THE Perry Lakes Hawks remained in eighth position despite losing a heartbreaker to the Geraldton Buccaneers on Saturday night to close the Men’s SBL regular season with the Rockingham Flames missing a finals chance while the Perth Redbacks locked away fourth spot.
It was a cracking night to finish the regular season in the 2017 Men’s SBL season and Kalgoorlie and Geraldton hosted games to determine eighth spot.
The Perry Lakes Hawks needed to beat the Buccs but couldn’t quite with a frantic finish seeing Geraldton win 78-77. That meant the Rockingham Flames could finish eighth at the Hawks’ expense if they could beat the Giants in Kalgoorlie. But Goldfields ended its season on a high to win 88-79.
The Perth Redbacks then defeated the East Perth Eagles 116-107 to confirm fourth position while the Joondalup City Wolves locked away second beating the South West Slammers in a cracking contest 89-86 at a jam packed Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
The Stirling Senators also geared up for the playoffs beating the Mandurah Magic 90-72.
That came after the two games on Friday night saw the Lakeside Lightning finish Sam Oatman’s tenure as a coach on a high beating the Willetton Tigers 93-81 and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns defeating the Cockburn Cougars 107-101.
That means that the top eight teams after the regular season are the Willetton Tigers (20-6), Joondalup City Wolves (20-6), Geraldton Buccaneers (19-7), Perth Redbacks (16-10), South West Slammers (15-11), Stirling Senators (15-11), Cockburn Cougars (15-11) and Perry Lakes Hawks (12-14).
That sets up the quarter-final battles featuring the Tigers and Hawks, Wolves and Cougars, Buccaneers and Senators, and Redbacks and Slammers.
Lakeside Lightning (12-14) finished ninth ahead of the Rockingham Flames (11-15), East Perth Eagles (8-18), Goldfields Giants (8-18), Kalamunda Eastern Suns (7-19) and Mandurah Magic (4-22).
WEEK 20 FRIDAY NIGHT MEN’S SBL RESULTS
WEEK 20 MEN’S SBL PREVIEW
BUCCS CONFIDENT LOSING FORM NOT A CONCERN BEFORE PLAYOFFS
FIELD LIKES THE WAY COUGARS CHAMPIONSHIP DEFENCE SHAPING UP
COACH TRAHAIR EXCITED ABOUT FUTURE WITH REBUILDING MAGIC
LACKOVIC FULL OF ADMIRATION FOR WAGNER AHEAD OF 300TH GAME
The first piece that had to fall in the race for eighth spot on Saturday was at Active West Stadium. If Perry Lakes scored the win in Geraldton then the Hawks were guaranteed of making the playoffs. However, if the Buccs won on their home floor then the Hawks would miss out if the Flames won in Kalgoorlie.
That set the scene for a tense night for Perry Lakes against a Geraldton team set to finish in third place, but who had lost five of its past six games and were desperate to note enter the playoffs in losing form.
There was precious little between the teams all night with the Buccs leading by five points heading into the fourth quarter and still by four with just over four minutes remaining.
But a three-pointer from Ryan Smith and free-throw Matthew Adekponya soon tied scores up. The Hawks went three points up on a Rob Waters triple with Mat Wundenberg responding inside for the Buccaneers following an Aaron Ralph block on Adekponya.
They then took a one-point lead on a tough driving layup from Dwayne Benjamin as he manoeuvred around Brian Carlwell. Adekponya then couldn’t get his own layup to fall and Carlwell also missed a put back.
Perry Lakes managed to steal the ball back, though, and Ben Purser ended up at the line but missed two free-throws 14 seconds remaining. But Smith got the loose the ball on the offensive board and found Carlwell to finish inside and put the Hawks up 77-76 with 6.5 seconds left.
But a Perry Lakes game was decided in controversial circumstances for a second straight Saturday night. To the shock of most watching, Purser was called for an unsportsmanlike foul before the Buccs inbounded the ball for the last play.
That put Benjamin to the line where he made both despite dislocating his thumb earlier in the night to give the Buccs the lead and the win with possession of the ball.
Benjamin finished with 26 points and seven rebounds for Geraldton with Ralph adding 15 points and eight boards.
Jackson Hussey also had 12 points and eight assists, Mo Barrow 11 points and four rebounds, and Wundenberg six points and 10 boards.
The only consolation for the Hawks was the Flames losing in Kalgoorlie to mean they make the playoffs and have a quarter-final match up with the Tigers to look forward to.
Smith ended up top-scoring for Perry Lakes with 19 points including 5-of-10 from three-point range.
Carlwell added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks with Adekponya contributing 17 points, four boards and four assists, and Waters 12 points.
The door was open for Rockingham to finish eighth by winning at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium, but the Giants were determined to end their season on a winning not to take some momentum into the off-season and 2018.
Goldfields came out firing early and went on a 13-0 scoring run at one stage and were up by as much as 24 points to be in control of the contest all evening. The Flames did threaten a comeback late and made the final margin nine, but it was the Giants’ evening.
Captain Jacob Holmen delivered a huge performance for the Giants with 34 points, 10 rebounds and four assists on shooting 14-of-25 from the floor.
JB Pillard added 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks while Jerome Reid contributed 14 points, five boards and four assists, Brandon Holloway eight points, five assists and three steals, and Russell Hurst seven points.
Donovan Jack had a big night with Rockingham with 32 points and six rebounds while Ryan Godfrey added 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, Vinny Zollo 10 points and seven boards, Jarryd Griffin nine points, seven boards and four steals, and Justin Beard eight points and nine rebounds.
The Wolves and Slammers have both shown they are deserving to be championship contenders this season setting the scene for a tremendous contest at Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
It was the final ever regular season game in the building and more than 800 people were on hand for the occasion and they were treated to a tremendous game of basketball.
The Wolves had threatened to open a match-winning lead by three quarter-time having led by as much as 17 points and still being 11 points up heading into the fourth.
But the Slammers came out inspired to start the fourth term starting with a triple from Travis Vogel, and an offensive board and put from him as well.
The fouling out of veteran big man Clive Weeden did threaten to take the Slammers out of the contest given the Wolves had Ryan Wright inside, but in his first game back from a season-threatening knee injury, Travis Durnin came up huge in the fourth quarter for the Slammers.
With Teny Puot catching fire as well and Tre Nichols, Michael Lay and Brian Voelkel all making plays, the Slammers picked up some exciting momentum and even got within two with a Durnin lay in.
But the Wolves continued to have the answers with Ben Ironmonger and Trian Iliadis icing the win at the line but they had plenty other players stand tall on the night.
Wright finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds with Iliadis contributing 17 points, six assists and five boards, Ironmonger 12 points, six assists and four rebounds, Rob Huntington nine points and seven boards, Rhys Smyth eight points and Damian Matacz eight boards and seven rebounds.
Wolfpack coach Ben Ettridge was happy with his team’s performance on a special night for the club.
“That’s how it’s been the last six weeks. We’ve played the top eight teams week in and week out, and had tough double-headers but this game in front of 800-plus people is as good as you’re going to get,” Ettridge said.
“This was a special night and when you see more than 800 people here including ex-club legends, people that have supported us and the faces that you see to be part of this was amazing.
“This has been the second home for anyone who has been a basketball player or coach or official or parent for 31 years. It was a nice way to say goodbye to them and we can now focus on the next four weeks with an event like this out of the way. Without doubt it was a very special night.”
Nichols top-scored for the Slammers with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists with Voelkel providing another 16 points, 20 boards and four assists.
Puot also had 15 points and five rebounds for South West, Lay 11 points and four assists, and Durnin nine points on return.
Slammers coach Charles Nix was happy with the playoff preparation the game provided.
“We feel that’s a perfect preparation leading into a playoff series. We knew being the last game here at Joondalup that they would come out with a lot of fight and we thought it was a free swing at a very good team,” Nix said.
“We’re happy with the way that the game unfolded and to drop it only by three without Chris Douglas playing, the first game back for Travis Durnin and Clive Weeden having some foul issues, we’re really happy with what we took out of it. We take confidence out of it for sure.”
The Senators headed to Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre to take on the bottom placed Magic without Taylor Mullenax and Daniel Munday motivated to play well to take some momentum into the quarter finals which will end up seeing them take on the Buccaneers.
Stirling started well and came away with the 18-point victory with Rhys Vague leading the way with 32 points and 12 rebounds.
Cody Ellis flew back from the start of pre-season training with the Illawarra Hawks to produce 20 points and nine rebounds with Ash Litterick adding 12 points and four boards, and Austin Bruton eight points.
Will McNeill ended his standout season with the Magic with 32 points and seven rebounds with Chad Simpson contributing 12 points, Sam Julitz 12 points and Akau Deng seven points and seven rebounds.
The Redbacks took on the Eagles at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre with Perth needing to win to remain in fourth spot and East Perth looking to finish 2017 on a high note.
In the end it was the Redbacks who prevailed in an entertaining and high-scoring contest by nine points to give them four consecutive wins to finish fourth ahead of a quarter-final battle with the Slammers.
For the Eagles, it was yet another performance where they played quite well and gave themselves a chance but just fell short which tells the story of their season of missed opportunities.
Shawn Redhage and Lee Roberts both had monster nights for the Redbacks.
Redhage finished with 37 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals shooting 16-of-21 from the field. Roberts had 36 points, seven assists and five rebounds shooting 13-of-21 from the field. 4-of-4 from three-point range and 6-of-6 at the line.
Michael Vigor added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists for Perth, Marshall Nelson 12 points and four assists, and captain Joel Wagner 10 points and 11 assists in his 300th SBL appearance.
Kevin Davis came up huge for the Eagles with 35 points, 11 rebounds and four steals while Drew Williamson finished with 25 points and six assists, Mason Bragg 15 points and 10 assists, Kevin Anthony 11 points and four rebounds, and Joe-Alan Tupaea 10 points.
FRIDAY NIGHT ROUND 20 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Lakeside Lightning 93 defeated Willetton Tigers 81
Cockburn Cougars 101 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 107
SATURDAY NIGHT ROUND 20 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Geraldton Buccaneers 78 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 77
Goldfields Giants 88 defeated Rockingham Flames 79
Joondalup City Wolves 89 defeated South West Slammers 86
Mandurah Magic 72 lost to Stirling Senators 90
East Perth Eagles 107 lost to Perth Redbacks 116
Photo by Vikki Hile