THE Joondalup Wolves and Perry Lakes Hawks put on quite the show at HBF Arena in the Men’s SBL on Friday night with the Hawks prevailing in an overtime classic while the Willetton Tigers won an important clash with the Mandurah Magic too.
It is the third last round of the SBL season and the stakes are rising in every game played as the playoffs near and the implications were huge at HBF Arena on Friday night between the second placed Wolfpack and fourth placed Hawks.
In the end, no more than five points separated the two teams all night and it was only fitting it went to overtime, and in the extra period huge shots from Ben Purser and Jacob Holmen saw Perry Lakes prevail 106-104 in their first ever visit to HBF Arena.
The other Friday night game saw the Willetton Tigers snap their losing slide beating the Mandurah Magic 90-73 at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
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Willetton came into its clash with Mandurah at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Friday night needing to win to steady themselves in a playoff position on the back of three straight losses.
The Magic have proved a competitive outfit in recent times, though, and that proved the case for three quarters again on Friday night.
The Tigers did lead by seven at quarter-time before the Magic closed the gap and trailed by just one at the main break.
Willetton only extended its lead to three by three quarter-time but the Tigers then took over in the fourth period with 24 points to 10 to come away with the crucial 17-point victory.
Badou Diagne continued his run of season-best form for the Tigers with 29 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and two steals on the back of shooting 11/20 from the field and 7/9 from the free-throw line.
Kyle Armour added 20 points, five assists and three rebounds too for Willetton including knocking down 4/6 from beyond the arc while Jay Bowie finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Damien Scott 16 points and six assists.
Shaun Stewart top-scored for Mandurah with 33 points, five assists and four rebounds on the back of shooting 13/24 from the floor and 5/9 from three-point territory.
Jamal Shabazz added 21 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Magic while Chudier Pal contributed 10 points and 10 boards, and Akau Deng four points and six rebounds.
All focus was on HBF Arena, though, for a salivated contest on Friday night between the second placed Wolves and fourth placed Hawks.
Joondalup had conceded top spot as well with a loss in Kalgoorlie to the Giants last week so had that added motivation while Perry Lakes made their first visit to HBF Arena deservedly full of confidence having won eight games in-a-row.
What resulted had to be the game of the 2018 season to date between two teams deserving to be in the championship discussion three weeks out from the playoffs getting underway.
It was a game destined to go down to the wire and the way it panned out, there was just nothing separating the two teams all evening as they played out a tough, intense and exciting contest that would have been befitting of a semi-final decider or a Grand Final battle.
No more than five points separated both teams all night with the Wolves and Hawks both managing to be up by five at different stages. They couldn’t extend it beyond that and it was time for players to grab their moments with the game on the line.
A jumper from Jacob Holmen did put Perry Lakes up four with six minutes remaining in regulation before a crucial three-point play for the Wolves from Brian Sullivan.
Sullivan then hit a triple shortly after to put his team back on top before Perry Lakes captain Ben Purser responded in kind.
Scoring became even tougher over the next couple of minutes before a Trian Iliadis triple with 1:51 remaining saw the Wolfpack up 87-84. That put the onus back on the Hawks and Lochlan Cummings drilled the tying three.
The Wolves had the last possession and ran down the clock, but Sullivan’s drive couldn’t find the bottom of the net and it was off to overtime.
Sullivan opened the overtime with another three-pointer for the Wolfpack before Purser and Holmen nailed shots for Perry Lakes. Another Wolves three to Iliadis saw them back up 93-91 and they still led by two when he made a layup that he thought he was fouled on with 2:25 left.
Purser then came up huge once again for the Hawks with a go-ahead three-pointer but the game was far from done. Sullivan nailed another long-range bomb for Joondalup to put his team up 99-98 with just over a minute left.
But from there the Hawks had the answers with a huge mid-range shot from Purser before a Cummings layup gave them the 102-99 lead.
Ryan Smith hit four crucial free-throws then at the clutch and despite an Iliadis three on the buzzer, the Hawks won by two in a cracking contest between two top teams.
Jacob Holmen delivered the type of performance expected of the reigning MVP ending the night for the Hawks with 38 points and 11 rebounds on shooting 16/27 from the field and 5/8 at the foul line.
Ben Purser had a tremendous night too for Perry Lakes with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals while Lochlan Cummings contributed 13 points, six boards and three assists.
Brian Carlwell also had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Hawks, Mitch Clarke 10 points and four boards, and Ryan Smith 10 points.
Jalen Billups ended up with 29 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolfpack with Brian Sullivan finishing with 22 points, eight boards and five assists.
Trian Iliadis contributed 21 points and three rebounds for the Wolves with Rob Huntington adding 13 points, seven boards and four assists, and Reece Maxwell eight points and three assists.
Hawks captain Ben Purser delivered another tremendous individual performance for his team on the night and he couldn’t have been more impressed on his first visit to HBF Arena, and on the way his team performed to grind out a strong win.
“This stadium is really impressive, first of all, and reminds me of a lot of the gyms in college with how well it’s done and it’s a good size and creates a good atmosphere still. We always have tough battles against the Wolves and I really enjoy playing against them,” Purser said.
“The last couple we’ve dropped the ball a bit so it was good to get them where we are both on our first games of a double-header, not the back end and I was really proud of the way we responded. I think earlier in the season that’s a game we would have lost but we took a few hits and came back, and ground it out in overtime.”
The Hawks are now on a nine-game winning run to be solid in fourth position but they have a short turnaround to host the Goldfields Giants at Bendat Basketball Centre on Saturday night.
“The Giants do that all the time, though, plus the travel so we just have to get ourselves ready to go,” Purser said.
“The last four or five years we’ve played them on Sunday at midday after playing on the Saturday night as well so I’d actually rather having a double-header this way around.
“Last week they knocked off Joondalup as well so we know there are no easy games in this league and that will be no different.”
WEEK 18 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Joondalup Wolves 104 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 106
Willetton Tigers 90 defeated Mandurah Magic 73
Perth Redbacks v Rockingham Flames – Belmont Oasis 6.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v South West Slammers – Wally Hagan Stadium 6.00pm
Geraldton Buccaneers v Stirling Senators – Active West Stadium 7.30pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Goldfields Giants – Bendat Basketball Centre 7.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Joondalup Wolves – Lakeside Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Willetton Tigers – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 8.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Goldfields Giants – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 12.00pm