In a fitting tribute to the spirit of the ANZAC’s, Frankston RSL President, Kevin Hillier OAM captured the imagination of a near-full house with his reciting of The Ode before the the playing of The Last Post by the bugler. Hillier was joined by Rob Morrison also of the Frankston RSL in support of the event hosted by Frankston on such a momentous day for all Australians.
“Incredible words from Kevin and combined with the haunting tune of The Last Post. What a wonderful, united club we continue to be,” said Blues Chairman Chris Beattie at the end of a big day, albeit one in which saw the Blues men and women still searching for that elusive first win of the season.
Facing a WNBL talent-laden Rangers side, the ‘Laser Electrical Carrum Downs‘ Blues Women took to the court without round 3 star Stacey Barr due to a concussion she sustained in the narrow loss to the Spectres. Needling to find someone to replace the scoring load f Barr it was Milica Ivanov who stepped up in the first half to fill the void. Ivanov was on fire early, draining three treys on her way to 13 first quarter points to keep the Blues to within 3 points of the Rangers at the first break.
Ivanov’s scoring dried up in the second period as the Rangers star duo of Tessa Lavey and Tayla Roberts took control of the contest. Despite an impressive 22 points and 8 rebounds from Tocarra Ross, the Blues just did not have the depth to match it with the Rangers who ran away with an important 21 point victory behind a game-high 27 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks from Roberts. Lavey poured in 17 points with 7 assists in her 2018 SEABL debut, while for the Blues, Ivanov finished with a season-high 19 points with 6 rebounds and 2 steals.
For three quarters, the ‘Frankston RSL‘ Blues Men were the superior team against the visiting Rangers who boasted NBL talent of the like of Adelaide 36ers star Anthony Drmic and Perth Wildcat big man Rhys Vague. Yet the Blues were not daunted.
In a brilliant first quarter, the Blues went on a scintillating 16-0 run en-route to opening up a 15 point lead inside the first 5 minutes. Sam Muldrow was the catalyst behind the fast start, combining well with Aaron Ross and Bennie Lewis as he registered 12 points in the first quarter as the Blues led by 8 at the first break and clearly their best start so far this season.
The Blues were doing a great job in restricting competition leading scorer Drmic who entered the game averaging more than 31 points to open the season. Lewis finished a massive alley-oop to have the vocal home crowd up on their feet which also maintained his side’s ascendancy. Ross kept the pressure on by converting on his trips to the line, and a fast finish by Captain Jake Macauley who added 7 points late to ensure the Blues led by 14 at half time.
Drmic finally found some rhythm to open the second half before Lewis finished a tough dunk in traffic to keep the Blues ahead by 10. Macauley, Jarryd Moss and Thomas Garrett all found the bottom of the net to put the Blues up by 17 with 30 seconds left in the third. But against the run of play, Rhys Vague drained a three-pointer from the top of the key with 13 seconds left. The Blues then turned the ball over, at mid-court, why Vague launching a half-court heave that found noting but the bottom of the net to silence the crowd and pull the Rangers back to within 11 with 10 minutes to play.
Desperate to reverse their fortunes, the Rangers switched to a 2-1-2 full court press and it slowly brought them back into the game. with the Blues failing to adjust, it was Dandenong who wrestled control of the contest, stealing the lead for the first time since the opening minute on the back of a three-point play by Lucas Barker. Reeling from the massive turnaround, the Blues never recovered. They gave up 30 points in the final period to fall agonisingly short of a first win, 78-84.
Muldrow was clearly the best for the Blues, finishing with a team-high 23 points and 6 rebounds, while Ross added 19 points and 13 rebounds, Lewis 16, and Macauley 10 off the bench. Drmic lifted in the second half to lead all scorers with 25 points and 10 rebounds, with Vague piling on 20 points and rising star Puoch Puoch impressing with 15 off the bench for the Rangers.
It was a devastating loss for the Blues, yet they will need to regroup quickly as they host the visiting Canberra