IT was a game full of momentum swings as the Perth Redbacks and Cockburn Cougars try to find their feet early in the West Coast Classic, but it was the home side that made the last big run to win at Belmont Oasis on Friday night.
The Redbacks women came into the game after massively contrasting results in the opening round of the West Coast Classic with a 36-point loss to the Joondalup Wolves backed up by a 33-point win against the Mandurah Magic.
The Cougars, meanwhile, lost on Saturday night to the Rockingham Flames setting up what shaped as a tantalising contest at Belmont Oasis with the Redbacks playing at home for the first time in 2020.
It proved to be the ultimate seesaw contest throughout the evening with the Redbacks grabbing the first piece of momentum with Maddie Allen scoring to give them a 20-12 lead just before quarter-time.
Jess Jakens ensured the home team still led 22-15 by quarter-time and then Sarah Allen hit a three to make it a 10-point margin, which remained at nine midway through the second period with a triple from Shenae Hartree.
Cockburn was working back into the contest, though, and by the time Tahlia Fejo banked in a three on the half-time buzzer the Redbacks were only up two.
Tia Morgan hit from deep to open the second half to give Cockburn the lead to start the second half and then Jodee Sontay extended that advantage to four.
Morgan again connected from beyond the arc and suddenly the Cougars led by seven before another Redbacks turnover and a Kirsty Pitcher layup.
This time it was the Redbacks’ turn to comeback from being eight down and when 16-year-old Brooke Malone nailed a floater, it was again just a two-point game late in the third period.
Briana Bailey made a three to close the quarter to bring Perth back within a point and then the Redbacks turned on the afterburners in the fourth period. They piled on 30 points to 13 to end up with the 87-71 win over the Cougars.
Redbacks coach Craig Allen was happy with what his team did right on the night, but saw plenty that didn’t go to plan as he searches for consistency early in the West Coast Classic.
“As I said to the girls after the game, the good was good and the bad was really bad as well, and that’s something that we have to change as a group. You want to be consistent with your execution and your performances, but we were very much up and down,” Allen said.
“We were out by 10 early twice but gave it back to them both times, and then were down by 10 and were back up. To run out the last quarter like we did was really positive but there are lots of things to learn and to build on.”
Jess Jakens was the star on the night and received the Len Vlahov Memorial Trophy afterwards for putting up 24 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals on shooting 10/15 from the field.
Shenae Hartree showed what an exciting future she has with 22 points and seven rebounds with Maddie Allen contributing 18 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots.
Denielle Lipscombe added 11 points and four assists too for the Redbacks.
Jodee Sontay continues to be the hardest worker on any basketball court she steps out on and finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals for the Cougars.
Tahlia Fejo also had 13 points and three rebounds with Tia Morgan contributing 11 points and five assists, Haylee De Sousa 11 points and two rebounds, and Kirsty Pitcher six points, three assists and three steals.
The first home game of every season for the Redbacks is in tribute of Len Vlahov and as a result Allen was delighted to celebrate the occasion with his late wife Eva in attendance to make the presentation post-match.
“It does mean a lot, absolutely, it very much does. The Vlahov family is synonymous with basketball in WA and for the many years that I’ve been involved in basketball, the Vlahovs have been around,” Allen said.
“And it’s special for the club, it really is and I think the club does really well in representing and acknowledging that. I think for us as a group it’s really nice to get a win in that scenario.”
Both teams back up on Saturday night with the Cougars at home at Wally Hagan Stadium for the first time in the West Coast Classic to host the Joondalup Wolves.
The Redbacks head to Bendat Basketball Centre to play a Perry Lakes Hawks team thumped by the Lakeside Lightning on Friday, but with match ups like WNBL bigs Maddie Allen up against Nat Burton to look forward to, Allen is looking forward to it.
“I love that Maddie-Nat Burton match up. It will be exciting to watch and it will be exciting to just let it go, see what happens and that play with it. That is exciting, absolutely,” Allen said.
“It will be a way different game than this one. We have to be on our measure to be competitive and look to execute our stuff. There are some really interesting match ups as well but again we go in young, we go in exciting and we go into play.”
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
South West Slammers 43 lost to Rockingham Flames 88
Perth Redbacks 87 defeated Cockburn Cougars 71
Willetton Tigers 75 defeated Mandurah Magic 50
Lakeside Lightning 79 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 52
Mandurah Magic v East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 5.00pm
Warwick Senators v South West Slammers – Warwick Stadium 5.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v Joondalup Wolves – Wally Hagan Stadium 5.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Perth Redbacks – Bendat Basketball Centre 6.00pm