THE Willetton Tigers had nine days to stew over their third loss of the Men’s SBL season but they bounced back well to beat the Mandurah Magic by 16 points on Sunday.
The Tigers last played the previous Friday night losing to the East Perth Eagles and conceding top spot to the Geraldton Buccaneers in the process. It was a long wait to play again against the bottom placed Mandurah Magic on Sunday at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
While the game never reached any great heights, the Tigers did enough to come away with the solid 75-59 victory.
The round began on Friday night with the Perry Lakes Hawks beating the Joondalup City Wolves 91-79, the Rockingham Flames downing the Lakeside Lightning 83-78 and the Cockburn Cougars defeating the Stirling Senators 92-87.
Then on Saturday night, the Geraldton Buccaneers consolidated top spot with a win over the South West Slammers 83-81 while the Kalamunda Eastern Suns beat the Goldfields Giants 98-89 in Kambalda.
The Joondalup City Wolves prevailed in another nail-biter 90-88 over the East Perth Eagles with the Lakeside Lightning beating the Mandurah Magic 103-101 and the Perth Redbacks defeating the Stirling Senators 89-78.
Mandurah came into the clash with Willetton on Sunday afternoon on the back of also hosting the Lightning the previous night at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
It was yet another game where the Magic narrowly lost as has been the case for much of 2017 that could have quite conceivably resulted in more than the two wins so far.
But it was always going to be a big ask up against a Tigers outfit not only fresh playing their only game of the weekend, but also hungry to bounce back from a rare loss the previous Friday night to East Perth.
Willetton got off to a good start to lead by 10 points by quarter-time, but Mandurah continued to fight hard even in the absence of versatile import Ricky Kreklow who sat out yet another game.
The Magic had done well to stay in the contest to trail by just nine at the half, but the Tigers came out ready to put the game away to start the second half.
They did so with a dominant opening to the third period and ended up leading by as much as 23 points through the second half before finally winning by 16.
The win keeps Willetton hot on the hammer of the league-leading Buccs at 15-3 while the Magic remain last at 2-16 despite being more competitive than that suggests.
Ray Turner had a fascinating battle with Magic veteran Taylor Mullenax. The 2015 MVP finished the afternoon with 27 points, 15 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots on 11-of-21 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 at the charity stripe.
Jay Bowie also finished with 19 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Tigers on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting performance.
The Tigers ended up using 12 players in the game with 11 of them all playing at least seven minutes. Nic Cody added seven points, Dan Casey five, Michael Collins four and Damien Scott four (seven rebounds).
It was a scrappy affair as acknowledged by Tigers coach Steve Black, but was happy enough to come away with the bounce back win.
“I don’t think the scrappiness out there had anything to do with the players,” Black said.
“We were happy with the win and with how we were able to come down here and get a win. They had a really tough game the night before and showed that even with guys out they are very dangerous.
“I thought that defensively we really picked up the tempo in the third quarter and that’s what made the difference. There were some factors in there where we had almost every starter on the bench with a couple of fouls so that’s what put us in that situation in the first half.
“But the fact that we came out and were able to dominate the keyway and then push the ball at the other end to get some easy ones in the second half made a big difference.”
Will McNeill backed up his 42-point showing the night before for the Magic with the dynamic point guard finishing with another 25 points and eight rebounds.
Mullenax also had 12 points for Mandurah while Akau Deng contributed seven points off the bench and Tom Remmerswaal six points and five rebounds.
FRIDAY NIGHT ROUND 14 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Perry Lakes Hawks 91 defeated Joondalup City Wolves 79
Lakeside Lightning 78 lost to Rockingham Flames 83
Cockburn Cougars 92 defeated Stirling Senators 87
SATURDAY NIGHT ROUND 14 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Geraldton Buccaneers 83 defeated South West Slammers 81
Goldfields Giants 89 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 98
Joondalup City Wolves 90 defeated East Perth Eagles 88
Mandurah Magic 101 lost to Lakeside Lightning 103
Stirling Senators 78 lost to Perth Redbacks 89
SUNDAY ROUND 14 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Mandurah Magic 59 lost to Willetton Tigers 75
Photo by Vikki Hile