IT is the last round of the Women’s SBL season and the stage is set for a dramatic Saturday night across the league as the Perry Lakes Hawks, Stirling Senators and South West Slammers battle over the final two playoff positions.
It’s quite the dramatic way to finish the 2018 regular season in the Women’s SBL with the Slammers needing to win at home against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns to break into the top eight, while the Hawks and Senators have the chance to lock away their places with a win in their own right.
The final round in the Women’s SBL begins with just the one game on Friday night with the third placed Rockingham Flames hosting the out of contention Cockburn Cougars at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
There are then four matches on Saturday night including the two directly impacting who makes the playoffs with the South West Slammers hosting the Kalamunda Eastern Suns at Eaton Recreation Centre and the Stirling Senators playing the Perry Lakes Hawks at Warwick Stadium.
The other two Saturday night fixtures pit the East Perth Eagles up against the Perth Redbacks while the Mandurah Magic battle the Joondalup Wolves.
The final round of the Women’s SBL season begins with just the one game on Friday night pitting the Flames up against the Cougars.
Rockingham is already guaranteed of third position but missed the chance of still claiming second with last Friday night’s loss to the league-leading Lakeside Lightning.
So the Flames head into Friday night looking to gear up for the playoffs against a Cougars team who will be out to finish their season on a high.
Cockburn slipped from playoff contention with an injury to star import Kisha Lee and they now hold a 6-15 record heading into their farewell to the 2018 season on Friday night in Rockingham.
There are then four matches on Saturday night to close the regular season with two of them directly impacting who makes the playoffs.
That gets underway at Eaton Recreation Centre with the Slammers hosting the Eastern Suns.
The equation is simple for the Slammers, they just need to win the game and they will make the playoffs at the expense of the loser of the Hawks, Senators clash given they will finish at 10-12 and the other will be 9-13.
The Slammers will also be celebrating the 250th SBL appearance of co-captain Kate Fielding and they will be desperate to ensure it’s not her final game in the league as well as she ponders retirement.
While Kalamunda is going to finish fifth no matter the result against the Slammers, the Eastern Suns will want to put in a good showing and do what they can to enter the playoffs in winning form.
The Suns lost to Willetton at home last Friday night to give up fourth position to a Tigers team they will now face in the quarter finals. So entering the playoffs on a two-game losing run would be far from ideal for Tom Knowles’ side.
The other crucial match up on Saturday night takes place at Warwick Stadium with the Senators hosting the Hawks.
The winner goes straight through the playoffs no matter what given they will improve to a 10-12 record on the season. But the loser will then be frantically checking the live scores to see what happened in Bunbury because they require the Slammers to lose to the Eastern Suns.
That sets the stage for quite a fascinating battle and all the Senators and Hawks can worry about first of all, is getting the job done themselves and taking care of their own destiny.
Perry Lakes had been in hot form prior to losing to Willetton last Saturday night which kept the defending champions still needing to win on Saturday to book their playoff spot following a 1-9 start to the season.
Missing the playoffs would also be a disappointing result for a Stirling team who did finish fourth last season before losing in the first round to Willetton with coach Glenn Clarke trying to build a team that is made for sustained success.
The other two Saturday night contests feature playoff bound teams taking on the bottom two sides in the Women’s SBL.
The Eagles have gone through the season winless in 21 attempts so far even though their second half of the campaign has been significantly more competitive than the first.
They finish their season at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre against the Redbacks on Saturday night and that’s going to be quite the task for them to end a 31-match losing run.
The Redbacks are coming off the bye last weekend so will want a good hit out on Saturday night despite being guaranteed of second position no matter the result entering the round with a 16-5 record.
They did lose last up against the Rockingham Flames without Kayla Standish too, so they will be taking Saturday night against the Eagles seriously.
The other match then takes place at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre between the Magic and the Wolfpack.
Mandurah looks set to finish in sixth position at the end of the regular season setting up a tantalising quarter-final match up with Rockingham but the Magic do need to beat the Wolves on Saturday night to ensure that happens.
The Lady Wolfpack are crying out for the end of the regular season having now lost 13 of the last 14 matches to be destined to finish second last after a good run of playoff appearances topped off by winning the 2013 championship.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 20
Rockingham Flames v Cockburn Cougars – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.30pm
South West Slammers v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Eaton Recreation Centre 6.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Perth Redbacks – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Joondalup Wolves – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Stirling Senators v Perry Lakes Hawks – Warwick Stadium 6.00pm