one and two.
Rising talent Haylee Andrews, who played 22 minutes, was also strong but those performances weren’t enough to stop the Spartans’ run after halftime.
Trailing by 18 points, the Flames made up ground in the final 10 minutes and got within a point after Garbin and Murray lit up the floor with consecutive baskets, but the Spartans made their run when it counted thanks to Aja Par- ham ( 18 points, and Karaitiana.
The Flames and Townsville Heat were scheduled to play a weekend road double, but the previous night’s games against the Brisbane Capitals were postponed.
The Heat ensured Townsville emerged from the trip with a win after beating the Spartans in their men’s QBL clash 95- 83.
Josh Wilcher for the Heat scored a game- high 27 points and eight rebounds, and backing him up was a good spread of contributions from Justin Baker ( 15 points), Peter Crawford and Matthew Rees ( 14).
The Heat led by three points at halftime and were in danger of being overrun like the Flames before them, but crucial triples from Crawford and Josh Spiers ( 11 points) towards the end of the third quarter took the fire out of Brisbane’s fightback.
Heat coach Rod Anderson praised his side’s efforts in the disrupted weekend, as they reeled off a seventh win in eight games.
“With all the travel troubles that we had it was great to go down there and get a win over the Spartans,” he said.
“Josh Wilcher was the steady hand for us at point guard and whenever we needed a basket he was there, taking really great shots,” he said.
The Heat and Flames will now prepare for this weekend’s North Queensland derby against Mackay at Townsville Basketball Stadium. rebounds)