The Home Gas Flames are in a curious position in women’s basketball.
With three straight national championships in the offing, the Flames have fallen from grace this year and sit last in the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Women’s League at 2-6. Topping it off has been two straight forfeit losses due to a lack of numbers.
Flames head coach Bruce Reynolds said his ladies have not made playing on the court a priority.
“What’s happening right now has continued from the beginning of the season,” Reynolds said. “There has been a lack of commitment with training. Some of the ladies are now studying for exams which comes first, some with personal matters and one off to school overseas to complete a degree. With all of this taking place, it has made our roster very shorthanded.
“It’s a lack of practice. By not practicing how we should, we did not have a chance to bond as a team fully and playing once a week just wasn’t enough to get us gelling. Training together is very important because it allows bonding with each other and come game time it all shows.”
According to the association’s roster sheet, the reigning two-time champs have 12 players in Sabrina Denis, Ellen Downey, Maggie Ebanks, Gleddys Gonzalez, Gemma Graelis, Alessandra Hawkins, Khadijah Lewin, Lauren Rainsford, Ashleigh Reid, Robyn Sanderson, Lauri Webster and Sade Wood.
The two biggest changes to Home Gas’ roster is the departure of La-Torae Nixon, who went to the US for school and the arrival of Maggie Ebanks, who came over from the now defunct Dominos Lady Heels.
Home Gas play their regular season finale on Thursday, 25 April, at 7.45pm against 4-4 Welly’s Cool Spot. Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre also sees the 7-1 Wolves tackling the 3-5 Island Heritage Silver Mist at 6.15pm.
Reynolds spoke about his squad’s chances of heading into the postseason with a victory.
“If those that can come out, come out, the chance is there,” he said. “It’s a matter of going out and wanting to win. If we have the numbers come Thursday night, at least seven ladies, that would give me a rotation and hopefully we can pull off a win.
“If we had stuck to the plan with our training sessions and so on, we would have been in a much better position with the group of ladies we have. At the end of the day, once the hard work is put in by training, your team’s chances of winning are greatly increased.”
To Reynolds’ point, the Flames have talent. Wood, who has played in five games, is the league’s leading scorer by averaging 24.4 points per game and has the most 3-pointers with 12 treys. Graelis has a competition-best nine blocks.
Home Gas are headed for a fourth place finish and a first round match-up with the top seeded Wolves. Head coach Randy Myles said the Flames are a small part of his concerns.
“We have goals to meet,” Myles said. “We’ve lost in the first round the last two years due to the attitude of the players. I put in a new culture in the players to leave other players and referees alone. It’s a battle, it gets emotional and when you have passion, there will be a burst of emotion. You can’t predict what it will be.
“I do regret not having more teams in the league. We would have something more to look forward to. Once you learn the other teams, you can prepare for them easier.”
Thursday’s contest comes after Welly’s 60-40 blowout of Silver Mist last week. Chloe Powery led Welly’s with 23 points, 10 rebounds and six steals, while Rochel Gardener scored 17 points and seven steals and April Ebanks posted 13 points and 11 rebounds. Becky Lucas led Silver Mist with 14 points and Joanne Remillard notched 12 points and four assists.
Reynolds said both clubs can contend with the Wolves in the playoffs.
“First of all, it’s hard to stop a team that has been training together regularly,” he said. “The Wolves have been practicing, clearly they’re playing together outside of one game a week. They’re showing it on the court with their cohesiveness.
“Having said that, I don’t take anything away from the other teams, including ours, as we are all capable of winning. The team that wants it more this season will win it all.”