THE Joondalup Wolves withstood a strong Stirling Senators fightback to win Game 1 of their semi finals on Saturday night while the Rockingham Flames continued their stirring playoff run with a victory over the Perry Lakes Hawks.
Both Men’s semi-final series got underway on Saturday night and both went into it with plenty of intrigue with the battle of the northern corridor between the Wolfpack and Senators while the Hawks were hosting a Flames team that stunned top seed Geraldton Buccaneers in the quarter finals.
There was plenty of drama at both venues for Game 1 with the Joondalup Wolves starting strongly and then holding off the Stirling Senators late after Corban Wroe fouled out to win 87-78 at HBF Arena.
Game 2 will now be on Friday night at Warwick Stadium with the Senators needing to win to force the decider back at HBF Arena on Saturday night.
The Perry Lakes Hawks were then rocked with losing reigning league MVP Jacob Holmen to a knee injury after just five minutes and never recovered, with the Rockingham Flames firing once more to win 92-73 at Bendat Basketball Centre.
That means that the Hawks must win at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Friday night to force a deciding Game 3 back at Bendat Basketball Centre on Saturday.
GODFREY NOT AFRAID TO AIM BIG WITH THE FLAMES
MEN’S SBL PREVIEW – SEMI FINALS WEEK 1
PARSONS BACKS HAWKS TOUGHNESS AGAINST FLAMES
ELLIS WANTS SENATORS TO GIVE IT A RED HOT CRACK
FLAMES SHOOT FOR BIG DANCE HAVING FOUND BEST FORM OF 2018
With the Wolves having cruised through their quarter-final series against the Willetton Tigers and the Senators having won quite a battle to eliminate the defending champion Perth Redbacks in three games, it was always going to be interesting who started with the momentum at HBF Arena.
With a strong crowd nearing 1000 people watching on at the new venue, the Wolfpack started strongly and made it a focus to get the ball to Rob Huntington inside who hit his team’s first eight points to give them an 8-2 start.
Stirling settled with a big dunk from Robert Anshila before a tech foul on Caleb Davis set the tone for the night.
When Huntington finished his huge opening period with an and-one play, the Wolfpack led 23-12 and he had 11 of those points on his own.
Jalen Billups and Trian Iliadis then helped the Wolves to a 28-12 advantage at the start of the second term before the Senators got a bit of momentum for the first time with consecutive threes from Davis.
A Brian Sullivan triple on the half-time buzzer ensured Joondalup remained in control at the main break, though, leading 45-33.
The heat went up a whole other level in the third quarter as tensions began to boil over but just as the Senators began to pick up some momentum, Jordan Wellsteed stole the ball off Justin King as he was carrying it up for the last possession of the quarter.
Wellsteed delivered the open layup to ensure the Wolves still led 67-58 heading into three quarter-time.
The contest looked over when Damian Matacz layed it up to put the Wolfpack up by 18 points with six minutes left. But Stirling refused to go away.
They hit seven quick points to get back within 11 and were just seven down with 3:15 left after baskets to King and Cody Ellis.
Wroe then turned on the afterburners to get to the rack and lay it up to make it a five-point game before Reece Maxwell made it seven again.
Chris Clausen was then called for a foul on Davis before a tech foul was called on the Wolves. Davis hit two of the three at the stripe but King’s layup wouldn’t go on the subsequent possession which could have made the deficit just three with 45 seconds left.
Wroe was then called for an unsportsmanlike foul which saw him foul out and the game was done when Maxwell hit both free throws, and Sullivan delivered a layup on the same possession to seal the nine-point Game 1 for the home team.
Brian Sullivan finished with 25 points, six rebounds and five rebounds for the Wolfpack including going 6/11 from three-point range.
Rob Huntington ended up with 21 points, five assists and three rebounds with Jalen Billups contributing 11 points and six boards, Reece Maxwell eight points and three rebounds, Damian Matacz eight points, and Trian Iliadis seven points, four boards and three assists despite shooting 3/12 from the floor and 1/10 from three-point territory.
Robert Anshila top-scored for the Senators with 20 points on a perfect 9/9 from the field.
Caleb Davis added 14 points, Justin King 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Ash Litterick 12 points, Corban Wroe eight points, 10 assists and six rebounds, and Cody Ellis seven points, four boards, three assists and two steals.
King’s usual output was limited by tremendous defence from Iliadis while the Wolves did well to keep Ellis quiet as he shot just 2/8 from the floor and 1/7 from deep.
Then at Bendat Basketball Stadium, the Hawks came into the battle with the Flames having beaten the Lakeside Lightning in three games of the quarter finals while Rockingham as the No. 8 seed had beaten the regular season champion Geraldton Buccaneers in two games.
Perry Lakes started well enough leading 13-12 after five minutes after Jacob Holmen made a layup. But while doing that, he injured a knee and came out of the game immediately not to return.
That changed the entire complexion of the match and the Flames gained the advantage soon out of a timeout with a dunk from Curtis Washington.
By the time Greg Hire converted a three-point play with three minutes to go in the opening term, Rockingham led 18-15 and never looked back.
By quarter-time, the Flames had opened a 30-20 advantage and by half-time their lead had grown to 13 points, was out to 20 by three quarter-time and they ended up cruising to the 19-point win to be a game away from a maiden Men’s SBL Grand Final appearance.
Captain Ryan Godfrey was tremendous again for Rockingham finishing the night with 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Curtis Washington was impressive too with 18 points and four rebounds with Greg Hire finishing with 19 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a monster performance.
Young gun Luke Travers chimed in with 17 points and eight rebounds from bench while Kevin White added 11 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals, and Justin Beard seven points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Ben Purser top-scored for Perry Lakes with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists with Cooper Hamilton stepping up for 13 points and four boards.
Brian Carlwell added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Hawks, and Mitch Clarke seven points, three boards, three assists and three steals.
Lochlan Cummings struggled to four points and four rebounds on shooting 0/11 from the field including missing all six of his attempts from beyond the arc.
SEMI FINALS WEEK 1 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
GAME 1 (Best of 3)
Joondalup Wolves 87 defeated Stirling Senators 78 (Joondalup leads 1-0)
Perry Lakes Hawks 73 lost to Rockingham Flames 92 (Rockingham leads 1-0)