THE Joondalup Wolves remained unbeaten at their new home beating the Stirling Senators in the Battle of Joondalup in the Men’s SBL on Saturday night while the Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Lakeside Lightning firmed their playoff hopes and the Geraldton Buccaneers won big.
There were four matches in the Men’s SBL on Saturday night as part of Round 12 that will all culminate on WA Day for the 2018 All-Star Game at Bendat Basketball Centre on the Monday public holiday.
The round got underway on Friday night with three matches which saw the Rockingham Flames defeat the Cockburn Cougars 77-75 in overtime, the South West Slammers down the Mandurah Magic 101-78 and the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the East Perth Eagles 100-92.
Saturday night’s action began at Active West Stadium with the Geraldton Buccaneers winning big, defeating the Goldfields Giants 129-77. The two teams do it all again on Sunday evening at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.
The other three games saw the Joondalup Wolves beat the Stirling Senators 97-92, the Lakeside Lightning defeat the Willetton Tigers 96-81 and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns prevail 109-103 at home to the defending champion Perth Redbacks.
Saturday night in the Men’s SBL began at Geraldton’s Active West Stadium with the first of two games within 24 hours between the Buccaneers and Giants.
With the Buccs looking to maintain second spot and continue to put pressure on the league-leading Wolves and the Giants at the bottom of the table, it always shaped as a significant challenge for Goldfields and that’s how it played out.
The Giants were able to stick with the Buccaneers in a high-scoring opening quarter but by half-time the home team had opened a 59-47 advantage.
The Buccs really ramped things up in the second half delivering an ominous display with 33 points to 13 in the third quarter, and another 37 to 17 in the fourth period to deliver the eventual 52-point victory.
It was a remarkable shooting performance from the Buccaneers who went 46/78 from the field at 58 per cent and 26/44 from beyond the arc at 59 per cent. They ended the night with 36 assists on the 46 made field goals.
It was a sixth straight win for Geraldton who improves to 12-2 as a result while Goldfields has lost four in succession at 2-12.
Gokul Natesan had a terrific display at point guard for the Buccs with 27 points, six assists, three steals, three rebounds and two blocked shots while shooting 6/13 from three-point range.
Aaron Ralph came up huge too nailing 7/9 from beyond the arc on his way to 23 points and five rebounds with Colter Lasher contributing 22 points, eight boards, seven assists and two steals on shooting 9/17 from the floor and 3/3 from long range.
Earnest Ross also had 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals for the Buccs while Marcus Alipate added 18 points and nine assists including 6/10 from three-point range.
Liam Hunt added nine points, seven rebounds and three assists and James Paringatai eight points.
It was a tough night for the Giants but Kyle Sovine did finish with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Jeylyn Sharpe added 16 points, eight boards, six assists and three steals, Jake Martin 14 points, five assists and four boards, and Brandon Holloway eight points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Then at Lakeside Recreation Centre, the Lightning and Tigers went to battle in a contest featuring two teams trying to stay in touch with the top four through the second half of the 2018 season.
The Lightning had won three straight coming into the contest and with the additions of Daniel Alexander, Bryan Michaels and Corey Shervill to a team that had already done enough to be in the playoff hunt.
Willetton bounced back last Saturday night to beat Stirling too following a loss the night before in Rockingham to set the stage for a terrific contest even with the Tigers still missing star import Jay Bowie.
Willetton started strongly to lead by five at quarter-time but Lakeside soon worked its way on top to lead by six points at half-time, nine at three quarter-time and to go on and record the 15-point win.
The win is a fourth straight for the Lightning who improve to 8-7 as a result while the Tigers are 8-7 with the loss.
Daniel Alexander put up 22 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots for the Lightning with John Isenbarger adding 22 points, six assists, four steals and four boards, and Bryan Michaels 22 points and four rebounds.
Matt Vinci also had 10 points for Lakeside and Michael Garbellini seven points, four rebounds and two assists.
Tigers captain Kyle Armour did all he could to try and deliver his team a win with 28 points, five rebounds and five assists on shooting 11/15 from the field, 2/4 from long range and 4/7 from the foul line.
Damien Scott also had 19 points, three rebounds and three assists for Willetton, Andrew Black 12 points, three boards and three assists, Jake Burston nine points and six rebounds, and Badou Diagne eight points and seven boards.
It was then time for Battle of Joondalup III on Saturday night between the Wolves and Senators with what shaped as another tantalising match up with the new HBF Arena playing host for the first time.
The Wolfpack put their nine-game winning streak on the line against a Senators team whose form in recent times has been streaky, but they still entered the round in fourth position.
The game didn’t fail to deliver either and the Senators certainly gave the Wolves plenty of work to do if they were to make it 10 straight wins.
Stirling did trail by four points at quarter-time but then put in a monster 37 points to 28 in the second quarter. When they maintained that momentum with a 27-13 third period, they were up 80-61 and were on target to be the first visiting Men’s team to win at HBF Arena.
It wasn’t to be, though, and Joondalup delivered what can only be described as a scintillating fourth quarter in the face of adversity. They put up 36 points to 12 to overrun Stirling and snatch the five-point win while without Brian Sullivan and Trian Iliadis.
The victory keeps the Wolfpack on top of the Men’s SBL at 15-1 having now won 10 consecutive matches and they remain undefeated at HBF Arena. It was a heartbreaking loss for Stirling who slip to 9-7 as a result.
Jalen Billups ended the night with 33 points, seven rebounds, four steals, three blocked shots and two assists for the Wolves on shooting 13/19 from the floor, 2/3 from beyond the arc and 5/7 at the foul line.
Rob Huntington gave Joondalup that strong one-two big man punch also finishing with 23 points, four rebounds and two assists including nailing 4/5 from three-point territory.
Ben Ironmonger added 12 points, eight assists and four rebounds with Chris Clausen contributing 10 points and Reece Maxwell eight along with five boards and three steals.
The Senators were also missing Corban Wroe but Caleb Davis came out and top-scored with 23 points and five rebounds including going 5/10 from downtown.
Justin King also finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals for Stirling, Cody Ellis 15 points, 10 boards and five assists, Ash Litterick 11 points and five rebounds, and Robert Anshila eight points, seven boards and three assists.
The last match on Saturday night was another cracking affair with the Eastern Suns playing host to the defending champion Redbacks at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The Suns had stunned the Redbacks late last season at Belmont Oasis despite Perth going on to win the championship, and this Kalamunda team is vastly improved on that in 2018 and was able to put together a tremendous display on Saturday night on their home floor.
The Redbacks were missing Jackson Hussey, but any starting five made up of Lee Roberts, Shawn Redhage, Mo Barrow, Ben Smith and Joel Wagner with Michael Vigor coming off the bench is never going to be easy to topple.
The Redbacks did lead by two points at half-time before scores were tied heading into the fourth, where the Eastern Suns managed to work on top and come away with the six-point victory.
The improves Kalamunda to a 7-9 win on the season to be right in playoff contention while Perth slips to 11-5 but the Redbacks remain solid inside the top four.
Louis Timms continues to grow as his touch and match conditioning grows and he top-scored for the Eastern Suns in the win with 23 points and seven rebounds on 9/13 shooting including 3/6 from downtown.
Courtney Belger also had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Suns with Ryan Blanchett contributing 18 points and three boards, Kevin Davis 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and Carl Aylett 12 points.
Kerrod Horn also had six points, four assists and three rebounds with Logan Viskovich having seven points and three boards against his former side despite shooting just 3/12.
Veteran shooting guard Ben Smith had a huge performance for the Redbacks with 33 points and five assists on shooting 12/20 from the field and 6/14 from three-point land.
Shawn Redhage added 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Perth, Mo Barrow 20 points, nine boards and three assists, Michael Vigor nine points and three rebounds, Lee Roberts six points (0/6 shooting), six assists, four boards and three steals, and Joel Wagner six points and nine assists.
WEEK 12 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Cockburn Cougars 75 lost to Rockingham Flames 77
Mandurah Magic 78 lost to South West Slammers 101
East Perth Eagles 92 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 100
Geraldton Buccaneers 129 defeated Goldfields Giants 77
Joondalup Wolves 97 defeated Stirling Senators 92
Lakeside Lightning 96 defeated Willetton Tigers 81
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 109 defeated Perth Redbacks 103
Goldfields Giants v Geraldton Buccaneers – Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium 7.30pm
Men’s All-Star Game
North v South – Bendat Basketball Centre 2pm