THE Geraldton Buccaneers moved into a strong position to claim the 2018 regular season Men’s SBL championship becoming the first team to beat the Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena with wins on Saturday night also for the Willetton Tigers, East Perth Eagles and Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Round 14 in the Men’s SBL began with the four matches on Friday night and that included the Perth Redbacks ending the Joondalup Wolves’ 11-game winning run, prevailing 99-66 at Belmont Oasis in the Grand Final rematch.
Also on Friday night, the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the Willetton Tigers 92-70, the Lakeside Lightning hammered the Cockburn Cougars 122-85 and the Rockingham Flames defeated the Mandurah Magic 83-76.
That set the stage for another four matches on Saturday night with all eyes on HBF Arena for the battle between the top two teams Joondalup and Geraldton.
The Wolves ended up suffering a second straight loss and their first ever defeat on their new home floor with the Buccaneers beating them for the second time in 2018, winning 88-80.
The Willetton Tigers also bounced back by beating the Goldfields Giants 102-80 with the East Perth Eagles defeating the 92-80 and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns prevailing 114-102 over the Rockingham Flames.
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It was always set to be a fascinating weekend for the league-leading Wolfpack up against the second and third placed teams, one of which they beat in the semi finals of 2017 and the other they lost to in the Grand Final.
Then following a 33-point loss to the Redbacks on Friday, it was going to be intriguing to see how the Wolfpack responded upon hosting a Buccs team on Saturday who had beaten them earlier in the season in Geraldton.
For their part, the Buccaneers arrived at HBF Arena on their own eight-game winning streak so the stage was set for a tremendous contest and it didn’t fail to deliver.
The Wolfpack started strongly in response to Friday’s loss at Belmont Oasis and led 24-20 by quarter-time but the Buccaneers turned it on in the second period with 30 points to 20 to lead 50-44 at the half-time break.
The Wolves closed the deficit to three by three quarter-time to set the tone for a big finish and it was the visiting Buccs who handled it better to end up winning by eight points and becoming the first visiting men’s team to win at HBF Arena.
The two losses this weekend sees the Wolfpack slip to a 14-3 record with their 11-game winning streak ending while the Buccaneers improve to 15-2 ahead of playing the Perry Lakes Hawks on Sunday at Bendat Basketball Centre who are on their own winning run.
Buccs imports Colter Lasher (19 points, eight rebounds, three assists) and Gokul Natesan (19 points, four boards, three assists, three steals) were both impressive while Earnest Ross added 18 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Aaron Ralph also had 11 points on 3/8 shooting from downtown for the Buccaneers with Marcus Alipate contributing six points, four assists and four steals, and Liam Hunt nine points and seven rebounds.
Rob Huntington top-scored for the Wolves with 21 points and six rebounds on 7/9 shooting from the floor, 2/3 from deep and 5/5 at the foul line.
Trian Iliadis also had 20 points, four rebounds and four assists for Joondalup, Jalen Billups 17 points and 10 boards, and Brian Sullivan 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Giants also began their road double-header on Saturday night taking on the Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium with Goldfields trying to consolidate an impressive home win over Rockingham and Willetton trying to bounce back from a loss to Perry Lakes on Friday.
It was quick, up-tempo contest especially in the first half with both teams happy to jack up the threes and with the referees putting their whistles away. The Tigers held a slight edge most of the way, but the Giants kept fighting with their former MVP and current Perry Lakes star Jacob Holmen in the building to cheer them on.
Jerome Reid hit a big three on half-time to keep the Giants within a point but the Tigers eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter with a more even spread of contributors and Badou Diagne impressive inside, particularly after Jake Martin left the game late with a lower leg complaint.
The Tigers won by 12 points in the end with Diagne the star of the night inside with 28 points and 10 rebounds on a supremely efficient 13/17 shooting from the field.
Damien Scott also put up 23 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds for Willetton with Jay Bowie contributing 18 points, Kyle Armour 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds, Hayden Noordhoek 11 points and Jake Burston seven points and seven assists.
After the game, Armour was pleased with the response from the Tigers after the loss to Perry Lakes on Friday and to celebrate Dan Casey’s 200th game with the win.
“Last night was really disappointing just with the way we carried ourselves and tonight we really wanted to bounce back for Casey who is a guy that is the heart and soul of our club,” Armour said.
“He is one of my good friends and he is that really good big brother, best mate to a lot of the guys on the team. We just wanted to try and play this game for him and do it justice.
“Obviously the win was massive for us with the league so tight and one game can matter come Week 20. We don’t want to be that team that is just fighting to be in the top eight. As many wins as we can get now are really important.”
The Giants didn’t get a single point off the bench with only captain Daniel Forlano playing significant minutes meaning coach Scott Rubery went with a six-man rotation.
They did fight hard, though, led by 30 points and four rebounds from Kyle Sovine who shot 11/16 from the floor, 3/4 from beyond the arc and 5/7 from the foul line.
Jeylyn Sharpe added 21 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists for Goldfields with Jerome Reid finishing with 18 points and five assists while hitting 4/8 from long range. Brandon Holloway also had 12 points and six assists, and Jake Martin nine points and eight boards.
The Slammers then hosted the Eagles at Eaton Recreation Centre with both teams desperate for a win to remain in the playoff race.
East Perth had won its past two games ending a five-match losing streak so headed south with confidence but it was the Slammers who started strongly leading 27-20 by quarter-time.
But the Eagles had stayed in touch by half-time and then delivered a commanding third period at both ends with 25 points to 11 to set up the eventual 12-point victory.
The win improves East Perth to an 8-11 record with three straight wins while South West has lost its past couple to be 4-12.
Reigning SBL Player of the Round Jonathan Morse was again strong for the Eagles with 19 points and 15 rebounds, and he received plenty of support.
New import Anthony Golden added 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals with Ngor Manyang contributing 12 points and four boards, and Drew Williamson 11 points five rebounds, four steals and three steals.
Jermaine Malie also delivered 10 points on 4/5 shooting and 2/2 from long-range with Corey Easley finishing with 11 points and Aiden Murphy eight points, four steals, two assists and two rebounds.
Brandon Thompson top-scored for the Slammers with 22 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals while shooting 8/24 from the field and 4/14 from three-point territory.
Michael Lay also had 15 points and four assists, Travis Durnin 11 points and six rebounds, Brian Voelkel nine points, 16 boards and five assists.
Clive Weeden also ended the evening with eight points and seven rebounds, and Matthew Leary eight points.
The Saturday night action then concluded at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the Eastern Suns beginning their double-header against a Rockingham team coming off a Friday night win at home to the Mandurah Magic.
It was a Suns team fresh and full of confidence after a thumping win over Lakeside last Saturday night and they kept the momentum going with a 40-point first quarter to be up by 16 at quarter-time.
The Flames had worked their way back into the contest by three quarter-time, though, to trail by just the four points before the Eastern Suns responded with a strong fourth quarter to win by 12.
The win improves the playoff hopes for Kalamunda who improve to 9-10 ahead of a Sunday clash against Stirling while the Flames slip to 10-9.
There were plenty of strong contributors for the Eastern Suns with Courtney Belger producing 21 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Kerrod Horn added 21 points and four rebounds with Louis Timms contributing 19 points and eight boards, and Carl Aylett 18 points and three rebounds
Ryan Blanchett also finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Suns, and Kevin Davis 11 points and six boards.
Fresh off re-signing with the Perth Wildcats, Greg Hire put up 33 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals while shooting a remarkable efficient 14/16 from the field and 5/6 from three-point range.
Ryan Godfrey added 23 points and four assists for the Flames, Justin Beard 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, Curtis Washington 14 points, seven boards, five assists and three blocks.
Kevin White also had 10 points, seven assists and three rebounds.
WEEK 14 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Perry Lakes Hawks 92 defeated Willetton Tigers 70
Perth Redbacks 99 defeated Joondalup Wolves 66
Lakeside Lightning 122 defeated Cockburn Cougars 85
Rockingham Flames 83 defeated Mandurah Magic 76
Willetton Tigers 102 defeated Goldfields Giants 90
Joondalup Wolves 80 lost to Geraldton Buccaneers 88
South West Slammers 80 lost to East Perth Eagles 92
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 114 defeated Rockingham Flames 102
Cockburn Cougars v Goldfields Giants – Wally Hagan Stadium 12.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Geraldton Buccaneers – Bendat Basketball Centre 12.00pm
Stirling Senators v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Warwick Stadium 2.00pm