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NBL1 West men’s grand final: Flames snap men’s State basketball title drought in dramatic fashion

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisThe West Australian
The Rockingham Flames have claimed the NBL1 West championship for 2022.
Camera IconThe Rockingham Flames have claimed the NBL1 West championship for 2022. Credit: Sports Imagery/Supplied

The Rockingham Flames secured their inaugural men’s State basketball title on Saturday night at the Bendat Basketball Centre, after recording a barnstorming 91-79 win over the Geraldton Buccaneers.

Despite trailing at all changes, the Flames’ superior experience — led by former Perth Wildcats skipper Greg Hire and league MVP Devondrick Walker (26 points, four steals) — made plays when the game hung in the balance.

Walker was named MVP for the game, while Flames boss Ryan Petrik won his first men’s championship as a coach, having won multiple in the women’s competition.

In a frenetic start to the clash, both sides were able to showcase their outside shooting ability — in particular Buccaneers offensive ace Mathiang Muo (3/5 attempts from beyond the arc) — however defensive hustle also was plentiful.

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After the Buccaneers looked as though they could break the game open, the Flames constructed a 6-0 run midway in the opening term to keep things tight.

However the minor premiers headed into the second term with a flourish, after a series of heads-up plays from Malik Meunier ensured Joseph’s men entered the interval with plenty of momentum.

Marshall Nelson celebrates the Flames' win in style
Camera IconMarshall Nelson celebrates the Flames' win in style Credit: Sports Imagery/Supplied

The Flames were able to make some inroads into the Buccs’ lead periodically, with Justin Beard (10 points, six rebounds) draining two key shots from beyond the arc.

Despite Walker leading all scorers (14 points) in the opening half, he was forced to work hard for every one of them, with Cameron Coleman refusing to give him an inch.

Trailing by 10 points at half-time and needing a spark, the Flames charged out with renewed vigor in the third term, with excellent hustle under the offensive glass from Beard and Tom Jervis forcing Joseph to burn an early time-out.

Walker also began to find more rhythm, with consecutive efforts from downtown putting the Buccaneers defence on red alert.

Although the Buccaneers had their chances early in the final term, they were suffocated defensively by the Flames and held to nine points in an unforgettable end to a pulsating clash for the ages.

KEEPER STATS

Field goals (Buccaneers 16/43, Flames 18/30); three point attempts (Buccaneers 12/34, Flames 12/29); free throw attempts (Buccaneers 11/14, Flames 19/25); total rebounds (Flames 44-37 Buccaneers); assists (Flames 17-16 Buccaneers); steals (Buccaneers 13-9 Flames); turnovers (Flames 22-14 Buccaneers)

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