STANDINGS in the Men’s SBL finished the way they started entering the final round of the regular season with victories on Saturday night for the Lakeside Lightning, Geraldton Buccaneers, Perry Lakes Hawks, Joondalup Wolves, Perth Redbacks and South West Slammers.
There was the potential for movement within the bottom half of the top eight entering the final round of the regular season, but it wasn’t to be with the top four teams all ensuring they enter the playoffs on significant winning streaks.
The Geraldton Buccaneers have now won eight in-a-row, Joondalup Wolves three, Perth Redbacks six and Perry Lakes Hawks 12 as they enter the quarter finals with home court advantage.
Only the fifth placed Lakeside Lightning enters the playoffs in winning form from the lower ranked teams but there are still some fascinating quarter-final battles to look forward to, none more so than the Hawks (4) against the Lightning (5).
The Buccs (1) will also play the Rockingham Flames (8) while the Joondalup Wolves (2) take on the Willetton Tigers (7) and the Perth Redbacks (3) face the Stirling Senators (6).
The final round of the Men’s SBL began with a standalone fixture on Friday night with the Cockburn Cougars beating the Rockingham Flames 87-82 to end their season on a high.
There were then six matches on Saturday night starting with the Lakeside Lightning beating the Goldfields Giants 100-92 and the Geraldton Buccaneers defeating the Willetton Tigers 94-90.
Also on Saturday night, the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the Stirling Senators 90-79, the Joondalup Wolves defeated the Mandurah Magic 94-70, the Perth Redbacks overcame the East Perth Eagles 103-93 and the South West Slammers downed the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 105-87.
FRIDAY NIGHT MEN’S SBL RECAP – WEEK 20
ETTRIDGE HAS WOLFPACK PRIMED FOR ANOTHER GRAND FINAL ASSAULT
MEN’S SBL PREVIEW – WEEK 20
HIRE ALL ABOUT WINNING NOW THAT IT’S BUSINESS TIME FOR FLAMES
PURSER AT PEAK OF POWERS BUT HAWKS SUCCESS HIS FOCUS
LIGHTNING COACH PROUD OF JACK, GROUP FOR HANDLING ADVERSITY
FIELD KEEPS TAKING PRIDE IN BEING HEART AND SOUL OF COUGARS
The last night of the regular season for 2018 got underway at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium with the Giants hosting the Lightning.
Goldfields might not have been able to reach the playoffs but they could avoid the wooden spoon, which looked to be a big ask from early on with the Lightning starting on fire with 35 points to 16 in the opening quarter.
The Giants did keep fighting and by three quarter-time were within just four points of the Lightning, but Lakeside responded well to win by eight and finish the season having won their last two games to end up in fifth spot at 15-11.
The Giants end the season in last place on a four-game losing run at 5-21.
The Lightning made the trip to Kalgoorlie minus Daniel Alexander with Jack Isenbarger already out, but Corey Shervill made a welcome return just in time for the playoffs and delivered 18 points and three rebounds.
Rowan Mackenzie top-scored for Lakeside with 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals with Bryan Michaels contributing 21 points and three assists, Matt Vinci 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Michael Garbellini 10 points and four boards.
Jeylyn Sharpe finished his first season at the Giants on a high putting up 40 points while collecting 17 rebounds and dishing out five assists on the back of shooting 16/29 from the field, 3/8 from three-point range and 5/5 from the foul line.
Kyle Sovine added 26 points and five rebounds, Jerome Reid eight points, four assists and three boards, and Russell Hurst seven points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Geraldton and Willetton provided a playoff preview at Active West Stadium with the two finals bound teams putting on a terrific show even though they were destined to still finish first and seventh respectively no matter the result.
The Tigers started well on the road leading 25-20 by quarter-time before the Buccs managed to have scores all level at the main break.
It remained a tight affair through the second half but the Buccaneers did enough to score the fourth point win and to head into the playoffs from first place at 23-3 having won eight in-a-row and 17 of the last 18.
The Tigers remain seventh at 13-13 having lost their last two to Perry Lakes and Geraldton.
Earnest Ross put up 27 points and nine rebounds for the Buccs while Gokul Natesan contributed 17 points and three steals, Colter Lasher 15 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, Liam Hunt 12 points, six boards and four assists, and Marcus Alipate 11 points and eight assists.
Aaron Ralph also had eight points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.
Damien Scott did all he could to try and inspire the Tigers to the road win finishing with 41 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four rebounds and four steals while shooting 17/31 from the field, 4/9 from three-point territory and 3/6 from the foul line in the absence of Jay Bowie.
Badou Diagne added 20 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for Willetton, Kyle Armour 10 points, Hayden Noordhoek nine points, four boards, three assists and two steals, and Andrew Black eight points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Senators and Hawks did battle at Warwick Stadium in another contest featuring two playoff bound teams and it indeed had the potential to be a quarter-final preview if Stirling was able to beat Perry Lakes.
And the Senators started well in that quest leading 25-21 by quarter-time but Perry Lakes turned that around in the second period to head into half-time leading 51-43.
The Hawks then pulled further away in the third quarter with 29 points to 15 and then despite scoring just the 10 points in the final period, they won by 11 to make it 12 wins in-a-row at 18-8 in fourth position heading into the playoffs.
Stirling finishes in sixth spot at 14-12 setting up a battle with the defending champion Redbacks in the quarter finals.
Reigning league MVP Jacob Holmen top-scored for Perry Lakes with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists with Ryan Smith contributing 20 points and four boards.
Lochlan Cummings added 16 points and five assists for the Hawks, Brian Carlwell 13 points, six boards, three steals, two assists and two blocks, and Ben Purser 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Caleb Davis delivered 13 points and seven rebounds with 26 minutes off the bench for the Senators with Robert Anshila contributing 12 points and six boards, Justin King 12 points and 10 rebounds, Cody Ellis 11 points and Corban Wroe 10 points and five assists.
The Eagles were attempting to finish their season on a winning note with an upset of the Redbacks at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre on Saturday night.
But it was the Redbacks gearing up for their championship defence who started strongly leading 28-18 by the end of the first. East Perth responded well in the second term, though, with 25 points to 19 to cut Perth’s lead at the long break to 47-43.
The Redbacks pulled away in the third, however, with 30 points to 16 and then despite 34 last quarter points from East Perth, it was Perth who won by 10 to end the regular season with six straight wins in third place at 19-7.
The Eagles finish in 11th position at 9-17.
Ben Smith top-scored for the Redbacks who were without Lee Roberts, with the veteran ending the night with 25 points and seven rebounds while nailing 6/10 from three-point territory.
Shawn Redhage added 20 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Redbacks with Zac Gattorna contributing 12 points and three boards, Mo Barrow 11 points and three rebounds, and Jackson Hussey 11 points, eight assists, seven boards and three steals.
Anthony Golden top-scored for East Perth with 26 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals with Jonathan Morse adding 23 points and seven boards, Corey Easley 16 points and eight rebounds, and Drew Williamson 15 points, six assists and five steals.
The Magic have shown some encouraging signs throughout 2018 at different times, but they have run out of gas in the last rounds of the season and that was always going to make life difficult against the second placed Wolves at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
The Wolfpack were gearing up to be in the best possible form entering the playoffs and started strongly on the road with 25 points to 13 in the opening period.
By half-time, Joondalup was leading 55-38 and then with another 21-10 fourth quarter they scored the 24-point victory to finish the regular season with three consecutive victories at 21-5. The Magic finish second last at 5-21 with five straight losses to finish the campaign with.
Jalen Billups ended the night with 25 points and five rebounds for the Wolfpack with Rob Huntington contributing 20 points and seven boards, Brian Sullivan 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Reece Maxwell nine points and three boards.
Kye Chamberlain made his debut for the Wolves too and played almost seven minutes for six points and two rebounds.
Shaun Stewart scored 30 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Magic with fellow import Jamal Shabazz adding 23 points and 11 boards.
Cousteau Kyle added eight points for Mandurah and Akau Deng seven points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The Slammers and Eastern Suns were both out of the playoff hunt when they did battle at Eaton Recreation Centre, but both were keen to finish the season on a high and to try to give some momentum to take towards 2019.
It was an up-tempo and high-scoring opening quarter with 31 points apiece before the Slammers kept that pace going with 31 more points in the second period and 30 in the third.
The Eastern Suns couldn’t go with them with just 18 points and 17 over the second and third terms, and that was enough for the Slammers to set up the eventual 18-point victory.
The win means South West finishes the season in 12th position at 7-19 while Kalamunda ends up 10th at 10-16 despite being in the playoff hunt for most of 2018.
Travis Durnin continued his stunning finish to the 2018 season showing what a bright future he has with another 45 points, 18 rebounds, five steals and three assists while playing all 40 minutes of the game and shooting 16/23 from the field, 5/10 from three-point range and 8/10 from the foul line.
The Slammers won the game even without Brian Voelkel with Michael Lay adding 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, Sam Sopolinski 13 points and eight boards, and Brandon Thompson 10 points and five rebounds.
Louis Timms top-scored for the Eastern Suns with 19 points and 10 rebounds with Kevin Davis contributing 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Courtney Belger had 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals while Ryan Blanchett and Carl Aylett scored 10 points apiece, and Kerrod Horn and Jamieson Lewis nine.
WEEK 20 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Rockingham Flames 82 lost to Cockburn Cougars 87
Goldfields Giants 92 lost to Lakeside Lightning 100
Geraldton Buccaneers 94 defeated Willetton Tigers 90
Stirling Senators 79 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 90
Mandurah Magic 70 lost to Joondalup Wolves 94
East Perth Eagles 93 lost to Perth Redbacks 103
South West Slammers 105 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 87