THE South West Slammers might still be winless after Saturday night’s loss to the defending champion Perry Lakes Hawks, but with a couple of extra bodies they put in a much more spirited showing in honour of Michael Lay’s 200th game in the SBL.
The Slammers were fresh off a 60-point horror show defeat on the road to the Joondalup Wolves the previous Saturday night and it appeared a tall order to put in a stronger effort again away from home to the reigning champion Hawks on Saturday night at Bendat Basketball Centre.
But spurred on by the loss to the Wolfpack, motivated by Lay’s 200-game milestone and then having some extra bodies to help them compete harder, they put in a significantly improved performance even if it was still a loss in the finish.
Even though the Hawks were on top all night, the Slammers kept coming and even closed to within seven points midway through the last quarter with plenty of momentum behind them.
Perry Lakes had too much class and composure and steadied well enough to still win solidly 99-85 but the Slammers will take heart in knowing they made them earn the win and that it was a 200-game milestone for Lay that he could be proud of his team in.
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Perry Lakes came into the Saturday night contest at Bendat Basketball Centre after a strong win 24 hours earlier on the road to the Lakeside Lightning which kept them in touch with a top four spot.
The Hawks then needed to keep the momentum going against a Slammers team winless and having lost by 60 to the Wolfpack last week, but desperate to bounce back and with the additions of Mitch Keller and Cory Richardson back into the line-up, who would combine for 50 handy minutes.
While Perry Lakes was on top virtually the whole game and at one stage even went on a 13-0 scoring run and led by 19 points, South West put in a significantly more competitive performance.
The Hawks did lead 28-18 by quarter-time and remained on top 57-44 by half-time.
Shawn Redhage scored four quick points to open the second half for Perry Lakes to stretch the lead to 15, but from there the Slammers worked back into it.
They were still down 13 by three quarter-time but then an and-one play from Terrell Carter to open the fourth term cut Perry Lakes’ lead to 10. A huge Mitch Keller putback dunk then got the Slammers up and going with Brody England also slamming one home to make the margin eight.
Michael Lay’s free-throw after a tech foul on Rob Cassir had them within touch down just seven. But that would be the closest the Slammers got with the Hawks steadying with big buckets to Kyle Sovine and Ryan Smith before a Brian Carlwell offensive board and putback snuffed out any chance of the upset.
Perry Lakes went on to win 99-85 with six players scoring in double-figures led by 20 points from Clint Steindl including going 4/7 from three-point range.
Ben Purser added 18 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals for the Hawks while Shawn Redhage produced 15 points, six assists and three boards, Ryan Smith 15 points and eight rebounds, Kyle Sovine 11 points and eight boards, Cooper Hamilton 10 points, and Brian Carlwell eight points.
Michael Lay produced a huge performance for the Slammers in his 200th game with 26 points, five assists and three rebounds.
Terrell Carter added 26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals as well while Tyler Livingston contributed 15 points and four boards, Cory Richardson eight points and five rebounds, and Mitch Keller four points and three boards in his first SBL game since 2015.
While the ultimate competitor in him will never be happy to lose a game of basketball, Lay was proud of the fight shown by his team bouncing back from the previous week and hopes they can now continue to build on it.
“Each week is a building block for us and we’re really young. My advice to the guys has been about just building character and getting better. This game was a step in the right direction and hopefully we can continue to build that momentum,” Lay said.
“We’re still adjusting because we’ve got Terrell who has just joined the team so we’re working on our chemistry and dynamics. But this was a much better effort despite the loss.
“We are just trying to find the best way to bring out the best in us because when you have personnel changes, that actually has an impact on the team’s chemistry.
“This was a good step in the right direction after we wrote off last week. But we continue to try and build the confidence up of the young guys and deepen their understanding of the game as we try and finish the season the best we can.”
For a basketball journey that first brought Lay to Western Australia in 2007 to play at the Geraldton Buccaneers in two separate stints before playing at the Hawks in 2013, and now the Slammers since 2017, he couldn’t be more thankful for the legacy he’s been able to create.
While the 200-game milestone didn’t result in a win, he couldn’t be prouder to reach the mark.
“It’s an absolute honour. I’ve had a lot of support from good coaches and my beautiful family, and to be able to play that many games is a privilege health-wise and also for the fact that I’m still capable.
“It would have been nice to get the win but I’m truly blessed to be able to say that I’ve played 200 games in the SBL. I had a good year at Perry Lakes, it was one of the fondest seasons as a basketball player because they are such a solid, well supported club.
“It was almost ironic that my 200th game was scheduled to be here against the Hawks.”
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 13
Texture WA Perth Redbacks 108 defeated CMTG East Perth Eagles 98
Lakeside Lightning 92 lost to ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks 96
Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames 82 defeated Mandurah Magic 70
Willetton Tigers 92 defeated Prestige Honda Melville Cockburn Cougars 70
Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers 84 defeated Bethanie Warwick Senators 75
Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants 82 lost to Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 85
ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks 99 defeated Print Sync South West Slammers 85
Mandurah Magic 66 lost to Lakeside Lightning 93
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 98 lost to Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames 108