Round 17 Men’s SBL Recap
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Round 17 Men’s SBL Recap

ON a weekend where a current player became the all-time assists leader joining the rebounding master, the fight for playoff spots in the Men’s SBL heated up with the Lakeside Lightning and Kalamunda Eastern Suns winning twice, and Willetton winning big in Kalgoorlie.

History was made on Sunday afternoon at Belmont Oasis with Perth Redbacks captain Joel Wagner dishing out seven assists to become the all-time assists leader in SBL history, surpassing games record holder Troy Clarke.

That means that the current SBL sees the all-time assists leader in Wagner still playing as is was the clear No. 1 rebounder all-time in league history in Lakeside Lightning legend Jarrad Prue.

As impressive as those individual feats were, what the 10 teams still in the playoff hunt are worried about now with three rounds of the season to go is the results and battle for the finals is getting more fascinating all the time.

Round 17 saw two more big wins for Lakeside as they improve to second spot while Perry Lakes stayed in touch for a top four finish with a hard fought win while Kalamunda shot up into seventh spot with supremely impressive wins over the Redbacks and Senators.

Then the Tigers beat the Giants in Kalgoorlie to heat up that race for eighth spot with the two teams to again meet this Saturday night at Willetton Basketball Stadium.


There were three matches in the Men’s SBL on Friday night with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns winning big over the Perth Redbacks 115-77 while the Rockingham Flames recovered from a slow start to defeat the Mandurah Magic 66-48 in a low-scoring grind.

In what always promised to be one of the games of the season, it was a tremendous contest at HBF Arena despite the game not played on the main court, with the Lakeside Lightning scoring an impressive 92-89 road victory over the Joondalup Wolves.

Then on Saturday, the early starting game saw the Lakeside Lightning back that win up by defeating the East Perth Eagles 117-88.

Then also on Saturday evening, the Perry Lakes Hawks did it tough to overcome the Cockburn Cougars 100-89 while the Geraldton Buccaneers beat the Rockingham Flames 74-66 and the Joondalup Wolves bounced back to down the South West Slammers 79-71.

The Kalamunda Eastern Suns made it a doubly good weekend beating the Warwick Senators 116-103 while the Willetton Tigers ensured they remain in the playoff hunt beating the Goldfields Giants 89-84 at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.

The round then concluded on Sunday afternoon with the Perth Redbacks bouncing back as Joel Wagner made history to beat the Geraldton Buccaneers 89-84 at Belmont Oasis.

The Round 17 results leave the Joondalup Wolves (18-5) in top spot ahead of the Lakeside Lightning (16-5) with the Rockingham Flames (16-6), Geraldton Buccaneers (15-6), Perry Lakes Hawks (15-7) and Warwick Senators (14-8) all not far behind in the battle for top four spots.

The Kalamunda Eastern Suns (11-11) are now seventh just ahead of the Goldfields Giants (11-11) with the Willetton Tigers (10-12) and Perth Redbacks (9-14) knocking on the door of the top eight.

Then there is the Cockburn Cougars (6-15), East Perth Eagles (6-16), Mandurah Magic (5-17) and South West Slammers (1-20).




With both teams entering Round 17 on nine wins for the season and facing double-headers that could potentially decide their finals hopes, Friday night at Belmont Oasis was always going to be huge for the Perth Redbacks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns.

But as it turned out the Eastern Suns turned up ready to put in a brilliant performance to shoot the lights out and show their potential even in the continued absence of star big man Louis Timms.

After the Redbacks started well with a 6-0 run to lead by eight points early, it was all the Eastern Suns from there in a remarkably dominant display.

By quarter-time, the Suns opened up a 31-22 lead which grew to a 66-37 lead by half-time on the back of 35 points to 15 in the second quarter

After both teams scored 25 points apiece in the third period, Kalamunda pulled away further in the fourth term to end up winning 115-77 having at one stage led by as much as 42 points.

It was a third straight win for the Eastern Suns without Timms and they have been unstoppable offensively putting up 116.7 points across those three matches.

Meanwhile it was a fifth consecutive loss for the Redbacks and they have struggled to score in that time averaging just 78.4 points in those five matches while conceding 99.6

It was an impressive shooting performance from the Eastern Suns as they went 44/81 at 54 per cent from the floor, 14/31 at 45 per cent from downtown and 13/18 at 72 per cent from the foul line.

The Redbacks, meanwhile, went 3/28 from three-point territory which would prove costly.

Suns import point guard Javion Blake continued his brilliant form with 33 points, nine assists and four rebounds on shooting 12/20 from the field.

Josh Braun continued to be tremendously efficient with another 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds on shooting 10/17 from the field and 6/10 from beyond the arc.

Ryan Blanchett continued to step up in the absence of Louis Timms with 16 points and 12 rebounds while Corey Easley had 11 points, four boards and four assists, and captain Jono Diaz 10 points, four boards and four assists in his 199th SBL appearance.

Despite the loss, Zac Gattorna stepped up for 22 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Redbacks with Lee Roberts contributing 21 points and 13 boards, and Marshall Nelson 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds.


It might not have been their prettiest display but it didn’t need to be, the Rockingham Flames shook off a slow start to keep their winning form going against the Mandurah Magic on Friday night heading into Saturday’s clash with the Geraldton Buccaneers.

It was a start to give the Magic great hope when they shot out of the blocks made all the more stunning considering the Flames did score the opening four points.

But then Cousteau Kyle hit a three for Mandurah and then when Jerami Grace hit from downtown, the home team was up 11-7. That became 14-7 with a Travis Durnin three, then 17-9 nine with another Kyle triple.

A Shaun Stewart layup threw the gauntlet right down to Rockingham with Mandurah leading 19-9, but that would be as good as it got for the Magic.

The Flames would go on to score nine of the last 11 points of the opening quarter and then dominated the second period with 21 points to just nine to have turned that 10-point deficit into a 10-point half-time lead.

Rockingham never got going offensively and added just 27 points in the second half, but at the same time they held Mandurah to just 19 to claim the comfortable 66-48 victory to start their double-header weekend.

The Flames ended up with more rebounds than shots, 67, to just 40 from Mandurah to make up for hitting just 3/25 from three-point territory.

Greg Hire was a dominant presence for the Flames with 16 points and 16 rebounds while Chudier Pal contributed 10 points and 10 boards.

Caleb White added 10 points, Callum Beard nine points, five boards and three assists, Ryan Godfrey eight points and six rebounds, and Brad Robbins eight points, seven boards and four steals.

It was a tough night, or least final 33 minutes, for the Magic as they finished the game shooting 26 per cent from the field and 23 per cent from deep while only getting to the foul line eight times in what was physical affair and with 107 rebounds to collect.

There were some positives for the Magic with Travis Durnin finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds and Jerami Grace with 13 points and four boards the standouts.

Jake Cannell fought hard for four points and five rebounds too while Akau Deng did battle inside for two points and five boards.

But what the Magic needed to be competitive was their imports to stand up and that didn’t happen. Shaun Stewart had just two points on 1/9 shooting and Marvin Smith had five points, six rebounds and four assists on 2/11 shooting.


The Joondalup Wolves and Lakeside Lightning are top four teams and look championship capable so the stage was set for a tantalising match up at HBF Arena on Friday night to open Round 17.

The Lightning made the trip to Joondalup on a four-game winning streak with the Wolves also coming off wins against the Redbacks and Tigers to retain their hold on top spot following a loss to the Flames.

So there was plenty on the line with the Wolfpack attempting to hold their edge on top of the table and the Lightning trying to break into the top two.

It was a tight contest too with the Wolves narrowly leading by a solitary point at the end of the first quarter before the home team extended their edge to 44-41 going into the half-time interval.

Lakeside then got it going in the third quarter putting up 30 points and holding Joondalup to 24 to turn that three-point half-time deficit into a three-point advantage by three quarter-time.

The Lightning then went up five to open the fourth term thanks to Kyle Armour and then seven with free-throws from Rowan Mackenzie. But the Wolfpack wasn’t going anywhere and five points in 30 seconds to Trian Iliadis made it a two-point ball game.

Michael Vigor’s three had the Lightning back up five before Earnest Ross answered in kind for the Wolves after a two-minute scoring drought for both teams.

Free-throws from Kevin Davis levelled scores before a trademark Jarrad Prue offensive board and putback put Lakeside back on top.

The game was always going down to the wire, though, and when Ross nailed one from downtown again for the Wolves, scores were level with two minutes left. After Armour and Seb Salinas traded threes, Vigor nailed another to put Lakeside up four.

But again Iliadis hit from beyond the arc to bring the Wolfpack back within one before Armour hit a pair of free-throws. The Wolves had a chance to tie scores with the last possession but Ben Ironmonger’s three wouldn’t fall and Lakeside won 92-89.

Kyle Armour top-scored for Lakeside with 21 points, five assists and three rebounds with Rowan Mackenzie delivering 18 points, four assists and three rebounds off the bench.

Jobi Wall also had 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds with Jack Isenbarger contributing 15 points and four assists, Michael Vigor 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Jarrad Prue four points, 18 rebounds and two steals.

The Wolves were once again without star shooting guard Ridell Camidge with Trian Iliadis stepping up in his absence for 18 points and four rebounds while nailing 4/6 from three-point range.

Kevin Davis added 18 points and 12 rebounds, Earnest Ross 18 points, six assists and three boards, Seb Salinas 12 points and five rebounds, Ben Ironmonger nine points and seven assists, and Reece Maxwell eight points and three boards.



The Lakeside Lightning backed up their Friday night win in Joondalup to beat the East Perth Eagles by 29 points at Lakeside Recreation Centre on Saturday to make it six wins on the trot.

The Lightning are now the hottest team in the Men’s SBL following their two wins in Round 17 and as a result have improved themselves to a 16-5 record on the season to sit in second position on the table with three rounds, and five matches, remaining.

Coming off the win against the Wolves less than 24 hours earlier, the Lightning continued that momentum against the Eagles putting up 28 points to 22 in the opening quarter.

After 25 points apiece in the second period, Lakeside went into half-time leading 53-47.

The Lightning then pulled away further in the second half with 32 points to 26 in the third period, and 32 to 15 in the fourth to end up winning 117-88 for the fourth consecutive victory.

It was a third straight loss for East Perth who are now 6-16 with four matches in their season remaining.

Unsurprisingly with Jarrad Prue in the line-up, Lakeside dominated the boards on the night with 48 to 30 from East Perth. But the Eagles did a lot of things right despite the big final margin with 26 assists on 33 field goals, and just the 11 turnovers.

But the Lightning shot more than half their shots from beyond the arc and ended up going 21/45 at 46 per cent from three-point territory which was behind the eventual 29-point margin.

There was some impressive three-point shooting performances for the Lightning with Jobi Wall going 6/10, Jack Isenbarger 5/10, Leigh Hislop 3/5, Ben Lee 3/7, Kyle Armour 2/5, Rowan Mackenzie 1/3 and Michael Vigor 1/4.

Isenbarger top-scored for Lakeside with 26 points, six assists and four rebounds with Wall contributing 20 points and seven rebounds, Armour 17 points and two assists, Vigor 16 points, seven assists and six boards.

Hislop and Lee also scored 11 points apiece while Prue delivered another four points, 16 rebounds and two assists.

Anthony Golden top-scored for East Perth with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists while Shaquille Maharaj contributed 18 points, five boards and four assists, Cameron Williams 12 points and five assists, and Jermaine Malie 12 points and five assists.


The Perry Lakes Hawks had to battle hard to overcome a Cockburn Cougars playing full of heart and spirit despite being undermanned, but in the end the defending champs got the win they needed on Saturday night to stay in the top four Men’s SBL hunt.

With both teams entering the contest on three-game winning runs, it always shaped as a fascinating battle at Wally Hagan Stadium.

With their significant size advantage with the Cougars without Jaarod Holmes and import Eric Milam, the Hawks got on top early thanks to Brian Carlwell and Shawn Redhage, and then went up 10-4 with a triple from Mitch Clarke.

It was then 12-4 with a Redhage layup and 18-7 when captain Ben Purser knocked down a jumper.

Five successive Gavin Field free-throws steadied the Cougars but Perry Lakes still led 26-16 by quarter-time.

Successive Ryan Smith three-pointers put Perry Lakes up 17 early in the second period but Cockburn wouldn’t go away starting with Matej Mandic hitting his second triple of the term.

The Hawks’ lead did grow to 18 with four quick Clarke points, but heading towards half-time, Pesava and Steven Van Lit hit threes for the Cougars and after 32 points apiece for the term, Perry Lakes went into half-time leading 58-48.

Perry Lakes again went up 17 early in the second half but the Cougars kept coming starting with Pesava hitting again from downtown. Field hit another three too to close the gap and when Mandic hit his third from downtown for the night, Cockburn was just six down at three quarter-time.

The Hawks restored a 13-point lead to start the fourth period too and while the Cougars couldn’t quite come all the way back, they gave it quite the shake.

Pesava was proving unstoppable for the Cougars and when he knocked down a three with just under five minutes to go, the game was right up for grabs with the Hawks’ lead down to six.

Smith and Purser responded with baskets for the Hawks but then Mitch Hampson kept the Cougars in touch with a pull up jumper.

When Redhage knocked down a triple, Perry Lakes was back out by 13 and that proved enough but not before a couple of Matt Vinci triple showed that Cougars weren’t going down without a fight for the full 40 minutes.

In the end, Perry Lakes won by 11 to get the win it needed to make it four on the trot to improve to a 15-7 record to stay in the top four race. Cockburn is now 6-15 but is a significantly better team than that suggests.

It was no surprise given their size advantage with Brian Carlwell, Kyle Sovine and Shawn Redhage that the Hawks dominated the boards with 57 rebounds to 36 from the Cougars, but that’s even more reason to credit Cockburn for being so competitive despite that.

Redhage ended up top-scoring for the Hawks with 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists as he matched up with Gavin Field for a lot of the night in a fascinating tussle.

Hawks captain Ben Purser also had 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists with Ryan Smith contributing 16 points, eight boards and four assists, and Mitch Clarke an impressive 16 points and five rebounds.

Carlwell also had eight points and 10 rebounds, Sovine seven points, four boards and three assists, and Rob Cassir six points, four rebounds and three assists.

In just his second performance of the season, Julian Pesava was brilliant for Cockburn with 33 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals on shooting 13/21 from the field, 4/7 from three-point range and 3/4 from the free-throw line.

Gavin Field had a tough shooting night at 5/19 but still contributed strongly with 20 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals including going 9/11 at the stripe.

Mitch Hampson added 10 points, six steals and three rebounds for the Cougars, Matej Mandic nine points and two steals, and Matt Vinci eight points.


The Willetton Tigers continued to show their fighting qualities starting and finishing strongly to keep their season well and truly alive with a five-point win over the Goldfields Giants in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night.

With the Giants having lost their last couple of games, including last week at home to Kalamunda, their hold on a spot in the top eight was diminishing while the Tigers also needed a win to stay in touch coming of losses, albeit decent showings, against the Buccaneers and Wolves on the road.

The Tigers made the trip to Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium still without any genuine bigs in the absence of Chris Galbreath, Scott Elder and Michael Collins, but it didn’t deter them as they started impressively with 31 points to 20 in the opening quarter.

The Giants did fire back in the second period with 26 points to 20 to cut Willetton’s half-time advantage to 51-46.

Goldfields continued with the momentum in the third term too with 26 more points to 19 and that saw them lead 72-70 heading into three quarter-time.

The Tigers wouldn’t be denied though. They hit the front again to start the fourth quarter when Damien Scott hit from downtown. Mo Barrow and Scott again stretched the lead to five which became seven with Dylan Hampson also scoring a layup.

But six quick Patrick Burke points ensured the Giants remained within touch and closed the gap to a point with under five minutes remaining.

Burke then tied scores up for the Giants and Brandon Holloway put the home team on top by three with 2:30 remaining. Barrow hit straight back with a triple for the Tigers and then the visitors finished the better with baskets to Jackson Hussey and Hayden Noordhoek to win 89-84.

The win improves the Tigers to a 10-12 record on the season while the Giants are now 11-11 having lost three straight with the two teams again locking horns this Saturday night at Willetton Basketball Stadium.

Damien Scott delivered a tremendous performance for Willetton with 29 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals on the back of shooting 12/24 from the floor.

Mo Barrow contributed 16 points, four rebounds, four steals and two assists for the Tigers while Jackson Hussey produced 13 points, nine assists and seven boards, Connor Mincherton nine points and four assists, and Andrew Black seven points, five rebounds and four assists in his 200th game.

The Giants were again without Jay Bowie but Patrick Burke had another strong night with 29 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals while shooting 14/20 from the floor.

Mayo Malek also had 20 points, 15 rebounds and two assists for Goldfields with Brandon Holloway contributing 13 points and 10 assists, Jerome Reid nine points and three assists, and Dave Humphries six points, 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists.


The Geraldton Buccaneers opened their double-header road trip in Round 17 with a gritty eight-point victory against the Rockingham Flames at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday night.

The Flames had beaten the Magic in Mandurah the night before but that had also been a scrappy performance in the absence of Luke Travers, Josh Ritchart and Justin Beard.

That trio was again missing as they were hosting the Buccs on Saturday night in a game that could have very well determined which of the two teams remains in the top two hunt.

The Buccaneers didn’t arrive at full strength either with Aaron Ralph not suiting up after mid-week surgery while star point guard Marcus Alipate was unavailable for the trip.

But still both teams are deserving of championship contender status so it was always going to be a game that would tell a lot about their potential moving forward.

Rockingham led 19-15 by quarter-time but Geraldton got going in the second term putting up 24 points to 13 to head into the half-time interval 39-32.

Things tightened up in the third quarter with Rockingham scoring just 14 points to 10 from Geraldton, but the Buccaneers pulled away in the last term.

Things then got a little ugly late but nonetheless the Buccs still prevailed to win 74-66 to improve to a 15-5 record with the Flames’ loss seeing them end the round at 16-6.

Colter Lasher ended up top-scoring for the Buccaneers with 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals while hitting 3/6 from beyond the arc.

DeAngelo Isby added 20 points, six rebounds and three assists too for the Buccs despite only shooting 5/25 from the field. He went 9/9 from the foul line.

Liam Hunt fought hard inside for the Buccaneers with 12 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots with Brayden Inger contributing 10 points, eight boards and three steals, and Brendan Dinardo seven points, five rebounds and three steals while playing the full 40 minutes.

Greg Hire did all he could to lift the Flames to the win with 12 points, 28 rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Caleb White finished with 15 points and three assists for Rockingham, Ryan Godfrey 13 points, Jarryd Griffin nine points, five rebounds and three steals, and Chudier Pal nine points, nine boards, two assists and two blocked shots.


The South West Slammers are finishing the season playing some improved basketball but they again came up short of a win in a competitive showing at home to the Joondalup Wolves on Saturday night.

Last time the two teams met back on June 1 things got decidedly ugly with the Wolves handing the Slammers a 60-point spanking, but this time around at Eaton Recreation Centre it was a significantly more competitive affair.

Since that horror loss at HBF Arena, the Slammers have notched their first win of the season over the Giants and put in good showings against the Hawks and Senators in particular to show their improvement over the course of 2019.

The Wolves, meanwhile, came into the game following their fifth loss of the season 24 hours earlier at home to the Lakeside Lightning so they headed south not lacking motivation.

But it took three quarters for the Wolfpack to shake off the Slammers with the bottom-placed home side taking it right up to the league-leaders impressively.

Scores were tied at 16-all at quarter-time before the Slammers managed to take a 37-32 lead into half-time.

The game opened up in the third quarter but the Slammers still had a slight edge of 61-59 heading into the fourth term.

While the Wolfpack dominated the fourth quarter with 20 points to 10 to win 79-71, the Slammers can take plenty from their performance.

The Wolves were once again missing shooting guard Ridell Camidge but Trian Iliadis is a more than able replacement stepping into his role once more to finish with 17 points and four assists.

He got plenty of support too for Joondalup with Kevin Davis finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots, Reece Maxwell 15 points and three steals, and Seb Salinas 14 points, four rebounds and two steals.

Earnest Ross added nine points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Wolfpack with Rob Huntington contributing seven points, two boards and two steals.

Terrell Carter had an impressive night for the Slammers with 25 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Tyler Livingston added 14 points and five rebounds, James Allen nine points, Michael Lay eight points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Mitch Keller eight points and three boards.


Ladder positions might suggest otherwise but Kalamunda entered Saturday’s clash at Ray Owen Sports Centre with Warwick as the form team out of the duo, and that continued with the Eastern Suns recording another impressive win.

The Eastern Suns continued their recent good form with a 38-point thumping of the Perth Redbacks on Friday night as they attempted to break into the top eight with another win on Saturday night at home against the Senators.

And that is a Warwick team desperate to return to some of their form of the first half of the season too. The Senators won 10 of 12, and 12 of 15, games to open the season to announce themselves as genuine championship contenders.

But the Senators have struggled in recent times having lost three straight matches before a gritty win last Sunday at home to the Slammers. But they still were a long way off the form they had display in those first 15 matches of 2019.

Already on a three-game winning streak, the Eastern Suns continued their hot streak to start Saturday night’s game with 33 points in the first quarter to be up five by quarter-time.

But the Senators produced a good second quarter to only be down two at half-time having put up 31 points.

But the Suns began to pull away again in the third quarter to lead 91-81 heading into the fourth quarter.

And in the fourth period, it was all the Eastern Suns as they piled on 30 points to 22 to run out 116-103 winners and make it four wins on the trot to improve to seventh spot on the table at 11-11.

The Senators have now lost four of their past five matches to slip to a 14-8 record in sixth spot.

The Suns put up another 116 points to now be averaging 116.5 points over this four-game winning streak. They shot the ball impressively going 45/88 at 51 per cent from the field, 15/33 at 45 per cent from three-point range and 11/14 at 78 per cent from the line.

Javion Blake delivered yet another standout performance for the Eastern Suns, playing all 40 minutes as the point guard finished with 40 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and two steals while shooting 14/23 from the field, 5/8 from deep and 7/8 from the foul line.

Carl Aylett was impressive too in the absence of captain Jono Diaz with 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists while Josh Braun played all 40 minutes too for 18 points, 10 boards and seven assists while hitting 4/8 from deep.

Corey Easley contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, Ryan Blanchett 10 points and six boards, and Cooper Lowe eight points and four rebounds.

Justin King top-scored for the Senators with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while Caleb Davis contributed 20 points, five boards and two assists.

Cody Ellis added 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists too while Jay Thwaites finished with 14 points, six boards and four assists, Rob Anshila 10 points and 13 rebounds, Ngor Manyang eight points, two assists and two blocks, and Ash Litterick eight points and four boards.



Not only did the Perth Redbacks show good heart to bounce back from a disappointing Friday night loss to upset the Geraldton Buccaneers on Sunday on the back of another standout Marshall Nelson effort, but inspirational captain Joel Wagner made SBL history.

It is a remarkable feat for Wagner to now make history by becoming the all-time SBL assists leader.

He did it in style too with his sixth assist of the night being a pretty two-handed pass over the back of his head as he drove to the hoop. That found a wide-open Marshall Nelson to knock down the three and the record was his.

Wagner still recalls his very first assist too when he found Jamie Baker on a backdoor cut back in 2004. His 2774th with be just as memorable too as he set up Nelson to hit another dagger as the Redbacks were on their way to a memorable victory.

Having already celebrated his 350th SBL appearance earlier this season, it’s another significant moment in the glittering career of Wagner. He has played all his games and dished out all his assists playing for the Redbacks while also captaining them to the 2017 championship.

Highlighting his achievement, to break to record he overtake the 2773 assists dished out from Troy Clarke who racked up those numbers in 512 games for the Cockburn Cougars and X Warriors.

Wagner has achieved the record in 357 games and showing what a performance it is can be done by looking at how far ahead of the rest of the pack over SBL history he is.

After Clarke, Shamus Ballantyne finished with 2414 assists, Joe-Alan Tupaea and CJ Jackson 1836. He is almost 100 ahead of the man fifth on that list.

As for the game itself, while the Buccs came in with momentum having beaten Rockingham the night before, the Redbacks were clearly motivated to respond to their big loss on Friday night and as a result went on top early.

As it would turn out, the Redbacks did remain on top the rest of the way but there was always a sense the Buccs would make a big run at them late and that’s exactly what transpired.

The Redbacks led 22-14 by quarter-time, still 52-44 at half-time and 72-63 by three quarter-time, but the game would go down to the wire.

When Wagner found Nelson for a three on the record-breaking assist, the Redbacks were still up eight with six minutes remaining but the Buccs weren’t going away.

Things were certainly getting testy down the stretch between all parties involved and the Buccs had reason to be unhappy when their own inspirational 426-game captain Matt Wundenberg fouled out in just 11 minutes after being called for his second flop of the afternoon.

The margin was just four with four minutes to go with Brayden Inger hit from long-range for Geraldton. Nelson nailed a three in response with another Wagner assist but then Liam Hunt scored inside and Inger hit once again from downtown.

Suddenly it was a two-point game before Lee Roberts responded for Perth. DeAngelo Isby nailed a triple in response to make it a one-point game before Roberts kept the Redbacks on top scoring again up the other end.

But Hunt took the ball to the rack for the Buccs to keep it a one-point ball game with a minute left. That’s when things got a little messy but in the end Nelson hit a pair of free-throws to put the Redbacks up 87-84.

Out of a timeout with the shot clock off, Lasher had a good look for the Buccs from three but was fouled by Roberts. The 52 per cent free-throw shooter on the season missed all three at the line, including the third deliberately.

It was a heads up play and Hunt had a shot at the offensive board, but another tough call went against the Buccs when he was called for entering the lane early. That ended the game with Nelson icing the win for the Redbacks with two free-throws.

Marshall Nelson delivered another standout performance for the Redbacks as he bangs down the door for another contract in the NBL. He finished with 41 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and four steals on shooting 12/27 from the floor, 6/12 from three and 11/12 from the foul line.

Lee Roberts was terrific as well with 28 points and nine rebounds while Zac Gattorna contributed 11 points and five boards, and David Swaby four points and five rebounds.

The Buccs missed the point guard poise and quality of Marcus Alipate and the all-round contributions and leadership of Aaron Ralph, but still had a shot to win with DeAngelo Isby impressive with 28 points and four rebounds.

Colter Lasher will rue the missed free-throws but had a strong game still with 19 points, four boards, three steals and two assists while Liam Hunt finished with 17 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots, Brayden Inger 10 points and three boards, and Brendan Dinardo six points and four assists.

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