THE Cockburn Cougars and Joondalup City Wolves both started well but ultimately the higher-ranked Perry Lakes Hawks and Lakeside Lightning prevailed in their respective Women’s SBL quarter-final Game 1 match ups on Friday night.
The higher-ranked teams were playing on their home floors but both the Cougars and Wolves came out firing ready to make a statement in Game 1. Both were able to open up early leads, but Perry Lakes and Lakeside were able to turn things around.
In the end, the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the Cockburn Cougars 83-68 at Bendat Basketball Centre and the Lakeside Lightning prevailed 76-58 against the Joondalup City Wolves.
The Lady Hawks had a standout regular season finishing on top of the standings losing just three games along the way, but the Cougars had far more talent than a regular eighth placed team who won just eight games.
Coach John Triscari got his team then putting some full-court pressure on the Hawks and it was working a treat for two and-a-half quarters as the Cougars were able to lead 40-37.
But seemingly from the moment Perry Lakes coach Deanna Smith got a tech foul, her team sparked into action and with Toni Farnworth nailing four threes in the game’s last 16 minutes, they were able to pull away to claim the Game 1 victory by 15 points.
The game was much closer than that score suggests and the Cougars now looking to win Game 2 at Wally Hagan Stadium next Friday to force the decider.
Farnworth ended up being the difference between the two teams having returned on fire from her time with the New Zealand national team. She ended the night with 29 points, four assists, four steals and three rebounds on shooting 8-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-6 from deep.
Nat Burton added 22 points, 12 rebounds and four assists for Perry Lakes while Lauren Jeffers contributed 18 points and 10 assists, and Kate Anthony four points and six rebounds.
Point guard BJ Moyes was aggressive all game for the Cougars at both ends of the floor and finished with 26 points and five assists while nailing 3-of-6 of her three-point attempts.
Taryn Priestly added 16 points and four assists for Cockburn, Kersten Mitchell 13 points and four boards, and Lindsey Doucette five points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Cougars just left too many points on the floor particularly missing a host of shots around the basketball making just 33 per cent of their two-point attempts.
But their game plan worked well for much of the night and they will take heart from the performance that they could put the Hawks under pressure.
Coach Triscari remains confident they can bounce back.
“The girls gave it their all and I consider the game should have been a bit closer, but we’ll leave that question alone. I just struggle with inconsistency sometimes and we were inconsistent. We didn’t stay focused and stick to the game plan, and they are a top side who got on top,” Triscari said.
“I think most of the league knows their weakness is that while their point guard is good, she struggles against a bit of pressure. That’s what we targeted and it worked well for a high percentage of the game.
“The league is really open this year and I think that any one of the top eight teams can make it through to the grand final. I would have liked to be up one-zip but we’re not and it makes it a bit tougher, but I still think we can do it.”
Then at Lakeside Recreation Centre, last year’s grand finalists the Wolves made a strong start opening a 10-point advantage during the first quarter. The Wolfpack were again up by 10 midway through the second quarter as well but the Lightning had closed to within three by half-time.
Lakeside had managed to turn that into a five-point lead heading into the fourth term and the home team went on with it with a 26-point final quarter to win by 18 points.
Again the game was closer than that suggests with the Lady Wolfpack now needing to win Game 2 on Friday at Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
Reigning MVP Ali Schwagmeyer shook off a sore ankle to top-score for Lakeside with 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
Fellow import Sydnee Fipps contributed 17 points, five rebounds and three steals while Sam Roscoe finished with 14 points, five boards and five steals, Ash Grant 11 points and seven rebounds, Tiahrn Flynn nine points and three assists, and Jess Van Schie seven points and three assists.
Point guard and captain Shani Amos finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Lady Wolfpack while Nikita Martin ended up with 12 points and six boards, Klara Wischer 10 points, eight rebounds and five steals, and Ellyce Ironmonger eight points, five boards and five assists.
The other two Game 1 match ups take place on Saturday night with the Stirling Senators playing the Willetton Tigers and the Mandurah Magic hosting the Perth Redbacks.
FRIDAY NIGHT QUARTER FINAL GAME 1 WOMEN’S SBL RESULTS
Perry Lakes Hawks 83 defeated Cockburn Cougars 68
Lakeside Lightning 76 defeated Joondalup City Wolves 58
SATURDAY NIGHT QUARTER FINAL GAME 1 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Stirling Senators v Willetton Tigers – Warwick Stadium 6pm
Mandurah Magic v Perth Redbacks – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 7pm
Photo by Sebpix Photography