Heard hits hard as Cyclones rip through Dolphins

THE Rockhampton Cyclones claimed a thumping road win over the Cairns Dolphins in the NBL1 North Women’s over the weekend, with Lauren Heard doing a bit of everything in the win.

The Cyclones headed to Early Settler Stadium on Saturday to take on the Dolphins, and although they were in enemy territory, the visitors came in as favourites. Rockhampton claimed a solid win over the Flames earlier in the round to kickstart proceedings, and was coming up against a Cairns side that had struggled with inconsistency throughout the season, and sat midtable coming in to the game as a result.

The Cyclones always looked a step ahead of the Dolphins, jumping out to a 16-point lead at the first change of play. The home side did rally in the second and third quarters, working on their offensive structures and getting plenty more points on the board, but they could not slow down the scoring consistency of Rockhampton. Although there was still a mathematical chance of a final quarter fightback, the Cyclones posted a 21-9 fourth period, and stormed home to a 31-point triumph to cap off a strong round.

Heard was everywhere for the winning side, doing whatever she could to give her side any sort of advantage and playing a crucial role for Rockhampton.

Cairns Dolphins (60) def. by Rockhampton Cyclones (91)

Lauren Heard – 32 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals

Heard was the best player on the court in a match that had a number of strong performances from the Cyclones.

She delivered a game-high points total of 32, combining with Samantha Bowman (30 points) and Lara McSpadden (24 points) to register nearly all of Rockhampton’s points in a clinical display. Heard hit 13 shots on 23 attempts, with all but one of those coming from inside the arc. She is at her best when close to the hoop, using clever footwork and determination to fight through contact and finish at the rim, which brought her plenty of success against Cairns.

Heard crashed the boards with intent, outpositioning the Dolphins bigs under the hoop and getting first hands on the ball with some impressive reach. On a tough shooting night for Cairns, there were plenty of rebounds up for grabs, and Heard cashed in massively, recording 10 for the match.

Her playmaking was just as impressive, as Heard, Bowman and McSpadden operated the offence with ease and picked gaps in the opposition’s defence. Although she could have taken many more shots from the field, Heard looked to find her in-form teammates, and made the team more dangerous as a whole.

It was a season-best performance from Heard, who looks set to play a massive role in Rockhampton’s quest for the 2023 championship, and showcased her value to the team against the Dolphins.

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