THE Joondalup Wolves continued their winning start to the 2019 Women’s SBL season with a win over the East Perth Eagles on Friday night while there were some encouraging signs for East Perth as they prepare for a Saturday night trip to Mandurah.
It’s a dramatically new-look Lady Wolfpack team in 2019 under coach Charles Nix and after opening the season with strong wins over the Perry Lakes Hawks and Warwick Senators, they improved to 3-0 on Friday night.
The Wolves beat the Eagles 87-46 at Mirrabooka’s Herb Graham Recreation Centre despite the absence of two of their star recruits for 2019, Georgia Denehey and Isabelle Miotti.
Despite a big start from Joondalup who scored the game’s first 10 points and led 28-12 by quarter-time, East Perth put in an improved showing in the second period and took it right up to one of the championship fancies for 2019.
The Eagles managed to win the second quarter 18 points to 17 but the Wolves made some adjustments at half-time and came out to old hold East Perth to just 16 second half points.
They scored 42 themselves for the 41-point victory on the back of a monstrous rebounding advantage, 60 to 32. They had 21 offensive boards for 21 second chance points.
But of concern for coach Nix would have been 31 turnovers despite still winning by 41 points.
Chelsea Belcher top-scored for Joondalup on the night with 17 points, four rebounds and two steals with captain Amy Kidner adding 16 points and three rebounds.
Mikayla Pirini finished with 10 points and five assists while Olivia Basso had 10 points, four rebounds and two assists, Tahni Geel eight points, Amber Land six points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Kayla Steindl six points, 13 boards, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Wolves coach Charles Nix saw enough to like from his team’s performance especially with the way they responded to a disappointing second quarter and with the minutes he got into some young players.
“We had a major defensive focus tonight and we just missed our target, but we can definitely take a lot out of the game for sure,” Nix said.
“We started quite well in the first quarter when we had 11 stops in-a-row to start the game but we didn’t have another run like that until the last quarter. I was really disappointed that we allowed them to score 18 in the second and we went away from what works for us. But after half-time we readjusted and I was happy with how we were able to have a really solid second half defensively.
“It’s always a good opportunity when you’ve got a margin like that to see what the kids can do against SBL competition. We’re really happy with some of the kids and the way they are developing and there’s also that chance because we have film footage of them now, to cut that and really teach them. I get plenty out of it and I know the girls get plenty out of it as well.”
What the Eagles showed in the second quarter offers a glimpse into the future coach Eagles coach Tanya Fisher is building towards.
Janee Johnson top-scored for East Perth with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals with Bree Fisher contributing 10 points, three boards, three steals and two assists, and Ashley Munrowd-Harris six points.
Coach Fisher saw some encouraging signs from the Eagles but they did miss Cameron Flynn who had a 23-point game back in Round 1. But Fisher liked the way East Perth took it up to one of the league’s powerhouses.
“We had a few key primary objectives and one of them was to play like the game was two points the different the entire game. That’s part of getting the girls to step up to having that proper SBL mentality rather than a junior development side,” Fisher said.
“We were missing Cam and she’s a big part of us, but her grandfather got buried today and she was at the funeral so obviously family trumps basketball. She was devasted not to play but I wouldn’t let her.
“The girls never dropped their heads the entire game. There is still some key things like finishing at pressure under the basket and things that are well within our control that we can get better at.
“But I don’t think we struggled for a moment against their full-court press and to say that we could do that against a championship level side, for me that’s something I was happy with because the areas we fell down in we can easily address. You have to stay positive with the girls.”
It’s a short turnaround now for East Perth ahead of playing Mandurah on the road on Saturday night and Fisher is all too aware of the danger any team led by Casey Mihovilovich is.
“I’m hoping to see more of what happened tonight, just some better execution on the finish. Mandurah’s a quality side as well but I thought what we did a good job with against Joondalup was taking them out of their comfort zone,” Fisher said.
“We did not let them play a game they like to play and they didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves. That’s honestly what we want to do, want to make ourselves difficult to play against and stop the other team getting into their rhythm and make them uncomfortable.
“The girls are finally at a stage of going out to execute a plan that we establish instead of just worrying about the fundamentals. We know where Mandurah’s strengths are and bloody Casey, I was her first SBL coach and there are days I regret ever teaching her anything.
“She is key even at her age, she’s the glue that binds that side together and it can’t be underestimated the role that she has with them.
“If you ever want to make an impact, you have to take her efficiency out of the picture and that’s tough because she’s resilient and will always find a way to make an impact.
“We want to highlight her to not allow her free reign but they have some tall timber we’ll have to contend with again but we will have Cam back fortunately.”
WEEK 3 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Willetton Tigers 67 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 49
Lakeside Lightning 85 defeated Texture WA Perth Redbacks 62
Schweigen East Perth Eagles 46 lost to Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 87
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars v Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames – Wally Hagan Stadium 5.00pm
Print Sync South West Slammers v Willetton Tigers – Eaton Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic v Schweigen East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v Perry Lakes Hawks – Belmont Oasis 6.00pm