Fire seek vengeance on old foe

Tamara Tatham

The JCU Townsville Fire has kick-started their title defence with a 28-point victory over the Melbourne Boomers.

Having slumped to a 3-3 record following last week’s home loss to the Sydney Uni Flames, the Fire snapped out of their daze to pick apart the Boomers – the club’s inaugural opponent – as part of their Heritage Round celebrations.

Skipper Suzy Batkovic led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds, while front court teammates Cayla George (11 points and 13 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (nine points and nine rebounds) were just as impressive.

Click here to watch highlights of the Fire’s 85-57 victory.

Point guard Micaela Cocks (15 points, three rebounds and two assists) enjoyed her best game of the season, and in the process, became just the eighth Fire player to 1000 career points.

During another strong start, the Fire opened up a seven-point lead as Chris Lucas’ troops worked hard at both ends of the floor.

Tess Madgen (21 points, six assists and five rebounds) and Elyse Penaluna (18 points, six rebounds and six blocks) kept the Boomers in the contest as they cut the margin to one point at the first change.

The Fire and the Boomers traded blows in the second term, with the hosts opening up a double figure lead on the eve of halftime before a Maddie Garrick brain snap.

With Nat Novosel pushing the ball up the floor, the WNBA draftee leapt into the Opals guard and drew three free throws before Boomers coach Guy Molloy was slapped with a tech to make it four.

Novosel cooly slotted them all as the Fire went into the main change leading 44-29 and never looked back.

“Our effort levels were really good and last time they scored 84 on us but we were able to hold them to a winning score for us which was great,” Fire coach Chris Lucas said.

“It was great for the club to have the past players there and it’s been a pretty tough week where we’ve made some changes and the girls really responded to them.

“We had three players in double figures and three on nine points which is a great spread and it’s definitely a better feeling than we’ve had the last few weeks.”

With the Fire acknowledging their past stars at half-time, it was the future who stood tall with Garbin named the First Thing First MVP after hammering the offensive glass with seven boards.

“I’m definitely happy with that,” Garbin said following the game.

“I’m learning a lot off Suzy and Cayla. The little things that they tell me I’m definitely taking them all in.

“It’s really good to get that result.”

Click here to watch Darcee Garbin in the post-match press conference.

Tamara Tatham and Mia Murray finished with nine points and five rebounds apiece, while development player Ainsley Walsh banked a three-point shot to continue her impressive form.

Click here to see full box scores from today’s game.

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