THE top four positions in the Women’s SBL went a long way to being decided on Friday night to open Round 19 with 11-point victories for the Lakeside Lightning against the Rockingham Flames and the Willetton Tigers over the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Round 19 in the Women’s SBL got underway with two crucial matches on Friday night starting at Mike Barnett Sports Complex with the league-leading Lakeside Lightning beating the third placed Rockingham Flames 87-76.
It was then the exact same scoreline at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the Willetton Tigers prevailing over the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Those results mean that Willetton takes fourth position off Kalamunda, at least for now, while Rockingham couldn’t grasp the chance to replace the Perth Redbacks in second spot.
It is the second last round in the Women’s SBL with the stakes rising on every result and that was even the case for the Lightning as they headed to Rockingham to play the Flames on Friday night.
Lakeside already has top position sewn up but with the bye in the final round, they wanted to play well up against a fellow championship contending team asway from home and that’s what they were able to do.
Rockingham’s cause wasn’t helped with the absence of playmaker Jacinta Bourne and Lakeside started strongly with a 25-11 opening quarter.
That proved the difference in the match as the Lightning went on to still lead 12 points at half-time, 12 at three quarter-time and then to end up winning by 11.
The result improves Lakeside to a 20-1 record with the 12th straight win heading into Saturday’s clash at home to East Perth. Rockingham remains third now at 14-6 still solid in that position but second now looks out of reach with the Redbacks 16-5.
Ali Schwagmeyer top-scored for the Lightning with 22 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals while Ash Grant contributed 21 points, 15 boards and three blocked shots.
Sydnee Fipps also had 19 disposals, nine rebounds and four assists for Lakeside with Sam Roscoe adding 12 points and eight boards, and Courtney Byrnes 11 points, six boards and five assists.
D’Lesha Lloyd did what she could to try and get the Flames the all important win finishing with 32 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Taneisha Harrison added 22 points and seven rebounds, and Maddie Allen seven points, 14 boards, four assists and three blocked shots.
Then at Ray Owen Sports Centre, both the Eastern Suns and Tigers went into the contest knowing they will likely be battling one another in the first round of the playoffs with only home court advantage now to be determined.
It was an even contest in the opening half with the Suns leading by a point at quarter-time and then by three at the half. Willetton was able to turn things around after the break with 22 points to 13 in the third period and then 24 to 19 in the fourth to come away with the crucial 11-point win.
The win improves Willetton to fourth position in the standings at 13-8 with a game on Saturday night against the Perry Lakes Hawks remaining. Kalamunda slips to fifth at 13-8 too with a clash against the South West Slammers next week to finish with.
Ashli Payne finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for Willetton on shooting 7/13 from the floor.
Desiree Kelley added 14 points and eight rebounds too for the Tigers while Leah Cotton had 13 points and three assists, Sam Norwood 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, Carla Drennan 10 points and Ajay Johnson nine points, four boards and two assists.
Willetton coach Simon Parker was pleased with the win and whatever edge it provides heading into the finals.
“Our main focus is building for the finals because we’ve had a few flat spots going into these games and we know we are probably going to play these guys in a couple of weeks,” Parker said.
“We wanted to make sure we tried to get a bit of a mental advantage over them and also try to get home court advantage. We wanted something a little extra special tonight to make sure that we got that.”
Willetton now face another significant test against Perry Lakes at home on Saturday night in their final match of the regular season.
“It is a good test and it’s a bit of a hoodoo team for us as well trying to contain Nat Burton which we’ve struggled to do and stuff like that,” Parker said.
“If we are going to go deeper into the finals we need to work hard on doing well against teams and players like that. We’ll give it a crack.”
Jewel Williams put up a game-high 20 points for Kalamunda on shooting 6/10 from the field, 3/5 from three-point range and 5/6 from the foul line.
Jennie Rintala contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists too for the Eastern Suns while Alex Ciabattoni ended up with 14 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and 150-gamer Rebecca Motroni eight points and five boards.
WEEK 19 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Rockingham Flames 76 lost to Lakeside Lightning 87
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 76 lost to Willetton Tigers 87
Cockburn Cougars v Mandurah Magic – Wally Hagan Stadium 4.00pm
Joondalup Wolves v Rockingham Flames – HBF Arena 6.00pm
Lakeside Lightning v East Perth Eagles – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Willetton Tigers v Perry Lakes Hawks – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.00pm
South West Slammers v Stirling Senators – Eaton Recreation Centre 12.00pm