THEY were pushed to the brink by a brave Lakeside Lightning but ultimately the Perry Lakes Hawks were able to prevail in Game 3 of the quarter-final series at Bendat Basketball Centre to advance to the semi finals for the first time since 2013.
The only remaining quarter-final to be decided on Sunday was featuring the Hawks and Lightning after they had split the opening two games with each team winning on their home floor.
The stage was set for a cracking battle on Sunday afternoon at Bendat Basketball Centre and Lakeside never took a backward step and gave it their all, but ultimately Perry Lakes had just too much firepower to win 92-87 to advance.
After three straight years of being the No. 8 seed and taking the top team to three games in the quarter finals but ultimately falling short, the Hawks are now back in the semi finals of the Men’s SBL and will face the Rockingham Flames for a spot in the Grand Final.
The Flames advanced to the semi finals as the eighth-ranked team stunning the regular season champion Geraldton Buccaneers in two games.
The other semi-final battle will take place between the Joondalup Wolves and Stirling Senators after the Wolfpack beat the Willetton Tigers in two games and the Senators eliminated the defending champion Perth Redbacks in three tight, tense and dramatic games.
There are now four teams left where the Wolves are shooting for a fourth straight Grand Final berth while the Hawks are trying to make it for the first time since 2011, the Senators for the first time since 1990 and the Flames the first time ever.
Rockingham and Stirling have never won a championship while the Wolfpack have won three times and the Hawks five times.
SATURDAY MEN’S SBL RECAP – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2
FRIDAY MEN’S SBL RECAP – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2
ROSS THRIVING AT BUCCS, WANTS TO BRING TITLE TO GERALDTON
MEN’S SBL PREVIEW – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2
FLAMES DEFY ODDS TO GIVE THEMSELVES A SHOT IN GERALDTON
DRIVEN REDBACKS EXPECTING EVEN MORE HEAT FROM SENATORS
WARRIOR WUNDENBERG FIGHTING TO KEEP DREAM ALIVE
SCOTT AND TIGERS CONFIDENT OF CAUSING DAMAGE FROM SEVENTH SPOT
IN LIMBO ELLIS BACKS SENATORS TO GO ALL THE WAY
Perry Lakes entered the playoffs in remarkably hot form having won 12 straight matches to claim fourth position and the Hawks kept that momentum going in Game 1 at home to the Lightning to start the series with a commanding 113-79 win last Saturday night.
But Lakeside wasn’t ready for its season to end and managed to produce a strong showing this Saturday night in Game 2 to win 103-100 at Lakeside Recreation Centre to force the deciding Game 3.
Both teams were missing their sharpshooters with the Hawks without Ryan Smith for this weekend while the Lightning lost Jack Isenbarger late in the campaign through a horrific broken leg, but there was hardly a lack of talent out there from either side.
It was a tremendous Game 3 contest as well with both teams playing to a high level and there was never more than seven points separating the two teams the entire contest.
There was precious little separating them with the Hawks shooting 43 per cent from the field and 36 per cent from three-point range, and the Lightning going at 41 per cent from the floor and 40 per cent from downtown.
Lakeside did finish with 53 rebounds to 47 along with 18 assists to 13 turnovers while Perry Lakes were efficient with 19 assists and seven turnovers.
The Hawks did manage to lead 17-12 with four minutes left in the first quarter but by quarter-time the Lightning were back within one following a Jarrad Prue three-point play just before the buzzer.
A three from Lochlan Cummings early in the second term put Perry Lakes six points in front but Lakeside responded immediately with triples from Nick Palleschi and Bryan Michaels to tie scores.
The Lightning later in the second term hit consecutive threes again, this time from Michael Garbellini and Hayden Bell to lead by five but Perry Lakes had regained the advantage by half-time to lead 49-47.
The Hawks’ game-high lead then came early in the third quarter as they stared with a 6-1 run to lead 55-48. But the Lightning weren’t going anywhere and soon were just two points down after two threes from Corey Shervill in the space of 30 seconds.
Even with Daniel Alexander in foul trouble the Lightning only trailed by three at three quarter-time on the back of an and-one buzzer-beater for Perry Lakes from Jacob Holmen.
Holmen again put the Hawks up by five early in the fourth period before Rowan Mackenzie steadied Lakeside with a three-pointer.
Alexander brought scores level with seven minutes left before a Garbellini trifecta put them up 78-75 30 seconds later.
Perry Lakes regained the lead with a 7-0 run made up from Ben Purser, Holmen and Cummings.
The Hawks would never again concede the lead despite the best efforts from the Lightning who did close to within a point with a minute remaining on a three from Alexander.
But a three-point play in response for Purser was enough to steady the Hawks as they won the game by five to advance to the semi finals against Rockingham.
Reigning league MVP Jacob Holmen finished with 33 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots for Perry Lakes on shooting 14/28 from the field.
Lochlan Cummings added 24 points and six rebounds while nailing 6/9 from downtown.
Ben Purser also had 16 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals while Brian Carlwell contributed 11 points and eight boards, and Rob Cassir five points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Daniel Alexander finished with 33 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Lakeside with Jarrad Prue adding 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Corey Shervill ended up with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Lightning, Michael Garbellini 11 points and three boards, and Bryan Michaels nine points and eight assists.
Hawks coach Matt Parsons was proud and relieved of his team to overcome the Lightning and advance to the semi finals given Perry Lakes run of losing three straight years in the first round as the eighth seed.
“There’s every sense of relief because the expectations were so high after Game 1 with such a huge margin in that win, but that wasn’t a true reflection of who Lakeside was. They are a very well-coached and desperate young team so full credit to them,” Parsons said.
“They threw some serious punches in the last 24 hours so we had to withstand that and I thought when we needed to make plays, our experience shone a little bit. The immediate feeling is relief and relief for the club as well after this program has been bundled out in the quarter-final series for three years in-a-row.
“For us to transition from last year’s loss in the quarters to be in the semis is a huge feat for us. But we also understand we’ve got the squad to do a bit more than that. We now need to take care of business and get ourselves prepped and prepared, but we’re obviously really happy with this win.”
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2
GAME 2 (Best of 3)
Stirling Senators (6) 107 defeated Perth Redbacks (3) 96
Geraldton Buccaneers (1) 89 lost to Rockingham Flames (8) 96 (Rockingham wins 2-0)
Lakeside Lightning (5) 103 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks (4) 100
Willetton Tigers (7) 87 lost to Joondalup Wolves (2) 109 (Joondalup wins 2-0)
Perth Redbacks (3) 69 lost to Stirling Senators 71 (6) (Stirling wins 2-1)
Perry Lakes Hawks (4) 92 defeated Lakeside Lightning (5) 87 (Perry Lakes wins 2-1)