THE Lakeside Lightning continued their hot form heading into the Women’s SBL playoffs with a tight win on Friday night over the Willetton Tigers while the Kalamunda Eastern Suns ended its season on a high beating the Cockburn Cougars.
There were two Women’s SBL matches on Friday night to begin the final round of the 2017 season with the Lakeside Lightning taking out a thriller over the Willetton Tigers 87-84 at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
And at Wally Hagan Stadium, Kalamunda Eastern Suns might be missing the playoffs but finished on a winning note defeating the Cockburn Cougars 90-84.
The third placed Lightning hosted the defending champion Tigers on Friday night in a battle between two in-form teams gearing up to be in winning touch heading into the playoffs.
Willetton had the added incentive of finishing in fourth position as well and earning home-court advantage in the quarter finals against the Stirling Senators, but ultimately it wasn’t to be.
The Tigers’ firepower up front with Jess Hootmann, Emma Lobb, Zoe Harper and Samantha Norwood was a big factor in them opening a 12-point lead following an 11-0 run either side of half-time.
But the Lightning have been in hot form including a big win over the minor premier Perry Lakes Hawks last week and weren’t about to go away. Despite Ali Schwagmeyer spraining an ankle down the stretch, Ash Grant and Sydnee Fipps came up huge late for Lakeside.
But the game still went down to the wire with scores tied with a minute remaining. The Tigers just couldn’t keep hold of the ball and Fipps hit a three for Lakeside. But Kate Malpass kept Willetton close with two points with 25 seconds left.
Grant was allowed a layup by the Tigers but that gave them a chance to force overtime with the last play. But Desiree Kelley strangely attempted a two and missed, and that was the game with the Lightning winning by three.
The result means Lakeside finishes the season in third position with a 17-5 record and on a six-game winning streak. They will take on last year’s grand finalists the Joondalup City Wolves in the quarter finals.
The Tigers finish in fifth position at 13-9 ahead of the quarter-final battle with the Stirling Senators.
Grant finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Lightning shooting 10-of-20 from the field, 2-of-6 from beyond the arc and 5-of-6 at the foul line.
Fipps added another 25 points and 10 rebounds for Lakeside on the back of 5-of-9 from downtown while Schwagmeyer contributed 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Sam Roscoe also had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lightning and Tia Ucich 10 points and seven assists.
Malpass ended up with 21 points and four assists for Willetton with Stacey Barr finishing with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Kelley added 13 points and nine rebounds while Hootmann ended the night with eight points, six assists and five boards, Lobb seven points and four rebounds, Norwood six points and four boards, and Harper four points and six rebounds.
Despite the loss and missing the chance to jump into fourth place, Willetton coach Simon Parker saw enough to like in the performance and is happy with how the defending champions are entering the finals.
“One of our biggest keys was trying to lockdown Ash Grant and Fipps, we probably could have done a better job there,” Parker said.
“Then you can look at the execution of that last play but there’s a lot more to the game than that. We were up by 12 at one stage and should have continued on with that and made our shots, but I’m pretty happy overall with it.
“I’m more worried about momentum to take into the finals now. If we were blown out by 10 or 20 then there would have been concerned but we were there and there abouts against the No. 3 team so we still have confidence and momentum going into next week.”
The Cougars were then attempting to enter the playoffs and their likely first round match up with the Mandurah Magic in winning form when hosting Kalamunda on Friday night, but the Eastern Suns had other ideas.
The Suns have reason to be disappointed to not make the finals given the talent in their squad in coach Tom Knowles’ first season in charge, but they sent a reminder of their ability with the impressive win on Friday night.
Cockburn appeared heading for the win leading 64-59 with three minutes left in the third quarter. But by two minutes into the fourth term, Kalamunda had gone on a stunning 20-point run to lead 79-64 and set up the eventual six-point victory.
The Cougars finish the season with an 8-14 record but will end up eighth if the Perth Redbacks win on Saturday night. The Suns finish their season at 6-16.
Jennie Rintala was outstanding for the Eastern Suns with 25 points and eight rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor and 9-of-11 at the foul line.
Devanny King added 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while Jorjah Smith contributed 11 points, Mel Moyle 10 points, six rebounds and four steals, and Tahlia Fejo nine points, five assists and four steals.
Kersten Mitchell has shown she can be a dominant force in the SBL and she had another strong night for the Cougars with 28 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Taryn Priestly added 13 points and four assists for Cockburn, Isabelle Miotti 13 points, five boards and four assists, Brianna Moyes 12 points and six assists, and Lindsey Doucette 10 points, six rebounds and four steals.
There are three matches on Saturday night to finish the Women’s SBL regular season with the Joondalup City Wolves playing the South West Slammers, the Mandurah Magic taking on the Stirling Senators and the East Perth Eagles facing the Perth Redbacks.
FRIDAY NIGHT ROUND 20 WOMEN’S SBL RESULTS
Lakeside Lightning 87 defeated Willetton Tigers 84
Cockburn Cougars 84 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 90
SATURDAY NIGHT ROUND 20 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Joondalup City Wolves v South West Slammers – Joondalup Basketball Stadium 6pm
Mandurah Magic v Stirling Senators – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6pm
East Perth Eagles v Perth Redbacks – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6pm
Photo by Vikki Hile