Flames stay in play-off race after big win

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It seems every game the Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames have played since the end of November has been a “must win” encounter in terms of staying in the play-off race.

Saturday’s solid 80-55 win in Adelaide helped the Flames stay well and truly in the play-off race.

As they often have this season, Adelaide came out solid in the first term and put together an 18-point quarter, despite trailing by seven to an impressive Flames outfit at the quarter-time change.

Sydney extended their lead in the second quarter, although the Flames weren’t driving a nail in the coffin just yet.

And after three quarters, with both teams putting in a solid offensive effort in the 10 minutes after half time, the game was there to be won, as Adelaide, trailing by 13, had the opportunity to mount a strike in the last.

But to Sydney’s credit, they surged away, blasting Adelaide in the last term as they fight to keep their finals hopes alive.

With four players in double figures in the scoring column and Jaimee Kennedy and Tanya Smith prominent, the Flames got contributions 10 deep in Adelaide and must use that as a springboard for the crucial clash with Townsville.

For the Flames, Katie-Rae Ebzery was again impressive, finishing with 16 points.

Eva Afeaki added 13 points while Natalie Porter and Amy Denson both finished with 12.

For Adelaide, DeMya Walker and Angela Marino were the only double digit scorers – they finished with 14 points, while Emma Langford added nine.

With just three rounds of an enthralling 2010/2011 WNBL season remaining, Sydney must continue to win to sneak into the play-offs and the Flames will be looking to build on what may have been the group’s best team performance of the year in Adelaide.

After a sluggish start to the season that has somewhat mirrored the Flames, Townsville is one of the form teams of the competition as we head into February and are in the thick of the play-off race.

Flames coach Karen Dalton is well aware of the cut-throat nature of Friday’s clash.

“Because of our inconsistency at times through the year, we are in a situation where every game is a must win and the players have responded very well,” she said.

“The performance in Adelaide was very pleasing in the sense that we had excellent contributions across the board and we played some very solid team defence.”

Dalton was particularly pleased with the contribution of Kennedy and Smith off the bench.

“Jaimee was important in providing energy at the defensive end and Tanya scored six points in a run of two minutes to play a key role in us gaining the upper hand,” she said.

“In pressure games such as we are playing each week, we need people to step up and that is what happened on Saturday.”

The Flames now have just 5 days to prepare for the resurgent Fire, who claimed the scalp of Logan last weekend and will arrive in Sydney with plenty of momentum.