THE Geraldton Buccaneers won again to celebrate the 400th SBL game of Mat Wundenberg on Saturday night to remain a chance of taking top spot while there were Heritage Round victories also for the Mandurah Magic, Perry Lakes Hawks, Lakeside Lightning and Perth Redbacks.
The SBL is celebrating Heritage Round in Week 16 of the 2018 season in recognition of the league beginning back in 1989 and in what is the fifth last round of the regular season, things are really heating up in the hunt for the top four spots, playoff positions and indeed to avoid the wooden spoon.
The round got underway on Friday night with three matches that saw the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the Rockingham Flames 82-79 while the Stirling Senators defeated the Cockburn Cougars 99-90 and the Joondalup Wolves downed the East Perth Eagles 100-74.
It was then a monster night with five matches on Saturday starting with the Geraldton Buccaneers beating the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 106-96 in celebration of the 400th game of inspirational captain Mat Wundenberg.
The Mandurah Magic also beat the Goldfields Giants 86-66 while the Perry Lakes Hawks defeated the South West Slammers 105-73, the Lakeside Lightning beat the Willetton Tigers 113-91 and the Perth Redbacks downed the Cockburn Cougars 104-93.
The Men’s SBL action on Saturday night began at Active West Stadium with Geraldton attempting to celebrate captain Mat Wundenberg’s 400th appearance with a win at home to the Eastern Suns.
The Buccs were able to do so in the finish but the Eastern Suns did make them work for it.
The Suns led by five points at quarter-time but the Buccaneers turned it around to lead 51-46 at the half. The Buccs extended that lead to 10 by three quarter-time and went on to win by that margin.
The win improves Geraldton to a 17-3 record in second position while Kalamunda remains outside a playoff position at 9-13 having now lost three straight.
Colter Lasher top-scored for the Buccaneers with 26 points and six rebounds with Gokul Natesan adding 21 points, three boards, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Earnest Ross also had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Buccs with Aaron Ralph contributing 15 points and five boards, and Marcus Alipate 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
In his 400th SBL appearance, Wundenberg pulled in 15 rebounds to go with two points, two assists and two blocks.
Courtney Belger had a big night for Kalamunda with 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals on shooting 12/21 from the field, 3/7 from downtown and 6/8 from the foul line.
Louis Timms was also prolific with 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists but he might have got a bit too happy with the outside ball jacking up 13 three-point attempts. To his credit, he did hit six of them to go with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Logan Viskovich also had 14 points and Kevin Davis 10 along with five rebounds and three blocks.
Then at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre, the Magic and Giants were both attempting to start their double-headers off on winning notes as they try to avoid the wooden spoon in 2018.
Mandurah would go on to deliver an impressive performance set up with a 30-22 opening quarter. The Magic then dominated the second half outscoring the Giants 39 points to 21 to claim their 20-point victory.
It’s Mandurah’s fourth win of the season and snaps a five-game losing run with the Magic now joining the Giants on four wins.
Shaun Stewart finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Magic with Jamal Shabazz contributing 23 points, four boards and four steals.
Akau Deng also had 12 points for Mandurah, Chudier Pal 10 points and eight rebounds, and Duk Makuei nine points.
The Cougars were then looking to keep their playoff hopes alive hosting the defending champion Redbacks at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Cockburn was coming off a loss to Stirling on Friday and the Redbacks caught fire in the second quarter with 33 points to 13 to set up the eventual 11-point win.
The victory improves the Redbacks to a 14-7 record while the Cougars are now 8-13 and looking on from the outside at a playoff spot.
Ben Smith top-scored for the Redbacks with 22 points and three rebounds while Jackson Hussey delivered 19 points and five boards off the bench.
Joel Wagner also had 16 points and eight assists, Mo Barrow 16 points, three rebounds and three assists, Lee Roberts 12 points and 12 boards, and Michael Vigor 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Gavin Field played all 40 minutes for the Cougars and finished with 29 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Julian Pesava added 24 points and six boards for Cockburn, Seva Chan 14 points and three steals, Brandon Sebirumbi 11 points and five rebounds, and Jaarod Holmes eight points and nine boards.
Perry Lakes then hosted the Slammers at Bendat Basketball Centre in some hot form on a six-game winning run including winning a thriller over the Flames on Friday.
It was always going to be a big task for the shorthanded Slammers who were missing captain Clive Weeden and they only had three fit men on the bench with Tom Harper suited up but injured.
Perry Lakes was right on top from the outset leading 26-19 by quarter-time opening a 20-point advantage by half-time.
The lead for the Hawks grew to as much as 36 points during the second half before they ended up winning by 32 to remain in touch for a top four position. The Slammers remain locked with the Giants and Magic on four wins.
Jacob Holmen finished with 25 points and eight rebounds for Perry Lakes with Lochlan Cummings contributing 25 points, three assists and two steals while nailing 6/9 from three-point territory.
Ben Purser continued his strong form for the Hawks with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists with Mitch Clarke delivering another 10 points and five boards in the absence of the injured Dan Thomas.
Brian Carlwell also finished with six points, 11 rebounds and four assists, and Travis Hayto eight points and seven boards.
Brian Voelkel battled manfully for the Slammers producing an impressive triple-double made up of 25 points, 20 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals.
Travis Durnin finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds for South West, and Matthew Leary seven points.
The last game of Saturday night in the Men’s SBL took place at Willetton Basketball Stadium featuring a Tigers team trying to get back into the top four and the Lightning trying to hold on to that fourth position.
It was a tight contest for three quarters as well but the Lightning had plenty left to give and delivered a dominant fourth period with 38 points to 20 to come away with the 22-point victory.
The win improves Lakeside to a 12-8 record in fourth spot on a three-game winning run while the Tigers have lost two in-a-row to be 10-10.
The import duo for Lakeside of Daniel Alexander and John Isenbarger were remarkable with Alexander finishing with 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Isenbarger 37 points and eight assists. They shot a combined 24/39 from the field, 12/23 from long range and 15/16 from the foul line.
Bryan Michaels also had 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Lightning, and Jarrad Prue nine points and 23 boards.
Badou Diagne top-scored for the Tigers with 23 points and nine rebounds with Jay Bowie adding 21 points and six assists, Damien Scott 15 points and four assists, Kyle Armour 13 points and seven assists, and Hayden Noordhoek 10 points and four rebounds.
WEEK 16 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Rockingham Flames 79 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 82
Stirling Senators 99 defeated Cockburn Cougars 90
East Perth Eagles 74 lost to Joondalup Wolves 100
Geraldton Buccaneers 106 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 96
Mandurah Magic 86 defeated Goldfields Giants 66
Perry Lakes Hawks 105 defeated South West Slammers 73
Willetton Tigers 91 lost to Lakeside Lightning 113
Cockburn Cougars 93 lost to Perth Redbacks 104
South West Slammers v Goldfields Giants – Eaton Recreation Centre 12.00pm
Perth Redbacks v Mandurah Magic – Belmont Oasis 2.00pm