JACKSON Hussey set it up with a 30-point first half and then the Rockingham Flames held off the expected charge from the Joondalup Wolves to score a West Coast Classic win on Saturday night that breaks the whole competition wide open.
All of a sudden after Saturday night’s 82-76 victory for Rockingham, both the Flames and Wolfpack find themselves outside of the top four in the West Coast Classic at the end of Round 6.
With three rounds remaining, there are eight teams that you would say remain realistic chances of reaching the top four in the West Coast Classic having lost four games or less over the opening six weeks.
It was Saturday night’s game between Rockingham and Joondalup at Mike Barnett Sports Complex that really broke things open with the six-point win for the Flames meaning they kept their hopes alive while certainly leaving the Wolves with no guarantees of making it.
And it was a former Wolves star that had a night out. Jackson Hussey has had a scintillating West Coast Classic so far for the Flames but he took things up another gear on Saturday night in the continued absence of Ryan Godfrey who had courtside seats to the show.
Hussey already had 30 points by half-time with Rockingham setting up the win leading 45-32. He added another 15 points in the second half but it was his teammates who stood tall as the Wolfpack understandably focused their defence on Hussey.
But the Wolves were always going to make a charge and they did close to within a point with a minute remaining after a three to Trian Iliadis. But it wasn’t to be with Justin Beard answering in kind for Rockingham to leave the Flames at 5-4 with three rounds remaining while the Wolves are 6-3.
The Flames returned home to Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday night coming off a disappointing 65-point loss on the same floor the previous Saturday night to the Willetton Tigers.
They were still without Ryan Godfrey but regained Travis Durnin but taking down the Wolfpack was always going to be a challenge with the visitors having looked good in beating the Perry Lakes Hawks the previous evening despite having lost two of their last three games.
The Wolfpack were still without Lee Roberts but had Rob Huntington back, but this would be a night remembered for Jackson Hussey delivering a stunning performance for the Flames.
That was despite the Wolfpack starting well and leading 12-6 after five minutes on the back of consecutive triples from Lochlan Cummings.
Brendan Redhead came on for Rockingham and sparked their charge with a triple before Hussey began to take over. He put up 13 straight points for the Flames and then Redhead hit another three to put the home team on top 24-22 after one.
Hussey was feeling it like few players can and with his quickness, confidence and athleticism, he proved impossible for the Wolves to stop in the mood he was in.
Whether taking it to the rack and either finishing inside or getting to the foul line, or hitting pull up jumpers at will, it was a sight to behold and by the time he had 30 points at half-time, the Flames rode his performance to a 45-32 lead at the half.
Rockingham had finished the half on a 12-0 run with the Wolves scoreless over the final four minutes.
Hussey added another 10 points and a couple of assists in the third quarter and the Flames maintained their edge to head into the fourth still leading 65-51.
The Wolfpack were always going to make a charge and the fightback began with a Trian Iliadis triple with seven minutes to go. Lochlan Cummings hit another three-pointer and it was a nine-point game before Cummings made five straight free-throws to bring the deficit back to four.
Travis Durnin made a strong bucket inside to steady Rockingham but the Wolves were warming up and closed to one with Seb Salinas knocking one down from deep with just under four minutes left.
Hussey steadied the Flames with a jumper before Justin Beard made a huge three for the home team.
However, once more the Wolfpack got back within one thanks to an Iliadis three-pointer but Beard answered in kind and from there the Flames went on to win 82-76.
It was a dynamic performance from Jackson Hussey to lead the Flames to the win that keeps their West Coast Classic alive. He finished with 45 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals on shooting 16/27 from the floor, 3/4 from three-point range and 10/13 from the charity stripe.
Justin Beard hit two massive threes late for Rockingham on his way to 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals while Travis Durnin added nine points, nine boards, three steals, three blocked shots and two assists.
Brendan Redhead hit those two early threes for six points as well while Luke Roberts had an eventful night blowing some wide open layups and dishing out some turnovers, but scoring some huge buckets and playing strong defence as well for five points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Lochlan Cummings ended the evening in Rockingham with 27 points and seven rebounds for the Wolfpack on 9/25 shooting from the field and 3/14 from three-point territory.
Trian Iliadis put up 18 points and five rebounds for the Wolves as well while Seb Salinas had 11 points and eight boards, Rob Huntington eight points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Reece Maxwell seven points, six boards, six assists and two steals.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN
Perth Redbacks 90 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 63
South West Slammers 57 lost to Willetton Tigers 81
Joondalup Wolves 85 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 77
Geraldton Buccaneers 77 defeated Cockburn Cougars 63
Goldfields Giants 67 defeated Lakeside Lightning 58
Mandurah Magic 73 lost to Warwick Senators 93
Perry Lakes Hawks 110 defeated East Perth Eagles 104
Rockingham Flames 82 defeated Joondalup Wolves 76
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 73 lost to South West Slammers 74