21/04/2024

Photo: Sunshine Coast Lightning

The Sunshine Coast Lightning weren't able to secure themselves a top two position, injuries only making the loss worse.

Tonights match didn’t go the way that the Sunshine Coast Lightning would have hoped, after losing by 10 points (59-49) to a red hot Queensland Firebirds side.

A win from the Lightning would have sent the team from the Sunshine Coast to the top of the table, securing a top two finish and the double chance.

Coach Kylee Byrne spoke post-game, saying that her side was frantic with the ball in a very ‘un-Lightning like’ performance.

“We played really frantic which we try not to do, and then that really [strong] momentum that you can sense that it is there,” Byrne said.

“Probably the thing that [the players are] still in there talking about that when [our brand] is taken away, what are we going to go to, and what have we got there to put out on the court.

“They’ve raised a few things in there that at training we may need to do, and put each other under a bit more pressure.

“We’re a team that already does that but it might be against certain teams that we put each other under pressure in different ways.”

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Lightning lost goaler Steph Wood at the beginning of the third quarter after struggling with a knee injury during the first half.

Byrne and the medical staff quickly decided that leaving Wood on the court wasn’t worth the risk of her being forced onto the sidelines for a few weeks at least.

“As soon as I heard the word risk I said to our physio what does that mean,” Byrne explained.

“He said there is risk there, and I said ‘what does that mean?’ He said if I put her out there you risk losing her for two or three more games.

“So I just went okay, that’s just too big, not just physically. That emotion to go on, even under an injury, [to] still go on and have to perform and drag a game back, I’m not going to do that to anyone… but it was an opportunity for others to put their hand up too.

Wood playing in the Lightning’s earlier season loss to the Firebirds. (Photo: Sunshine Coast Lightning)

“What Mahalia (Cassidy) just said to me was ‘I’m sure you didn’t wake up this morning thinking that was the line up you’d have on the court.'”

With Wood going down, the bibs needed to be shifted fast. Cassidy took on wing attack, Cara Koenen moved into goal attack, Peace Proscovia into goal shooter and Kate Shimmin into wing defence.

Byrne isn’t using the injuries as an excuse, but explained how it unsettled the side.

“We’ve never played that, Mahalia was in wing attack in February the last time before we decided to shift it and really work on her defensive game,” she said.

“Not that that’s an excuse at all, I would never have thought that would be on the court but we basically just didn’t convert gains and that’s something that we really talked about in there.

“We got twenty gains; that’s good, but we just didn’t convert them. We sat somewhere around 40 per cent, and you just can’t do that with a team like the Firebirds who will just punish you which they did.”

Byrne said that her team weren’t able to work their way back in front, a reminder for next time to revert back to the teams general principles.

“I love to coach thinking players and the thing is you can’t tell them what to do.

“They’ve got to get themselves to that and you just hope as a coach you’ve given them enough and we call them our general principles or our tool box.

“So this time, in the moment, this is what I need to pull out and we didn’t do it tonight. We just kept doing the same thing and flogging a dead horse, which didn’t work.

“This team in particular will have the ability to think and work their way out of it. We just didn’t tonight, and it was one of those ones that the harder you tried it just didn’t happen.”

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