EASTER Thursday action in the Women’s SBL saw a full evening of fixtures with all 12 teams locking horns and that saw the Cockburn Cougars, Perth Redbacks, Mandurah Magic, Kalamunda Eastern Suns, Lakeside Lightning and Willetton Tigers come away victorious.
With all 12 teams locking horns in one night, it was a thrilling way to open the Easter Break with the Women’s SBL action.
In the end, the Cockburn Cougars knocked off the reigning champs, the Perth Redbacks won a thriller over the Lady Wolfpack, the Mandurah Magic won big over Rockingham, Kalamunda again impressed at home, Lakeside stayed unbeaten and Sami Whitcomb again inspired Willetton.
The six matches saw the Cockburn Cougars defeat the Perry Lakes Hawks 70-69, the Perth Redbacks defeat the Joondalup Wolves 78-75, the Mandurah Magic down the Rockingham Flames 97-73, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns beat the East Perth Eagles 93-65, the Lakeside Lightning prevail 82-72 over the Stirling Senators and the Willetton Tigers beat the South West Slammers 100-80.
The defending champion Hawks hosted the Cougars at Bendat Basketball Centre, with Perry Lakes trying to improve on a slow start to its title defence against the team it beat in last season’s quarter finals.
Cockburn had the bye in Round 2 after a first up victory over the Eagles and they kept that winning form going under new coach Megan Thompson.
They improved to 2-0 and the Hawks slipped to 1-3 with the Cougars winning on the road by a point on the back of the game-winning jumper by ex-Senator Kisha Lee.
On top of the game-winner, Kisha Lee finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and two steals for Cockburn.
BJ Moyes added 14 points and five rebounds for the Cougars, Haylee De Sousa 11 points, five boards and three assists, and Kirsty Pitcher eight points.
Emma Clarke showed she’s ready and able to make her mark in 2018 for the Hawks with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Lauren Jeffers contributed 10 points, five rebounds and four assists for Perry Lakes, Gabby O’Sullivan nine points, five boards and four assists, and Annika Renkema eight points, three steals and three rebounds.
But ultimately the absence of Toni Edmondson and Nat Burton proved too much for Perry Lakes to overcome.
The Lady Wolfpack were back in their new building at HBF Arena to host the Redbacks, and it proved another thriller between two teams expected to be at the pointy end of the standings in 2018.
In the end, baskets to Jess Jakens and Makailah Dyer put the Redbacks on top with just under two minutes remaining. They stayed just in front thanks to a pair of free throws from Kayla Standish, and then another from Jakens for the three-point win.
The victory improves the Redbacks to 2-1 after a first up loss to the Lightning while the Wolves slip to 1-2.
Kayla Standish was again the dominant force for the Redbacks with 30 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots while shooting 10/18 from the field and 9/9 from the charity stripe.
Makailah Dyer added 17 points and six rebounds for Perth and Jess Jakens 14 points and six boards.
Nikita Martin top-scored for the Lady Wolfpack with 15 points and 11 rebounds with Shani Amos contributing 13 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Kourteney Zadina added 14 points for the Wolves, Chelsea Belcher 10 points and three assists, and Amy Kidner eight points and six rebounds. Ellyce Ironmonger added 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
The Magic played their first home game of 2018 taking on the Flames at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre, and the Grand Finalists of 2017 remained undefeated coming away with the 23-point victory.
It was a third straight impressive Mandurah performance of the new season with Anita Brown starring with 25 points and seven rebounds on 11/18 shooting from the field.
Bree Klasztorny added 16 points, four assists and two steals for the Magic with Casey Mihovilovich finishing with 21 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds.
Carly Boag also had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals for Mandurah with Rachel Pettit contributing nine points and Kelly Bailey seven points and four boards.
Darcee Garbin did all she could for the Flames with 24 points and seven rebounds while Jacinta Bourne added 19 points and four boards, Maddison Allen 13 points, seven boards, three assists and two steals, and Dena English seven points but seven turnovers.
The Eastern Suns were back at home to play the Eagles at Ray Owen Sports Centre, and they recorded their second win of 2018 beating the still winless East Perth by 28 points on the back of a 52-point to 33 second half.
Jennie Rintala returned for her first game of the season with the Suns after a stint in Germany. She provided great interior presence for the Eastern Suns at both ends of the floor too finishing the night with 25 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
She had plenty of support too with Jorjah Smith adding 12 points and four assists, Alecia Knowles 12 points and eight rebounds, Jewel Williams 11 points, Hannah King 11 points and six boards, and Alex Ciabattoni 11 points, eight assists, seven steals, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Stacey Barr did what she could to try and keep East Perth in the contest with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Eryn Fisher also had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, Cameron Flynn nine points, eight boards and four steals, and Brianna Fisher eight points and three steals.
Two more finalists from last season, the Senators and Lightning, then did battle at Warwick Stadium and Lakeside remained unbeaten early in 2018 improving to 3-0 against the now 0-3 Stirling with the 10-point victory.
The Senators started solidly on their home floor to lead 34-26 at the half. But the Lightning got going with 32 points in the third quarter to set up the win even without two-time MVP Ali Schwagmeyer.
Sydnee Fipps caught fire for Lakeside ending the evening with 33 points and eight rebounds shooting 13/30 from the field despite only going 1/9 from long range.
Ash Grant stepped up for 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Lightning too while Courtney Byrnes finished with 12 points.
Jess Van Schie had a strong all-round performance with four points, six rebounds and five assists.
Janee Johnson top-scored for Stirling with 20 points and six rebounds while Amber Land contributed 19 points and 11 boards, Jasmine Martin 11 points and five rebounds, and Jodee Sontay eight points, five boards and three assists.
Finally on Thursday night, the Tigers hosted the Slammers at Willetton Basketball Stadium and again with Sami Whitcomb leading the way Willetton improved to 3-0 early in the new season with the 20-point victory.
The Slammers remain winless after three attempts so far in 2018 too.
On the back of her two Player of the Week honours to open the new season, the WNBL and WNBA superstar Sami Whitcomb put on another show for Willetton with 37 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists on the back of shooting 16/23 from the floor and 4/8 from beyond the arc.
Desiree Kelley added 15 points and three assists for the Tigers, Tayla Hepburn 18 points and four rebounds, Zoe Harper 10 points and five boards, Ajay Johnson eight points, six steals and five rebounds, and Samantha Norwood eight points and four assists.
Dutch import Charlotte van Kleef battled hard for the Slammers finishing with 23 points and six rebounds with Georgia Denehey contributing 17 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Courtney Bayliss 16 points and six boards.
WEEK 3 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Perry Lakes Hawks 69 lost to Cockburn Cougars 70
Joondalup Wolves 75 lost to Perth Redbacks 78
Mandurah Magic 97 defeated Rockingham Flames 73
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 93 defeated East Perth Eagles 65
Stirling Senators 72 lost to Lakeside Lightning 82
Willetton Tigers 100 defeated South West Slammers 80