THE SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING HAVE OVERCOME THE INJURY LOSS OF LAURA LANGMAN TO SINK THE ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 51-42 IN THEIR SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL CLASH AT PRICELINE STADIUM.
In a bold statement that they would not rely too heavily on their champion New Zealand midcourter, Lightning were powered by a high-quality performance from Laura Scherian, and league-leading shooter Caitlin Bassett (43 goals at 93 per cent).
The Thunderbirds showed only glimpses of their potential, with coach Dan Ryan working his bench overtime to find answers.
Chelsea Pitman worked tirelessly, and the defence end was dynamic, but they could not make amends for a misfiring goal circle that scored at 64 per cent.
The win kept Sunshine Coast’s unbeaten record intact after three rounds.
Adelaide captain Erin Bell’s long range radar was on target, at least in the opening quarter when her first two long range bombs found their mark.
Otherwise, the Thunderbirds found the going tough in the early stages.
There was little turnover ball on offer, and when there was, their transition found it difficult to pierce the Lightning’s defence.
Sunshine Coast’s lead grew to nine goals during the second quarter, and it could have been even greater but for the outstanding defensive work of Fiona Themann and Malysha Kelly.
Themann and Kelly kept their side in the contest, although by halftime the Lightning already had a firm grip on the game.
Scherian and Kelsey Browne ran the Thunderbirds’ midcourt ragged.
Scherian in particular worked like a cattle dog, driving in and out of space, and finding the sure hands of Caitlin Bassett with metronomic consistency.
Needing something in the second half to spark his side’s attack, Ryan injected Charlee Hodges for her debut.
That move created something of a rarity for this competition – two moving shooters to ask some questions of the Lightning defence.
While her radar was not perfect, Hodges looked like she wanted the ball in her hands to influence the game.
The youngster was part of a resurgence for the Thunderbirds who trimmed the deficit to three in the third quarter before heading into the last term trailing by six.
Sunshine Coast invited the Thunderbirds back into the game with some careless passes after three-quarter time.
Adelaide’s defenders pounced but there were not enough rewards at the shooting end to make a dent in the margin.
photos Janos Schmidt