THEY are perennially championship contenders in the Women’s SBL and are accustomed to big battles with one another, and it was no different for the Perry Lakes Hawks and Mandurah Magic in the West Coast Classic on Saturday night.
The Lady Hawks and Magic played out a cracking SBL Grand Final back in 2017 as part of what has developed into quite the fascinating rivalry in recent years, and while the personnel was significantly different, they continued with another intriguing contest at Bendat Basketball Centre.
While there is a big change in personnel, with Perry Lakes having a young group built around their experienced frontcourt of Nat Burton and Sarah Donovan means they will always be tough to beat.
And any time a Magic team still has experienced warriors like Kelly Bailey and Rachel Halleen, they’ll always be tough to overcome even if there’s no Casey Mihovilovich nor the Klasztorny sisters.
That set the stage for Saturday’s game at Bendat Basketball Centre with Perry Lakes fresh off an 18-point win at Willetton the night before while the Magic were playing their only game of Round 3 in the West Coast Classic after thumping East Perth 83-31 last Saturday night.
The Hawks were on top for most of the contest on their home floor, but as has become their trademark whether under Randy Miegel or now Craig Watts as coach in recent years, the Magic just refuse to lie down and continued to make a game of it.
With Nat Burton on fire inside against the incredibly small Magic who were hoping to play this SBL season in 2020 with an import big, Carly Boag and Emma Klasztorny, the Hawks raced to a 10-2 before Mandurah steadied with a triple from Sydney Meares.
Kelly Bailey then also hit a triple for Mandurah as did Rachel Halleen to make it a one-point ball game before Millie McCarthy answered for Perry Lakes, and that helped the Hawks head to quarter-time leading 17-13.
Captain Annika Renkema and Burton gave Perry Lakes an 11-4 run to open the second quarter as their lead grew to 11 heading towards half-time, but Mandurah closed the half with their own 8-2 run and that meant the Hawks lead was back to 30-27 by the break.
Another three-point bomb from Halleen gave the Magic a brief lead early in the third quarter, but by three quarter-time the Hawks had pulled away again to lead by seven.
When Bella Green connected from downtown the Perry Lakes were in control by 12 with five minutes to go in the game, but nobody told Mandurah that even after McCarthy hit a free-throw to extend the lead to 13.
Kasey Miegel answered with a three-point play before she was forced to leave the game after taking a nasty fall to floor that made quite the thud.
When Halleen once again connected from downtown, suddenly the margin was back to seven and still more than a minute to play as the Magic sent a scare into the Hawks.
It wasn’t to be a remarkable comeback, though, with Halleen hitting free-throws with five seconds left, but Perry Lakes coach Deanna Black took a timeout and then on the subsequent possession her team dribbled the ball out for the 58-53 win.
The victory improves the Hawks to a 3-2 record after three rounds of the West Coast Classic and it was the recently signed Sydney Uni Flames WNBL centre Nat Burton who proved the difference for Perry Lakes.
She finished the night with 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists on shooting 9/12 from the floor.
Kate Williams added 11 points and two assists too for Perry Lakes with Annika Renkema delivering 10 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, Morgan Ballantyne six points, seven boards and six assists, and Millie McCarthy four points and two assists.
It was a brave fight put up by the Magic with Rachel Halleen coming up big for 18 points, three assists and two rebounds including going 4/7 from three-point territory.
Kelly Bailey also had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists with Rachel Pettit contributing eight points, four boards and four assists, and Georgia Haines four points.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
Perth Redbacks 81 defeated East Perth Eagles 48
Willetton Tigers 43 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 61
Joondalup Wolves 87 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 55
Warwick Senators 50 lost to Joondalup Wolves 72
Cockburn Cougars 48 lost to Lakeside Lightning 76
East Perth Eagles 90 defeated South West Slammers 51
Perry Lakes Hawks 58 defeated Mandurah Magic 53