THE JOONDALUP City Wolves remain second in the Men’s SBL after knocking off the league-leading Willetton on Saturday night but the Geraldton Buccaneers ended its losing run and the Lakeside Lightning kept the battle for eighth alive beating the Perry Lakes Hawks.
There were five Men’s SBL matches on Saturday night and that included a battle between the top two teams that saw the Joondalup City Wolves prevail over the Willetton Tigers 75-72.
The Geraldton Buccaneers kept its own top two hopes alive, though, ending a four-game losing run beating the Stirling Senators 101-97 in another tight and tense playoff-like contest.
The Lakeside Lightning kept its season alive beating the Perry Lakes Hawks 99-98. That leaves the Hawks, Lightning and Rockingham Flames fighting over eighth position each having one game to go.
Next week, Perry Lakes travels to Geraldton, Lakeside is home to Willetton and Rockingham is on the road to Goldfields.
The South West Slammers kept in the race for fourth place with a 92-79 win over the Goldfields Giants as well with the Cockburn Cougars also defeating the East Perth Eagles 95-88.
That comes after the four matches on Friday night saw the Perth Redbacks beat the Mandurah Magic 94-70, the South West Slammers down the Perry Lakes Hawks 105-102 in overtime, the Willetton Tigers defeat the Stirling Senators 85-75 and the Rockingham Flames prevail 94-87 over the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in extra time.
WEEK 19 FRIDAY NIGHT MEN’S SBL RESULTS
GERALDTON LOCAL RALPH STILL CHASING CHAMPIONSHIP DREAM WITH BUCCS
WEEK 19 MEN’S SBL PREVIEW
TROOPS BACK AND HAWKS IN SEASON-BEST FORM ACCORDINGLY
YOUNG COACH CAUSER HOPES TO BUILD SOMETHING SPECIAL AT GIANTS
NICHOLS’ DEDICATION TO IMPROVE MAKE SACRIFICES WORTH IT
It shaped as a fascinating contest between Stirling and Geraldton at Warwick Stadium with the two now a good chance to end up repeating that in the first round of the playoffs.
Stirling had been in outstanding form the past month before a loss to the league-leading Tigers on Friday night while Geraldton needed a win to both snap a four-game losing run and remain a good chance to still finish in second spot.
The Senators started strongly and had opened a 50-43 lead by half-time leading by as much as 15 following a 10-0 run. But the Buccs responded with a strong second half and then a big 31-point fourth quarter to claim the four-point win and snap the four-game losing slide.
Jackson Hussey was the star of the night for the Buccs opposed to his former Perth Wildcats teammate Corban Wroe. Hussey had 31 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals in a supremely impressive triple-double.
Dwayne Benjamin added 22 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots for the Buccaneers with Aaron Ralph adding 20 points and seven boards, Mat Wundenberg 12 points and Matt Hancock eight points.
Cody Ellis had a good night for the Senators with 23 points and seven assists with Jayden Coburn adding 15 points.
Jesse Dixon had his best output since returning for Stirling in the second half of the season putting up 13 points with Wroe finishing with 12 points and six assists, Drew Naymick nine points and eight rebounds, Austin Bruton nine points and three assists, and Rhys Vague nine points and seven boards.
The Slammers hosted the Giants at Eaton Recreation Centre and they were coming off the high of a stunning overtime win over the Hawks on Friday night made all the more memorable given the absence of Tre Nichols and Chris Douglas.
Nichols was back from Las Vegas on Saturday night but Douglas was still absent. But the Slammers proved too strong for the struggling Giants to win by 13 points to improve to 15-10 and remain a chance of finishing in the top four still.
The Slammers back court was outstanding led by 23 points, five steals, four rebounds and three assists from Teny Puot. Nichols returned for 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals, and Michael Lay had 14 points, four boards and four dimes.
Brian Voelkel flirted with another triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while Clive Weeden added 13 points and eight boards.
The Giants did fight hard despite falling to a sixth straight defeat. Captain Jacob Holmen top-scored with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Daniel Forlano added 14 points and six assists for Goldfields, JB Pillard 11 points and eight rebounds, Jerome Reid 11 points, four rebounds and four assists, and Atem Atem eight points and nine boards.
The Cougars headed to Morley Sport and Recreation Centre looking to gear up for the playoffs and to be as ready as possible to defend their championship. The Eagles might have been out of the playoff hunt but also wanted to finish at home on a high in 2017.
East Perth did start strongly but Cockburn steadied in the second quarter to set up the eventual seven-point victory.
Lochlan Cummings came up big for the Cougars top-scoring with 23 points and three assists on shooting 9-of-15 from the field and 5-of-9 from three-point range.
Jalen Billups contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Cockburn with Gavin Field adding 14 points, nine boards, six assists and three steals, Jaarod Holmes 14 points and four rebounds, and Seva Chan 10 points and four assists.
Kevin Davis battled against Cockburn last year in the grand final when at the Wolves and put in another big effort on Saturday night for the Eagles with 27 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocked shots playing 37 minutes.
Mason Bragg finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists for East Perth, Kevin Anthony 11 points and Drew Williamson nine to go with four assists.
It was then a monster clash between the top two teams at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Wolves coming away with the three-point victory over the Tigers.
Willetton might still be guaranteed the minor premiership despite the loss but it was an important win for the Wolfpack to try and remain in second position.
Not much separated the two teams throughout the night in a tense and tight contest that resembled a playoff battle. The two were accustomed to that from last year semi finals but it was the Wolves who made the big plays down the stretch.
The Tigers were leading 68-64 with six minutes left but a Rob Huntington three brought Joondalup back within a point.
A Ray Turner alley-oop from an Andrew Black pass put Willetton up by three again with 3:30 remaining before a Ryan Wright layup and Trian Iliadis triple for the visitors had them up by two. It lasted 10 seconds before another layup from Turner.
But from there, Wolves captain Seb Salinas hit a shot, made a free-throw and that was enough for the three-point win after Jay Bowie missed a three to try and tie the scores late.
Iliadis ended up with 24 points and seven rebounds for the Wolfpack going 9-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Wright also finished with 18 points and seven boards, Sean Easther eight points, Huntington eight points and Salinas seven points and four rebounds.
Turner finished the night with 24 points, 13 rebounds, three blocked shots, three assists and two steals for the Tigers. Damien Scott added 13 points and seven rebounds, Bowie nine points and seven boards, and the returning Nic Cody eight points and four rebounds.
There was plenty on the line when Lakeside hosted Perry Lakes at Lakeside Recreation Centre with the Lightning needing to win to stay alive while a Hawks win would have secured their playoff spot and ended the seasons of the Lightning and Flames.
With their season on the line and with the Hawks coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Slammers the previous night, the Lightning shot out of the blocks to lead 53-35 by half-time having at one stage led by as much as 22 points.
But Perry Lakes fought back into the game including a 9-0 run and while never managing to lead, they had all the momentum with 45 seconds left following a three-point play from Matthew Adekponya to make the deficit just two points.
But free-throws from Devon Atkinson steadied the Lightning and they held on despite a Ben Purser three that made the margin one. Both teams then missed shots in the final seconds with Lakeside holding on for the nail-biting one-point win that sets up the final round beautifully.
Reigning Player of the Week James Padgett was once again an imposing force inside for the Lightning with 31 points and 15 rebounds.
Corey Shervill continued his breakout form with 25 points and seven rebounds with Atkinson adding 19 points and 11 assists, Darrell Morgan 14 points and Nick Palleschi six to go with seven rebounds and four assists.
Adekponya finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots for Perry Lakes with Purser adding 18 points and seven boards, Brian Carlwell 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, Rob Waters 12 points and six assists, and Ryan O’Sullivan 11 points.
Now on Sunday afternoon, the Mandurah Magic plays the Goldfields Giants and the Cockburn Cougars battle the Geraldton Buccaneers.
FRIDAY NIGHT ROUND 19 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Perth Redbacks 94 defeated Mandurah Magic 70
Perry Lakes Hawks 102 lost to South West Slammers 105
Rockingham Flames 94 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 87
Stirling Senators 75 lost to Willetton Tigers 85
SATURDAY NIGHT ROUND 19 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
South West Slammers 92 defeated Goldfields Giants 79
Stirling Senators 97 lost to Geraldton Buccaneers 101
Lakeside Lightning 99 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 98
East Perth Eagles 88 lost to Cockburn Cougars 95
Willetton Tigers 72 lost to Joondalup City Wolves 75
SUNDAY ROUND 19 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Mandurah Magic v Goldfields Giants – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 12pm
Cockburn Cougars v Geraldton Buccaneers – Wally Hagan Stadium 12pm
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)