THERE are seven games in the Women’s SBL across three days in Week 16 but none bigger than the one that could very well determine the minor premiership between the Mandurah Magic and Perry Lakes Hawks.
The two teams have lost just once each so far in 2017 ahead of their clash on Saturday night at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre as part of Heritage Round in the SBL.
The Week 16 action gets underway with three matches on Friday night with the Perry Lakes Hawks playing the Perth Redbacks, the Stirling Senators taking on the East Perth Eagles and the Willetton Tigers facing the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Then on Saturday night on top of the Magic playing the Hawks, the Perth Redbacks play the Cockburn Cougars and the South West Slammers play host to the Rockingham Flames.
There is then one game on Sunday afternoon with the Lakeside Lightning facing the Joondalup City Wolves.
The Hawks and Redbacks play one another on Friday night at Bendat Basketball Centre as both begin what shapes as a crucial double-header weekend.
The Lady Hawks enter Friday’s clash in second position with a 15-1 record having bounced back from their first loss of the season two weeks ago at home to the Lady Wolfpack. They responded to that first loss of 2017 with a solid win over Cockburn last week.
The Redbacks, meanwhile, have now lost six straight to have gone from contending for a top four spot to just clinging to a spot inside the top eight. They come into the weekend at 6-9 in seventh position.
Perry Lakes did win the clash earlier in the season by 16 points at Belmont Oasis as well.
The Senators host the Eagles with Stirling having revenge on its mind up against East Perth at Warwick Stadium on Friday night.
The Eagles did upset the Senators at Morley by three points earlier in the season when they did a particularly strong defensive job shutting down Kisha Lee.
That was East Perth’s second and last win of the season to date while Stirling has won three of the four games since including the past two over Rockingham and Perth.
That steadies the Senators in fourth position at 11-5 but it’s a game they can’t afford to drop if they want to lock away that spot in the top four.
The last game on Friday night is another important one for both clubs with the Tigers hosting the Eastern Suns at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
Despite still being without Kate Malpass and Desiree Kelley the Tigers steadied their championship defence last week with a 23-point win over the Flames to improve to a 9-7 record and remain not only solid in the top eight, but a chance still of breaking into the top four.
The Suns, too, won an important game on the road to the Slammers last Saturday night. They have now won three of their past four games but remain outside the top eight at 5-12 making Friday’s clash crucial to their hopes of breaking into a playoff position.
Then on Saturday night, the Slammers and Flames make their only appearances of the weekend when they battle at Eaton Recreation Centre.
Both teams have just four wins for the season but while Rockingham has begun planning for next year having lost eight straight, South West hasn’t given up on the playoffs yet.
The Slammers currently hold a 4-12 record to have three fewer wins but just one more loss than the eighth placed Cockburn. With six games remaining, a winning streak now for the Slammers would keep their playoff hopes alive.
All attention then turns to Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre for what shapes as the game of the regular season when the Magic host the Hawks.
Both teams have lost just the once so far this season. For Mandurah that was up against Perry Lakes at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The Hawks won that first meeting by 20 points but the Magic were missing star big Carly Boag that night and she is perhaps the player they can at least afford to be without up against the sizeable frontcourt possessed by Perry Lakes.
The Magic responded to that loss by having won their past 10 games by an average of almost 23 points to now hold top spot with a 17-1 record.
The Lady Hawks conceded top spot with their loss to the Wolves at home two weeks ago. They now have to play the Redbacks before Saturday night’s clash, but two wins this weekend and they will be back on top of the standings.
The minor premiership will be theirs to lose considering if they achieve that given they will hold the series split on the Magic and by some margin after the 20-point win in the first meeting.
The Redbacks and Cougars meet in another match with big consequences at Belmont Oasis on Saturday night.
Perth will have already played Perry Lakes on Friday night while Cockburn will be playing its only game of the weekend. With the Redbacks and Cougars currently occupying seventh and eighth spot, a win will see them hold off the chasing pack but a loss will put their place in the playoffs in serious jeopardy.
The round concludes on Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Recreation Centre in another game with plenty at stake as the Lightning host the Wolfpack.
Lakeside scored a strong win over Joondalup on the road earlier this season and the Lightning remain solid in third position at 11-5. But prior to the bye last week, the Lady Wolfpack had found their best form of the season with wins against East Perth, Perry Lakes, Kalamunda and South West.
That steadied last year’s grand finalists at a 9-8 record to remain an outside chance of breaking into the top four if they can keep winning making Sunday’s game all the more crucial.
WEEK 16 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Perry Lakes Hawks v Perth Redbacks – Bendat Basketball Centre 6.30pm
Stirling Senators v East Perth Eagles – Warwick Stadium 6.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm
Perth Redbacks v Cockburn Cougars – Belmont Oasis 6pm
South West Slammers v Rockingham Flames – Eaton Recreation Centre 6pm
Mandurah Magic v Perry Lakes Hawks – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6pm
Lakeside Lightning v Joondalup City Wolves – Lakeside Recreation Centre 2pm
Photo by Vikki Hile