THE Willetton Tigers kept its Men’s SBL season alive in the most remarkable fashion thanks to a Ray Turner fadeaway to beat the Perry Lakes Hawks on Friday night while the Cockburn Cougars also forced a quarter-final Game 3 against the Joondalup City Wolves.
There were two Men’s quarter-final Game 2 matches on Friday night with the Tigers and Cougars needing to win to keep their respective seasons alive.
The Cougars did that in emphatic fashion beating the Wolfpack 112-90 at Wally Hagan Stadium to force Game 3 at Joondalup Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
Then at Bendat Basketball Centre, the Hawks looked to have the upset series victory secure on a number of occasions including when regaining the lead with only seconds remaining.
But enter Ray Turner who hit a stunning fadeaway jumper for Willetton as time expired to secure the 85-84 victory to level the series.
Game 3 will now be played at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
WEEK 2 MEN’S QUARTER FINALS SBL PREVIEW
FIELD ACHIEVES DREAM OF 200 GAMES, LIFE MEMBERSHIP AT COCKBURN
EVANS’ COMMITMENT, PASSION FOR GERALDTON AS STRONG AS EVER
BLACK WOULD REVEL IN TIGERS’ SUCCESS MORE FOR WHAT IT MEANS TO OTHERS
EXCITING SLAMMERS REGAIN DEPTH AHEAD OF SBL FINALS
WOLFPACK ON TRACK TO FIRE WHEN IT COUNTS
REDBACKS’ POWERFUL FRONT COURT PAYING BACK LACKOVIC’S FAITH
The Hawks might have finished the regular season as No. 8 seeds but they knocked off the top seeded Tigers in Game 1 last Saturday night in impressive fashion at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
That put the pressure back on the Tigers at Bendat Basketball Centre on Friday night needing to win to force the decider on their home floor on Saturday night.
And Perry Lakes turned up that pressure more even with the continued absence of star guard Matthew Adekponya.
Willetton did start quickly leading 5-1 and the Tigers were still on top 21-17 by quarter-time. But the Hawks got things going in the second quarter to be on top by seven heading into half-time.
The lead grew to 14 midway through the third period and there was the very real chance of the minor premiers being bundled out inside two games of the quarter finals.
But the Tigers fought back and were within six heading into the fourth period. The Hawks, though, remained on top most of the final quarter until the frantic finish when two Kyle Armour free throws with a minute left saw Willetton take the 81-80 lead.
Hawks point guard Rob Waters responded in kind at the stripe to put his team back up 82-81 before Jay Bowie got to the rim and finished for the Tigers for them to be up 83-82.
Ryan Smith had the answer for Perry Lakes to put the home team up 84-83 with just five seconds left.
The Tigers had one more chance to save their season and they had Ray Turner. The MVP of two years ago got the ball in the block but was out to mid-range. He turned around and it never looked like missing as his jumper gave Willetton the stunning win to force a Game 3.
Turner finished the night with 22 points and 15 rebounds with Bowie adding 24 points, eight boards and four steals for the Tigers.
Damien Scott contributed 14 points, six assists and five rebounds, and Nic Cody nine points and four boards.
Ryan Smith put up 19 points for Perry Lakes including 4-of-10 from three-point range. Captain Ben Purser also had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Rob Waters added 16 points for the Hawks, Brian Carlwell 15 points and nine rebounds, and Rob Cassir 11 points, five assists and four boards.
Meanwhile in the other Friday night contest, the Wolves made the trip to Wally Hagan Stadium feeling good having won Game 1 last Saturday night 90-83 at home to the Cougars.
But the Cougars were an inspired outfit virtually from the outset in front of their vocal home crowd on Friday night on the occasion they celebrated Rhett Della’s 350th SBL appearance and captain Gavin Field was playing his 200th game with the club to earn life membership.
It was a dominant display from the Cougars at both ends of the floor with their intensity on defence catching the usually well-disciplined Wolves off their game. They forced 19 turnovers as a result and when running their offence, the Cougars were enjoying themselves.
It was Della who sparked them into action during the second quarter with a stunning patch turning back to last year’s Grand Final MVP winning performance against the same team.
The rest of his team jumped on his back and the Cougars went on to lead 55-48 by half-time. They went on with the job in the second half leading by as much as 26 points before winning by 22 to set up the deciding Game 3 at Joondalup Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
Jalen Billups had another good battle with Ryan Wright finishing up with 26 points and seven rebounds for Cockburn.
Della ended the game with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals with Lochlan Cummings contributing 23 points in another impressive display from the emerging player.
Field chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds with fellow life member Steven Van Lit adding 10 points while Jake Harris made an impressive cameo off the bench with 12 points including 3-of-4 from downtown despite his awkward looking stroke.
Wright still top-scored for the Wolfpack with 22 points and nine rebounds with Trian Iliadis adding 14 points and five assists.
Damian Matacz contributed 12 points and four rebounds, Reece Maxwell 11 points and four boards, Seb Salinas 10 points and five rebounds, and Jordan Wellsteed nine points when he nailed three triples in the dying minutes.
Cougars coach Adam Nener couldn’t have been happier with the performance led by his leaders and milestone men, Della and Field.
“I think the guys had a lot of fun. We were very disciplined both on offence and defence and that’s something that has come in and out throughout the year. But we really showed that we did that really well,” Nener said.
“I’ve always said the whole year that offensively we have to take what the defence gives you, and that defensively we need to play together and just have some fun. We need to help each other out because it’s a team sport and that’s what we did. When all the guys are doing that and our bench is really vocal like they were then only good things can happen for us.
“He (Della) is a great leader out there and does all the right things. We are really happy we’ve got him on our team obviously and on the night we were celebrating his 350th and with it being Gav’s 200th game for Cockburn, it was just awesome. We still need to back it up tomorrow night though.”
Nener hopes the Cougars take the same confidence into Saturday night’s Game 3, but knows the Wolves will be hungry to not make it the last ever game at Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
“We just have to get the game tape, have a look at it and we’ll get together in the morning and watch it again. It’s just about us trusting each other, staying disciplined and having fun is the key to it for us,” Nener said.
“I haven’t been coaching long obviously but when you do lose a game you can find the right things to pick out and change. Ben has been coaching for years and years, and is a great coach with a very smart basketball brain so I’m sure they’ll come out ready to fire tomorrow night.
“After this game we are feeling good though. I have faith in the guys but they should be feeling more confident in themselves after this definitely. If we do the same things tomorrow night with a few minor adjustments, we should be OK. ”
While those two series’ now head to Game 3 on Saturday night, the other two are still to play their Game 2s which will take place on Saturday night with the Geraldton Buccaneers hosting the Stirling Senators and the South West Slammers playing host to the Perth Redbacks.
The Senators and Redbacks need to record road wins to force deciding Game 3s on Sunday.
MEN’S QUARTER FINAL RESULTS – GAME 2s
Perry Lakes Hawks 84 lost to Willetton Tigers 85 (Tied 1-1)
Cockburn Cougars 112 defeated Joondalup City Wolves 90 (Tied 1-1)
MEN’S QUARTER FINAL FIXTURES – GAME 2s
South West Slammers v Perth Redbacks – Eaton Recreation Centre 7pm (Slammers lead 1-0)
Geraldton Buccaneers v Stirling Senators – Active West Stadium 7.30pm (Buccs lead 1-0)
MEN’S QUARTER FINAL FIXTURES – GAME 3s (if required)
Willetton Tigers v Perry Lakes Hawks – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8pm
Joondalup City Wolves v Cockburn Cougars – Joondalup Basketball Stadium 8pm
Geraldton Buccaneers v Stirling Senators – Active West Stadium 12pm
Perth Redbacks v South West Slammers – Belmont Oasis 12pm
Photo by Sebpix Photography