Lightning survive scare to beat Rockingham

What seemed to be the upset of the MSBL season in the making at three quarter time proved to be a regulation victory for the Lakeside Lightning as they defeated the Rockingham Flames 100-86 on Friday night for their 11th consecutive win.

Lakeside now move three games clear on top of the ladder and are almost certain to take out the minor premiership with only five games remaining on the road to the playoffs.

Despite the victory, Lakeside trailed for most of the game and struggled to keep up with the pace of the Flames up and down the court, partly due to the absence of Ben Beran, who was in America attending a family wedding, and Brad Jackson.

Rockingham’s physical play inside the key saw them jump out to an early lead, with imports Jerel Allen and Kenny Tribbet each providing a solid first half contribution. Despite Rockingham’s nine-point first half lead, Lakeside remained within striking distance thanks to Luke Payne’s 25 first half points, which included six three-point field goals.

Lakeside increased their defense pressure at the start of the third quarter and forced the Flames into costly turnovers. Kyle Armour was instrumental for the Lightning forcing the Rockingham guards into several offensive fouls.

Payne continued to score at will from all areas of the court, and with 2:22 remaining on the clock in the third quarter, he helped Lakeside take the lead for the first time.

From there it appeared that Rockingham, who had only ten fit players suited up for the game, seemed to run out of steam as Lakeside outscored them 29-13 in the final quarter.

“We came out early and weren’t as sharp defensively as we normally are, so Andy (Stewart) put a lot of emphasis on that at half time,” Payne said post game.

Payne’s MVP candidacy almost certainly will grow as he finished with a career high 50 points, which included 11 of 13 from behind the arc. He also had six steals.

“It just felt like I was in one of those surreal zones, the shot felt good coming off,” he said.

“My mum is over here (from America); she’s not allowed to leave now.”

Allen was top scorer for Rockingham with 23 points. Tribbet chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Flames.

In earlier WSBL action, the Lakeside Lightning recorded their fourth consecutive victory with a comfortable 91-45 victory over the Rockingham Flames.

The Lightning remain in the crucial eighth position on the WSBL standings, and move two games clear of the Perth Redbacks.

The Lightning had six players in double figures for scoring, led by Courtney Byrnes and Laurianne Higgins who each had 15 points. Higgins also had 10 rebounds, as the Lightning out rebounded the Flames 54 to 32.

Talisia Bourne and Elyse O’Dea each had eight points to lead the Flames’ scoring.

Article by Nathan Winch at Lakeside Recreation Centre
Photos by Darren Speedie (Vision Inspired Photography)

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