BASED on the first weekend’s action in the West Coast Classic which has taken the place of the cancelled SBL season for 2020, and it’s going to be a rapid-fire nine weeks of action as the teams chase a place in the final four.
The SBL season for 2020 was on the verge of getting underway with the pre-season Blitz having been run and won back in March. But then COVID-19 fully got into gear and the SBL season was initially postponed, and ultimately cancelled altogether.
But as time moved on and restrictions began to be lifted across WA, it became clear that there would be a possibility to get a competition of some sort up and running, and that’s where the West Coast Classic has come from.
It still features all 14 of the teams albeit they have significantly different rosters than they would have for the SBL season back in March as they now compete across nine weeks, playing one another once to determine the final four to play in a finals weekend from September 25-27.
It was a fascinating opening weekend of action too in the West Coast Classic starting on Friday night with the Mark Worthington-coached South West Slammers beating the Mandurah Magic 66-62 at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The Perry Lakes Hawks won a thriller over the Warwick Senators 85-83 at Bendat Basketball Centre with the Lakeside Lightning coming from 15 points down to overrun the Willetton Tigers 75-67 at the official unveiling of the new Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The East Perth Eagles also started their season strongly beating the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 87-84 at Herb Graham Leisure Centre while the Joondalup Wolves downed the Perth Redbacks 98-80 at HBF Arena.
Things continued on Saturday evening when the Perth Redbacks responded by beating the Mandurah Magic 83-72 at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
The Warwick Senators then beat the Goldfields Giants 98-50 at Warwick Stadium, the Lakeside Lightning defeated the Geraldton Buccaneers 77-69 at Lakeside Recreation Centre, and the Rockingham Flames opened up by beating the Cockburn Cougars 83-74 at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
The Willetton Tigers then bounced back strongly to beat the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 96-68 at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Lastly on Sunday afternoon, the Perry Lakes Hawks beat the Goldfields Giants 71-65 at Bendat Basketball Centre, and the Geraldton Buccaneers beat the East Perth Eagles 93-88.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN’S ROUND 1
JOONDALUP WOLVES 98 defeated PERTH REDBACKS 80
The Joondalup Wolves and Perth Redbacks are two teams who appear to have put together impressive squads still for the West Coast Classic, but the Wolfpack got off to the fast start at home on Friday night.
The Wolves were always going to be capable of setting the standard during the West Coast Classic having added SBL championship winning pair Lee Roberts and Lochlan Cummings on the eve of the season to a group still featuring Seb Salinas, Trian Iliadis, Rob Huntington and Ben Ironmonger.
It was also the start of a new era for both clubs with Ben Ettridge no longer in charge of the Wolves and Nik Lackovic no longer coaching the Redbacks after both took their teams to championships during extremely successful tenures.
The Redbacks actually started well at HBF Arena and were on top by five points early doors, but the Wolves were able to work their way on top to be up eight by quarter-time and extend that advantage to 55-42 by the half-time break.
The Redbacks were able to stick with the Wolfpack through the second half but never truly threatened to close the gap with the home team going on to win 98-80.
Lochlan Cummings opened up his life playing with the Wolves in style delivering 26 points, three rebounds and three assists on 8/13 shooting from the field, 2/4 from deep and 8/9 from the foul line.
Lee Roberts might have helped the Redbacks win a championship against the Wolves in 2017, but he was on Joondalup’s side this time around and produced 21 points and nine rebounds.
Hamish Warden also had 11 points and four rebounds for the Wolfpack, Matthew Teale 11 points, four boards and three assists, and Rob Huntington 10 points and eight rebounds.
Zac Gattorna, fresh off spending the past NBL season with the Adelaide 36ers, top-scored for the Redbacks with 14 points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.
Dennis Tawhiti added 12 points and six rebounds for the Redbacks with Marshall Nelson contributing 11 points and eight assists, Joel Wagner 10 points and seven assists, and Ethan Vlahov eight points.
Tevin Jackson also finished with six points and four rebounds while Caleb White had six points, Ezra Nikora four points, Michael Riley four points, Neema Kazemi three points and Lachlan Bertram two to go with three rebounds.
SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 66 lost to MANDURAH MAGIC 62
The era of Mark Worthington coaching the South West Slammers made the perfect start on Friday night thanks to a four-point victory against the Mandurah Magic.
It’s nothing to be sneezed at that NBL and Australian basketball legend Worthington has returned to the Slammers to coach the club in 2020, and he showed he will be able to get the best from his talent too after Friday’s win at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The Slammers started the game strongly putting up 17 points in the first quarter while holding the Magic to just the seven points.
It was a complete reversal in the second period with Mandurah scoring 18 points to just nine from South West to set up a fascinating second half contest.
The Slammers were even more impressive in the third quarter to put up 25 points to 17 and they then withstood a fightback from the Magic in the fourth period to claim the 66-62 victory.
Brody England is one exciting emerging talent who looks like he will benefit enormously from the increased role he will be given on the Slammers for the West Coast Classic. He opened the season in fine fashion with 24 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Leigh Rickwood Pitt also had nine points and six rebounds for South West, Cory Richardson seven points, Rivar Evans seven points and four steals, and Mitch Keller six points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
Despite the result, there were some especially good signs for the Magic particularly with the performances of new faces Tom Atkinson and Josh Hunt.
Atkinson delivered 20 points, 12 rebounds and three steals against the Slammers while Hunt delivered 12 points and seven boards.
Cousteau Kyle also finished with 10 points and four rebounds, Dylan Griechen five points and Riley Parker five points to go with four assists, four steals and two rebounds.
WILLETTON TIGERS 67 lost to LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 75
Lakeside Lightning came from the clouds on Friday night with their youth coming up big in a stunning comeback win on an evening when the Willetton Tigers did plenty right on the official unveiling of the redeveloped Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The new Showcourt at the renovated venue came up a treat on the opening night of the West Coast Classic for 2020 and over 500 people came through, and in the end they were treated to what we have all missed so far this year – a thrilling game of basketball.
Willetton worked their way on top early on their new home floor and would go on to lead by as many as 15 points, but Lakeside’s remarkably young side when you take out Michael Vigor and Jay Bowie refused to give in.
The Lightning started the fourth quarter still down four and then Lachie Evans made it six, but that’s when Lakeside made their charge beginning with a Rowan Mackenzie three-point play.
Bowie and Vigor then scored as well to give the Lightning the one-point lead and they would go on with the job from there with another Mackenzie layup, Bowie three-pointer and a sealing triple from captain Nick Palleschi.
There was still plenty for Willetton to take out of the contest given how well they played for three quarters and how young they were as well, but ultimately a comeback win like that was a perfect way to return to basketball action for the Lightning.
With such a young side, Lakeside needed Michael Vigor and Jay Bowie to stand tall, and the two veterans did. Vigor finished with 21 points and nine rebounds on 10/16 shooting while Bowie had 14 points and nine boards.
Rowan Mackenzie showed that he has continued his growth with 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists with Kaidyn Malseed delivering 11 points, six boards and five assists.
Captain Nick Palleschi produced eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists too for Lakeside, Josh Davey five points and seven boards, and Byron Pearson five points and four rebounds.
There was plenty for Willetton coach Stephen Black to walk away feeling positive about too as the Tigers now prepare to travel to Kalamunda on Saturday night.
Connor Mincherton top-scored for Willetton with 14 points and four rebounds with Damien Scott contributing 12 points, six boards and five assists, Andrew Black nine points and four rebounds, Lewis Thomas eight points and eight boards, and Hayden Noordhoek eight points and five rebounds.
PERRY LAKES HAWKS 85 lost to WARWICK SENATORS 83
The Perry Lakes Hawks and Warwick Senators are two teams with high expectations for the West Coast Classic, and both would have taken great heart from Friday night’s thriller at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Perry Lakes and Warwick had both put together strong squads for the SBL season back in March, and while the likes of Brachon Griffin, Mike Parks Jr, Shawn Redhage and Edward Hardt might no longer be there, neither side is lacking in talent for the West Coast Classic.
The Hawks will still feature Ben Purser, Rob Cassir, Ryan Smith, Mitch Clarke, Cooper Hamilton and Bailey Cole while the Senators are led by Cody Ellis, Corban Wroe, Caleb Davis, Ash Litterick, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and Justin King.
But there’s exciting young talent at both clubs as well and they combined to put on an exciting show on Friday night.
It was a high-octane opening too with the Senators leading 31-27 by quarter-time but by the half-time interval, the Hawks had closed the gap and the scores were all square.
The game was always destined to go down to the wire and it was Rob Cassir who knocked down a triple to put Perry Lakes on top with just over four minutes remaining.
Cooper Hamilton then nailed another three to stretch the lead to four and Mitch Clarke all but sealed the deal when he also connected from downtown before Perry Lakes did hold on to win 85-83 after Wani Swaka Lo Buluk had a chance to put the Senators in front after a turnover.
Rob Cassir was outstanding for Perry Lakes with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals on 8/11 shooting.
Mitch Clarke was impressive too with 17 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals while Ben Purser contributed 16 points, four boards and four assists, Cooper Hamilton nine points and three rebounds, and Matthew Leary seven points and four boards.
Justin King top-scored for the Senators with 17 points and four rebounds with Wani Swaka Lo Buluk adding 14 points, four boards and three assists.
Caleb Davis also had 16 points and 10 rebounds while Cody Ellis delivered 13 points, Corban Wroe 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
EAST PERTH EAGLES 87 lost to KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 84
The East Perth Eagles and Kalamunda Eastern Suns are two vastly young squads entering the West Coast Classic, and they played out a thrilling and exciting encounter on Friday night.
The Eagles and Eastern Suns both brought with them youthful squads to Herb Graham Leisure Centre and produced an entertaining contest that went right to the wire with East Perth finishing on fire on their home floor.
Luke Coburn was coaching East Perth for the first official time but for much of the evening it was Kalamunda who were on top.
The Suns led by as much as 13 points during the second quarter and were still up by nine points with under two minutes to go.
It did appear Kalamunda had the game sewn up, but nobody told that to East Perth. The Eagles’ stunning finish started with a Nic Filpo three to cut it down to a six-point deficit.
Jayden Drown then also connected from downtown and then so did Kieran Berry after Logan Viskovich missed two free-throws, and out of nowhere scores were tied.
It was Filpo who then nailed the game winner from downtown as the Eagles ended the game on a remarkable run of 12 straight points to prevail 87-84.
Kieran Berry top-scored for East Perth with 19 points and five assists while Nic Filpo added 17 points on top of hitting the game winner.
Shaquille Maharaj scored 10 points with Jarrad Anastasio adding nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, Ryan Woodbury nine points and 10 rebounds, and Jayden Drown seven points.
Ryan Blanchett is captain of the Eastern Suns for the West Coast Classic and finished Friday night with 19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Logan Viskovich added 17 points and five rebounds for Kalamunda, Carl Aylett 17 points and three assists, Cooper Lowe 10 points and five boards, Corey Easley seven points and six rebounds, and Brendan Dinardo seven points, six boards, six assists and three steals.
MANDURAH MAGIC 72 lost to PERTH REDBACKS 83
The Mandurah Magic was at home for first time in 2020 on Saturday night to host the Perth Redbacks with both teams looking to record a first up West Coast Classic victory.
It was a quick turnaround for the Magic and Redbacks with Mandurah having played in Bunbury and Perth in Joondalup on Friday night, and with both teams coming off losses to open the West Coast Classic, there was plenty on the line.
It was a tight first half as well with the Magic leading by one at the end of the first period, and then the Redbacks only managing to narrowly pull away and lead 38-36 by the half.
The difference proved to be the third quarter with the Redbacks impressing by putting 28 points and then going on to lead the game by as much as 16 points and going on to win by 11 to open their West Coast Classic account.
Zac Gattorna backed up his game on Friday with another strong showing made up of 20 points, five rebounds and two assists on shooting an efficient 9/14 from the floor.
Marshall Nelson also produced 20 points and seven rebounds with Caleb White putting up 16 points, five boards, two assists and two steals.
Tevin Jackson finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists with Dennis Tawhiti adding five points and eight boards, Ethan Vlahov three points and three boards, David Swaby two points, Neema Kazemi two points and Joel Wagner two to go with three assists.
Tom Atkinson showed that his standout Friday night performance for the Magic was no fluke by backing it up with 25 points, 14 rebounds and four steals on 9/18 shooting.
Josh Hunt also made it a second impressive performance for the weekend after making the move to Mandurah from Geraldton. He finished Saturday night’s game with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Aaron Kearing also had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Mandurah, and Isaiah Walley-Stack six points, three rebounds and three assists.
ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 83 defeated COCKBURN COUGARS 74
The Rockingham Flames and Cockburn Cougars were both making their first appearances of the West Coast Classic on Saturday night with the Flames ending up delivering a nine-point victory.
The teams met at Mike Barnett Sports Complex to open their campaigns on Saturday night and it was during the second quarter that Rockingham began to pull away with 27 points to 14 for the period to be up 42-28 at the main break.
Rockingham went on to lead by as much as 18 points during the second half as well but Cockburn never gave up the ghost and even went on an 11-0 scoring run. But the Flames held on for the 83-74 victory on their home floor.
Jackson Hussey was playing his first game with the Flames and the experienced point guard showed that he’ll be a more than handy signing by delivering 25 points, six rebounds and two steals while shooting 9/18 from the field.
Callum Beard showed he’s ready to take the next step with his basketball based on his 19 points and nine rebounds as well while knocking down 4/8 from three-point territory.
Older brother Justin Beard also had 15 points and 14 rebounds with Travis Durnin contributing 12 points and four boards, and Ryan Godfrey 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Seva Chan ended up top-scoring for the Cougars with the experienced point guard producing 16 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Luke Travers played the first game against his original club and put up 15 points and eight rebounds for Cockburn with Gavin Field contributing 11 points, nine boards and three assists, Jaarod Holmes nine points and four rebounds, and Mitch Hampson eight points.
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 68 lost to WILLETTON TIGERS 96
The Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Willetton Tigers both had losses to bounce back from on Friday night, but only one of them went away to making amends and that was the visitors to Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Not only did both teams lose games on Friday night to open the West Coast Classic, but both were in control of their contests against East Perth and Lakeside respectively until the dying minutes when they were overrun to lose in frustrating circumstances.
So they weren’t short on motivation coming into Saturday’s clash where Kalamunda were in front of their home fans for the first time in 2020, but it was Willetton that came out with a point to prove.
The Tigers piled on 34 points in the first quarter and 31 in the second which was enough to set up the eventual victory with a 65-32 monstrous half-time advantage.
Willetton’s lead would grow to as much as 37 points at one point before the Tigers would go on to win the game in impressive fashion on the road 96-68.
There was plenty to like from the Tigers including shooting 48 per cent from the floor and 43 per cent from deep along with the 26 assists to 11 turnovers. They also put the Suns under the pump to force them into 25 turnovers.
Connor Mincherton for the second time on the weekend led the way for the Tigers with 18 points and two rebounds while knocking down 4/5 from three-point territory.
Damien Scott had a more efficient night with 18 points, five assists, five steals and three rebounds as well while Michael Garbellini had 11 points, Scott Elder 11 points and four rebounds, Andrew Back 10 points, and Lewis Thomas eight points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Cooper Lowe finished with 11 points and two rebounds for Kalamunda with Ryan Blanchett contributing 10 points and 12 boards, Carl Aylett eight points and three rebounds, Jermaine Malie eight points and five assists, and Corey Easley eight points, three rebounds and three assists.
WARWICK SENATORS 98 defeated GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 50
The Warwick Senators had a lot of fun on Saturday night in their West Coast Classic home opener with the players and crowd alike having a great time at the expense of the Goldfields Giants, but that’s what having basketball back is all about.
To be able to play again on your home floor and to thrill your fans is what makes basketball so special and after there were some real concerns we wouldn’t get any action in 2020, to now be able to have that through the West Coast Classic is why Senators coach Mike Ellis is glad it’s happening.
While his experienced players Justin King, Caleb Davis and Cody Ellis showed the way, what most excited Ellis about the night was to give a 15-year-old like Ethan Elliott the chance to get out on the floor, to get a vocal crowd behind him and to take that energy into quite the exciting debut.
In the end, the Senators shook off Friday night’s two-point road loss to the Perry Lakes Hawks to get back to Warwick Stadium and to breakaway in the first half on the back of four triples from King.
Once the Senators got on top, they didn’t take the foot off the gas and the remarkably young and inexperienced Giants team were thrown to the wolves.
They will learn plenty from the experience and the debutants and young players from Goldfields will get better as the season rolls on. But on Saturday night, it was tough going and the Giants ended up with 33 turnovers and also shot just 1/19 from three-point territory.
Warwick went on to win the game 98-50 including piling on 33 points to six in the fourth quarter.
That was despite losing point guard Corban Wroe to a hamstring injury with Ash Litterick already sidelined.
Justin King finished with 20 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists for the Senators with Caleb Davis contributing 15 points, seven boards, four assists and four steals, Ngor Manyang 11 points and six rebounds, and Cody Ellis 10 points, eight assists and six boards.
But it was the young Senators who were exciting with Ethan Elliott producing 12 points and four rebounds, Jarrod Hodge eight points, Isaac Campion seven points and Alier Riak six to go with four rebounds and two steals.
It was a tough season-opening night for the Giants, but when you take away Josh Jones, Corey Hammell and Kyle Tipene who they had recruited for 2020, and the loss of Dave Humphries, Brandon Holloway and Daniel Forlano from 2019, and it was always going to be tough.
The positive is that the young players that are now getting the chance to play meaningful minutes they might have never otherwise got to do so, and they will improve rapidly as a result.
There were still some encouraging signs on Saturday night despite the result with Mayo Malek (20 points, four rebounds) and Majier Garang (eight points, 16 boards) providing an impressive inside combination.
Damon Ballantyne ended the night with 13 points and four rebounds, Jerome Reid five points, Riley Duncan two points and three assists, and Sam Morrow two points.
LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 77 defeated GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 69
The Lakeside Lightning were on a high after their come from behind win at Willetton on Friday night and made it a perfect weekend to start the West Coast Classic with a win over the Geraldton Buccaneers.
The Lightning were behind most of the way on Friday at Willetton but finished strongly to get the first up win to start the season meaning they at least had a hit out under their belts against a Buccs team fresh off the bus from Geraldton.
The two teams last met in the semi finals last year in the SBL in a fascinating series that went to three games with Geraldton winning that Game 3 on the road at Lakeside to qualify for the Grand Final and go on to win the championship.
The Lightning continued on their momentum from Friday night despite coach Dave Daniels swapping out Michael Vigor for Andrew Ferguson in the big men department.
Lakeside gradually pulled away through the opening three quarters of the contest to lead by three points at quarter-time, by seven at half-time and by 14 at three quarter-time.
The Lightning would lead the contest by as much as 17 points and Geraldton kept fighting and found some form in the fourth quarter, but still Lakeside prevailed 77-69 to go a perfect 2-0 for the opening weekend of the West Coast Classic.
Jay Bowie was outstanding on Saturday night for the Lightning producing 31 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals while shooting 12/24 from deep and 7/17 from three-point range.
Josh Davey continued to show his potential with 13 points and six rebounds while Andrew Ferguson produced 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots, and Rowan Mackenzie nine points, seven boards, five assists and four steals.
The Buccaneers were making their first appearance of the West Coast Classic and it was Aaron Ralph who did all he could to keep them in the contest with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Reigning Grand Final MVP Liam Hunt had 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals while his brother Jesse was a little rusty straight out of quarantine with six points, four rebounds and four assists on 3/10 shooting.
Brayden Inger also had 14 points and four rebounds, Johny Narkle six points, nine rebounds and five assists, and River Joseph six points and two rebounds.
PERRY LAKES HAWKS 71 defeated GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 65
The Perry Lakes Hawks and Goldfields Giants couldn’t have had more contrasting starts to the West Coast Classic, but they combined for a tight encounter on Sunday at Bendat Basketball Centre.
It was a tough initiation for the remarkably young Giants against the Senators on Saturday night as they lost by 48 points by coughing up 33 turnovers while the Hawks held on to win a thriller over that same Warwick team back on Friday night.
So that put up some warning signs about what might eventuate on Sunday, but the Giants came out a determined outfit and they turned that into a strong start to the game to lead 17-10 by quarter-time.
The Hawks did respond and piled on 30 points in the second quarter which saw them go into the half-time break leading 40-26.
The Giants refused to go away, though, and made a real game of it before the Hawks would end up holding on to win 71-65 and improve to 2-0 while Goldfields slipped to 0-2 after one weekend road trip.
Hawks captain and 2018 Grand Final MVP Ben Purser was instrumental in the win for his team finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals on a supremely efficient 6/9 shooting from the floor and 3/5 from three-point land.
East Perth recruit Matthew Leary impressed as well with 14 points and two assists with Ryan Smith contributing 10 points and four rebounds, Mitch Clarke eight points, four steals and three boards, Cooper Hamilton eight points and three steals, and Rob Cassir eight points, six assists and four rebounds.
Jerome Reid was impressive as the captain of the Giants putting up 21 points, six rebounds and three assists while nailing 4/7 from beyond the arc.
Mayo Malek was also a strong contributor with 18 points and 10 rebounds with fellow big Majier Garang collecting 17 rebounds despite only scoring the three points.
Damon Ballantyne finished with 16 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals too for Goldfields with Riley Duncan adding seven points and three assists.
EAST PERTH EAGLES 88 lost to GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 93
Reigning SBL champions the Geraldton Buccaneers notched their first West Coast Classic win on Sunday overcoming a slow start and an inspired East Perth Eagles comeback with the Hunt brothers the standouts in the 93-88 victory.
For the second time in the opening round of the West Coast Classic the Buccs were coming up against an opponent having not only played a game before hand, but also having recorded a victory.
Geraldton went down to Lakeside on Saturday night before then taking on the challenge of an East Perth team buoyed by a win over Kalamunda on Friday night when they did battle on Sunday afternoon at Herb Graham Leisure Centre.
East Perth made an inspired start to the game hitting the opening 10 points including the first seven courtesy of Shaquille Maharaj before the Buccs settled and even got a quick four-point cameo from returning former star Carter Cook.
But former Senator Logan Thwaites closed the first period with six quick points for the Eagles to see them still up five but it wouldn’t last and the Buccaneers caught fire in the second period.
The personnel might have been different, but it was the type of basketball reminiscent of what took them to last season’s championship with the Hunt brothers providing the grunt inside while also being able to shoot, and then plenty of wing weapons.
A pair of triples from Aaron Ralph and hard-earned buckets from both Jesse and Liam Hunt saw the Buccs assume the lead, and then go on with it by putting up 34 points in the second quarter to lead 48-34 at the half.
East Perth refused to concede the contest, though, and delivered their own inspired third quarter which included a stunning four triples from Maharaj who added 21 points in the period alone to give East Perth a one-point edge heading into the fourth.
Jesse Hunt regained Geraldton’s lead to start the fourth with an and-one but East Perth was soon back in front thanks to Ryan Woodbury. A Kieran Berry three kept the Eagles in front too but last year’s Grand Final MVP Liam Hunt wasn’t going to let the Buccs go home 0-2.
He put the team on his back down the stretch and bullied his way to the basket in unstoppable fashion with the energy and passion only he has.
He got the lead back for Geraldton and then two threes from Ralph, and impressive work from new faces Xavier Garnett-Shaw and Johny Narkle was enough for the Buccaneers to hold on for the 93-88 win.
There are positives and negatives for every team in the West Coast Classic in terms of the personnel from what they would have had in the SBL for 2020, but for the Buccs the great plus is that brothers Liam and Jesse Hunt are playing together when they otherwise wouldn’t be.
They showed just how huge they are going to be over the next eight weeks too combining for 45 points, 24 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocked shots in Sunday’s win with their legendary father Dan in the stands watching.
Liam, coming off last year’s Grand Final MVP, is heading to Germany later this year but was tremendous with 24 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks with Jesse also delivering 21 points, 12 boards, four assists and two steals.
Aaron Ralph also delivered 20 points and nine rebounds for Geraldton on 5/9 shooting from three-point territory with Johny Narkle producing 12 points, four rebounds and three steals, and the returning Carter Cook five points.
There encouraging signs with Xavier Garnett-Shaw and River Joseph, Dayle’s son.
There was plenty to like from an East Perth perspective too under new coach Luke Coburn, and coming off Friday’s win against the Eastern Suns.
Shaquille Maharaj was outstanding especially with his 21-point third quarter on the way to 32 for the game to go with four steals, three assists and three rebounds.
Kieran Berry added 17 points and seven assists with Logan Thwaites contributing eight points and four rebounds, Isaac Offereins eight points, Nic Fillpo six points and Joel Offereins five to go with five rebounds, five assists and two steals.