THE Perry Lakes Hawks are sure going to take some stopping this Women’s SBL season as they flew to an eighth consecutive win on Friday night in emphatic style to beat the Joondalup Wolves by 44 points to advance to the semi finals.
It was only a month ago and Perry Lakes was far from guaranteed of even taking part in the post-season action, but they got rolling late in the regular season to enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak.
They came in from sixth position as they set up a quarter-final match up with a Joondalup Wolves team who started 2019 on fire under new coach Charles Nix winning 11 of their opening 13 matches with a front court composed of Kayla Steindl, Amy Kidner and Amber Land.
That would have provided quite the fascinating three-game match up with Megan McKay, Nat Burton and Sarah Donovan from the Hawks, but it wasn’t to be with Steindl and Kidner’s seasons both finishing after 12 and 16 games respectively.
That meant that the Lady Wolfpack were right up against it in terms of size and experience against the Hawks despite being the higher seed, and that’s how it played out over the two games.
Perry Lakes won Game 1 last Saturday night 102-66 at HBF Arena and then continued on with the job this Friday at Bendat Basketball Centre to win 102-58 and advance to the semi finals and ending the season of the Wolves who had come a long way just to be there from 12 months earlier.
CONFIDENCE TO AVOID SLOW START KEY FOR TIGERS
RECRUITING DEPTH PAYS DIVIDENDS FOR SENATORS
QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2 WOMEN’S SBL PREVIEW
QUARTER FINALS WEEK 1 WOMEN’S SBL WRAP
LADY HAWKS CLICKING BUT REAL WORK NOW STARTS
LIGHTNING STILL WORK IN PROGRESS ENTERING FINALS
EASTERN SUNS PRIMED FOR ANOTHER CRACK AT LIGHTNING
Perry Lakes were in hot form coming into the playoffs with those six straight wins and that only continued last Saturday night with the 36-point win in Game 1 of the quarter finals against the Wolfpack at HBF Arena.
With the imposing front court of Megan McKay, Nat Burton and Sarah Donovan, experienced wings in Nikita Martin and Rebecca Benson, and Jamie Cherry on fire as point guard with a strong supporting cast, it was going to take a big effort from Joondalup to fire back.
The reality is if they had Amy Kidner and Kayla Steindl it might have been possible, but the loss of two such key pieces had been a stumbling block the Wolfpack could never quite overcome despite how hard late season arrival Jasmine Martin continued to battle especially.
The signs were glaring early that Perry Lakes was at another level and by quarter-time, the home team had opened up a 15-point advantage and by half-time that had stretched to 21.
It was more of the same in the second half as Perry Lakes cruised to the 103-59 victory to make it eight consecutive wins as they advance to the semi finals.
The size differential ended up being a major factor with the Hawks collecting 69 rebounds to 37 for the night while scoring 50 points inside the paint to just 26 from the Wolves.
Shooting was the other major difference with Perry Lakes ending up going 39/84 from the field at 46 per cent and 9/24 at 37 per cent from downtown. Joondalup shot 20/75 at 26 per cent from the floor and 7/29 at 24 per cent from three.
While Perry Lakes’ bigs dominated, point guard Jamie Cherry was again a difference-maker too with another 18 points and five assists including hitting 3/6 of her three-point attempts.
Megan McKay had another 18 points, 13 rebounds and four steals on 9/12 shooting with Sarah Donovan contributing 14 points, 13 boards, four assists and two steals, and Nat Burton eight points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Rebecca Benson contributed 14 points and three assists, Nikita Martin 10 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Sam Ashby 11 points and three boards as she prepares to head off to college.
Perry Lakes coach Deanna Black couldn’t be happier to be seeing everything the Hawks have been working on and hoping would come together throughout the season is now doing so when it matters most as they await to find out if they play Rockingham or Mandurah in the semi finals.
“I was really proud of what the girls put on the floor the last couple of weeks. It’s been a work in action the last five or six weeks but even two weeks before the end of the season we were sitting in ninth and were looking at the end of our season down the barrel of a gun,” Black said.
“But the girls have really bounded together and we’re starting to play some really strong basketball. We’re really defining who we are as a team and what we want to be about.
“Over these two games, I think we’ve been able to find the balance with our guards and bigs. We have a really balanced team and I think we were able to weather a few different defensive changes along the way.
“The other thing I’ve really enjoyed watching my girls do step up on that defensive end of the floor, which is something that we’ve been trying to push throughout the season and it’s starting to come together.”
It was tough going for the Lady Wolfpack but Georgia Denehey had an impressive first half with 10 points and three rebounds including hitting two threes before their plight was magnified when she left the court with a knee injury and didn’t return.
Mikayla Pirini finished with 10 points and three assists, Chelsea Belcher 10 points, two rebounds and two steals, Tahni Geel six points and two steals, Jasmine Martin six points and five rebounds, and Amber Land six points and 11 rebounds.
Wolves coach Charles Nix couldn’t be prouder of the way his young squad performed to firstly make the playoffs in third position despite the loss of Amy Kidner and Kayla Steindl from midway through the campaign.
Ultimately, Perry Lakes proved too big and experienced, but Nix is excited what he’s been able to build in 2019 and is looking forward to building on it.
“Clearly we had our backs against the wall at the start of the series and we knew it was going to take something pretty special from our group to get through,” Nix said.
“We look at the dynamic of our group with only four players who have played in the playoffs before this point and it’s a playing group with an average age of 20 so we’re really young and coming up against the champions of two years ago who have added a really solid post in Megan McKay to an Opal in Nat Burton.
“We knew it was going to be challenging and for us a few things had to go right and unfortunately they didn’t, and we learn from the experience. We’re another year older and another year better, and we feel like we have a really bright future at the Wolves with the group we have.
“Unfortunately things happened during the year after we were in a pretty good spot, but you can’t do much about baby making and a knee injury. Those things can derail things a little bit but I’m just proud of the way the girls really fought the series out and the season out.
“For us to finish third after losing the pieces we lost and having to change the style we play completely as a result, I couldn’t be prouder of the group. I’m looking forward to working with them next year and seeing where we’re at.”
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – QUARTER FINALS GAME 2
Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks 103 defeated Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 59 (Perry Lakes wins 2-0)
Willetton Tigers 58 lost to Bethanie Warwick Senators 88 (Warwick wins 2-0)
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames v Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.00pm (Rockingham leads 1-0)
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Lakeside Lightning – Ray Owen Sports Centre 6.30pm (Lakeside leads 1-0)
QUARTER FINALS GAME 3 (if required)
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic v Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 12.00pm
Lakeside Lightning v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Lakeside Recreation Centre 2.00pm