Flames prepare for first-up road trip

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Sydney Uni Flames hit the road at the weekend to contest the Women’s National Basketball League Spring Shield, hosted by Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium.

Dandenong Rangers thrashed Logan Thunder 70-58 in the final to win the Shield and set up a solid start to the year.

With the nine WNBL clubs in attendance, the three-day tournament provided a great chance for coaches and players to check out opponents for the 2013-14 season.

And that’s exactly what Brydens Lawyers Sydney Uni Flames coach Karen Dalton did.

While the Flames lost 74-64 to Bendigo Spirit on Friday, 74-70 to Dandenong on Saturday, and 81-65 to Townsville Fire on Sunday, Dalton used the tournament to hone new combinations, welcome two American imports to the roster and provide game time for some of the younger recruits.

“It was a good opportunity to introduce Ashley Gayle and Kathleen Scheer to the WNBL,” Dalton said of the American imports.

“They both commented on the pace the game was played at and the style. It was much quicker than they’ve been used to.”

Gayle, a 193cm University of Texas graduate is coming off a season in Bulgaria, while Scheer, a graduate of Duke University had a six-game WNBL stint with Bendigo in 2011-12 before suffering an injury and returning to the US for treatment.

The Flames best effort in the Spring Shield was their Day 2 clash with the eventual tournament winners. Dandenong Rangers held off a late Sydney Uni Flames charge to claim their second win of the WNBL Spring Shield 74-70.

The hosts had started on fire, with Alice Kunek picking up where she left off against the Canberra Capitals the night prior, scoring 14 points in the first quarter as the Rangers led 34-16.

Led by Alicia Poto (13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds), Katie-Rae Ebzery (18 points on 7-of-11 FG) and Rohanee Cox (16 points on 6-of-9 FG), the Flames chipped away at the Dandenong lead, but still trailed by 16 points entering into the final period.

An Ebzery three-point bomb with 14 seconds left had the Flames only two points down and an upset on the cards, but Kunek quickly had the lead back to four points on a pair of free throws, ending Sydney’s hopes of a come-from-behind win.

The Flames season starts on October 5 with a road trip double, when they’ll take on Canberra  on Saturday and Melbourne Boomers (formerly Bulleen) on Sunday.