THE WA Day long weekend signals it’s All-Star time in the SBL and the Australian team will take on the World on Monday at Bendat Basketball Centre, but before that will be five matches in the Women’s SBL on Friday night and another on Saturday.
With just two wins separating the Perry Lakes Hawks, Rockingham Flames, Mandurah Magic, South West Slammers, Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Perth Redbacks in the Women’s SBL from fifth to 10th position, every game from now on in is going to take on greater significance in the playoff race.
That’s where the contests in Round 12 particularly those on Friday night featuring teams in that battle could end up being season-defining.
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One game featuring two teams locked in the playoff race will take place at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns hosting the Perry Lakes Hawks.
The Perth Redbacks are trying to break into the top eight and they play host on Friday night to the Lakeside Lightning at Belmont Oasis.
The Mandurah Magic also play the Cockburn Cougars at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with the East Perth Eagles facing the Warwick Senators at Herb Graham Recreation Centre, and the Rockingham Flames hosting the Willetton Tigers at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
There will then be the one game in the Women’s SBL on Saturday night with the league-leading Joondalup Wolves hosting the eighth placed South West Slammers at Joondalup’s HBF Arena.
That won’t be the end of the weekend’s festivities with the Women’s All-Star Game to take place between the Australian and World teams at Bendat Basketball Centre from midday on Monday.
Starting with the Friday night contests, the Eastern Suns play the Lady Hawks in what is a crucial game for both teams.
Kalamunda has now welcomed new import Katie Yohn and has regained some more depth with the return of Alecia Knowles to now have their full squad available as point guard Lauren Jeffers goes up against the team she won the championship with in 2017.
The Suns are coming off a win against the Slammers, but remain outside the top eight at 4-8 as they prepare to take on an in-form Perry Lakes team who has now won four straight.
The Hawks also now have Nat Burton in their line-up and they will be looking to continue their winning ways to stay in touch for a top four spot and separate from that race to stay in the eight.
Then at Belmont Oasis, the Redbacks host the Lightning after both teams were the top two teams in 2018. Perth was also the only team to beat Lakeside last year but it’s fair to say both are now significantly different.
The Redbacks need a win too currently sitting in 10th position at 4-8 but they have too much talent than that record suggests with Lauren Mansfield, Rosie Deegan, Taylor Roberts and Morgan Pullins in a line-up still featuring Nes’eya Williams, Jess Jakens, Denielle Lipscombe and Alix Hayward.
Lakeside is well-placed at 9-2 despite last week’s loss to the Senators in what was the first game for new import Hannah Stewart.
It’s a new-look Lightning team with the three genuine bigs with Stewart alongside Ellyce Ironmonger and Ash Grant, but coach Craig Mansfield is looking forward to it coming together and will be hoping that starts on Friday night against the Redbacks.
Mandurah is another team whose record might night highlight their talent at the moment as the Magic host the Cougars on Friday night.
The Magic are now without import centre Ginka Palusna as well but it’s still a strong frontcourt with Carly Boag, Emma Klasztorny and Bree Klaztorny. But they currently sit at 5-6 and need to string some wins together to consolidate their top eight position.
The Cougars head into the game having lost nine straight but they welcomed new import Alina Hartmann last week against Perry Lakes who provides some added frontcourt depth and versatility.
They have been playing better than nine straight games lost suggest and they will be looking to come back From Mandurah with the win that could still keep their playoff hopes alive.
Another Friday night contest might appear a mismatch is between the Eagles and Senators, but East Perth will look to take it right up to a Warwick team on a four-game winning run.
East Perth did win its lone game of the season two weeks ago against Willetton and then were more competitive last week against Rockingham with Eryn Fisher back from college, Shannon Street settling in and Cameron Flynn continuing to be their breakout star.
Warwick deserves to go into the game feeling good, though, having now won four straight at 9-3 and to have all their players on deck with the recent arrival of Hannah and Rebekah Throns, Sam Roscoe and Maddison Hooper.
They join Samaria Howard, Stacey Barr, Tayla Hepburn and Bianca Villegas as fellow new arrivals in 2019 for a team that coach Dion Dagostino certainly doesn’t have any concerns over his depth of talent.
The last game of Friday night should be another cracker between two teams who are genuine contenders, the Flames and Tigers in Rockingham.
Rockingham now has Darcee Garbin, Maddie Allen and Christina Boag all on deck in the frontcourt and will be hoping Janelle Adams is back soon from injury to help them build some momentum on their 6-5 start.
Willetton is a fascinating story with the Tigers having won seven straight up until losing their last two games to East Perth and Warwick. Last week’s loss to the Senators by 25 points will be one coach Simon Parker will want a swift response from.
Then on Saturday night, the Lady Wolfpack host the Slammers at HBF Arena with the Wolves coming into the game on top of the table 11-2 while South West will be out to claim a big scalp that would keep them inside the top eight.
It will then be time for the All-Star Game on Monday with the Women’s contest beginning at 12pm at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The Australian team’s starters are Maddie Allen, Ash Grant, Nes’eya Williams, Desiree Kelley and Jewel Williams.
The Australian team’s bench will consist of Rosie Deegan, Ellyce Ironmonger, Emma Gandini, Sarah Donovan, Ruby Benn, Christina Boag and Lauren Mansfield.
The starters for the World team will be Makailah Dyer, GeAnna Lualu-Summers, Kisha Lee, Laina Snyder and Jennie Rintala.
On the bench for the World team will be Janelle Adams, Brittni Montgomery, Mikayla Pirini, Amber Land, Samaria Howard, Bianca Villegas and Jamie Cherry.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 12
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks – Ray Owen Sports Centre 6.30pm
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v Lakeside Lightning – Belmont Oasis 6.30pm
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic v Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Schweigen East Perth Eagles v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames v Willetton Tigers – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.30pm
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v Print Sync South West Slammers – HBF Arena 6.00pm
MONDAY – ALL-STAR GAME
Australian All-Stars v World All-Stars – Bendat Basketball Centre 12.00pm