THE Warwick Senators continued their strong start to the Women’s SBL season with the additions of Stacey Barr and Samaria Howard to beat the Mandurah Magic 85-72 at Warwick Stadium on Saturday night.
The Senators came into the game fresh off a win the previous Saturday night in their home opener against Willetton while Mandurah’s three-game winning run came to an end on the road to the Perry Lakes Hawks.
Both teams reached the playoffs in 2018 as well and appear to have strengthened their rosters, at least when everyone arrives, so the stage was set for a strong showing and it did end up being a game where both sides made their runs.
The game was on at three quarter-time with Warwick leading 63-61, but the Senators pulled away in the fourth term to end up winning 85-72 and improve to 3-1 on the season, while the Magic slipped to 3-3.
With each team making their only appearance of the weekend, they were fresh and the Senators were stocked up with Stacey Barr and Samaria Howard playing their first games of the season even if they are still awaiting Sam Roscoe, Maddison Hooper, Rebekah Throns and Hannah Throns.
The Magic weren’t quite at full strength still without Carly Boag with Bree Klasztorny also not making the trip to Warwick Stadium.
Warwick made on ominous start thanks to Barr who knocked down two triples and converted a three-point play in the opening five minutes to put her new team up 11-6.
A pair of triples from Delany Junkermeir kept Mandurah in touch as did a three on the quarter-time buzzer from Rachel Petit, but the Senators still led 26-19.
Barr and Bianca Villegas helped Warwick’s lead extend to double-figures to start the second period, but Casey Mihovilovich helped the Magic get back in touch and then a step back jumper by import centre Ginka Palusna had them back within just two heading towards half-time.
The Senators led 42-33 at half-time but the Magic got going in the third period and by the time Kasey Miegel converted a strong three-point play under the basket, they were within two points with a minute of the quarter to play.
Samaria Howard ensured Warwick still held that narrow two-point lead at three quarter-time and then it was all the Senators in the final term holding Mandurah to just 11 points while scoring 22 themselves to win by 13.
Stacey Barr top-scored for the Senators with 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists with Caitlyn Jones offering plenty off the bench with 12 points in 15 minutes.
The frontcourt of Bianca Villegas (13 points, 15 rebounds, four assists) and Tayla Hepburn (13 points, three boards, three blocked shots) battled hard while Chloe Forster put up eight points off the bench and new import point guard Samaria Howard finished with eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Senators coach Dion Dagostino knew coming into the game that a key to slowing down Mandurah was stopping their offensive rebounding, and while that didn’t quite happen he was happy his team found a way to still win.
“We obviously knew they had their bigs in the middle and you can’t not look at that coming into the game, and then with Milo’s stats and what she brings you can’t look at her when you are preparing to play Mandurah,” Dagostino said.
“They’re a strong rebounding team too and they all work hard on that, and they ended up getting 17 offensive rebounds.
“We knew that was going to happen and that’s the frustrating thing that we still let it happen. Good on them because they clearly can still play to their strengths even when we are trying to stop them, but it was good to come away with the win.”
While Dagostino would have preferred the Senators didn’t allow the Magic back into the game how they did in the third quarter, he was happy with how they responded and with a lot of the performance from his side.
“It was a good win. As coaches we’re never happy but it was a great win for us. They got close again which was the same that happened last week against Willetton where we had a lead and let it go again,” Dagostino said.
“That’s becoming a bit of a habit but we kept them to 11 in the fourth which was great. but we gave them 28 in the third which is not great. We have a lot of work to do but the girls are embracing it, we got all 10 girls in and they all had productive minutes so that’s all you can ask for.”
Casey Mihovilovich continues to show no signs whatsoever of slowing down, producing 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists on 7/13 shooting from the field in her 472nd SBL appearance.
Ginka Palusna played all but 1:12 of the game to end up with 16 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two assists while Delany Junkermeir contributed 15 points, five boards and three assists, and Emma Klasztorny 10 points and seven rebounds despite battling foul trouble through the night.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 5
Schweigen East Perth Eagles 43 lost to Print Sync South West Slammers 78
Lakeside Lightning 67 lost to Willetton Tigers 76
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 68 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 78
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 69 defeated Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks 59
Print Sync South West Slammers 68 defeated Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 61
Bethanie Warwick Senators 85 defeated Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic 72
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves – Ray Owen Sports Centre 12.00pm