ALL four teams left in the Men’s SBL had genuine championship hopes but the Joondalup Wolves advanced to a fifth straight Grand Final eliminating the defending champion Perry Lakes Hawks while it took three games for the Geraldton Buccaneers to overcome the Lakeside Lightning.
All four teams had looked impressive in their quarter-final victories with only the Geraldton Buccaneers needing three games to beat a talented, experienced and deep Warwick Senators outfit.
The Joondalup Wolves, Lakeside Lightning and Perry Lakes Hawks then all advanced in two games respectively against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns, Goldfields Giants and Rockingham Flames.
SEMI FINALS GAME 3 SPOTLIGHT | BUCCS DELIVER COMEBACK TO REACH GRAND FINAL
SEMI FINALS GAME 2 SPOTLIGHT | WOLFPACK PROVE TOO STRONG FOR HAWKS
SEMI FINALS WEEK 2 MEN’S SBL PREVIEW
SEMI FINALS GAME 1 SPOTLIGHT | WOLFPACK HOLD HOME COURT AGAINST HAWKS
Then in the semi-final Game 1 match ups last weekend, the Buccs held home court in Geraldton beating the Lightning 79-68 while the Wolfpack also won at HBF Arena over the Hawks 81-77.
But Lakeside and Perry Lakes both had chances on their home floors on Saturday night to force each series into a deciding Game 3.
The Lightning were able to do just that beating the Buccs 96-89 at Lakeside Recreation Centre but the Wolves proved too strong for reigning champs Perry Lakes to prevail 109-94 at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Game 3 between the Lightning and Buccaneers was back at Lakeside Recreation Centre on Sunday, and the Buccs produced a fourth quarter comeback on the road to end up winning 96-86 to advance to the Grand Final.
That all sets up a Grand Final between the Joondalup Wolves and Geraldton Buccaneers this Saturday night at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The Wolfpack are in their fifth straight Grand Final and looking for a first championship since 2015 while the Buccs are in a Grand Final for the first time since 2014 and looking for a first title since 2000.
MEN’S SBL SEMI FINALS – GAME 2
LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 96 defeated QUADRIO EARTHMOVING GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 89
Little had separated Lakeside and Geraldton all season and after a tight contest in Game 1 where the Buccaneers won on their home floor, things were expected to go up a notch again at Lakeside Recreation Centre on Saturday night.
Even though the Lightning lost experienced and championship-winning point guard Kyle Armour, they were able to remain an edge throughout the second half leading by three points at quarter-time and then by 13 at the half-time break.
The Buccaneers then turned things around in the third quarter in impressive fashion putting up 27 points to just 14 from the Lightning and that saw scores all locked away by three quarter-time.
Things remained tight through the fourth quarter and when Buccs veteran Aaron Ralph nailed a trademark triple it was a two-point ball game with under four minutes remaining.
Jack Isenbarger responded in kind for Lakeside and Jobi Wall hit another triple to make it a six-point lead for the home team.
Marcus Alipate hit from downtown to bring Geraldton back within three but the Buccs couldn’t hit again and with Isenbarger nailing his free-throws the Lightning won 96-89 to force the Game 3 back at the same venue the next day.
Jack Isenbarger finished with 22 points and six assists for Lakeside while hitting 4/8 from three-point territory.
Jarrad Prue was inspirational once more with 18 points, 22 rebounds and three steals while Michael Vigor produced 17 points, four boards, three assists and two steals, Jobi Wall 15 points and six rebounds, Rowan Mackenzie 10 points and three assists, and Ben Lee eight points and three rebounds.
Teen sensation Alex Ducas was tremendous for the Buccs defying his 18 years of age with 32 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals on 13/19 shooting from the field.
Colter Lasher also stepped up for 28 points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocked shots while Marcus Alipate produced 13 points and four assists, Aaron Ralph 12 points and seven rebounds, and Liam Hunt four points, 10 boards and nine assists.
ID ATHLETIC PERRY LAKES HAWKS 94 lost to CHAMBERS FRANKLYN JOONDALUP CITY WOLVES 109
With Ridell Camidge sharing blistering halves while Seb Salinas locked down on Clint Steindl, the Joondalup Wolves proved too strong for the Perry Lakes Hawks to advance to a fifth consecutive Men’s SBL Grand Final despite a vintage Shawn Redhage performance.
It had all the hallmarks of being quite the fascinating series between the two teams who played off in last year’s Grand Final and had every reason to be shooting to be championship winners in 2019.
The Wolves dominated their quarter-final battle with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns while the Hawks were tremendous in beating an outstanding Rockingham Flames team in two games as well so you couldn’t fault their form coming into the series either.
Game 1 then certainly lived up to the hype too with the Wolves holding on in a frantic finish for the four-point with the Hawks then back home at Bendat Basketball Centre on Saturday night for Game 2 while regaining the services of Clint Steindl.
But the Wolves again came out strong with Ridell Camidge hitting a three and Earnest Ross a jumper, but Shawn Redhage was feeling it for the Hawks too for their opening four points.
Joondalup went up 16-10 following triples to Rob Huntington and another to Camidge, but four points more to Redhage kept Perry Lakes close with the Wolfpack on top 20-15 by the end of one.
The Wolfpack then turned it on in the second period and it was on the back of Camidge catching fire like few players in the SBL this year have the ability to do.
He opened the second term with an and-one play before hitting a pull up three to put his team up 11. He was then fouled attempting a three by Redhage and made all three at the line and after Seb Salinas also hit from downtown, Camidge added another triple.
Reece Maxwell scored three quick Wolfpack points and Salinas hit another from downtown and on the back of Camidge’s 21 points, the Wolves led 57-41 at the half-time break despite Redhage’s 18 points for the Hawks in a virtual lone hand performance with support from Ben Purser.
Despite Redhage hitting an early three in the second half for Perry Lakes, there was no let up from the Wolfpack with five quick points from Ross and another triple from Camidge.
Trian Iliadis then came on and picked up where Camidge left off with consecutive three-pointers to put the margin back out beyond 20 for the Wolfpack and it was still a 21-point advantage come three quarter-time.
Perry Lakes had to strike early in the fourth to be a chance and they did exactly that with back-to-back threes from Ryan Smith and Steindl. Smith then hit another to make it a 14-point game and that was down to 11 when Purser connected from long-range with under four minutes to go.
Purser made a layup to make it an eight-point game a minute later and the Wolves called timeout with it game on. But Ross scored straight out of the timeout with Ben Ironmonger and Huntington soon making that a 7-0 run and the game, and series was done, with Joondalup winning 109-94.
It is a remarkable feat for the Wolves to now have reached a fifth consecutive Grand Final having won a championship in 2015 and having lost the last three, but now they have another chance at redemption next Saturday night on the same floor they closed out this series.
Trian Iliadis proved he is still one of the SBL’s most dangerous scorers finishing with 27 points, six rebounds and four assists while hitting 9/16 from the field, 4/10 from deep and 5/5 from the foul line.
With Ridell Camidge delivering 24 points on 5/5 shooting from three-point range and it’s fair to say the Wolves profited well in the two spot.
Earnest Ross added 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Wolfpack while Kevin Davis contributed 10 points, eight boards, three assists and two blocked shots.
Rob Huntington finished with nine points, three rebounds and three assists, Reece Maxwell seven points and Seb Salinas seven points, two rebounds and two steals on top of brilliant defence on Clint Steindl.
Shawn Redhage did all he could for Perry Lakes with 25 points, four rebounds and four assists while shooting 10/16 from the field and a perfect 4/4 from three-point range.
But he got little frontcourt support with Brian Carlwell and Kyle Sovine only combining for two points and three rebounds in 22 minutes on 1/8 shooting.
Ben Purser tried everything to inspire Perry Lakes too with 16 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals to cap a season that might have not attracted too many headlines, but could very well have been the most outstanding of his glittering career.
Tevin Jackson finished with 16 points and four assists for the Hawks, preferred ahead of Carlwell and Sovine, while Ryan Smith finished with 15 points and three boards, Clint Steindl 13 points and four assists.
MEN’S SBL SEMI FINALS – GAME 3
LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 86 lost to QUADRIO EARTHMOVING GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 96
Coming from behind on the road in an elimination game is the biggest challenge but it’s what the Geraldton Buccaneers accomplished Sunday at Lakeside Recreation Centre with a host of big-time performance as they beat the Lakeside Lighting 96-86.
The stage was all set for quite the contest on Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Recreation Centre after Geraldton had won Game 1 back on their home floor last Saturday night and then this Saturday night, the Lightning won Game 2 at home 96-89.
Both teams backed up on Sunday afternoon with a Grand Final berth on the line on Saturday night against the Joondalup Wolves and it was a packed Lakeside Recreation Centre that greeted them with the Lightning fans out in droves and plenty of Buccs fans having travelled too.
The Lightning were rocked with having lost 227-game point guard Kyle Armour to a knee injury the night before and he was on-hand to support the team on crutches, but it was still Lakeside who started strongly and would lead most of the way.
Lakeside took control late in the first quarter and they were up 30-15 by quarter-time with the Lightning leading by as much as 17 points through the afternoon.
Even though the Buccs were back within four by half-time, the Lightning again got back on top in the second half with the advantage back to double-figures but the Buccaneers refused to lie down and produced a brilliant fourth quarter.
With Liam Hunt doing a power of work inside against Jarrad Prue and Michael Vigor, Colter Lasher proving a bull and showing why his coach ranks him as the league’s MVP, Alex Ducas showing why he has a potential NBA future and then Aaron Ralph hitting a trademark three, the Buccs came through.
They scored the game’s last seven points and finished on a 12-2, and 18-5, run to go from being three points down with five minutes to go to end up winning 96-86 and advance to their first Grand Final since 2014 as they try to win a first championship since 2000.
After the two teams had finished second and third at the end of the regular season and then split the opening two matches of the series on their home floors, everything went on the line on Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Geraldton had won Game 1 at home last Saturday night while Lakeside bounced back this Saturday night despite losing Kyle Armour along the way to a knee injury.
They moved Rowan Mackenzie into the starting line-up in his absence on Sunday and despite Geraldton scoring the first four points, Lakeside soon took control.
After leading 17-15, they finished the opening term on a 13-0 run including a three to Ben Lee, a triple to Jack Isenbarger, another to Michael Vigor, a layup to Mackenzie and finally a jumper from Isenbarger before the buzzer.
Lakeside maintained the edge for much of the second quarter and were even up 17 when Vigor drained a three again with 4:30 left on the clock.
But a Brayden Inger triple inspired the Buccs back into the contest with Colter Lasher hitting five quick points and then when teen sensation Alex Ducas finished the half with seven individual points he put his team back within four at the major break.
Lakeside pushed its advantage back out to eight to start the second half and they still led by seven at three quarter-time, and by eight early in the fourth when Jobi Wall connected from beyond the arc.
When Liam Hunt missed all three free-throws after being fouled attempting a long bomb it looked like the comeback just might not be on for the Buccs. But suddenly Aaron Ralph and Marcus Alipate hit from downtown and it was a two-point ball game.
Geraldton was picking up momentum and Hunt produced a statement block on Isenbarger, even though he came back down to score for Lakeside on the next possession to put them back up four with under seven minutes to play.
Lasher was becoming a man-on-a-mission with his attack on the basket and when he earned an and-one, scores were level with six to go.
After a nervous couple of minutes, Vigor scored inside for Lakeside and Ralph copped a tech foul as the Lightning went back up by three. But Lasher and Ducas just kept driving hard and getting to the line with scores again level with under four minutes left.
The Buccs forced another turnover and then Lasher produced yet another three-point play. This time it put his team up three but Isenbarger responded immediately with a triple.
Lasher would miss both free-throws after he again got to the line but then Geraldton regained the lead when Ralph banked in a desperation triple. Hunt then continued to battle manfully inside and finished a tough bucket as Geraldton went up five and the win was within reach.
Lakeside just couldn’t buy a basket with the season on the line as Geraldton scored the game’s last seven points to win by 10 and earn another crack at the club’s second championship.
Without question the difference proved to be the ability of the Buccs to take the ball hard to the rack and force Lakeside into fouls. They went to the line 36 times and only three players ventured there – Alex Ducas, Colter Lasher and Liam Hunt.
That trio were the stars for the Buccaneers with Ducas finishing with 25 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in his last game before now beginning life at college with St Mary’s.
Hunt delivered 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists made the more impressive considering he was up against Jarrad Prue and Michael Vigor while Lasher produced 25 points, seven boards, three assists and two blocks.
Aaron Ralph added nine points and nine rebounds with Marcus Alipate contributing eight points, four boards and two assists.
It was a season to be proud of for Lakeside as they went a step further from 12 months ago when they pushed Perry Lakes to three games in the quarter finals without Jack Isenbarger.
They will now never know what might have been had Kyle Armour been available this weekend, but to go to three games with Geraldton and for such a tight Game 3 shows they were not far off being a Grand Final team.
Isenbarger top-scored with 29 points and six assists with Jobi Wall contributing 19 points and three rebounds, Michael Vigor 15 points and nine boards, Rowan Mackenzie 12 points and three rebounds, and Jarrad Prue eight points and 17 boards.