The new-look Laser Electrical Carrum Downs Blues fought gallantly again the undefeated Nunawading Spectres in their first home game of the season, running out of steam late to fall short 69-80.
With leading scorer Lana Hollingsworth absent due to state representative duties at the U18 nationals, the Blues warmly welcomed both Stacey Barr and Tocarra Ross into the line-up for their first games of the season.
Barr exploded for a team-high 26 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists in an encouraging performance. Combined with Ross providing 11 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes despite stepping off the plane earlier in the day. Head coach Simon Mitchell would be buoyed by the performance in which his 8 available players simply just ran out of steam against a quality side.
In what was a high-scoring opening term, the Spectres strong early start was quickly hauled back by the Blues through the stellar play of Captain Sam Simmons who scored 11 first quarter points. With the frenetic pace of the game and fielding just 8 players, the Blues turned the game into a defensive struggle. Reverting to a 1-3-1 zone, the Blues negated the Spectres superior size, with Emma Nankervis doing an outstanding job on Jacinta Vandenberg, holding her off the glass all game.
While the Spectres led by 2 at the half time break, nothing separated either side.
Nunawading threatened to blow the game out early in the third, yet Barr would have none of that. The sweet-shooting guard drained two consecutive three-pointers from neat the score table that quickly had the Blues back in the game. Yet for as good as Barr and the Blues were, they simply had no answer for Marena Whittle who delivered a game-high 31 points with 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Whittle came up with a big play every time the Blues threatened.
While Barr was the star, Ross showed that she will be a valuable addition to provide some much needed scoring and interior strength. With Hollingsworth’s imminent return, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Mitchell’s side that is finally taking shape.
They will have to find another gear when they next face the Dandenong Rangers in their big ANZAC Day clash.