TO stay in touch for a playoff spot in the Women’s SBL, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns couldn’t afford a slip up against the East Perth Eagles on Saturday night and they didn’t have one ending up winning 79-46 at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The Eastern Suns were making their only appearance of the round on Saturday night on their home floor up against a bottom placed Eagles team who were dangerous having pushed Mandurah for a half on Friday night and having beaten the fourth place Willetton just a month ago.
With the Suns coming into the round a game outside the top eight despite winning three of their past four matches, they needed to take care of business on their home floor on Saturday night and they did so.
Kalamunda made it four wins in the past five games to keep their hopes of a second straight playoff appearance alive as they ran out 33-point winners over East Perth.
The Eastern Suns did beat the Eagles by 52 points earlier in the season at Herb Graham Recreation Centre, but despite plenty of personnel changes East Perth have put in some more competitive showings in recent times.
With import Janee Johnson let go and Sam Jackson, Ashley Munrowd-Harris and captain, and assistant coach, Fiona Heart unlikely to play again this year and with their brightest spark of 2019, Cameron Flynn, not playing, it was quite the different East Perth line-up at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Despite that, the Eagles did start well after having coughed up eight of the opening 10 points of the game. From there, Eryn Fisher scored four quick points, Sarah Lakay hit a jumper, Rose Aryang scored four quick points and Mya Dimanlig scored a basket.
That cut Kalamunda’s lead to just 15-12 halfway through the first quarter but the Eastern Suns then went on a 14-3 run to close the opening period and lead 29-15 by quarter-time.
From there the Eastern Suns remained in control the rest of the way with their defensive press a big part in forcing the Eagles into 33 turnovers as they struggled for genuine ball handlers in the absence of Heart, Flynn, Munrowd-Harris and Jackson who have all filled that role at times this season.
The game remained physical and feisty, though, with the scrappiness of it leading to the referees falling in love with the jump ball calls throughout the night as players fought over possession.
That didn’t necessarily help the quality of the contest or with the frustrations of the players due to the physical nature that both teams were playing at, but despite that the Suns still continued to do enough to remain well on top.
The Eastern Suns would end up leading by as much as 42 points in the second half, including holding the Eagles to just six third quarter points, before going on to win the game by 33 points.
The win improves Kalamunda to a 7-9 record on the season while East Perth slips to 1-16.
Suns coach Tom Knowles knew the significance of the game in context of his team’s season and was happy to continue their good recent form.
“It was a must-win game and we knew that. Now we’ve only dropped one in the last five so that’s pretty good and we had some tough wins against some good teams,” Knowles said.
“But unfortunately some other teams that we thought might not have won have won against teams above them so our winning form hasn’t helped us as much as we would have liked because of how tight things are in the competition.”
There were plenty of missed shots on both sides so plenty of rebounds going around with both Kalamunda and East Perth pulling in 47 apiece. But the Suns ended up taking 16 more shots on the back of forcing the Eagles into 33 turnovers from which they scored 27 points.
Knowles was prepared for the zone defence that East Perth would largely employ and for the most part, was happy with how the Eastern Suns handled that and how with they played overall.
“They play a lot of zone, it’s almost exclusively a zone defence and we expected that so we did a fair bit of work on being prepared for that coming into the game,” Knowles said.
“There’s a few teams that are chucking some zone in now so from that perspective I think it worked pretty good for us.
“We had a little bit of a focus with respect to some stuff we wanted to get done defensively that we’ve been struggling at too, so we used this to prepare for the next tough game that we’ve got against Redbacks. So from that perspective, we did get some stuff out of it for sure.”
Jewel Williams had a night out for the Eastern Suns with 23 points, three assists and three steals while shooting 8/16 from the field.
Lauren Jeffers added 15 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds for Kalamunda with Jennie Rintala contributing 13 points, three boards, three assists and three steals, and Katie Yohn nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in only 17 minutes of court time.
Rose Aryang was the shining light on the night for East Perth with the way she battled impressively inside. She finished with 10 points and seven rebounds while shooting 4/8 from the floor.
Bree Fisher finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Eagles with Eryn Fisher delivering eight points and eight boards, and Mya Dimanlig seven points and three rebounds.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 15
Bethanie Warwick Senators 77 lost to Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks 92
Schweigen East Perth Eagles 53 lost to Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic 83
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames 76 defeated Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 62
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 93 lost to Print Sync South West Slammers 99
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 80 lost to Texture WA Perth Redbacks 101
Lakeside Lightning 88 defeated Bethanie Warwick Senators 77
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 79 defeated Schweigen East Perth Eagles 46