WITH only two spots still available in the Women’s playoffs heading into Saturday night it was going to heartbreak for one team and that was the South West Slammers with the Stirling Senators securing their spot while the defending champion Perry Lakes Hawks cling to eighth.
The final round in the Women’s SBL for 2018 got underway with the standalone Friday night fixture that saw the Rockingham Flames gear up for the playoffs with a 74-60 victory against the Cockburn Cougars at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
There were then four matches on Saturday night with two of them directly affecting who ended up claiming seventh and eighth position, and which team would miss the playoffs for 2018.
The Stirling Senators defeated the Perry Lakes Hawks 70-58 to secure their place meaning the South West Slammers had the chance to make it and eliminate the defending champs in the process.
It wasn’t to be with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns beating the Slammers 80-70 meaning the Lady Hawks snatch eighth spot and the Slammers miss out in heartbreaking fashion.
Saturday night’s other two games in the Women’s SBL saw the Perth Redbacks beat the East Perth Eagles 80-57 and the Mandurah Magic defeat the Joondalup Wolves 72-46.
With the regular season now complete, the first round playoff matches are set and there are some tantalising match ups with the Lakeside Lightning (1) to play the Perry Lakes Hawks (8), the Perth Redbacks (2) to take on the Stirling Senators (7), the Rockingham Flames (3) to face the Mandurah Magic (6) and the Willetton Tigers (4) to battle the Kalamunda Eastern Suns (5).
Each Game 1 will be a home game for the highest-ranked team next weekend.
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Saturday night’s first game to decide a playoff position took place at Warwick Stadium with the Senators hosting the Hawks. The equation was simple, the winner was guaranteed of reaching the playoffs while the loser could only make it if the Slammers lost at the same time at home to the Suns.
It was Stirling that started impressively in a finals-like encounter holding Perry Lakes to just nine first quarter points to lead by eight at quarter-time.
But the Hawks hit back hard in the second period with 26 points to 16 to head into half-time with a narrow 35-33 advantage.
So the game was right on the line and that was still the case by three quarter-time with scores all square at 46-apiece.
The Senators dominated the final period, though, with 24 points to 12 to end up winning by 12 points and securing seventh position on the table with a 10-12 record. The Hawks’ championship defence sees them finish eighth at 9-13. But having been 1-9, it’s not too bad a result.
Jasmine Martin continued her tremendous form for the Senators with 18 points, five rebounds and two steals. Despite shooting 4/12 from the field, she went 10/10 from the foul line.
Hannah Throns added 15 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists for Stirling with Nicole Jorre de St Jorre contributing 11 points, four assists and three boards, Janee Johnson 11 points and eight rebounds, and Amber Land eight points, eight boards and four steals.
Nat Burton top-scored for Perry Lakes with 21 points and 14 rebounds but she didn’t quite receive enough support on the night.
Bella Green added nine points and four rebounds for the Hawks and Toni Farnworth eight points, seven boards, six assists and four steals.
So with Stirling locked into a playoff berth, it all came down to whether or not the Slammers could win their way into the top eight against the Eastern Suns at Eaton Recreation Centre.
Kalamunda was guaranteed of finishing in fifth position no matter the result but the Suns still came out strongly leading 28-20 by quarter-time.
The Eastern Suns still held a five-point lead at half-time and by three quarter-time had stretched that out to 10 and that proved to be the final winning margin.
Kalamunda just proved too strong in the finish and end the regular season in fifth spot at 14-8 and even though the Slammers finish ninth at 9-13, the growth over the past two seasons under coach Peter Harper has been heartening.
The duo of Jennie Rintala and Alex Ciabattoni just proved far too much on the night for the Slammers to handle as they delivered a combined 60 points, 25 rebounds, nine assists, five steals and three blocked shots for Kalamunda.
Rintala’s contribution was 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals while Ciabattoni had 30 points, 12 boards, four assists, three steals and three blocks.
Jewel Williams added 10 points, four rebounds and two assists for the Eastern Suns, and Rebecca Motroni four points, six boards and two steals.
Charlotte van Kleef top-scored for the Slammers with 16 points and seven rebounds with Tayah Burrows contributing 15 points, seven boards and three assists, Courtney Bayliss 13 points and three rebounds, Ebony Bilcich eight points and Tori Fisher eight to go with five rebounds.
Kate Fielding celebrated her 250th game with a starting role and the co-captain ended the evening with four points, six rebounds and two assists.
There was less at stake at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with the Magic hosting the Lady Wolfpack, and Mandurah did well gearing up for the playoffs with a strong performance.
The Magic took control early in the piece leading 24-15 by quarter-time and stretched that advantage to 13 by half-time, 15 by three quarter-time and 26 by the final buzzer.
Mandurah, coming off a Grand Final appearance last year, finishes the regular season in sixth position at 11-11 while the Wolves struggled to 5-17 in 2018 and will miss the Women’s playoffs for the first time since 2005.
MVP fancy Anita Brown had another strong showing for the Magic putting up 25 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals on shooting 9/16 from the field and 6/7 from the free-throw line.
Regina Palusna added 17 points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds while Emma Klasztorny contributed eight points and six rebounds, Rachel Pettie six points and Casey Mihovilovich six points, eight assists and seven boards.
Amy Kidner again battled hard for the Lady Wolfpack with 13 points and eight rebounds but didn’t get enough help. Chelsea Belcher, Nikita Martin, Tayla Pipes and Kourteney Zadina all scored seven points each.
Saturday night’s other fixture took place at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre with the winless Eagles hosting the second placed Redbacks.
Perth was coming off the bye last weekend and while they were confirmed to finish second no matter the result, they did want to have a good warm up for their playoff tilt that is to come up against the Eagles.
The Eagles came out impressively as well trying to get that first win of 2018, leading 19-13 by quarter-time. But the Redbacks soon turned it around to lead 40-32 by half-time and went on to score the 23-point victory in the finish.
That sees the Redbacks end the regular season in second position at 17-5 while the Eagles went through winless at 0-22 and have lost 32 in-a-row dating back to 2017.
Mikayla Pirini put up a big performance for the Redbacks with 25 points and three assists including nailing 6/11 from three-point range.
Nes’eya Williams added 14 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and three blocks too for the Redbacks while Makailah Dyer contributed 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals, Alix Hayward 13 points, five boards and five steals, and Jess Jakens 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Ladondra Johnson top-scored for East Perth with 22 points, seven rebounds and five steals while Rose Aryang ended up with 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, Eryn Fisher 10 points and nine boards, and Bree Fisher six points, seven steals and three assists.
WEEK 20 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Rockingham Flames 74 defeated Cockburn Cougars 60
South West Slammers 70 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 80
East Perth Eagles 57 lost to Perth Redbacks 80
Mandurah Magic 72 defeated Joondalup Wolves 46
Stirling Senators 70 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 58