Flames’ fi­nals off to hot start

Southern Telegraph - - Front Page - Stu­art Hor­ton

Rock­ing­ham’s Luke Travers dunks dur­ing the Flames’ 89-76 win over Ger­ald­ton in game one of their best-ofthree quar­ter­fi­nal se­ries at Mike Bar­nett Sports Com­plex last Fri­day.

Rock­ing­ham Flames threw the form book out the win­dow at Mike Bar­nett Sports Com­plex last Fri­day night to record a mem­o­rable and un­ex­pected 89-76 win over Ger­ald­ton Buc­ca­neers and take con­trol of their best-of-three quar­ter­fi­nal se­ries.

The Flames, who fin­ished the State Bas­ket­ball League reg­u­lar sea­son in eighth spot, led for most of the con­test against the league top­ping Buccs on the back of a mas­sive 29 points from Justin Beard and im­pres­sive out­ings from teenager Luke Travers and veter­ans Greg Hire and Kevin White.

Early buck­ets from Hire and big man Cur­tis Wash­ing­ton put the Flames out to an early 13-5 lead be­fore the Buccs switched on and lev­elled the scores at 17 apiece late in the first quar­ter, be­fore a pair of threes from Ryan God­frey handed the home side a 24-17 ad­van­tage at the first break.

The Flames stut­tered in the sec­ond quar­ter and could only muster 10 points as the Buccs upped their game thanks to some sharp shoot­ing from Gokul Nate­san, power in the key from Earnest Ross and solid work on the boards from Liam Hunt, which saw the Buccs take a 40-34 lead into half-time.

The third quar­ter be­longed to the Flames as 22-year-old Beard and 17-year-old Travers stamped their in­flu­ence on pro­ceed­ings, with Travers di­rect­ing play at times in a man­ner that be­lied his young age. White’s NBL ex­pe­ri­ence also shone through as he drained three from four from be- yond the arc to fire the Flames to a 58-52 three-quar­ter-time lead.

Beard and Ross traded a pair of threes each to be­gin the fi­nal term but when White hit his fourth three of the game to put the Flames nine points up all the mo­men­tum was with the home side.

Beard recorded 16 points in the fi­nal quar­ter alone on his way to a game-high 29 as the Buccs seemed shell-shocked by their less fan­cied op­po­nent’s hus­tle, tenac­ity and ac­cu­racy.

Ross did his best to try to drag the vis­i­tors back into the game but by the time White fouled out with 1.48 to go the Flames were out to an unas­sail­able 15-point lead.

Beard fin­ished with 77 per cent shoot­ing from the floor and added six re­bounds to his 29-point haul, while Hire fell just short of a triple­dou­ble fin­ish­ing with 15 points, 16 re­bounds and eight as­sists.

Travers fin­ished with 12 points, six re­bounds and five as­sists, White 12 points, Wash­ing­ton 11 points and four blocks and God­frey 10 points.

The Flames travel to Ger­ald­ton for games two and three this week­end. Game two tips off at 7.30pm at Ac­tive West Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day night, with game three, if re­quired, mid­day on Sun­day.

Mean­while, the Flames women will need to come from a game down to progress against Man­durah Magic af­ter be­ing thor­oughly out­played. The Flames will have to avenge a 72-48 loss in Man­durah on Fri­day to force a de­cider in Rock­ing­ham on Sat­ur­day. The Flames tip off at Man­durah Aquatic and Recre­ation Cen­tre at 7pm, Fri­day. Game three will be at 7pm Sat­ur­day in Rock­ing­ham if re­quired.

Pic­ture: Stu­art Hor­ton

Pic­ture: Stu­art Hor­ton

Justin Beard gets off a three-point at­tempt over Ger­ald­ton's Aaron Ralph.

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