ALL IN EF­FORT FOR FLAMES

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

THE Townsville Flames are adamant win­ning in Glad­stone with­out star cen­tre Darcee Garbin is not mis­sion im­pos­si­ble.

Garbin ear­lier this week an­nounced her with­drawal from the Flames be­cause of World Uni­ver­sity Games com­mit­ments, leav­ing a huge void ahead of to­mor­row’s women’s QBL quar­ter­fi­nal against Glad­stone.

The WNBL cham­pi­onship win­ner was a MVP con­tender thanks to her av­er­ages of 23.4 points and 10.2 re­bounds a game, and Fire cap­tain Rachael McCully knows that type of class can­not be fully re­placed.

But the Flames still need to find a way to fill the gap, and the re­spon­si­bil­ity rests largely with ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers like McCully and Mia Mur­ray.

“Ob­vi­ously the of­fence is go­ing to flow through us a lit­tle more, but we all need to step up there as well to make sure it doesn’t just fall on two shoul­ders and it’s spread evenly,” McCully said.

“If we can have five play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures that will go a long way for us at the of­fen­sive end.

“We knew it was com­ing for a while and we’re fully aware that every­one needs to step up.

“We do lose a lit­tle bit of height there, but our de­fence will just have to be on point.”

Lisa Bren­nan is ex­pected to start in place of Garbin, mean­ing she will be tasked with shut­ting down Glad­stone cen­tre Cassie Rochel.

But McCully and Flames coach Mike St Mau­rice both know the top threat comes from Glad­stone im­port Tabitha Richard­son- Smith.

Glad­stone won both meet­ings with the Flames ear­lier this year and the Amer­i­can guard scored 40- plus points in each of them.

“She’s a bit of a dy­na­mite ( player). We held her to 42 on both oc­ca­sions,” St- Mau­rice said tongue in cheek.

“We’ll have to do a bet­ter job than that, but she’s not the only one.

“Cassie Rochel is dan­ger­ous, Charmian Mel­lars scored 15 against us and 12 re­bounds, so we can’t let every­one go off.

“We have to lock down and have some in­di­vid­ual ac­count­abil­ity in those match- ups.”

The Flames came within touch­ing dis­tance of se­cur­ing a home fi­nal thanks to last week­end’s suc­cess­ful three- game road trip, al­though Glad­stone’s win over Cairns con­signed the Flames to an away fi­nal on Glad­stone’s home court.

“They’ll be quite loud, they’ll be quite bois­ter­ous and re­ally in your face from the start,” St Mau­rice said.

“They cheer through­out the home game whether we’re win­ning or los­ing.”

McCully added: “That’s what fi­nals is about, you want to play the best teams and it just hap­pens to be on the road,” she said.

“It’s go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic match ... so we’ll see who comes out on top.”

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