IT hadn’t been the smoothest ride for the East Perth Eagles men heading into Saturday night’s home clash and then when they fell behind early against the Lakeside Lightning the signs were ominous, but what coach Adam Forde saw from there is what he hopes they can now continue.
Coming into the clash with the impressive Lightning on Saturday night at Herb Graham Recreation Centre, the Eagles had lost their past four matches to slip to a 4-7 record and Forde himself had missed the last couple of weeks through a pre-planned trip to the United Kingdom.
Throw in the fact that the signing of import Vinnie Zollo didn’t eventuate and then a replacement of his trialled didn’t pan out, and it had been a challenging period for the Eagles who were still not at full strength with Andrej Donlagic and Matthew Leary out injured.
Then to fall down to Lakeside 17-5 early meant that there was some work for Forde and his men to do. But with getting strong contributions right across the board, they responded to win the game 88-82 and there was a lot there for the Eagles to now build upon moving forward.
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Lakeside regained Jarrad Prue for the game while losing Michael Vigor, but were closer to full strength with Jack Isenbarger in the line-up for his second game back from last year’s horrific broken leg.
East Perth had some improved manpower despite the absence of Andrej Donlagic and Matthew Leary with Dennis Tawhiti settling back in and Shaquille Mahary on board, but it was the Lightning that made the flying start.
Jobi Wall scored Lakeside’s first five points of the game and when Isenbarger converted a tech foul on Adam Forde, the Lightning were building good momentum up 12-5. That became 14-5 with a Jake Whately layup before Isenbarger knocked down a triple.
Isenbarger nailed another from downtown as Lakeside was up 20-7 after five minutes before East Perth slowly worked back into the contest. But the Lightning still led 34-25 after one.
But the Eagles were getting some contributions from plenty of sources including a Ned Seery turnaround jumper to open the second period. Isenbarger did convert a four-point play to keep his team up nine, but Drew Williamson was warming to the task nicely.
Aiden Murphy not only was running the team well and playing strong defence, but nailed a three to bring East Perth within five and when Williamson also converted from downtown, suddenly scores were level with two minutes left in the half.
Cameron Williams got to basket to make a layup on the half-time buzzer to ensure scores were still level at 45-all at the break.
It was basket for basket for much of the third quarter in a high-quality contest with East Perth making the first breaking moving up four when Williamson hit again from three-point territory.
Debutant Muhary then got to the rim to give East Perth a six-point lead but the Lightning scored the next six points in quick time. The Eagles were back up three with a triple from Kieran Berry and they were still up 64-62 with one to play.
Wall levelled scores back up to open the fourth quarter before Muhary again showed a glimpse of what he can provide the Eagles with a good move inside to score. Murphy stretched the lead to five with six minutes to go before Muhary and Williams combined to stretch their lead to seven.
Williams hit two free-throws and then a triple on the next play to put the Eagles up 10 and while the Lightning kept coming and did close back within four, East Perth wasn’t going to let it slip and won by six.
Eagles coach Adam Forde was proud of the way his team responded to the slow start and were able to implement the things that they had been working on in practice, and he hopes the reward they got will see them do more of it moving forward.
“As we said to the boys, we highlight the fact that we have these waves of momentum which is always going to happen in basketball. But ours are so extreme where we can be really good and competitive, and then we can be absolutely shocking,” Forde said.
“Lakeside did a great job really exposing our flaws in the first four and-a-half minutes when we just couldn’t score.
“That’s a problem we need to address at practice but as we are still trying to highlight the fact we can’t string two good hours together, when we got into the timeout it was a good point to reflect on because we can translate it into a game.
“Everybody had to be accountable, we had to talk and do all the one percenters to be successful. It was good that they responded and the main thing is that we need some guys to step.
“Nobody can be a passenger in this group and it was great to see that the boys actually did respond to it and weather that storm, and more importantly get the lead back and then hold onto it.”
East Perth captain Drew Williamson put his team on his back with 23 points, four assists and three rebounds including going 5/10 from downtown.
Cameron Williams was energetic and important despite shooting 5/15, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Aiden Murphy also had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Eagles with Jermaine Mallie contributing eight points and Shaquille Mahary eight to go with three rebounds.
Rowan Mackenzie tried his best to lift Lakeside to another win finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Jobi Wall finished with 15 points and six rebounds for Lakeside while Kyle Armour had 14 points, three rebounds and three assists on his 30th birthday against the team he led to the 2014 championship.
Jack Isenbarger had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists while Jarrad Prue returned from a hamstring injury for six points and 15 boards.
What pleased Forde the most about the East Perth performance was the number of contributors they had and the fact that there’s no reason the effort everyone put in can’t be replicated now on a regular basis.
“It’s not like anybody played outside of themselves for us tonight. No one had to score 50 points for us, no one did anything they aren’t capable of doing every night. The things that we highlighted are the controllables,” Forde said.
“This gives us a little bit of a pep in our step now to go to practice during the week to use it to focus and show that the things we worked on, highlight that when we do all the right things we can get the reward.
“But we have to do it on every possession and for 40 minutes, and I need guys to step up off the bench and I need the starters to set the standard and live up to it.
“It’s a great game for us because it was against a real good team who came to our home court with a game plan where they wanted to zone us. We didn’t panic and can walk away from this saying that the things we highlighted worked, so there’s no excuse now going forward. That’s the best part.”
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 9
ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks 62 lost to Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames 86
Willetton Tigers 86 lost to Texture WA Perth Redbacks 94
Prestige Honda Melville Cockburn Cougars 80 lost to Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 86
CMTG East Perth Eagles 88 defeated Lakeside Lightning 82
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 101 defeated Mandurah Magic 80
Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers 66 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 73
ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks 94 lost to Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants 101
Print Sync South West Slammers 64 lost to Bethanie Warwick Senators 101
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants – Belmont Oasis 12.00pm