THE Perry Lakes Hawks are one win from the Women’s SBL grand final for 2017 after a 93-81 Game 1 semi-final victory against the Willetton Tigers at Bendat Basketball Centre on Friday night.
The Women’s SBL semi-final series’ got underway on Friday night with the clash between the two powerhouses who have combined for 14 championships and 24 grand final appearances.
Perry Lakes earned the home court advantage having finished on top of the standings at the end of the regular season ahead of the semi-final battle with the defending champion Willetton.
And after a flying start with the game’s first seven points, the Lady Hawks proved too strong remaining in front all night before beating the Tigers by 12 points.
The other semi-final series begins on Saturday night with the Mandurah Magic playing the Lakeside Lightning at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
There was just the one SBL Game 1 semi-final match up on Friday night and it featured this year’s minor premiers in the Women’s competition the Hawks up against the defending champion Tigers.
Adding to that is the history behind both clubs with Perry Lakes having won six championships in 12 grand final appearances, and Willetton eight titles from 12 trips to the big dance.
They have been the two most successful clubs in the Women’s SBL and now won one of them will at least be back to another grand final in 2017.
Following Friday night’s Game 1, it is the Lady Hawks who are just the one win from the grand final having recorded the 12-point victory on their home floor.
Perry Lakes made a flying start scoring the game’s opening seven points and going on to lead 11-3, 24-13 and 28-18 by quarter-time.
After Willetton had got back to within five points early in the second quarter, the Hawks pulled away with 12-0 run to have blown the game open and lead 44-27.
Perry Lakes was up 53-35 at half-time and while the Tigers did threaten to make a run at them several times during the second half, and even got to within seven points to start the fourth quarter after baskets from Stacey Barr and Desiree Kelley, they couldn’t bridge the gap further.
The Lady Hawks answered every challenge from the Tigers to end up winning by 12 points leading into Game 2 next Saturday night at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
It was a strong and impressive all-round performance by the Hawks with point guard Lauren Jeffers ending up with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Toni Farnworth added 19 points, six rebounds and five assists for Perry Lakes with Sarah Donovan contributing 16 points and nine boards, Nat Burton 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and Kate Anthony 11 points and three assists.
Gabby O’Sullivan also had seven points, five assists and four steals from the bench and Emily Burton six points and seven rebounds.
The Tigers couldn’t quite get the impact they hoped from their bigs inside against the Hawks with Zoe Harper absent, Emma Lobb not quite recapturing her from leading into the finals and Sam Norwood (two points, six rebounds) and Jess Hootmann (12 points, three boards, three assists) not quite having their usual presence.
Then foul trouble all night for stars Barr and Kelley didn’t help Willetton’s cause, and once Barr fouled out with six minutes left on a tough offensive foul call, the Tigers hopes went with her.
Barr still top-scored with 23 points in as many minutes for the Tigers while Kelley finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Sophie Maines had seven points and seven rebounds, Emma Gandini seven points and six assists, and Lobb seven points.
Willetton coach Simon Parker comes out of the game knowing that his team just can’t afford another slow start heading towards next weekend’s cut-throat deciding games.
“I said in one of the timeouts that it seemed like it was just one of those nights where we would take two steps forward and then four steps back,” Parker said.
“It was frustrating because we didn’t get off to a good start and then when you’re down 7-0 and whatever it was in the first quarter, the referee stuff and whatever else compounds it.
“It wasn’t them that got us down in that hole but there still has to be that level of consistency so that when you’re trying to make a fightback that things get called consistently.
“But it was more frustrating with the girls and the start that we had because you’d like to think they are more switched on for a big game like this.”
WOMEN’S SBL GAME 1 SEMI FINAL RESULTS
Perry Lakes Hawks 93 defeated Willetton Tigers 81
WOMEN’S SBL GAME 1 SEMI FINAL FIXTURES
Mandurah Magic v Lakeside Lightning – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 7pm
Photo by Sebpix Photography