PLAYER availability is proving crucial as the West Coast Classic rolls on with the Warwick Senators and Perry Lakes Hawks standing out after five rounds while the Lakeside Lightning survived a scare that the Joondalup Wolves couldn’t against the Goldfields Giants.
Round 5 in the Men’s West Coast Classic could prove a pivotal one as the race for the finals heats up with just a month remaining in the regular season.
The Rockingham Flames and Cockburn Cougars struggled in both their games on the weekend missing key players while the Lakeside Lightning won at the death over the South West Slammers and the Goldfields Giants stunned the Joondalup Wolves in Kalgoorlie.
The Perry Lakes Hawks and Warwick Senators are starting to separate themselves as the two standout teams, but that can easily change with a month still to go before the finals weekend takes place.
There were four matches on Friday night in Round 5 of the West Coast Classic with the Perry Lakes Hawks winning big over a Rockingham Flames minus Ryan Godfrey and Travis Durnin, 106-69 at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The South West Slammers then went ever so close to pulling off the upset of the West Coast Classic before Jack Isenbarger took it away from them in his first appearance to give the Lakeside Lightning the 62-61 win at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The Willetton Tigers also continued their impressive form beating the East Perth Eagles 84-58 at Herb Graham Recreation Centre with the Warwick Senators also winning big over a Cockburn Cougars missing Luke Travers, Jaarod Holmes and Seva Chan, 117-74 at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Then on Saturday night, the Geraldton Buccaneers recorded their second win of the West Coast Classic beating the Mandurah Magic 85-69 at Active West Stadium.
The Goldfields Giants also pulled off a surprise and impressive 80-71 win against the Joondalup Wolves at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.
The Perth Redbacks also defeated the South West Slammers 93-55 at Belmont Oasis while the Willetton Tigers won big 110-45 over the Rockingham Flames at Mike Barnett Sports Complex, and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns defeated the Cockburn Cougars 77-65 at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The round then concluded on Sunday with the Warwick Senators beating the Perth Redbacks 93-82 at Warwick Stadium.
There have now been five rounds played in the West Coast Classic with four weeks to go before the top four teams will play in a finals weekend to determine the champions.
The Perry Lakes Hawks (7-1) remain out on top of the standings after Round 5 with the Warwick Senators (6-1), Lakeside Lightning (6-1) and Joondalup Wolves (5-2) rounding out the top four.
The Perth Redbacks (6-3) are just outside the top four followed by the Willetton Tigers (5-3), Rockingham Flames (4-4), Goldfields Giants (3-4), Cockburn Cougars (3-5), Kalamunda Eastern Suns (2-5), East Perth Eagles (2-6), Geraldton Buccaneers (2-6), Mandurah Magic (1-6) and South West Slammers (1-6).
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN’S ROUND 5
PERRY LAKES HAWKS 106 defeated ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 69
The Perry Lakes Hawks maintained top position after five rounds in the West Coast Classic with a 37-point home win against the undermanned Rockingham Flames.
The Hawks came into the game on a four-game winning streak while the Flames had lost two of their last three games after a fast start, and then came into Friday’s game without key players Ryan Godfrey and Travis Durnin.
Despite that, the Flames made a fast start on Friday night at Bendat Basketball Centre and led 28-23 by quarter-time.
The Hawks turned things right around in the second quarter, though, putting up 32 points to 13 and that turned the tide of the contest in their favour for good.
Perry Lakes went into half-time leading 55-41 and then went on with it from there in the second half outscoring Rockingham another 51 points to 28 to come away with the commanding 106-69 victory.
Perry Lakes had plenty of impressive contributors on the night in the 37-point win with Mitch Clarke leading the way with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Matthew Leary also had 17 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists for the Hawks while Ryan Smith had 14 points and four boards, Ben Purser 13 points and six assists, Cooper Hamilton 13 points, four steals and three rebounds, Harry Imison eight points and five steals, and Adrian Nobensi eight points and three assists.
Justin Beard top-scored for the undermanned Flames with 12 points and five rebounds on shooting 3/5 from three-point territory.
Brendan Redhead added 10 points and two assists for Rockingham, Callum Beard nine points and eight rebounds, Dylan Gilbert nine points, and Jackson Hussey eight points and seven boards.
SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 61 lost to LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 62
The surprising thriller of the night took place at Eaton Recreation Centre with the South West Slammers on track for their second win before it was snatched away by the Lakeside Lightning and Jack Isenbarger
It did appear a big ask ahead of the Slammers against a Lightning team needing to keep winning to stay in the top four, and Lakeside did start well going up 8-3 early before leading 18-12 by quarter-time.
The Lightning were still on top 30-23 by half-time but the Slammers had succeeded in turning it into a low-scoring affair and had kept the potent Lightning in check for the first half.
Things remained tight and low-scoring through the third quarter too with the Lightning ending up leading the Slammers 47-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
So the job again was ahead of the remarkably young Slammers and they responded.
A Cory Richardson triple with 5:30 to go brought them within a point of the Lightning before two Brody England free throws, and a Mitch Keller bucket saw the home team take a three-point advantage with four minutes on the clock.
Richardson again hit a three-pointer with 1:15 left and put South West up four and the upset win was now not only possible, but likely.
Keller hit 1/2 at the foul line to make it a five-point lead but then all of a sudden in his first appearance of the West Coast Classic, Jack Isenbarger nailed a three for Lakeside to make it a two-point game.
Then out of a timeout, the Slammers turned the ball over and were made to pay in the harshest possible way as Isenbarger drained the subsequent three-pointer to secure the stunning 62-61 comeback win for the Lightning.
Newly signed Perth Wildcats development player Andrew Ferguson finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for Lakeside while Kayden Malseed had nine points and three assists, Jack Isenbarger eight points and three rebounds, and Byron Pearson nine points and six rebounds.
It was such a brave showing from the Slammers with Brody England finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Mitch Keller also had 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, Cory Richardson 12 points and four boards, Leigh Rickwood-Pitt seven points and two rebounds, and Devan Craig seven points.
EAST PERTH EAGLES 58 lost to WILLETTON TIGERS 84
The Willetton Tigers are quietly becoming one of the most impressive outfits in the West Coast Classic with another strong showing to beat the East Perth Eagles by 26 points.
The win now improves the Tigers to a 4-3 record in the West Coast Classic but it can’t be ignored how close they went to winning each of the three games they lost.
First up on their new home floor they led virtually all night against Lakeside before being overrun in the dying minutes and then it took overtime for Perry Lakes to overcome them and it was a Marshall Nelson buzzer-beating three that took the win away from them against the Perth Redbacks.
It’s not a stretch to say that with a bit of luck the Tigers could be undefeated in the West Coast Classic and they showed their capabilities with the 84-58 win against East Perth at Herb Graham Recreation Centre.
East Perth did start well enough on its home floor to lead by three at quarter-time, but it was all the Tigers from there.
Willetton dominated the second quarter with 26 points to five to head into half-time leading 41-23. The Tigers then put up another 29 points to 11 in the third period to be up 70-34 by three quarter-time.
The Tigers did go on a remarkable run of scoring 26 consecutive points to blow the game wide before settling on the 26-point victory with East Perth doing better in the fourth quarter.
Damien Scott was terrific for Willetton with 21 points, five steals, four rebounds and two assists while knocking down 4/10 from three-point territory.
Connor Mincherton had another 11 points and three assists for the Tigers, Michael Garbellini 11 points, six rebounds and three assists, Andrew Black nine points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and Lachlan Evans eight points and three boards.
It was tough going most of the night for East Perth and Shaquille Maharaj still top-scored with 14 points and seven rebounds despite shooting 4/18 from the floor.
Jarrad Anastasio had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles, Nic Filpo eight points and three boards, and Ryan Woodbury eight points and 10 rebounds.
COCKBURN COUGARS 74 lost to WARWICK SENATORS 117
The Cockburn Cougars entered Friday’s game at home to the Warwick Senators on a three-game winning streak but it didn’t last as they lost one key player too many against quality opposition.
After opening the season with three straight losses, the Cougars built some impressive momentum with victories against Lakeside, East Perth and Goldfields, but key to that was the partnership building between Gavin Field and Luke Travers.
Take Travers out of the team on Friday night at Wally Hagan Stadium with championship winning veterans Jaarod Holmes and Seva Chan already absent, and it was a bridge too far for the Cougars to remain close to the Senators.
The Senators entered the game on a four-game winning streak which included 48-point thrashings of both Geraldton and Goldfields, and a 72-point hammering of the South West Slammers.
The Senators proved too much for the Cougars to handle the longer the game went on and it all began with them putting up 34 points to 20 in the first quarter.
To Cockburn’s credit, they were able to keep it a contest in the first half limiting the lead for the Senators at half-time to just 10 points.
However, the Senators soon blew the game right apart with 35 points to 17 in the third quarter. They added another 28 to 13 in the fourth to end up winning 117-74.
Warwick was on fire on the night shooting 45/80 from the field at 56 per cent, 13/28 from three-point range at 46 per cent and 14/16 from the foul line at 87 per cent. That was opposed to the Cougars going 43 per cent from the floor, 37 per cent from three and 54 per cent at the foul line.
The Senators also won the rebound battle and possession game to take 15 extra shots having forced the Cougars into 24 turnovers as well.
Justin King delivered 23 points for the Senators while Alier Riak was exciting with 20 points on going 5/7 from three-point territory.
Caleb Davis added 17 points and nine rebounds for Warwick, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk 12 points, Jay Thwaites 12 points and seven rebounds, Ethan Elliott 10 points and three boards, Ngor Manyang 10 points and six rebounds, and Cody Ellis six points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Gavin Field top-scored for Cockburn with 15 points and four rebounds while Jacob Polglase added 10 points and four boards, Kye Chamberlain nine points and four rebounds, Zac Watkinson eight points and two boards, and Hayden Bell eight points and three rebounds.
GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 85 defeated MANDURAH MAGIC 69
The Geraldton Buccaneers hadn’t made the home return they were hoping after the first three weeks of the West Coast Classic on the road, but Saturday night went more to plan against the Mandurah Magic.
With Active West Stadium undergoing some redevelopments, the Buccs opened the West Coast Classic with three weeks and six games on the road before returning home to host the Warwick Senators on the night they unfurled last year’s SBL championship banner.
But the return home didn’t help the Buccs who were missing Liam and Jesse Hunt leading to a 48-point loss to the Senators, but they had a week to take stock of that and to get ready to host Aaron Trahair and the Magic this Saturday night.
It was a vastly improved showing from the Buccaneers, but not from the outset with the Magic starting encouragingly and going on to hold a 26-19 advantage by the end of the opening quarter.
Geraldton was able to steady things in the second period and by half-time scores were all locked away at 43-43.
The Buccaneers began to work their way on top in the third period outscoring Mandurah 20 points to 16, and then the Buccs ran away with it in the fourth with 22 points to 10 to end up beating the Magic 85-69 to record their second victory of the West Coast Classic.
Making the win all the more impressive for the Buccaneers was that it came without the services of 399-game championship winning great Aaron Ralph.
But his long-time partner-in-crime Mat Wundenberg was the dominant presence on the floor finishing with 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists on 9/12 shooting.
Brayden Inger added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Buccs, Xavier Shaw 16 points and seven boards, Carter Cook 12 points and two rebounds, and Geordie Murray 10 points, four boards and four assists.
Johny Narkle showed exciting signs as well for Geraldton with seven points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.
Tom Atkinson continued his breakout West Coast Classic with another 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Mandurah while Riley Fitzgerald added 12 points and four boards, and Josh Hunt nine points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.
PERTH REDBACKS 93 defeated SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 55
The South West Slammers couldn’t quite back up nearly pulling off the upset of the West Coast Classic against Lakeside on Friday up against the Perth Redbacks on Saturday, but for coach Mark Worthington it’s all about the bigger picture which he has to keep reminding himself of.
It’s hard for Worthington to not get caught up in the emotion of desperately wanting to win every game he is part of with the NBL championship winning all-time great and Australian Olympian being one of the great competitors and winners this century wherever he’s played.
It’s a significant boost for West Australian basketball to have such a calibre person back coaching with the Slammers in 2020 for the West Coast Classic, but what he has to keep reminding himself of is that he is building something that is setting the club up for the next decade.
That’s why being surround by such experienced heads and former greats themselves in James Fitch and Aaron Edwards on his coaching staff is helping ensure the focus is on developing young players for the future, and it’s hard not to get excited by how that’s looking.
That is still the case in a game like Saturday night where the Redbacks ended up beating the Slammers 93-55 having been in control from start to finish at Belmont Oasis.
But what the Slammers showed the night before at home to Lakeside was a glimpse into just how bright the future is.
Against a Lightning team as deep and experienced as any in the West Coast Classic who appears finals bound, the Slammers looked likely to grab the win up until Jack Isenbarger snatched it from them.
Saturday night was always going to be tough to back up and that proved the case with the Redbacks winning by 38 points as they continue their charge towards the finals and look forward to a fascinating match up with the Warwick Senators at Warwick Stadium on Sunday.
The Slammers men then had every right to arrive at Belmont Oasis on Saturday night expecting a strong showing after going ever so close to pulling off what would have been a significant upset on their home floor against Lakeside the night before.
But the Redbacks were fresh and waiting for their first game of the weekend and knowing they can’t afford a slip up if they want to stay in the finals race, and to try and break into the top four.
The Slammers, though, started encouragingly and led on a couple of occasions early thanks to five quick Brody England points and then a bucket from Alastair Ishigami-Sims, and another inside from Mitch Keller.
The Redbacks answered with the next six points, though, and then the last six of the opening quarter to be up 29-19 by quarter-time.
Perth certainly never reached top gear, but still managed to stretch its lead by half-time to 15 points.
Coach CJ Jackson would have wanted more, though, against the young and understandably weary Slammers, and he got that in the third quarter with the Redbacks piling on 31 points to 14.
The Redbacks would end up scoring 11 straight points and lead by as much as 40 in the second half before settling on the 93-55 victory to improve to 6-2 on the season ahead of what could be a season-defining match with the Warwick Senators at Warwick Stadium on Sunday.
Perth did well to limit the Redbacks to shooting 2/23 from three-point land on the night while only sending them to the foul line seven times and forcing them into seven turnovers.
Marshall Nelson top-scored for the Redbacks with 18 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists while Caleb White finished with 17 points and three steals, and Ezra Nikora 11 points.
Derek Igbenoba added 11 points and six rebounds too for the Redbacks in just nine minutes while Tevin Jackson had 10 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals, Ethan Vlahov eight points and Kyden Edman six to go with four rebounds.
Bang Majok also had four points, Matt Giorgi three points and an assist, and Michael Riley three rebounds, three assists and a big block.
For the Slammers, Mitch Keller continues to work remarkably hard and had 19 points and 13 rebounds while Brody England had 12 points and six boards.
Then there was Alastair Ishigami-Sims who had 10 points and three steals while Leigh Rickwood-Pitt had four points and four rebounds, and Rhys Barrett four points.
GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 80 defeated JOONDALUP WOLVES 71
The Goldfields Giants have been building nicely through the West Coast Classic and received some reward for that on Saturday night in Kalgoorlie with an impressive win against the Joondalup Wolves.
From the start of the West Coast Classic and when the news dropped they had signed Lee Roberts and Lochlan Cummings to add their group of Seb Salinas, Trian Iliadis, Rob Huntington and Reece Maxwell, the Wolfpack have been seen by many unbackable favourites to go all the way.
There’s no doubt that lack of inside presence on Saturday night at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium in the absence of Huntington and Roberts hurt the Wolves, but let’s not forget this is a remarkably young and experienced, import-less Giants group as well.
The Giants might have been coming off losing twice on the road in Round 4 to Willetton and Cockburn, but they were two impressive performances all the same and that continued back on their home court on Saturday.
A Trian Iliadis triple to close the first quarter helped the Wolves to a 27-20 advantage at quarter-time, but the Giants from there held the visitors to just six second quarter points and put up 18 themselves to head into half-time leading 38-33.
The Wolfpack had closed that gap to a point by three quarter-time, but it was Goldfields who had more left in the tank as they controlled the fourth period with 27 points to 19 to come away with the strong 80-71 victory.
Mayo Malek had another outstanding game for the Giants finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds on 9/13 shooting from the field. Majier Garang worked well again alongside him with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Jerome Reid also had 15 points, five, rebounds, four assists and four steals in an impressive all-round game for Goldfields with Fletcher Klasztorny adding 13 points, three boards and three assists, Damon Ballantyne 13 points and three assists, and Noah Hinkley eight points and five rebounds.
Lochlan Cummings top-scored for the Wolfpack with 16 points and six assists while Reece Maxwell put up 13 points and eight rebounds, Seb Salinas 12 points, three boards and three assists, and Trian Iliadis 11 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Perhaps most impressive was Archie Hall with 13 points and seven rebounds on 6/8 shooting.
ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 45 lost to WILLETTON TIGERS 110
The impressive and winning form of the Willetton Tigers continued on Saturday night as they travelled down to Rockingham and thumped the Flames by 65 points.
The Tigers will be unlucky to not reach finals in the West Coast Classic and they deserve to be considered among the best teams in the competition.
Having lost three games already might mean they just miss out on the top four in a months’ time, but the fact remains that it wouldn’t have taken much to go differently for those losses against Lakeside, Perry Lakes and Perth to have turned into victories.
In fact, the Tigers are the only team yet to really put in a disappointing performance in the West Coast Classic and their consistency deserves to be recognised for the efforts of coach Stephen Black, and a young group led well by Damien Scott, Andrew Black and Lewis Thomas.
Willetton was coming off a good performance to beat East Perth on Friday night and then took advantage of a shorthanded Rockingham on Saturday at Mike Barnett Sports Complex to put in quite the empathic and comprehensive performance.
The Tigers rammed home their advantage early putting up 26 points to 12 in the first quarter. They continued on with it all night with 26 points to 14 in the second, 28 to 10 in the third and 30 to nine in the fourth to end up beating the Flames 110-45.
The final margin of 65 points was the biggest of the night while at one stage the Tigers scored 21 consecutive points while shooting 58 per cent for the night and 44 per cent from three. They also won the rebound battle by 21 and forced Rockingham into 25 turnovers.
Damien Scott put up another 20 points to go with five rebounds and four assists on 8/14 shooting for the Tigers but it was Travis Fee who stole the show with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists while going 10/14 from the floor and 2/3 from three-point land.
Connor Mincherton added 12 points and four assists for Willetton with Lewis Thomas contributing 11 points, four rebounds and three assists, Michael Garbellini 10 points and four assists, Hayden Noordhoek nine points and seven boards, Lachlan Evans eight points and five rebounds, and Andrew Black eight points, four boards and three assists.
It was a tough night for Rockingham in the absence of Ryan Godfrey and Travis Durnin once again. Jackson Hussey finished with 11 points and four rebounds, Josh Mills nine points and Justin Beard nine points, seven boards and two assists.
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 77 defeated COCKBURN COUGARS 65
The tough weekend for the Cockburn Cougars continued on Saturday night at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns showing good signs in a 12-point victory.
The Cougars were once again without Luke Travers, Jaarod Holmes and Seva Chan, but it wasn’t exactly an Eastern Suns opponent full of experienced players either so both teams did appear evenly matched coming into Saturday night.
That’s how it panned out in the first half with the Eastern Suns just up by a point at quarter-time before managing to stretch the advantage to 30-22 by half-time.
The home team then managed to open up a match-winning advantage in the third quarter and would go on a run of scoring 13 consecutive points to lead by as many as 25, before ending up holding on for the 77-65 victory at the end of the contest.
Carl Aylett continued his emergence as an exciting guard of the future for the Eastern Suns delivering 27 points, three rebounds and two assists in the victory for his team.
Ryan Blanchett added 14 points and nine rebounds for Kalamunda, Cooper Lowe 14 points and three boards, and Brendan Dinardo four points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Gavin Field did what he could to keep Cockburn competitive with 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while Kye Chamberlain contributed 11 points, five boards and three assists as he continues to grab his opportunities.
Nathan Pond showed good signs again in the starting role with the big man producing eight points and six rebounds while Matt Clifford had eight points and Jacob Polglase seven to go with two assists.
WARWICK SENATORS 93 defeated PERTH REDBACKS 82
The Warwick Senators might very well be emerging as the team to beat in the West Coast Classic overcoming a slow start against the Perth Redbacks to come away with a strong 93-82 win at Warwick Stadium on Sunday.
Both teams came into the game to close Round 5 in impressive form with the Senators having beaten the Cockburn Cougars by 43 points on Friday night at Wally Hagan Stadium to mean they were on a five-game winning streak.
The Redbacks, too, made it four matches on the trot when they beat the South West Slammers by 38 points on Saturday night at Belmont Oasis setting the stage for a tremendous match up at Warwick Stadium on Sunday.
In the end despite the Redbacks making a flying start with a 33-point first quarter to lead by as much as 16, the Senators worked back into the contest and ended up leading by as many as 14 themselves before settling on the 93-82 victory.
Even though Caleb Davis scored the first basket of the game for the Senators, the Redbacks got off to the quick start and when Tevin Jackson drained a triple, they were up 9-2 before Justin King steadied the home team with a pair of free throws.
But Marshall Nelson hit from downtown to stretch Perth’s lead to 14-4 before he again connected from three-point land to give the Redbacks the early 17-4 advantage.
That became 16 just before the end of the opening period with another three-pointer from Ethan Vlahov before Justin King connected from downtown from the Senators just on quarter-time.
The Redbacks were able to maintain a near double-figure lead for much of the second period and were still up seven with 2:30 to go in the half when Tevin Jackson nailed one from three-point land.
But the Senators kept fighting and had the deficit back to just three at half-time after a late triple from Jay Thwaites.
The Senators then took over in the third quarter and piled on 33 points while holding the Redbacks to 21. They were on top by nine at three quarter-time and then were never seriously threatened in the fourth period despite the best efforts of the Redbacks.
Nelson fouling out didn’t help the cause of the visitors and it was a Cody Ellis triple that staved off any fight back from the Redbacks to steady the Senators to a six-point lead with three minutes to go, and they went on to win by 11.
Justin King had another standout performance for the Senators with 29 points and 15 rebounds while hitting 4/9 from three-point territory.
Caleb Davis added 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Warwick while Cody Ellis contributed 13 points and seven assists, Jay Thwaites seven points and four rebounds, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk six points and six boards, and Ash Litterick six points, three rebounds and three assists.
Despite battling foul trouble and fouling out in the end, Marshall Nelson had 25 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Redbacks while hitting 4/9 from three-point territory.
Tevin Jackson added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists with Joel Wagner contributing 13 points and eight assists.
Caleb White also had 11 points and three rebounds, Ethan Vlahov five points and six rebounds, Dennis Tawhiti four points and four boards, Neema Kazemi three points, and Michael Riley two points and two rebounds.