Flyers strike-down lightning in Adelaide

By Marcus Uhe

A struggling layup by Kayla Thornton extended the Southside Flyers’ winning streak to three games and defeated the Adelaide Lightning in South Australia in a thriller on Saturday night.

Thornton’s return to the starting lineup was critical to the tense win, registering another double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead all players in scoring as the Flyers clinched the 73-72 win.

After she and the Lauren Jackson defenseman were forced to make a choice between leaving the all-time great open at the three-point line or sticking with Thornton for a possible drive to the basket, Thornton capitalized on it half a step towards her opponent after the Lightning defender’s decisive slip.

With Jackson dragging her opponent away from the basket, that left plenty of room for a potential cutter to get to the rim without getting past one of Adelaide’s taller defenders, which did exactly what the American did.

She faked setting a screen for Maddison Rocci, cut to the basket and one-handed turned the running shot off the glass, giving the Flyers a 15.8-second lead with 15.8 seconds remaining.

Sara Blicavs’ steely defense on Lightning captain Stephanie Talbot resulted in a missed three-point shot to give the home team the game and earn the win for the Flyers.

Southside had been rocked by lightning early in the competition, with Adelaide starting the game on a 15-4 run midway through the opening quarter, but Thornton’s presence on the inside kept them on the hunt, closing the gap to five der by the end First.

Their three-point shot finished the game on 35 points towards the end of the second term, following an assist from Rocci, but Adelaide pulled back late in the quarter to restore that five-point buffer at half-time.

Two quick buckets in the first 30 seconds of the second half showed the Flyers were going nowhere, and that’s where Jackson started to take over.

She had nine points in the quarter and stayed on after appearing to injure her ankle after her legs became tangled under some Adelaide defenders.

Two free throws on Monique Conti gave the Flyers an eight-point lead with a 3.30 lead in the quarter, but Southside’s inability to finish a semester hurt them again, as they were just a point clear at the last substitution.

The two teams traded buckets throughout the quarter as the lead for either team never went beyond three points.

With 42 seconds left, a Jackson turnover was costly, giving the Lightning an opportunity to turn the game into a two-ball possession contest as time ticked by.

But the Flyers regrouped and forced a shot clock violation, allowing them to regain the ball with 24 seconds left, resulting in the Thornton game winner.

Veterans Blicavs and Jackson both added 15 points while winning the fight on the glass that proved crucial for the Flyers, passing the South Australians by 10.

Saturday’s competition puts the brakes on a marathon road trip for Southside, who return to Melbourne for their game at the John Cain Arena on Saturday February 4 against the Sydney Flames.

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