THE Joondalup Wolves had to come from behind at half-time but produced a dominant performance at both ends of the floor in the second half led by Amber Land on her return to Warwick Stadium in Saturday night’s 13-point win over the Warwick Senators.
It always loomed as a fascinating battle in the Women’s SBL at Warwick Stadium on Saturday night with the local rivals Warwick and Joondalup both in impressive form as they look to firm themselves as championship threats in 2019 under new coaches, and new-look squads.
It also marked the first return of new Wolves workhorse Amber Land to Warwick Stadium as an opposition player in what also just happened to be her 150th appearance in the SBL.
But it was the Senators who controlled much of the opening half and they went into the half-time break leading 49-40.
However, the Lady Wolfpack turned things around in the second half led by Land and Kayla Steindl inside as they held the Senators to just eight third-quarter points and just 25 the entire second half on their way to the 87-74 victory.
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The Senators and Wolves both came into the game in hot form to start the season, and that continued with a hot pace in the opening quarter with the teams combining for 54 points, with the home team leading 28-26 by quarter-time.
After Olivia Basso and Amber Land helped the Wolves to a 35-31 lead early in the second period, the Senators took charge for the rest of the half.
They held the Wolfpack to just five points over the last 6:45 of the half. In that time, Warwick was able to put up 18 points themselves with imports Samaria Howard and Bianca Villegas, and emerging star Caitlyn Jones particularly impressive.
The Lady Wolfpack had work to do at half-time but came out and scored the opening two baskets of the second half through Land and Kayla Steindl. The Wolves went on an 11-2 run to open the second half and finished the quarter with 24 points to eight on the back of a late Mikayla Pirini triple.
That saw Joondalup having turned a nine-point half-time deficit into seven-point three quarter-time lead, and with Land, Steindl and Amy Kidner tremendous inside, the Wolves continued to pull away to end up winning 87-74.
That sees the Lady Wolfpack improve to 8-1 on the season to remain top-of-the-table while the Senators are 5-3 having lost to both the Rockingham Flames and Wolves this weekend.
Not a lot separated the teams in terms of numbers with the Senators outrebounding the Wolves 51 to 45, but the Wolfpack forced them into 18 turnovers from which they scored 13 points.
The Wolves just had 12 turnovers themselves and shot a little better going 41 per cent from the field and 28 per cent from deep opposed to 36 and 25 per cent respectively for the Senators.
But through the second half it was the inside force for the Wolfpack of Kayla Steindl, Amy Kidner and Amber Land that took over. The trio combined for 55 points, 24 rebounds and four blocks on 22/40 shooting.
It was a long night for Bianca Villegas and Tayla Hepburn up against the trio with Lakeside’s championship-winning centre from last year, Sam Roscoe, still finding her way.
Steindl finished the night with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots for the Wolves with Land enjoying her first return visit as an opposition player to Warwick Stadium with 21 points, 10 boards, three steals, two assists and two blocks.
Kidner added 12 points and four rebounds for Joondalup with Mikayla Pirini producing 12 points and three assists, and Isabelle Miotti six points, five assists and three rebounds.
Stacey Barr top-scored for the Senators with 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists on shooting 7/19 from the field and 3/10 from beyond the arc.
Bianca Villegas added 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks for Warwick with Samaria Howard contributing 14 points, 11 boards and three assists, and Nicole Jorre de St Jorre 13 points and three rebounds.
It turned out to be a memorable 150-game in the SBL for Amber Land on her first visit back to Warwick Stadium as a Wolves player.
She was especially happy with the second half fight back of the Wolves.
“They put up a lot of points in that first half and one of the things we pride ourselves on as a team is our defence. We really locked in for the third quarter and shut them down to hold them to eight points,” Land said.
“That’s a credit to our team defence and that’s something that has been a strength of ours all year. At half-time, we know what we are good at as a team and we just made a concerted effort to get back to those things.
“We kind of got into some sloppy offence with one pass and then a shot, and in the first half some of them were going in. But over the course of the game we wanted to force them to play some more defence and go at some of their weak spots. We were really disciplined to do that in the second half and it ended up working out for us.”
It was always going to be a fascinating inside battle between Land, Steindl and Kidner from the Wolves against Hepburn and Villegas from the Senators, and Land enjoyed how that turned in Joondalup’s favour through the second half to give her a memorable 150th appearance.
“They are great players but I think between Kayla, myself and Amy we have a lot of experience in this league and at a higher level in Kayla’s case,” Land said.
“I think that showed because we play well together and we just took it up at them. They couldn’t keep up with us which I think is a credit to the three of us and how well we play together, and how unselfishly we play.”
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 8
Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks 75 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 64
Schweigen East Perth Eagles 56 lost to Texture WA Perth Redbacks 90
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames 79 defeated Bethanie Warwick Senators 72
Texture WA Perth Redbacks 92 defeated Print Sync South West Slammers 86
Willetton Tigers 74 defeated Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames 66
Bethanie Warwick Senators 74 lost to Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 87
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 81 lost to Lakeside Lightning 87