THE Grand Finalists in the Women’s SBL will be decided one way or another by this Saturday night with the Warwick Senators and Rockingham Flames needing just one win to advance while the Lakeside Lightning and Perry Lakes Hawks need two wins inside 24 hours.
The semi finals in the Women’s SBL began with the Game 1’s last weekend which saw the Rockingham Flames go up one-nil against the Perry Lakes Hawks, winning 95-60 while the Warwick Senators also defeated the Lakeside Lightning 87-75.
That leaves the No. 7 seeded Flames and fourth seeded Senators within a win each of qualifying for the Grand Final next Friday night while the defending champion Lightning and fifth seeded Lady Hawks have to win twice across 24 hours to advance.
Both Game 2’s in the Women’s SBL semi finals take place on Friday night and both tip-off at 7pm.
They will see the Rockingham Flames host the Perry Lakes Hawks at Mike Barnett Sports Complex. If Rockingham wins, the Flames are through to their first Grand Final since 2015. A win for Perry Lakes and the Hawks will host Game 3 at Bendat Basketball Centre on Saturday night.
The other Game 2 will take place at Warwick Stadium with the Warwick Senators hosting the Lakeside Lightning.
A win for the Senators and they are through to their first Grand Final since 2007 while the defending champion Lightning will force a Game 3 back at Lakeside Recreation Centre on Saturday night with a victory.
Starting with the Flames and Hawks, they both entered their semi-final series in hot form despite finishing the regular season in the bottom half of the top eight.
The Lady Hawks finished the regular season in fifth spot on a six-game winning run while the Flames won their last four but still only finished in seventh position.
Perry Lakes went on to dominate two games against the Joondalup Wolves in the quarter finals by 36 points at HBF Arena and then 44 points at Bendat Basketball Centre.
That was on the back of Nat Burton, Megan McKay and Sarah Donovan dominating inside, and point guard Jamie Cherry outstanding.
Rockingham then had two tough games against local rivals Mandurah but the Flames managed to prevail also on the back of their inside power led by Darcee Garbin and Maddie Allen along with all-round point guard Alex Ciabattoni producing in all facets.
That all set the stage for what loomed as a fascinating semi-final battle but it was all Rockingham in Game 1 last Friday night at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The Flames won 95-60 to make it seven wins on the trot while snapping the eight-game winning run of Perry Lakes.
While only making 5/25 threes, Rockingham shot 56 per cent from inside the arc compared to 29 per cent from the Hawks while also having six more rebounds, 24 more points in the paint and forcing Perry Lakes into 24 turnovers from which they scored 24 points.
It was quite the dominant performance with Ciabattoni again terrific with 24 points, 12 points and nine rebounds. Garbin added 17 points, five blocks and four rebounds, Christina Boag 16 points and 10 boards, and Maddie Allen eight points, six rebounds and two blocks.
So their big guns all rose to the occasion and if they do so again on Friday night on their home floor, it’s going to be a challenge for the Hawks force the deciding Game 3 back at Bendat Basketball Centre on Saturday night.
But there is too much experience with Nat Burton, Rebecca Benson, Nikita Martin and Gabby O’Sullivan, and pure talent with Sarah Donovan, Megan McKay and Jamie Cherry for Perry Lakes to not deliver a strong performance to keep their Grand Final hopes alive.
Then in the other series, Game 2 will take place at Warwick Stadium between the Senators and Lightning.
The Senators have the chance on their home floor to advance to their first Grand Final in 12 years, but there’s no way it’s going to be easy against a Lightning team in their third straight semi-final series and who are defending champions and finished 2019 again in top spot.
The Senators at times during the regular season looked genuine championship threats, but they also had trouble getting their best team on the court at other times and it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride along the way.
But they finished up in fourth position and then dominated the two games in the quarter finals against Willetton to advance to the semi finals.
Lakeside is no stranger to this time of the year having played in three straight semi-final series now and on the back of last year’s championship, the Lightning did claim the regular season title in 2019 despite significant player turnover.
From last year’s championship team, Sam Roscoe, Ali Schwagmeyer and Sydnee Fipps went out with Ellyce Ironmonger, GeAnna Lualu-Summers and Hannah Stewart coming in which made them a significantly bigger team.
Then in Game 1 of the semi finals last Saturday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre, the Senators delivered a tremendously impressive performance to win 87-75.
There were a host of standout performers including Samaria Howard with 21 points and seven rebounds, Sam Roscoe 18 points and 11 boards, Stacey Barr 16 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and five assists, Tayla Hepburn 10 points and seven boards, and Bianca Villegas 10 points and five rebounds.
Ash Grant did put up 29 points for Lakeside but the defending champions will be looking for a lift across the board on the road in Game 2 on Friday night to try and force the decider back on their home floor with a Grand Final berth on the line.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – SEMI FINALS GAME 2
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames v Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 7.00pm (Rockingham leads 1-0)
Bethanie Warwick Senators v Lakeside Lightning – Warwick Stadium 7.00pm (Warwick leads 1-0)
SEMI FINALS GAME 3 (if required)
Lakeside Lightning v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Lakeside Recreation Centre 5.00pm
Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks v Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames – Bendat Basketball Centre 6.00pm