IT was perhaps the most exciting and unpredictable weekend in the West Coast Classic yet in Round 6 with big wins for the Willetton Tigers, Perth Redbacks and Goldfields Giants to keep them alive while Jackson Hussey delivered 45 points at the expense of the Joondalup Wolves as well.
Suddenly with Hussey leading the Rockingham Flames to a win against the Wolfpack in Rockingham on Saturday night, not only did he keep the Flames a chance to play finals but it means the Wolves have plenty of work to do over the last three weeks if they want to play finals.
The race for spots in the West Coast Classic top four is now heating up like never before and with one team with just the one loss, two more with two losses, three with three losses and another two with four, there are eight teams still with a realistic shot of making it.
Round 6 in the West Coast Classic got underway on Friday night with the Joondalup Wolves scoring a crucial 85-77 win against the Perry Lakes Hawks at HBF Arena.
The Perth Redbacks also kept their finals hopes alive and remained unbeaten at Belmont Oasis beating the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 90-63 while the Willetton Tigers defeated the South West Slammers 81-57 at Eaton Recreation Centre.
Then on Saturday night, the Geraldton Buccaneers continued their improved form at home beating the Cockburn Cougars 77-63 at Active West Stadium while the Goldfields Giants remained hot at home too downing the Lakeside Lightning 67-58 at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.
The Warwick Senators kept winnings as well beating the Mandurah Magic 93-73 at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre while the Rockingham Flames stunning the Joondalup Wolves on the back of Jackson Hussey to win 82-76 at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
Perry Lakes and the East Perth Eagles played out a high-scoring thriller as well at Bendat Basketball Centre with the Hawks prevailing 110-104 and then the South West Slammers scored the stunning 74-73 victory against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Following six rounds of the West Coast Classic, that leaves the Warwick Senators (7-1) in top spot just ahead of the Perry Lakes Hawks (8-2) and Lakeside Lightning (6-2) while the Perth Redbacks (7-3) round out the top four.
The Willetton Tigers (6-3) are now in fifth position ahead of the Joondalup Wolves (6-3), Rockingham Flames (5-4), Goldfields Giants (4-4), Geraldton Buccaneers (3-6), Cockburn Cougars (3-6), Kalamunda Eastern Suns (2-7), East Perth Eagles (2-7), South West Slammers (2-7) and Mandurah Magic (1-7).
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN’S ROUND 6
JOONDALUP WOLVES 85 defeated PERRY LAKES HAWKS 77
One of the richest recent rivalries was renewed at HBF Arena on Friday night and the Joondalup Wolves produced a stirring fight back to beat the Perry Lakes Hawks 85-77.
On the same court where the Wolfpack advanced to last year’s Grand Final in the SBL after winning a thrilling semi-final Game 2 against the Hawks on the back of Perry Lakes beating Joondalup in the Grand Final of 2018, there was no love lost when they again locked horns on Friday night.
There was plenty at stake too with the Wolves coming into the game at 5-2 and having lost two of their last three games while the Hawks were 7-1 and on a five-match winning streak.
Little then separated the two teams throughout the first half with the Wolfpack up one at quarter-time and then leading 41-37 by half-time.
But the Hawks got firing during the third quarter and when Mitch Clarke knocked down consecutive threes midway through, the visitors were up by four and then seven when he also delivered an and-one play.
Ryan Smith then put up nine points in the last four minutes of the third quarter and Perry Lakes had scored 31 points for the period to head into three quarter-time leading 68-60.
But after Reece Maxwell and Trian Iliadis got the Wolves back into the game to start the fourth quarter, Seb Salinas drained a three to tie scores up with five minutes to go.
From there the Wolfpack outscored the Hawks 15 points to seven to end up winning 85-77 and improve to 6-2 in the West Coast Classic with the Hawks 7-2.
Seb Salinas and Trian Iliadis put up 15 points apiece for the Wolfpack combining to shoot 6/15 from three-point territory with Lochlan Cummings contributing 19 points and four assists with 3/5 shooting from three-point territory before earning a second tech foul.
Reece Maxwell also had 14 points and eight rebounds for Joondalup while Rob Huntington returned with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
Ryan Smith top-scored for Perry Lakes with 17 points and seven rebounds on 3/6 shooting from three-point land.
Mitch Clarke added 16 points and three assists, Ben Purser 14 points and five rebounds, Cooper Hamilton 10 points and three boards, and Rob Cassir 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
PERTH REDBACKS 90 defeated KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 63
The Perth Redbacks overcame a slow start and an early scare on Friday night from the Kalamunda Eastern Suns to dominate the last 25 minutes of the game after being outplayed for the first 15 to stay in the finals race.
With all the youthful energy in the world and a nothing to lose attitude against a Redbacks team who knew they needed to win their final home game at Belmont Oasis of the season to stay in the finals race, the Eastern Suns turned the heat back on the home team.
The Suns shot out of the blocks quickly and delivered some exciting basketball over the first 15 minutes of the game, but Mark Utley’s young team couldn’t keep it going and the Redbacks’ class and experience came to the fore the longer the game went on.
From the moment Eastern Suns veteran Corey Easley knocked down a triple three minutes into the second quarter to give the visitors a 35-27 advantage, it was all Redbacks.
The Redbacks outscored the Suns 63 points to 28 the rest of the way to end up heading into half-time leading 50-41 having closed the first half on a 23-6 run including a three from Marshall Nelson on the buzzer.
Perth kept it going in the second half to outscore Kalamunda 40 points 22 to end up winning 90-63 and to maintain their hopes of taking part in the finals of the West Coast Classic.
The Redbacks have now gone through the season undefeated in their home games at Belmont Oasis with them now holding a 7-3 record ahead of finishing on the road against the Rockingham Flames, Goldfields Giants and Lakeside Lightning.
The Eastern Suns now have a short turnaround before heading home on Saturday to Ray Owen Sports Centre to host the South West Slammers.
The Suns made a flying start to the game with consecutive three-pointers from Corey Easley before Brendan Dinardo also scored to put them up 8-2. That became 11-4 after a Carl Aylett three-point play, and then 16-9 when Ryan Blanchett also converted an and-one.
Kalamunda still led 26-22 at the end of the first quarter and then Aylett knocked down two more triples to start the second period to keep the Eastern Suns up seven.
They were still up eight when Easley hit another three with seven minutes to go in the half and that’s when the Redbacks got rolling.
Ethan Vlahov sparked thing for the home team knocking down a triple and when Marshall Nelson threw one down on the pass from Joel Wagner, scores were all tied.
Then all of a sudden with Nelson nailing a buzzer-beating three on half-time the Redbacks were on fire having turned that eight-point deficit into a nine-point lead by the main break.
The Redbacks had their tails up by that point and then there was no stopping them in the second half as they put up 22 points to 11 in the third quarter, another 18 to 11 in the fourth to come away with the commanding 90-63 victory.
Caleb White produced another impressively efficient performance for the Redbacks with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals on shooting 8/10 from the field, 2/3 from deep and 5/5 from the foul line.
Marshall Nelson delivered another 15 points, six rebounds and four assists with Tevin Jackson adding 13 points, three boards and three steals, and captain Joel Wagner 11 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals.
Michael Riley was impressive for 10 points and five rebounds with Ethan Vlahov contributing five points and five boards, and Kyden Edman five points, two boards and two assists.
Dual championship winning guard Brendan Dinardo put up 15 points, five rebounds and four assists for Kalamunda with Carl Aylett contributing 11 points and four boards, and Corey Easley 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Ryan Blanchett added nine points and 10 rebounds for the Eastern Suns, and Cooper Lowe seven points and five rebounds.
SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 57 lost to WILLETTON TIGERS 81
The Willetton Tigers continued their impressive West Coast Classic form with a 24-point win over the South West Slammers at Eaton Recreation Centre on Friday night.
Suddenly reaching the top four is a definite possibility for the Tigers in the West Coast Classic and it’s difficult to argue they wouldn’t be deserving should they make it given how consistent they have been the whole way through.
Willetton now holds a 6-3 record following the win against the Slammers but it could so easily be even better than that after they lost in Round 1 to Lakeside after being on top most of the way, then lost in overtime to Perry Lakes and lost to Perth with a Marshall Nelson three-pointer on the buzzer.
So really it wouldn’t have taken much to go differently for the Tigers to be 9-0 right now in the West Coast Classic but they are 6-3 in fifth position and a chance still to reach the finals with games against the Senators, Buccaneers, Cougars and Wolves remaining over the final three rounds.
It did take a while, though, on Friday night for the Tigers to break away from the young and emerging Slammers.
Willetton only managed to lead by three points at three quarter-time and nine at half-time before the Tigers were able to break the game open in the third period with 20 points to nine.
From there the Tigers did end up winning 81-57 to continue their strong season but there was still plenty to take encouragement from for Mark Worthington and the Slammers.
There were plenty of impressive performances from Willetton players too including 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals from Hayden Noordhoek.
Connor Mincherton also put up 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals while Lewis Thomas contributed 13 points and seven boards, Michael Garbellini 10 points and six rebounds, and Travis Fee eight points, six boards, three assists and two steals.
Brody England finished with 13 points for the Slammers with Mitch Keller delivering another 10 points and 13 rebounds while Leigh Rickwood-Pitt had eight points and three boards, and Cody Richardson eight points and four rebounds.
GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 77 defeated COCKBURN COUGARS 63
The Geraldton Buccaneers have rallied after a challenging couple of weeks to be now playing some good basketball on their home floor which included a 14-point win over the Cockburn Cougars on Saturday night.
The Buccs had a challenging start to the West Coast Classic with the opening six games on the road and then losing Jesse Hunt to Europe and Liam Hunt to injury.
They won just one of those six matches and then lost their first game in Geraldton by 48 points to the Warwick Senators, but since then the reigning SBL champions have got things back on track.
Even without Aaron Ralph last week, Mat Wundenberg led the Buccaneers to a win over the Mandurah Magic and they backed it up this Saturday night to end up beating the Cougars 77-63 at Active West Stadium.
Led by veterans Wundenberg, Ralph and Carter Cook along with the ever-emerging Brayden Inger and then behind them Xavier Shaw, River Joseph, Georgie Murray and Will Galvin, and it’s a handy Buccs group now that coach Dayle Joseph has to work with.
The results are now starting to come and unfortunately for Cockburn, they are just struggling for manpower and while this week they welcomed back Jaarod Holmes and Seva Chan, they were without Gavin Field and Luke Travers for the trip to Geraldton.
The Buccs started strongly on the back of last week’s win over the Magic and led 22-13 by quarter-time. The home team continued with the momentum to score another 29 points to 19 in the second term to head into half-time leading the Cougars 51-32.
The Buccaneers did blow the game open going on a 14-0 run and led by as much as 22 points before a more even second half with the Buccs going on to record the 77-63 victory.
Aaron Ralph delivered another 16 points and 12 rebounds for Geraldton while Carter Cook had 15 points and five assists.
Xavier Shaw produced 11 points and five rebounds with Johny Narkle contributing 10 points, six boards, five steals and three assists, Mat Wundenberg nine points and 14 rebounds, and Brayden Inger nine points, eight boards, five assists and two steals.
Jaarod Holmes put up 16 points and four assists for the Cougars while Zac Watkinson finished with 11 points and four rebounds, Seva Chan nine points and six assists, and Hayden Bell nine points and three assists.
MANDURAH MAGIC 73 lost to WARWICK SENATORS 93
The Warwick Senators went down to Mandurah on Saturday night and continued their hot form to move to top spot in the West Coast Classic with a 20-point win against the Magic.
The Senators headed to Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre already on a six-game winning streak ahead of taking on a Magic team returning from a loss in Geraldton the previous weekend.
With Warwick having lost just once and Mandurah having just the one win meant the job was ahead of the Magic to make it a contest and that’s how it panned out with the Senators proving too strong even with missing Caleb Davis, Justin King, Alier Riak, Ngor Manyang and Corban Wroe.
The Senators shot out of the blocks putting up 33 points in the first quarter to be up by 20 by quarter-time. Even though the Magic did well to stem the tide and hit back in the second term, Warwick was still up 43-36 by half-time.
The Senators were then able to maintain control throughout the second half outscoring the Magic 50 points to 34 to end up leading by as much as 23 points before settling on the 93-73 win to make it seven wins in succession to improve to a 7-1 record in the West Coast Classic.
Ash Litterick top-scored for the Senators with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals on 9/12 shooting from the floor.
Cody Ellis finished with 19 points and five rebounds too for Warwick with Wani Swaka Lo Buluk adding 15 points, five boards and five assists, Jay Thwaites 14 points and six rebounds, and Isaac Campion 14 points and four boards.
Aaron Kearing finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for Mandurah with Chad Simpson adding 15 points and three boards, Tom Atkinson 13 points and five rebounds, and Riley Parker 12 points and two boards.
GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 67 defeated LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 58
The Goldfields Giants continued their hot form in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night beating the Lakeside Lightning to keep their outside hopes of reaching the finals in the West Coast Classic alive.
When the Giants lost their opening game of the West Coast Classic by 48 points to the Warwick Senators, it looked like it might have been a long competition for Wayne Creek and his team.
But ever since then they have been impressive and that continued against the Lightning on Saturday night at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.
After that rude introduction to the West Coast Classic, the Giants played well the next day to lose narrowly to Perry Lakes before returning home to record home wins against Kalamunda and Rockingham.
The Giants then lost two tight road games to Willetton and Cockburn back in Round 4 but the performances were encouraging and then last week they beat the Joondalup Wolves in Kalgoorlie to be full of confidence ahead of hosting Lakeside this Saturday night.
Lakeside arrived on a three-game winning streak but were without Jay Bowie, Jack Isenbarger, Corey Shervill, Rowan Mackenzie and Michael Vigor, and the Giants took full advantage to deliver a strong showing.
The Giants started strongly with 19 points to 12 in the opening quarter but the Lightning hit back in the second to put up 26 points and head into half-time leading narrowly 38-37.
Scores were all tied then heading into the fourth quarter but Goldfields finished strongly with 19 points to 10 in the fourth quarter to come away with the 67-58 win to remain undefeated so far in Kalgoorlie during the West Coast Classic.
Majier Garang delivered another 14 points, 14 rebounds and five steals for the Giants with Mayo Malek also finishing with 10 points, seven boards and two steals.
Fletcher Klasztorny contributed 17 points, five assists and four rebounds, Jerome Reid 13 points, five boards and four assists, and Damon Ballantyne 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
New Perth Wildcats development player Andrew Ferguson produced 24 points and eight rebounds for Lakeside with Byron Pearson contributing nine points and seven boards, and Liam Hislop nine points and seven rebounds.
ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 82 defeated JOONDALUP WOLVES 76
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.
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.
PERRY LAKES HAWKS 110 defeated EAST PERTH EAGLES 104
Perry Lakes and East Perth played out one of the most free-flowing, exciting and high-scoring games of the West Coast Classic with the Hawks coming out narrow six-point winners over the Eagles.
Perry Lakes came into the game fresh off a tight loss the previous night away to the Joondalup Wolves while East Perth was on a three-game losing slide but playing its only game of the weekend and wanting to make a statement.
This was a high-scoring and exciting affair right from the outset with little separating the two teams the whole way through.
The Hawks did put up 30 points in the first quarter to lead by six at quarter-time, but the Eagles weren’t going away and with 32 points themselves in the second term, they cut Perry Lakes’ advantage to 61-56 at the half-time interval.
Things remained tight right throughout the second half and try as they might, the Hawks just couldn’t shake off the persistent Eagles.
It was just a one-point ball game when Nic Filpo hit a three for the Eagles with 3:30 remaining but Perry Lakes had steadied to a five-point lead again after a layup from Ryan Smith with 1:45 left on the clock.
A Shaquille Maharaj triple kept the Eagles within striking distance but the Hawks closed the deal at the foul line through Rob Cassir and escaped with the 110-104 victory to improve to an 8-2 record in the West Coast Classic.
Ryan Smith had a huge game for Perry Lakes to finish with 25 points while knocking down 6/9 from three-point territory.
Cooper Hamilton added 15 points and five rebounds with Harry Imison continuing his emergence with 17 points and two steals.
Ben Purser produced another 14 points and seven assists with Austin Kisselev contributing 13 points, nine boards and three assists.
Shaquille Maharaj had a huge game for East Perth to end the night with 33 points, six steals, three rebounds and two assists with Kieran Berry impressive with 23 points, eight assists and four boards.
Nic Filpo also ended up with 13 points with Jason Conway contributing 11 points and four rebounds, and Logan Thwaites 10 points, nine boards and three assists.
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 73 lost to SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 74
The South West Slammers have been showing encouraging signs and they were rewarded for their efforts on Saturday night with a heart-stopping one-point win on the road to the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Both teams were coming off losses on Friday night with Kalamunda having lost away to the Perth Redbacks by 27 points while the Slammers had lost at home to the Willetton Tigers by 24 points while they had just three wins between them so far in the West Coast Classic.
They are the two youngest developing squads in the competition and they combined to put on an entertaining show at Ray Owen Sports Centre on Saturday night co close Round 6.
The Eastern Suns did start strongly scoring the first six points of the game and that became an 8-2 opening with a basket to Brendan Dinardo, and then 17-8 on the back of consecutive triples from Corey Easley.
But the Slammers worked into the game from there including scoring the last six points of the first quarter to tie things up at 22-22 by quarter-time.
The Slammers were able to then turn that into a strong second quarter where they outscored the Eastern Suns 22 to 12 and head into the half-time interval leading 44-34.
Kalamunda closed that gap in half by three quarter-time but Mitch Keller helped the Slammers go back up 11 a minute into the fourth quarter again.
It was still 11 after a pair of free-throws to Cory Richardson but then Carl Aylett knocked down a three for the Eastern Suns to spark the fightback. Cooper Lowe scored inside and Ryan Blanchett from outside to suddenly make it a three-point game with five minutes to go.
Dinardo then hit five quick points for the Suns and scores were tied with two minutes remaining and he put the home team up by a point when converting a three-point play.
The Slammers wouldn’t be denied on this night though. Richardson hit a huge three-pointer with a minute to go before scores were again level with an Aylett basket for the Suns.
Both teams then traded missed shots to go ahead before Rickwood-Pitt was fouled on a defensive rebound. He went to the line and made one which proved enough to secure the Slammers the 74-73 victory.
Mitch Keller had a monster night for the Slammers with 20 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and two steals on 9/14 shooting from the floor.
Cory Richardson added 11 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds, Leigh Rickwood-Pitt 11 points and two boards, and Brody England nine points.
Carl Aylett top-scored for the Eastern Suns with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists with Ryan Blanchett putting up 15 points and 11 boards, Corey Easley 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Brendan Dinardo 14 points, six boards, four steals and three assists.