29/05/2024

Kayla Thornton score 13 points in the Flyers' win over the Boomers in the WNBL (Image: supplied- Elly McNerney)

The Southside Flyers have started the 2023 on a positive note, with a convincing 18-point victory and claiming the Michele Timms Cup over the Melbourne Boomers.

Coming into the round, both teams face crucial games and are looking to start the year on a winning note as the top four takes shape going into the second half of the season.

The Boomers welcomed back Tess Madgen into the line-up, coming off recovering from a knee injury from the World Cup, whilst the Flyers missed Aimie Rocci again due to her persistent back troubles.

Whilst the Boomers got off to a fast start, both teams showed their physicality at both ends of the court, with the Flyers letting themselves down early by being unable to convert on fast break layups.

Sara Blicavs was on song in the first quarter, scoring 11 points, whilst Kristy Wallace, Cayla George and Tiffany Mitchell all had strong starts for the Boomers.

Neither team could break away in the first quarter as they went basket for basket. The Flyers forced the Boomers into taking tough shots by stepping up their defensive pressure, which continued going into the second quarter.

The Flyers brought the game onto their terms in the second quarter, with Maddi Rocci steering the offence, whilst Sara Blicavs and Kayla Thornton had huge presence on the offensive end, scoring 21 and eight respectively in the opening half.

The Boomers shot 42 per cent from the field, while the Flyers won the rebound count for the first half 19-18. They used their inside work to outscore the Boomers in the paint 22-16 as they closed the first half with an eight point lead.

The Flyers continued the tight defensive pressure on the Boomers, continuing to force Melbourne into tough shots to tighten the screws.

Both teams continued the back and forth momentum in the early stages in the third quarter, before the flyers managed to bring the game onto their own terms once again.

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The Boomers began to build a comeback thanks to Kristy Wallace and Olivia Nelson-Ododa, but life was made hard by elite defensive pressure from the Flyers who were able to lock down the offence and force Melbourne into uncharacteristic turnovers.

Flyers’ guards Monique Conti and Maddi Rocci continued to build pressure on the Boomers ball handlers, not allowing Melbourne’s offence to flow fluently and get back into the game and forcing the Boomers to 18 turnovers for the game.

The Southside defence continued to hold Melbourne outside the key and not allow easy access to the inside post. Giving the Flyers advantage on transition to move the ball freely and with physicality.

The Flyers dominated the points from turnovers category 15-9 and kept the Boomers to 27 per cent from the three point line, sealing victory 88-70.

Scoring a new high career high, Sara Blicavs finished with 41 points, shooting at 88 per cent from the field with 6/6 from the three point line. She also had five rebounds and two steals in a career-best night.

Kayla Thornton (13 points, six rebounds, two assist) and Maddi Rocci (12 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal) were among the Flyers best.

The Flyers face another tough top three team when they take on the Bendigo Spirit at home on Friday night in their second game of the round.

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