Looking to make it four consecutive wins, the Youth League Ballarat Rush faced a tough Frankston Blues lineup on Sunday afternoon at the MARS® MINERDOME.
A tight first period saw Ballarat gaining a very slight ascendancy through pushing fast-break opportunities, and great play-making from guard Claire Constable.
Back-and-forth throughout, the first quarter was wrapped up with Constable drilling a tough floater to beat the buzzer and give the Rush a two-point edge.
Lydia Brooks continued her outstanding 2014 campaign by dominating on the boards, and using her height and strength to establish good position on the low block. Quality entry passes from Constable and Molly Mathews ensured Brooks got going offensively in the early going.
Ryleigh Haire came to life in the second term, consistently getting to the foul line and converting. She attempted an astonishing 14 free throws for the half, connecting on 10 of them.
Morgan Muir was another bright spark in a spectacular second stanza for Ballarat, dishing out five assists.
The game continued to be a classic, as both teams traded buckets and traded leads throughout the third. Brooks continued to be a factor on the boards, ripping down a number of offensive rebounds, and drawing fouls as she went up for second and third shot opportunities.
Stephanie Reid was stellar for the Blues, nailing three pointers and leading fast-breaks. Reid single-handedly brought Frankston the lead in the fourth quarter as she filled every stat sheet category.
Sensing the game was getting away from the Rush, Molly Mathews was seemingly un-phased by the pressure and began elevating her game in the fourth quarter. However a very controversial blocking call gave Mathews her fifth foul and she was forced to watch the remainder of the contest from the sidelines.
Some critical Ballarat turnovers down the stretch proved costly as the Blues snatched the lead and extended it as time ran short. Frankston’s Reid knocked down a pair of cold-blooded free throws and iced the game for the visitors as they ran away victors, 72-65.
Lydia Brooks was outstanding for the Rush with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Ryleigh Haire notched 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Stephanie Reid finished with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists for Frankston in one of her standout performances this season.