THE Willetton Tigers returned to winning form in the Women’s SBL in emphatic fashion on Friday night to open Round 17 at the expense of the Cockburn Cougars while the Lakeside Lightning won big and the Stirling Senators claimed a thriller against the Rockingham Flames.
It’s the fourth last round of the 2018 Women’s SBL season so the stakes are rising for every game and all three encounters on Friday night had plenty on the line.
The Willetton Tigers snapped a three-game losing run in style beating the Cockburn Cougars 83-54 while the Lakeside Lightning defeated the South West Slammers 92-68 and the Stirling Senators kept in the playoff hunt downing the Rockingham Flames 72-69.
The Friday night Women’s SBL action got underway at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Tigers trying to return to the winner’s list and stay in touch with the top four and the Cougars just needing a win to remain a hope of reaching the playoffs.
But it was all the Tigers from the outset as they opened a 21-8 advantage by quarter-time and extended their lead to 17 points at half-time and a monstrous 32 by three quarter-time.
Cockburn did show some fight in the fourth quarter with 21 points to 18 but it only cut Willetton’s winning margin to 29 as the Tigers improved to an 11-7 record to remain a hope of ending in the top four.
It was a tough loss to take for the Cougars who now slip to 6-13 with the absence of Kisha Lee proving too much to cover.
Ashli Payne came up huge for Willetton finishing the night with 26 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Sam Norwood added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers, Desiree Kelley eight points, four boards and four steals, Leah Cotton eight points and Emma Gandini eight points and three assists.
Stephanie Jones battled hard for Cockburn with 15 points and four rebounds with Taryn Priestly contributing 16 points and five assists, and Vanessa Michael nine points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Then at Lakeside Recreation Centre, it was a big job ahead of the Slammers up against the league-leading Lightning and it proved to be the case as the night wore on.
The Slammers were coming off a 33-point loss to Perry Lakes the week before but did welcome back Georgia Denehey and stuck with the Lightning in the first quarter.
But Lakeside pulled away in the second to lead 54-35 at half-time. The Lightning extended their advantage to as much as 32 points during the second half before the Slammers were able to pull the final margin back to 24.
The win is a 10th straight for Lakeside who remain clear on top at 18-1 while the Slammers slip to a 7-11 record ahead of a home clash with the on-fire Perth Redbacks on Saturday night.
The MVP of the past two years, Ali Schwagmeyer, had another big game for the Lightning finishing with 28 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals while fellow import Sydnee Fipps added 26 points and four boards on a supremely efficient shooting effort of 9/12 from the field and 5/8 from deep.
Sam Roscoe also had 15 points, five rebounds and three assists for Lakeside, Courtney Byrnes nine points, five assists and three boards, and Ash Grant four points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Slammers co-captain Courtney Bayliss ended the evening with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists on shooting 7/17 from three-point range.
Tayah Burrows also ended up with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for South West, Charlotte van Kleef 10 points and eight boards, and Georgia Denehey eight points, three rebounds and three assists.
The tight game of the night took place at Warwick Stadium between a Senators team trying to break into the top eight and a Flames unit trying to remain a chance of breaking into the top two.
The Senators started solidly enough despite having lost their last two matches prior to the bye last weekend. They led by three at quarter-time and seven at half-time, and still by eight at three quarter-time.
But the Flames were always going to make a run and that came in the fourth quarter. While Rockingham battled hard down the stretch, they could never quite get in front and Stirling held on for the crucial three-point win.
That improves the Senators to an 8-11 record ahead of a trip to Mandurah on Sunday while Rockingham slips to 14-5 with the game likely to cost the Flames a top two position in a month’s time.
Jasmine Martin came up huge for the Senators with 24 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists on shooting 9/16 from the field, 2/5 from three-point territory and 4/4 from the foul line.
Janee Johnson added 13 points and nine rebounds for Stirling, Hannah Throns 11 points and four assists, and Rebekah Throns eight points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists.
The Flames were again without Taneisha Harrison with Jacinta Bourne top-scoring with 16 points and five rebounds.
D’Lesha Lloyd added 15 points and six rebounds for Rockingham, Chelsea Armstrong nine points, three boards and two assists, Ariana Hetherington eight points and Maddison Allen seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.
WEEK 17 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Willetton Tigers 83 defeated Cockburn Cougars 54
Lakeside Lightning 92 defeated South West Slammers 68
Stirling Senators 72 defeated Rockingham Flames 69
South West Slammers v Perth Redbacks – Eaton Recreation Centre 6.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Mandurah Magic – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Bendat Basketball Centre 6.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Stirling Senators – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 12.00pm