Heal shines for Fire in dominant WNBL win

Darren Snowdon
·2-min read

An impressive showing from young gun Shyla Heal has inspired the Townsville Fire to a comprehensive 73-48 WNBL win over the Perth Lynx.

In just her second season in the league, Heal scored 15 points despite playing limited minutes due to foul trouble as the Fire cruised to victory at Mackay Multi-Sports Stadium on Wednesday night.

Forming an exciting new-look backcourt alongside former Adelaide guard Lauren Nicholson (16 points), the 19-year-old daughter of Australian basketball legend Shane Heal won her battle against the experienced Katie Ebzery to set up the result.

"It's been a short pre-season but I'm just happy that we got the win in the end, we've been working really hard so I'm just stoked," Heal said.

Heal's performance will be sure to catch the eye of Opals coach Sandy Brondello, who will be assessing all the local talent on display during this condensed hub season ahead of next year's rescheduled Olympic tournament and the home World Cup in 2022.

After praising coach Shannon Seebohm for providing structure and motivation in the lead-up to the season opener, Heal also thanked her famous father for his role in preparing her during the global pandemic.

"I just took time to work out with my dad the whole time, we've been working out every day through (coronavirus) and I think it was a real blessing in disguise," Heal said.

"I really want to do well this season and I really want to make the top four, for sure."

Perth led 7-6 before Townsville poured in 15 unanswered points to leave the Lynx reeling, Nicholson and Heal doing the damage to close the opening quarter ahead 25-10.

Heal extended the lead to 17 with the opening basket of the second quarter before former Townsville forward Darcee Garbin gave her side hope by drilling her first three-pointer in Perth colours.

The Lynx managed to restrict Townsville's offence and head into halftime down by 10 despite shooting at a lowly 27 per cent, some timely three-point shooting and second-chance points keeping them in the contest.

But a disastrous third quarter ended any hopes of a Perth fightback, Townsville outscoring the Lynx 15-5 with veteran Mia Murray landing a triple to see the lead blow out beyond 20 points.

Garbin kept battling throughout the final term to lead the Lynx with 12 points but the performance leaves new head coach Ryan Petrik with plenty of work to do ahead of Sunday's clash with the Adelaide Lightning.