De­lays hit QBL drive

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael. thomp­son@ news. com. au

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)

Heat guard Josh Wilcher.

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