THEY both had to come from behind to do it, but the Rockingham Flames and Warwick Senators both wrapped up their semi-final series in two games on Friday night setting up a mouth watering 2019 Women’s SBL Grand Final.
The Flames and Senators both took a one-nil lead in their respective semi-final match ups by winning their Game 1’s the previous weekend on the road giving them the opportunities to wrap things up on their home floor this Friday night.
Lakeside and Perry Lakes was never going to hand anything to their opponents as they tried to force deciding Game 3s on their home courts. Both the Lightning and Hawks managed to put themselves in match-winning positions too but it wasn’t to be.
SEMI FINALS GAME 2 SPOTLIGHT | FLAMES FIRE THROUGH TO GRAND FINAL
BACK HOME ROSCOE PRIMED TO LEAD SENATORS TO GRAND FINAL
SEMI FINALS WEEK 2 WOMEN’S SBL PREVIEW
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In the end, the Rockingham Flames prevailed 68-61 over the Perry Lakes Hawks at Mike Barnett Sports Complex while the Warwick Senators defeated the Lakeside Lightning 77-65 at Warwick Stadium.
For the Flames, it’s a return to their first Grand Final since winning back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015 while the Senators are through to their first Grand Final since 2007 as they attempt to win a first title since 1994.
Both teams are great stories in their own rights with Rockingham having undergone a coaching change mid-season with 23-year-old Keegan Crawford now in charge of a team led by WNBL stars Darcee Garbin, Maddie Allen and Alex Ciabattoni.
Meanwhile, Dion Dagostino is in his first season at the helm of the Senators and he has put together a deep and talented team led by the front court of Sam Roscoe, Bianca Villegas and Tayla Hepburn, and back court of Samaria Howard and Stacey Barr.
WOMEN’S SBL SEMI FINALS – GAME 2
CLASS 1 ORTHODONTICS ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 68 defeated SCARBORO TOYOTA PERRY LAKES HAWKS 61
The Rockingham Flames built a team to be ready for the business end of the season and despite personnel changes along the way, they secured their Grand Final berth in the Women’s SBL with a come from behind Game 2 win over the Perry Lakes Hawks on Friday night.
Rockingham and Perry Lakes entered their semi-final series both in hot form with the Flames having won the last four games of the regular season and then defeating the Mandurah Magic in two games of the quarter finals.
The Lady Hawks, meanwhile, had finished the season on a six-game winning streak before dominating the Joondalup Wolves in two games of the quarter finals to enter the series with the Flames on an eight-game winning streak.
That set the stage for what looked to be an evenly matched contest but Rockingham blew Perry Lakes away in Game 1 last Friday night winning 95-60 at Bendat Basketball Centre to give themselves a chance to wrap things up on their home floor this Friday night.
Christina Boag and Darcee Garbin combined to give the Flames the game’s first six points before Jamie Cherry got the Hawks on the board. But Rockingham led 8-2 when Alex Ciabattoni scored before Nat Burton and Megan McKay warmed up for the visitors and scores were soon tied at 10-10.
It was a low-scoring first term with Rockingham leading 14-10 by quarter-time and the Hawks managed to hit the lead for the first time midway through the second term when Nikita Martin drained a three.
Martin was feeling it in ways she hasn’t really at all this season but turning back the clock to her dominant best at the Wolves by hitting two more threes heading towards half-time as Perry Lakes’ lead grew to nine.
The Lady Hawks still led 34-28 by half-time and then when Sarah Donovan made a free-throw early in the second half, Perry Lakes led by a game-high 10 points and they looked every chance of being able to force a deciding Game 3.
Rockingham had to dig deep and the fight back started with a couple of quick triples from Boag. But Morgan Ballantyne responded in kind for the Hawks and they were again up by 10 with four minutes of the third term remaining.
The Hawks were still on top 55-48 by three quarter-time and the lead was back to eight to start the fourth term when Megan McKay scored inside.
Things then tightened up, though, and while it was spread over almost three minutes, Rockingham scored the next eight points and suddenly it was a one-point ball game. Maddie Allen then put the home team on top with three minutes to go and soon stretched the lead to four.
A Ciabattoni triple was the nail in the coffin and the Flames went on to win 68-61 to advance to the Grand Final and end the season of the Lady Hawks.
Darcee Garbin delivered another big performance for Rockingham with 17 points and five rebounds while her front court partner Maddie Allen delivered 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
Christina Boag made it quite the impressive trio with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three steals with point guard Alex Ciabattoni finishing with 11 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Chelsea Petrik also had seven points and five rebounds for the Flames and Tayah Burrows four points, three assists and two rebounds.
Nat Burton top-scored for Perry Lakes with 16 points and six rebounds with Nikita Martin delivering 15 points and five assists.
Megan McKay added 12 points and 15 rebounds with Jamie Cherry contributing eight points and four assists, and Morgan Ballantyne five points, three steals and two assists.
BETHANIE WARWICK SENATORS 77 defeated LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 65
The Warwick Senators had blitzed the first half of the Women’s SBL season before having plenty of obstacles thrown their way in the second half, but things appeared to have come back together in the playoffs and they had a chance to move straight into the Grand Final on Friday night.
When the Senators were up and going at all cylinders in the first half of the season, they undoubtedly looked a team talented enough to go on to win the championship, but there were plenty of questions to be answered entering the finals.
They answered several of those in the quarter finals with two emphatic performances against the Willetton Tigers to set up a crack against the defending champion Lakeside Lightning who had again finished top of the table at the end of the 2019 regular season.
Warwick then delivered a superb performance in Game 1 last Saturday night to win 87-75 at Lakeside Recreation Centre giving them the chance to secure a Grand Final spot at Warwick Stadium this Friday night.
But with their season on the line, the Lightning were never going to go down without a fight and by half-time the defending champions had worked their way on top to lead 39-30 at the major break.
However, the Senators regrouped at half-time and came out to produce an outstanding second half starting with 26 points to 10 in the third quarter.
But the Lightning refused to throw in the towel and after consecutive baskets from GeAnna Lualu-Summers and Hannah Stewart, they were back within with four minutes left in the contest.
Stacey Barr, though, then hit three free-throws and hit another jumper before nailing one from downtown which was enough for a game-winning edge for the Senators and they went on to win 77-65 to eliminate the Lightning in two games of the semi finals.
Stacey Barr again showed what a threat she is with another 33 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals on shooting 10/21 from the floor, 4/9 from three-point range and 9/9 from the foul line for Warwick.
Sam Roscoe added 15 points and six rebounds against the team she won a championship with last season while Bianca Villegas produced 12 points and five boards, Rebekah Throns seven points and eight rebounds, and Samaria Howard five points and 11 boards.
GeAnna Lualu-Summers top-scored for Lakeside with 21 points and six rebounds including going 5/11 from beyond the arc.
Hannah Stewart finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Lightning, Ash Grant 13 points, eight boards and four assists, and Courtney Mansfield nine points, six rebounds and four assists.