THE Warwick Senators produced two remarkable comebacks in Round 5 of the West Coast Classic while across the competition we are seeing WNBL stars and rising teenage sensations alike set the court alight.
It was a fascinating Round 5 of action in the Women’s West Coast Classic and it’s hard to go past the Warwick Senators delivering two remarkably similar comebacks against the Cockburn Cougars on Friday and Perth Redbacks on Sunday to go closer to locking in a finals berth.
On Friday night, the Cougars were up 78-63 with six minutes to go before the Senators turned on a 27-5 run inspired by Jayda Clark, Nicole Jorre De St Jorre and finished by Stacey Barr to win 90-83 at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Then on Sunday at Warwick Stadium, the Redbacks found themselves leading the Senators 73-61 with three minutes remaining. But this time Warwick produced a remarkable 20-4 run with Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard, De St Jorre, Tayla Hepburn and Barr at the centre of it.
The Senators won 81-77 to improve to 4-1 on the season but that was just the start of what made it such an intriguing weekend in the West Coast Classic.
The round got underway with three more matches on Friday night with the Lakeside Lightning needing 31 points and 14 rebounds from Ash Isenbarger to overcome the South West Slammers 77-58 at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The Willetton Tigers also won a tight one against the East Perth Eagles 78-72 at Herb Graham Recreation Centre while the Perry Lakes Hawks handed the Rockingham Flames their first West Coast Classic loss, winning 84-73 at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Not only was it Rockingham’s first defeat of the West Coast Classic, but the first loss for the Flames since July 5 last year against the Mandurah Magic.
Then on Saturday night, the Perth Redbacks won big to remain undefeated at Belmont Oasis winning 111-34 over the South West Slammers.
The Rockingham Flames bounced back to beat the Willetton Tigers 86-79 at Mike Barnett Sports Complex with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns continuing their impressive form, beating the Cockburn Cougars 90-53 at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Following five rounds of the West Coast Classic with four weeks to go before the top four teams play finals, it’s the Joondalup Wolves (5-0) still undefeated on top ahead of the Rockingham Flames (5-1), Warwick Senators (4-1) and Kalamunda Eastern Suns (4-1).
The Perry Lakes Hawks (5-2) are just outside the top four followed by the Lakeside Lightning (4-2), Perth Redbacks (5-3), Mandurah Magic (2-4), Willetton Tigers (2-5), East Perth Eagles (1-6), Cockburn Cougars (1-6) and South West Slammers (0-7).
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN’S ROUND 5
SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 58 lost to LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 77
The South West Slammers delivered a strong competitive showing on their home court on Friday night but in the end Ash Isenbarger and Lakeside Lightning did enough for the 19-point victory.
The Slammers are able to field a stronger line-up for home games in this West Coast Classic and that produced a competitive showing on Friday against the Lightning at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The job for the Slammers became that much harder, though, when Lakeside shot out of the blocks and scored the game’s opening eight points with the first three to Courtney Mansfield and next five to Ellyce Ironmonger.
Javene Fitch got South West on the board after three minutes but Lakeside still went on to lead 22-10 by quarter-time.
However, to the credit of the Slammers they were working their way into the game well and stuck with the Lightning during the second period.
Lakeside did pull away again in the third quarter with 17 points to seven but South West would have been buoyed by their fourth stanza performance to outscore the Lightning 20 points to 15 with the Lightning going on to win 77-58 and bounce back from their losses to Rockingham and Kalamunda.
Ash Isenbarger has had a scintillating West Coast Classic to date and it remains one of the great mysteries that she isn’t signed to a WNBL club for the 2020/21 season. She delivered another 31 points and 14 rebounds on 10/16 shooting from the floor and 9/9 from the foul line.
Ellyce Ironmonger also had 11 points and four rebounds for Lakeside with Mia Jacobs contributing 11 points and 10 boards, Courtney Mansfield 10 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals, and Kyrah Daniels nine points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Courtney Bayliss went 5/11 from three-point land for the Slammers to score 15 points with Javene Fitch contributing 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Shannon Verhagen also had eight points and three boards for South West, Bianca Donovan six points and six rebounds, Zaya Black six points and five assists, and Skye Palmer five points and two boards.
COCKBURN COUGARS 83 lost to WARWICK SENATORS 90
The Cockburn Cougars had broken through for their first West Coast Classic win and the Warwick Senators had two weeks to think about their first loss setting up an intriguing contest at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The Cougars broke through to beat the East Perth Eagles the previous Friday while the Senators lost two weeks ago to the Joondalup Wolves and hadn’t played since coming into this contest.
It was all the Senators early with Stacey Barr opening the game with an and-one and then Chloe Forster knocked down back-to-back three-pointers.
Haylee De Sousa steadied the Cougars with her own triple and when she knocked down another followed by Nicole Pitcher and Tia Morgan following suit, they had turned things right around to lead 26-21 by the end of the first.
Cockburn’s lead quickly became 10 to start the second quarter with Tahlia Fejo and Tia Morgan combining for the first five points before Barr and Nicole Jorre De St Jorre put together five quick points for Warwick.
The hot shooting of the Cougars continued right up until half-time, though, and they went into the break up 48-43.
By the time Jodee Sontay knocked down a mid-range jumper with seven minutes to go in the game, the Cougars were up 78-63 and appeared on track for back-to-back victories.
The Senators then delivered a stunning performance, though, beginning with eight straight points from Jayda Clark including two massive triples.
Nicole Jorre De St Jorre then connected from deep as well and all of a sudden with five minutes remaining it was only a four-point ball game.
De St Jorre then brought the Senators back within two and then after a score from Morgan for Cockburn, the 397-game SBL veteran brought Warwick back within one by hitting another triple.
It was De St Jorre once more who gave the Senators the lead with a jumper with the foot on the line before Barr finished the job for the visitors with a three-point play and some more free-throws as they finished on a stunning 27-5 run over the final seven minutes.
Stacey Barr delivered another 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Senators but it was the help she received that was particularly exciting.
Chloe Forster started on fire and finished with 17 points and three rebounds while Jayda Clark was huge in the fightback for 10 points, three assists and two boards.
Tayla Hepburn was an imposing presence inside with 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks with Nicole Jorre De St Jorre contributing 15 points, 11 boards and four assists.
Despite the way the game ended, there was plenty to like from a Cougars point of view with Tia Morgan their star of the night with 17 points and seven rebounds while hitting 4/10 from three-point territory.
Haylee De Sousa put up 15 points and two assists as well for Cockburn, Tahlia Fejo 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, Jodee Sontay eight points and seven boards, and Matilda Muir eight points and six rebounds in her first appearance of the West Coast Classic.
EAST PERTH EAGLES 72 lost to WILLETTON TIGERS 78
East Perth and Willetton were hunting their second victories of the West Coast Classic on Friday night and it was the Tigers who prevailed in a tight affair by six points.
The Eagles and Tigers are both putting out teams with an eye to the future and that set the stage for an intriguing contest at Herb Graham Recreation Centre on Friday night.
Willetton came out on fire with Hayley Winter scoring the opening five points of the game before Taryn Priestly and Desiree Kelley turned that into a 10-1 start.
East Perth had worked back into the contest, though, by quarter-time to cut Willetton’s lead to just three.
The Tigers remained on top, though, and by half-time had extended their advantage to nine points and then by three quarter-time it was 11.
The Eagles refused to go away, though, and with three minutes to go following a pair of free throws to Bree Fisher, it was just a two-point ball game. Jade Gowland then hit two free throws as well and scores were all locked away.
Willetton went back on top thanks to Imogen Ayliffe before a Priestly free-throw stretched the advantage to three. Winter then sealed the deal for the Tigers with a layup after capitalising on a bad Eagles pass before locking away the 78-72 win at the charity stripe.
Hayley Winter was tremendous for the Tigers finishing with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Desiree Kelley also had 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Tigers, Imogen Ayliffe 10 points and nine boards, Abbey Martin eight points and three rebounds, Sophie Doran seven points and Sophie Maines seven points, five boards, three assists and three steals.
Eryn Fisher was outstanding for the Eagles with 18 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three steals while Jade Gowland finished with 17 points and seven boards, and Bree Fisher 15 points and three assists on 3/6 shooting from downtown.
PERRY LAKES HAWKS 84 defeated ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 73
Perry Lakes hosting Rockingham always loomed as the game of the round in the West Coast Classic and it didn’t disappoint with the Hawks handing the reigning SBL champions their first loss in almost 14 months.
With the Lady Hawks coming into the game with a 4-2 record and on a four-game winning run while the Flames had won their opening five matches in the West Coast Classic, Bendat Basketball Centre was the stage for the contest ahead.
Perry Lakes started well going up 7-3 after a triple from Madeleine Dennis but Rockingham hit the next eight points to set the tone for a hot opening quarter which ended up with Hawks leading 30-27 despite a late and-one play for the Flames from Ariana Hetherington.
The Hawks then still led 53-47 by half-time and put together a match-winning third quarter scoring 16 points themselves and holding the Flames to just six.
Rockingham never gave up the fight but Perry Lakes held on for the 84-73 victory to continue their impressive form and hand the Flames their first defeat since July 5 last year.
After losing to the Mandurah Magic on that night, Rockingham went on to win their last four games of the regular season, all five matches in the finals on the way to the championship and now the opening five games of the West Coast Classic to have been on a 14-game winning streak.
Sydney Uni Flames WNBL signing Nat Burton was again outstanding for Perry Lakes with 23 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists while Madeleine Dennis finished with 19 points, eight boards and four assists.
Sarah Donovan delivered 14 points and six rebounds while Nikita Martin had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Lady Hawks.
Tayah Burrows was a standout again for the Flames putting up another 20 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.
Christina Boag added 18 points, five rebounds and four steals with Paris Duffield contributing 12 points and four rebounds on shooting 4/8 from three-point territory.
PERTH REDBACKS 111 defeated SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 34
The Perth Redbacks continued their charge towards the West Coast Classic top four on Saturday night setting up a tantalising Sunday against the Warwick Senators, but the growth continues for a remarkably young South West Slammers.
The Slammers always appeared to be the team hardest hit in terms of the personnel they would have had for the 2020 SBL season back starting in March and now for the West Coast Classic beginning in July.
The results might suggest that the case too including Saturday night’s 111-34 victory over them for the Perth Redbacks at Belmont Oasis, but this is about building for the future at the Slammers. And if that’s the case, the future looks bright.
The fact that young ladies now aged 15, 16, 17 and 18 are getting the chance to play on one weekend against the likes of Courtney Mansfield, Ellyce Ironmonger and Ash Isenbarger from the Lakeside Lightning, and Maddie Allen and Jess Jakens from the Perth Redbacks is remarkable.
That would have never happened, at least in meaningful minutes for most of the young Slammers including Zaya Black, Catherine Waycott, Skye Palmer, Shannon Verhagen, Chloe Scott, Anita Reca and Alyssa Liddelow from Saturday night.
Nobody enjoys losing and there was plenty to be impressed about with the Redbacks in their win with Maddie Allen producing a triple-double, but for Slammers coach Nathan Grover it’s all about the bigger picture.
After scores were tied at 2-2, the Redbacks took over beginning with a triple from Bri Bailey. She added another soon after to make it 12-2 after four minutes.
Former Redback Bianca Donovan did hit a triple of her own to try and steady the Slammers, but Maddie Allen then scored inside out of a timeout and then heading towards quarter-time Ella Thornton-Elliott drained a triple to put the home team up 17.
Chanah Crugnale made it 19 and the Redbacks went on to lead 35-10 by the end of the first.
Brooke Malone opened the second period knocking down a three and then after Ebony Bilcich scored for the Slammers, the Redbacks went on a 19-0 run to see them lead 57-12 before a steadying bucket for the visitors from Zaya Black.
However, the Redbacks responded with the last six points of the quarter to up 29 to four for the period to lead 64-14 by half-time.
From there, the Redbacks cruised to the victory with another 24 points to 11 in the third quarter, and 23 to nine in the fourth to end up winning 111-34.
There was plenty to like from the performance of the Redbacks with the coaching job done by Michelle Fletcher for the game.
Shenae Hartree ended up top-scoring with 16 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals while Jess Jakens had another 15 points, four boards and three assists while only playing 19 minutes.
Bri Bailey put up 14 points as well with Ella Thornton-Elliott contributing 14 points, five rebounds and three steals, Brooke Malone 14 points and nine boards, and Maddie Allen 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a stunning triple-double racked up in under 21 minutes.
Chanah Crugnale also scored nine points, three rebounds and two steals for the Redbacks, Denielle Lipscombe seven points, eight rebounds and four assists, Brooke Rebel six points and five boards, Nakia Bowen two points, two rebounds and two assists, Mckayhla Pomare two points and two assists, and Sarah Allen one point, two rebounds and a steal.
But for the Slammers, Ebony Bilcich produced 11 points and four rebounds. All the more impressive considering she played a WAFL Women’s game earlier in the day for Peel Thunder.
Bianca Donovan added seven points, Zaya Black six points and four rebounds, and Catherine Waycott five points, four boards and two steals.
ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 86 defeated WILLETTON TIGERS 79
Rockingham and Willetton both backed up playing on Friday night by taking on one another at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday.
The Flames had suffered their first loss the previous evening away to the Perry Lakes Hawks while the Tigers had beaten the East Perth Eagles so it was always going to be a closer than perhaps anticipated contest.
Little separated the two teams most of the evening too with Rockingham at one stage going on an 11-0 run to lead by 11 points while the Tigers did lead by five points at one stage after scoring eight straight.
But in the end the class of Tayah Burrows and shooting of Paris Duffield proved the difference with the Flames going on to win 86-79 and consolidate their position inside the West Coast Classic top four and respond well to the defeat the previous night.
Burrows continued her brilliant form for the Flames with another 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to only fall just short of a triple-double from the 18-year-old point guard. She shot the ball well too with 7/12 from the field, 3/6 from deep and 10/10 from the foul line.
Paris Duffield is enjoying her increased role in the West Coast Classic and was given the green light to shoot by coach Keegan Crawford. She jacked up 17 threes and made seven on the way to 22 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists for the night.
Lily Fitzgerald also had 11 points for Rockingham with Christina Boag delivering 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals, and Ariana Hetherington seven points and seven assists.
Hayley Winter backed up her strong game on Friday for Willetton with another 19 points, five rebounds and four assists with Abbey Martin adding 15 points, two boards and two dimes.
Desiree Kelley also had 12 points, three rebounds and three steals for the Tigers, Emma Gandini eight points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Imogen Ayliffe continued to impress with another seven points and 10 rebounds.
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 90 defeated COCKBURN COUGARS 53
The Kalamunda Eastern Suns continued to impress in the West Coast Classic with another big win over the Cockburn Cougars on their home floor on Saturday night.
With Jessie Edwards and Jewel Williams continuing to lead the way, the Eastern Suns consolidated their spot in the West Coast Classic top four with the big win over the Cougars at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The Cougars were coming off an impressive showing at home to the Warwick Senators on Friday night before losing narrowly, but they couldn’t maintain the rage 24 hours later up against the fresh Suns.
The Eastern Suns put the gap between themselves and the Cougars during the second with 32 points to 11 and went on to lead 51-26 by half-time before going on to record the 90-53 victory and improve to 4-1 after five rounds of the West Coast Classic.
The shooting differences told the story of the game with the Eastern Suns going 37/82 for 45 per cent from the floor, 14/34 at 41 per cent from three-point land. The Cougars went 16/68 at 23 per cent and 3/24 at 12 per cent.
Surprisingly the Cougars did get to the line 26 times to just seven from Kalamunda but it wasn’t enough.
Jessie Edwards almost produced a triple-double for Kalamunda finishing the evening with 18 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and two steals on 8/13 shooting.
Jewel Williams also had 19 rebounds, five assists and four rebounds while shooting 3/6 from the land of plenty. Beige Harris was another to impress with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Alecia Knowles added 14 points and six rebounds, Denae Civich nine points, Lizel Buckley nine points and six rebounds, and Hannah Swarbrick eight points, three rebounds, and three assists.
Kirsty Pitcher top-scored for Cockburn with 10 points and four rebounds while Haylee De Sousa added nine points and 11 boards, Tahlia Fejo six points and three steals, Jodee Sontay six points and two boards, and Tia Morgan six points and two rebounds.
WARWICK SENATORS 81 defeated PERTH REDBACKS 77
For the second time this weekend the Warwick Senators have delivered a stunning fourth quarter comeback to remain entrenched in the West Coast Classic top four, this time at home to the Perth Redbacks on Sunday.
The Senators found themselves 15 points down with seven minutes remaining on Friday night against the Cockburn Cougars at Wally Hagan Stadium. That game looked over at that point with Cockburn looking on track to secure the upset win on their home floor.
But nobody told the Senators that and last year’s SBL Grand Finalists delivered a simply remarkable comeback kick started by eight straight points by rising star Jayda Clark.
Nicole Jorre De St Jorre then went on an eight-point scoring spree too before reigning MVP Stacey Barr took over to deliver the Senators the 90-83 victory on the back of finishing the game with a 27-5 scoring run in the space of seven minutes.
To think they could do something twice in the one weekend ahead of hosting the Redbacks at Warwick Stadium on Sunday did seem a stretch though.
The Sunday contest to close Round 5 in the West Coast Classic always shaped as being a fascinating affair and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Senators had improved to 3-1 on the back of their win on Friday while the Redbacks remained undefeated at home after beating the South West Slammers on Saturday night by 77 points to improve to 5-2 and be knocking on the door of the top four.
Warwick threatened to open a handy gap in the first quarter with Jayda Clark putting the home team up 15-9 before Shenae Hartree responded for the Redbacks with a three-pointer.
Things remained tight with the Senators a point up by quarter-time before Jess Jakens gave the Redbacks the early lead in the second period. She scored again to put her side up by three before Maddie Allen made it five.
The Redbacks were building momentum with Jakens putting them up seven before a three-point play from Allen made it eight shortly before half-time. By the main break, the Redbacks had done well to lead 42-34 after Hartree converted the and-one.
The lead for the Redbacks was then out to 10 early in the second half with Jakens scoring another bucket and by three quarter-time they did remain in control leading 62-53.
When Maddie Allen hit four quick points for the Redbacks midway through the fourth quarter to have them leading 70-58 with 5:45 to go, they appeared on target for the win.
But the scene was set remarkably similar to Friday night for the Senators only this time on their home floor.
The first sign of the fight back began with a Jayda Clark triple except that was immediately answered by Bri Bailey to keep Perth up 12 with under four minutes left.
This time it was Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard who firstly scored from inside and then from beyond the arc to make it a seven-point game.
Turnovers were stopping the Redbacks even getting shots off at the other end and when Nicole Jorre De St Jorre connected from deep, the Senators were down just one and there was less than two minutes now to go.
Ultimately the game then went the way of the Senators for good when Stacey Barr hit a triple from way downtown as the shot clock was expiring, and then a foul was called under the basket on Redbacks veteran Denielle Lipscombe.
Clearly the Redbacks didn’t like the crucial call, but it sent Clark to the foul line where she made both and put the Senators up five and they went on to win 81-77.
Stacey Barr finished the afternoon with another 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Senators with rising star Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard brilliant with 19 points, 11 boards and three assists while hitting 4/7 from deep.
Tayla Hepburn battled hard for 12 points and four rebounds with Jayda Clark huge in the fight back again for 12 points and six boards.
Nicole Jorre De St Jorre continues to be a brilliant leader too with seven points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds.
Meanwhile for the Redbacks, Maddie Allen backed up her triple-double from the night before by delivering another 18 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots.
Jess Jakens was outstanding too for the Redbacks with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists while Shenae Hartree finished with 16 points and five boards.
Bri Bailey continues to impress as point guard too and had 12 points, five assists and four rebounds with Denielle Lipscombe adding nine points and eight rebounds.