THE Lakeside Lightning delivered a stunning comeback victory to beat the Stirling Senators in the Men’s SBL on Friday night with the Rockingham Flames and Perry Lakes Hawks also scoring strong wins.
With it being Women’s Round in the SBL, the Men’s matches were up first and on Friday night that saw the Stirling Senators in control for most of the night against the Lakeside Lightning. But the Lightning stormed home and won 78-76 on a Darrell Morgan triple.
The Rockingham Flames welcomed Dexter Kernich-Drew into its line-up and also defeated the East Perth Eagles 67-64 while the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the Mandurah Magic 84-76.
The Flames took on the Eagles at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Friday night with Rockingham looking to snap a six-game losing slide while East Perth had lost its last two.
The Eagles did start strongly to lead by three at quarter-time before the Flames took over holding East Perth to eight second quarter points to lead by nine at the main break.
Rockingham extended its advantage to 14 heading into the fourth but East Perth did deliver a strong fightback and had a chance to tie scores up on the buzzer with Mason Bragg taking a three. But it missed and the Flames held on for their third win of the season by three points.
Vinny Zollo continued his vastly improved form for the Flames finishing the night with 21 points, eight rebounds, six steals and three assists on the back of shooting 9-of-13 from the field.
Perth Wildcats championship winner Dexter Kernich-Drew made his SBL debut with the Flames as well and had 12 points, six rebounds and four steals despite shooting just 2-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Ryan Godfrey added 11 points for Rockingham, Donovan Jack eight to go with seven rebounds and Beau Samuelson contributed seven points and three assists.
Drew Williamson finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals for East Perth with Kevin Davis adding 18 points, nine boards and four blocked shots.
Bragg also had 14 points and six rebounds for the Eagles.
Perry Lakes hosted Mandurah at Bendat Basketball Centre with the Hawks out to bounce back from a road loss to the South West Slammers last week while the Magic were looking to build on their opening win of the season over East Perth.
Despite a slow start with just 12 points in the first quarter and to still be trailing by two points at half-time, the Hawks got going a little in the second half with 50 points to 40 to come away with hard fought eight-point win over the Magic.
Ryan Smith had a big game for the Hawks finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals on the back of shooting 8-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-7 from deep.
Brian Carlwell added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Perry Lakes, Rob Waters 18 points, three assists and three steals, and captain Ben Purser 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Taylor Mullenax again top-scored for Mandurah with 21 points and four rebounds with Will McNeill adding 13 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists.
The Lightning then hosted the Senators at Lakeside Recreation Centre with Lakeside on the back of big wins over East Perth and Geraldton while Stirling was looking to bounce back from a loss to Joondalup.
The Senators did look in control for most of the contest as well with the big line-up at times with Rhys Vague, Cody Ellis, Ash Litterick and Drew Naymick all on the floor at the one time paying dividends.
Stirling did manage to lead by 12 at three quarter-time, and still by nine with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Lightning point guard Devon Atkinson had a point to prove though. He picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter when giving away a technical on a brain fade when knocking the ball away after scoring a lay-up when his team had already been given a delay of game warning.
That not only saw him go to the bench but also halted his team’s momentum.
But he played out the fourth quarter without conceding his fifth foul and not only that, he put the Lightning on his back. He scored 14 points alone in the final quarter including a jumper to put Lakeside up 71-70 with 3:20 remaining.
That was the Lightning’s first lead of the night and then another lay-up for Atkinson put them up by three and another gave them a five-point lead.
His quickness and ability to get to the rim was proving a massive problem for the Senators down the stretch who also struggled to run their plays, and take care of the ball down the other end with the game up for grabs.
Despite that, massive three-pointers from Cody Ellis and Rhys Vague still had them leading 76-75 with 41 seconds left.
But three-point specialist Darrell Morgan came up huge for Lakeside to nail the game-winner from three with 25 seconds left. The Senators couldn’t get anything going up the other end and Lakeside won by two to have now won over the Eagles, Buccs and Senators the past three weeks.
Atkinson ended up with a standout performance for the Lightning with 26 points, eight assists and five rebounds shooting 10-of-16 from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point territory.
James Padgett added 20 points and 14 rebounds for Lakeside while Morgan had 11 points and Corey Shervill nine along with seven boards.
Lightning coach Sam Oatman always thought his team might have the edge in the quickness stakes. It might have taken a little longer for it to pan out then he expected, but he couldn’t be happier with the win.
“There’s just something about when we play Stirling. I know this is only my second season, but even before I got here these games always seem to be a dog fight,” Oatman said.
“This was no different and I thought it was a really well played, hard fought basketball game and they did a really good job. They compete hard and have some great players, and a great coach so it does feel really good to be on this side of the game.
“We stressed all week that we thought if we sped the game up we would have the advantage. We knew it might be a bit chaotic at times and that we might turn the ball over a little bit, but we wanted to go small and speed the game up. We thought we could pressure their guards and force them into some tough spots.
“I wish we would have defended the three a little better but Rhys Vague is a phenomenal and him and Cody are great catch and release guys, and they have the size to shoot over people. They stepped up to hit some tough shots but in the end it just came down to heart, character and who wanted it more. Fortunately my guys did.”
Vague had a big night for the Senators with 30 points and eight rebounds shooting 12-of-24 from the field and 5-of-11 from three-point range.
But no other Stirling player reached double-figures in scoring despite Drew Naymick pulling in 20 rebounds to go with six points, four assists and four blocks.
Week 9 of the Men’s SBL continues Saturday night with the Mandurah Magic hosting the Rockingham Flames, the South West Slammers playing the Cockburn Cougars, the East Perth Eagles taking on the Perry Lakes Hawks and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns facing the Joondalup Wolves.
The Geraldton Buccaneers also plays the Perth Redbacks and the Goldfields Giants play host to the Willetton Tigers.
FRIDAY NIGHT ROUND 9 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Rockingham Flames 67 defeated East Perth Eagles 64
Perry Lakes Hawks 84 defeated Mandurah Magic 76
Lakeside Lightning 78 defeated Stirling Senators 76
SATURDAY NIGHT ROUND 9 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Mandurah Magic v Rockingham Flames – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 5pm
South West Slammers v Cockburn Cougars – Eaton Recreation Centre 6pm
East Perth Eagles v Perry Lakes Hawks – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Joondalup Wolves – Ray Owen Sports Centre 6.30pm
Geraldton Buccaneers v Perth Redbacks – Active West Stadium 8pm
Goldfields Giants v Willetton Tigers – Neils Hansen Basketball Stadium 8pm
Photo by Mick Cronin