THE Perry Lakes Hawks and Mandurah Magic were the two dominant teams of the Women’s SBL in 2017 and while they will be lower seeds in 2018, they showed they could be more than nuisance value with big wins on Friday night.
There were two games in the Women’s SBL on Friday night to open Round 18 of the competition and it was the Grand Finalists of 2017 who made two significant statements.
The Perry Lakes Hawks made it eight wins in their last 10 games delivering a dominant second half to beat the Joondalup Wolves 85-61 at HBF Arena.
The Mandurah Magic then regained some of their best form of the season beating the Willetton Tigers 81-54 at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The wins all but confirm playoff positions for the Hawks and Magic and the higher seeds certainly won’t be looking forward to facing them in the first round of the playoffs.
Willetton and Mandurah have been two of the powerhouse teams in the Women’s SBL in recent years and they did battle on Friday night at Willetton Basketball Stadium in a crucial contest.
The Tigers started impressively too on their home floor coming off the big win against Cockburn last Friday and they lead the Magic 24-18 by quarter-time.
But Mandurah was able to turn things around the rest of the night and over the last three quarters the Magic outscored the Tigers 63 points to 30 to end up winning by 27.
The win improves the Magic to a 9-10 record to consolidate their playoff position while the Tigers slip to 11-8 to make their job of finishing top four all that harder.
Magic import Anita Brown top-scored with 21 points to go with four rebounds and four assists while shooting 8/15 from the field.
Regina Palusna added 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists for Mandurah, Emma Klasztorny 11 points, five boards and four assists, and Casey Mihovilovich 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Desiree Kelley (six rebounds), Ajay Johnson (three rebounds, two steals, two blocks), Ashli Payne (six boards) and Tayla Hepburn (four rebounds) all scored 10 points apiece for Willetton.
The defending champion Perry Lakes then made their first visit to the new HBF Arena to play the Lady Wolfpack.
It was a tight and entertaining tussle for the first half as well and it was the Wolves who surprisingly went into half-time with the 38-36 advantage.
But things sure changed coming out of the break. Nat Burton leveled scores to start the third quarter and the Hawks went on to score the opening 14 points of the period.
They ended up putting together a 20-2 run to start the half and then went into three quarter-time leading 61-45 having been down two at the half-time break.
The Hawks went on to win by 24 points to improve to 9-11 on the season having now won eight of their past 10 matches having at one stage being 1-9.
Toni Farnworth continued her standout form at both ends of the floor for Perry Lakes with another 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists while shooting 10/17 from the field and 4/7 from three-point territory.
Nat Burton finished with 13 points, nine rebounds four steals as well for the Hawks while Kate Anthony contributed 12 points and Sam Ashby eight points.
Championship-winning Perry Lakes coach Deanna Smith didn’t like a lot of what she saw in the first half, especially defensively, but couldn’t have been happier with her team’s response.
“I thought Joondalup were playing really good basketball in the first half and I think we were a little bit disorganised defensively,” Smith said.
“Our focus going into the changeroom at half-time was that we needed to get stops, that wasn’t the style of defence that we built a profile for.
“That message obviously got heard by the girls and we kept them to seven in the third quarter, which was massive for us, and a key to us coming out winners in the end.”
It was the defensive performance in the second half that particularly pleased Smith and she knows when that end is working well for the Hawks, the offensively usually flows better as well.
“Offence is a tough end for us and it’s not something that we have been renowned for, and it’s probably inconsistent whereas defence is more about effort, focus and attention,” Smith said.
“We’ve shown really good glimpses of being a solid and tough defensive team, and when we do that we are very competitive and the majority of the time coming away with the win.
“Against Rockingham was probably the exception where I think we ended up scoring 53 and kept them to a low score, but we couldn’t quite put the points on the board.
“For me, defence is massive and it was a big component of our championship last year and it’s all about intensity, focus and effort. We show glimpses of it and it just has to become more consistent.”
The Wolves couldn’t quite keep their first half form going for four quarters but Kourteney Zadina finished the night with 14 points on 6/7 shooting and 2/2 from long range.
Tayla Pipes added 13 points for the Lady Wolfpack with Amy Kidner contributing 11 points and four rebounds.
WEEK 18 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Joondalup Wolves 61 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 85
Willetton Tigers 54 lost to Mandurah Magic 81
Perth Redbacks v Rockingham Flames – Belmont Oasis 4.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v South West Slammers – Wally Hagan Stadium 4.00pm
Lakeside Lightning v Joondalup Wolves – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Willetton Tigers – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6.00pm