WITH the combination of it being Mental Health Awareness Round in the Women’s SBL while the penultimate weekend of competition with the race for finals remaining fierce, it’s going to be an eventful couple of nights of action.
Round 19 doubles as Mental Health Awareness Round in the SBL with the aim of increasing awareness of not only the importance of looking after your own mental health, but also checking on each other.
In support of the occasion, players, coaches and referees will wear blue armbands for all games in Round 19 to increase awareness and let the community know that we care and to prioritise mental health.
The Mental Health Awareness Round is being conducted with support from Youth Focus, The Happiness Co. and A Stitch in Time.
Then of course there’s the action on court and with the Lightning, Senators, Wolves, Magic and Tigers still fighting over top four spots, and then the Hawks, Flames, Eastern Suns and Redbacks fighting for the last three positions, there’s plenty at stake.
MAGIC CLICKING AS THEY CHASE THIRD STRAIGHT GRAND FINAL
ROUND 18 WOMEN’S SBL RECAP
REDBACKS TO EMBRACE MANSFIELD’S OPALS CHANCE
NO TIGERS EXCUSES DESPITE BETTER THAN EXPECTED POSITION
YOUNG CRAWFORD PROVIDING COOL HEAD FOR FLAMES
There are four matches on Friday night in the Women’s SBL with the Joondalup Wolves hosting the Cockburn Cougars at HBF Arena, and the Willetton Tigers taking on the South West Slammers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The Warwick Senators also play the Rockingham Flames at Warwick Stadium and the Lakeside Lightning take on the Kalamunda Eastern Suns at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
There are then two more matches on Saturday starting at 4pm at Belmont Oasis with the Perth Redbacks playing the Mandurah Magic. Then at 5pm, the Perry Lakes Hawks host the Lakeside Lightning.
Starting on Friday night at HBF Arena, the Lady Wolfpack will be looking to continue to build some momentum heading into the playoffs up against the Cougars.
The Wolves have steadied with a couple of good wins following a five-game losing run to now head into Round 19 with a 13-7 record in third position and they could still finish second by winning their last two matches.
They come up against a Cougars team significantly more competitive than their 3-16 record suggests so the Wolves won’t be gifted anything despite beating Cockburn by 16 points earlier in the season.
Willetton then hosts South West also on Friday night at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Tigers needing to win stay a chance of finishing in the top four, at worst remaining in fifth position.
Willetton has now lost five of its past seven games to slip to a 12-8 record in fifth position but two wins to finish starting on Friday night and they could still finish fourth depending on other results.
They come up against a Slammers team who will be disappointed to now be out of finals contention at 8-13 having lost four straight, but they remain a dangerous outfit especially when at full strength.
Their starting five remains strong when all the pieces are there made up of Brittni Montgomery, Courtney Bayliss, Kate Fielding, Bianca Donovan and MVP candidate Makailah Dyer. But when any of those have been missing the Slammers have struggled which has been the case in the past three matches.
Then at Warwick Stadium, there’s plenty on the line for both the Senators and Flames when they lock horns.
Warwick needs to win to maintain its hold on second position on the ladder with a 14-6 record coming off a 75-point win against East Perth last week.
But the Senators need to keep winning to stay second and while the Flames look unlikely to be knocked out of the top eight, they do need at least one more win to guarantee a playoff berth.
They will be playing the last two weeks of the regular season without Darcee Garbin too who is in Phoenix with the Australian Opals training and selection camp ahead of September’s Asia Cup.
That puts pressure on Maddie Allen and Christina Boag to hold down the front court which will be a big mission against the Senators.
The last game of Friday night is another with plenty at stake for both clubs with the Lightning hosting the Eastern Suns at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Lakeside remain in first place after bouncing back from a loss to Mandurah with wins over the Eagles and Slammers, but now Friday night will be a significantly bigger test against a playoff hopeful team.
Lakeside will regain import Hannah Stewart for the clash but it’s a Suns team who can all but lock away a playoff berth if they are victorious.
It’s a big ask against the defending champions who did beat them in the semi finals last year, but Jennie Rintala got hurt and they’ve added Katie Yohn and Lauren Jeffers to that line-up so they will go to Lakeside confident of an upset.
Lakeside coach Craig Mansfield is glad that over the final two weeks of the season the Lightning have a tough run against playoff contending teams starting Friday against the Eastern Suns.
“Playing teams that are effectively playing playoff basketball already means they are going to be playing at playoff intensity and they won’t be holding anything back,” Mansfield said.
“They don’t have the luxury of just playing us straight up and saving something for finals, they are going to have to go out and try to beat us so we are going to see what other teams want to do against us.
“That’s much better for us than to have a bye at the end or to have an East Perth game which breaks up your momentum. I’m really happy with the run home provided we get through healthy and we won’t be lightening up training to get through.
“We are pushing hard on the training track as well so that we have a really good month’s build up into the finals.”
Saturday’s action in the Women’s SBL then gets underway with the Redbacks hosting the Magic from 4pm at Belmont Oasis.
The only way the Redbacks can still reach the playoffs is winning their final two matches starting Saturday against the Magic and then in the last round against the Cougars, and still need other results to go their way.
They will also need to do it without superstar point guard Lauren Mansfield who is also in Phoenix at the Opals camp.
Their task on Saturday is a significant one too up against a red hot Magic team on a seven-game winning run to see them now sit in fourth position at 13-7. They need to keep winning to in order to remain in the top four.
The final game of the round in the Women’s SBL then takes place at Bendat Basketball Centre as the champions of the past two seasons meet with the Hawks facing the Lightning.
Perry Lakes are now in some impressive form since the return from college of Megan McKay. She’s putting up 18.2 points and 12.3 points a game to form quite the formidable front court alongside Nat Burton, Sarah Donovan and Kristan Teasdale.
They have won four straight now to sit in sixth spot at 11-9 but they need to keep winning and it won’t be easy against the Lightning who possess their own impressive trio of bigs with Ellyce Ironmonger, Hannah Stewart and Ash Grant.
With the bigs capable of cancelling each other out, which point guard dynamo out Jamie Cherry or GeAnna Lualu-Summers catches fire could prove the difference.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 19
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars – HBF Arena 6.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Print Sync South West Slammers – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm
Bethanie Warwick Senators v Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames – Warwick Stadium 6.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic – Belmont Oasis 4.00pm
Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks v Lakeside Lightning – Bendat Basketball Centre 5.00pm