THE final round of the 2019 regular season in the Women’s SBL is here and there remains plenty at stake starting on Friday night with the Perth Redbacks needing to beat the Cockburn Cougars and then leaving Kalamunda Eastern Suns’ clash with the Joondalup Wolves to decide eighth position.
It is set to be a fascinating final round of the regular season in the 2019 Women’s SBL season and it includes five teams still in contention for positions in the top four and then the Eastern Suns and Redbacks still battling over that eighth position.
Things all get underway on Friday night at Belmont Oasis with the ninth placed Perth Redbacks needing to beat the Cockburn Cougars to keep their hopes of snatching that eighth position alive.
Should the Redbacks win on Friday night, that leaves eighth position to be decided at HBF Arena on Saturday night when the Joondalup Wolves host the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Should the Redbacks have won, the Eastern Suns will need to beat the Wolfpack to claim eighth position otherwise it will go the way of Perth.
Should both teams win, or lose, their matches this weekend, the Eastern Suns will still finish eighth to set up a quarter-final clash with the Lakeside Lightning who defeated them in last year’s semi finals.
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Friday night’s other fixture in the Women’s SBL should be terrific as well with the Rockingham Flames hosting the Lakeside Lightning at Mike Barnett Sports Complex. The Flames are on a three-game winning run coming into it while Lakeside lost big to Perry Lakes despite having top spot secure.
Then also on Saturday evening, the Willetton Tigers and Perry Lakes Hawks clash at Willetton Basketball with fifth position up for grabs for the end of the regular season.
The Cockburn Cougars and East Perth Eagles then bring an end to their seasons which has only combined for four victories at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The Mandurah Magic and Warwick Senators then meet in another tantalising match up at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with the Magic currently in fourth spot having won eight straight while the Senators are second coming off a loss to Rockingham.
Friday night’s action in the Women’s SBL gets underway with a must-win affair for the Redbacks as they host the Cougars at Belmont Oasis.
The Redbacks will again be without superstar point guard Lauren Mansfield due to her presence at the Australian Opals camp in Phoenix, but Perth will remain confident of getting the important win.
The only way the Redbacks can still reach the playoffs is by winning the game and then putting the pressure back on the Eastern Suns to beat the Lady Wolfpack on Saturday night at HBF Arena.
The Redbacks have lost their past three matches following a five-game winning run so they will need to regain some confidence to get the job done against Cockburn.
The Cougars might be on their own seven-game losing slide themselves but they remain competitive and they won’t be looking to hand the Redbacks anything on Friday night.
The other Friday night contest should be a beauty as well with the Flames hosting the Lightning at Mike Barnett Sports Centre.
Rockingham will also be without Darcee Garbin due to her Opals commitments, but the Flames were in ominous form last Friday night beating the Warwick Senators at Warwick Stadium.
That improved Rockingham to a 12-9 record to guarantee a playoff sport and while they can’t reach their top four with this their last game of the regular season, they can ensure they go into their quarter-final match up against a higher seed full of confidence.
The Lightning might be guaranteed of a second straight minor premiership as they look to defend their title, but they are coming off a tough loss to Perry Lakes last Saturday night and coach Craig Mansfield will want them to head into the playoffs on a winning note.
Rockingham coach Keegan Crawford will ensure the Flames throw everything at getting the win over the Lightning heading into the playoffs.
“You go into every game and your thoughts should be to win,” Crawford said.
“That’s the theory we’ve subscribed to in the past couple of weeks and as a coaching staff you always think a little bit about potential finals match ups, but we’ve been good with the girls about worrying about the opponent in front of us.
“Lakeside are obviously the defending champions and it’s a game to determine seedings so we are taking it very seriously.”
Saturday evening action in the Women’s SBL then begins with the Tigers hosting the Hawks at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
With Willetton coming into the game in fifth position at 13-8 and Perry Lakes in sixth at 12-9, it’s an important game for both teams as well.
Should the Hawks win the game and both teams finish the season on identical 13-9 records, they will need to win by 13 points to win the series-split and finish above the Tigers on the standings.
The Tigers come into the clash coming off a 24-point win against the Slammers last week while the Hawks are in hot form having won five in-a-row capped off with a supremely 28-point win over the Lakeside Lightning with Perry Lakes looking a dominant force since the arrival of Megan McKay.
Perry Lakes coach Deanna Black couldn’t be happier with how the Hawks are travelling and hopes they can continue that momentum on Saturday night and into the finals.
“Every game for us from here has already been like a playoff game and it’s always been about taking the next step,” Black said.
“For us the focus doesn’t change and there’s not any more pressure, but now we are in for sure so we don’t have to rely on other results.
“It was good to take control of our own destiny and every team wants to go into the finals on a winning streak so Willetton will be doing what they can as we will to make that happen.
“We are definitely looking forward to it and hopefully we can keep building upon our momentum to continue that into the finals run, which is exciting.”
The seasons of Cockburn and East Perth come to an end on Saturday night at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The Cougars will have already played in Round 20 on Friday night against the Redbacks while East Perth finishes its season on the road looking for a second win of 2019 and to avoid finishing with a 10-game losing streak.
There’s then another game of significance for top four positions when the Magic host the Senators in what is also the 200th SBL appearance of Mandurah warrior, Emma Klasztorny who could well be in the middle of her best and most consistent season.
The Magic come into the game as the hot team in the Women’s SBL having won their previous eight matches to sit in fourth position at 14-7 while the Senators are also 14-7 and looking to bounce back from a heavy home loss to the Rockingham Flames.
A win for the Magic will guarantee them at least of a third place finish and potentially second unless the Joondalup Wolves beat the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
While the Senators can ensure they finish above the Magic with a win but to stay second they also need the Suns to beat the Wolfpack.
The final game of the round and the regular season in the Women’s SBL is that clash at HBF Arena between the Wolves and Eastern Suns.
The Lady Wolfpack have regained some form to be on a three-game winning streak coming into the clash. A win for them and they will finish with a 15-7 record and no matter what the Magic or Senators do, the Wolves will finish ahead of either should they end up on the same record.
So there’s a lot on the line for Joondalup as they need to win to finish second while Kalamunda’s season is on the line too.
A win for the Eastern Suns and the equation is simple, they qualify for the finals and will remain in eighth position. With a loss, they could remain eighth had the Redbacks lost on Friday night. But if the Redbacks beat Cockburn, Kalamunda will slip to ninth and miss the post-season action.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 20
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars – Belmont Oasis 6.30pm
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames v Lakeside Lightning – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks – Willetton Basketball Stadium 5.00pm
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars v Schweigen East Perth Eagles – Wally Hagan Stadium 5.00pm
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 5.00pm
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – HBF Arena 6.00pm