Fire make emphatic statement

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The JCU Townsville Fire have made an emphatic statement to the rest of the WNBL after blowing away Perth in their season opener by 22 points.

With the bookies installing the Lynx has pre-tournament favourites, the two-time reigning champions ensured there would be no title hangover as they blew the game open off the back of Micaela Cocks’ hot hand in the third term to register an 84-62 win.

Four-time WNBL MVP Suzy Batkovic was at her unstoppable best as she top-scored with 25 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, re-affirming her reputation as the league’s best player.

The Fire’s weapons were fast and furious, however, as Mia Murray stroked 16 points including three from beyond the arc, while Cocks (13 points), Darcee Garbin (12 points) and Kayla Standish (10 points) all finished in double figures.

Kelly Wilson (six assists) finished with more dimes than the entire Lynx team (three assists), while the Fire suffocated their Grand Final nemesis as they restricted them to just 33% from the field.

“I was really happy with our defensive application,” debutant coach Claudia Brassard said.

“To keep a team as good as Perth to just 62 points is a real testament to the work that we have put in during pre-season.

“I thought Suzy was terrific – she always is – but we had contributors right across the board.”

While the Lynx made a positive start, the Fire took a seven-point advantage into the main change before Cocks exploded in the third term.

The reigning Rachael Sporn Medallist nailed 11 of 13 points during the exchange as the Fire went on a blistering run.

Batkovic was the difference right throughout the encounter, however, as she kept the scoreboard ticking over and defended the paint at the opposite end.

Standish gave the Fire a spark in the first term, while Natasha Cloud looked lively as the game wore on.

With the Fire opening up an unassailable lead late in the game, Haylee Andrews, 16, checked in as she became the youngest ever player to represent the club.

“It was a thrill for her to be able to check in,” Brassard said.

“I told her to box out – I’ll remind her of that at training – but she’s a talented kid and we’re looking forward to seeing much more from her over the next few years.”

The Fire return to Townsville Stadium next Sunday when they host the Chris Lucas-led Adelaide Lightning from 1pm.

Click here to see box scores from today’s game between the Fire and the Lynx.

WNBL Corporate Partners

Townsville Fire Corporate Partners