THE Kalamunda Eastern Suns bounced back from a Stacey Barr onslaught on Saturday night to beat the Rockingham Flames at Ray Owen Sports Centre on Sunday to stay alive in the West Coast Classic finals race.
Both Kalamunda and Rockingham had played on Saturday night in Round 7 of the West Coast Classic with the Suns torched by 49 points by reigning SBL MVP Barr in a big loss to the Warwick Senators while the Flames retained their top two spot with a narrow win in Rockingham over the Perth Redbacks.
But the Flames arrived at Ray Owen Sports Centre with star point guard Tayah Burrows still not suiting up after the heavy head knock she copped last Saturday night in the win over the Joondalup.
Then while it was a tight first three quarters, Rockingham lost Ariana Hetherington to an ankle injury and then reigning SBL Shootaround Player of the Week Christina Boag fouled out, and it proved too much to overcome and the Eastern Suns took toll.
Kalamunda had already worked its way on top to lead by seven by the time Boag fouled out with three minutes remaining but what it did was rob Rockingham of any real chance of a fight back with Burrows and Hetherington already sitting out.
The Suns were impressive, though, in closing out the game with Jessie Edwards and Beige Harris strong inside to secure the eventual 69-59 victory which keeps their finals hopes alive with two rounds of the West Coast Classic remaining.
It was the last home game for the Suns and they now sit in fifth position at 6-3 with road games against the Perry Lakes Hawks and Mandurah Magic to go.
It was a tough Sunday afternoon visit to Kalamunda for Rockingham especially to finish the game without three key championship-winning stars from last year.
But to go 1-1 this weekend without Burrows isn’t a terrible result and the Flames sit third with road matches to the Magic and Senators to finish off with over the final two weekends.
It was a significant game for both Kalamunda and Rockingham when they locked horns at Ray Owen Sports Centre with both aiming to play finals in the West Coast Classic, and both coming off playing on Saturday night.
The Flames pulled out a hard fought win over the Perth Redbacks on Saturday night while the Eastern Suns were blown away by Stacey Barr and the Warwick Senators.
So that stage for a crucial game with Rockingham needing to win and stay in touch for a top two spot and Kalamunda just needing to remain in contention for the top four.
Rockingham were again without star point guard Tayah Burrows after her heavy knock last Saturday night but Paris Duffield has had a standout West Coast Classic, and she opened the game knocking down a triple.
But Jewel Williams soon replied and then when Jessie Edwards scored inside, the home team led 8-5 which soon became 14-8 when Rebecca Motroni and Alecia Knowles connected from downtown as well.
The Eastern Suns had all the momentum up 18-9 but the Flames did well to stem the tide and then be only four points by quarter-time.
Rockingham then turned that into a four-point lead after four quick points to Zahli Jolly early in the second period. But Motroni was feeling it from beyond the arc and soon hit again to regain a lead for the home team.
The lead continued to change on a three-point play for Rockingham from Sarah McGowan before Duffield extended the edge to four despite a third three-pointer of the half for Kalamunda from Motroni.
Rockingham was threatening to blow the game open, though, and the lead was up to eight when Ashlyn Lee hit from beyond the arc. But the Suns finished the half on a 9-2 run and scores were all square by the break.
It remained a tight, tense and entertaining affair through the third quarter with the biggest lead being four points to the Eastern Suns after Williams a nailed a three-pointer, but by three quarter-time the Flames were up by one.
But with Rockingham missing Burrows and now Ariana Hetherington down with an ankle injury, Kalamunda worked on top and were up five when Sarah Lakay scored, and then seven after Edwards scored as well.
Christina Boag then picked up her fifth foul for the Flames and there would be no comeback with the Eastern Suns completing the job to win 69-59 and stay alive in the finals hunt in the West Coast Classic with two rounds remaining.
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There was plenty to like from the Kalamunda performance to keep their finals chances alive and about the job done by coach Tom Knowles who managed to get big contributions from more than just his superstars Jewel Williams and Jessie Edwards.
Williams still put up another 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals while Edwards had 13 points, 12 boards, four steals and two assists, but they had plenty of help.
Rebecca Motroni knocked down 5/8 from three-point range for 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals while Beige Harris contributed 14 points and four boards, and Alecia Knowles six points.
It was a remarkably young Rockingham team especially when Ariana Hetherington went down injured and Christina Boag fouled out, and that includes the coaching staff of the day with Keegan Crawford, Chelsea Petrik and Tayah Burrows in the absence of Darcee Garbin.
Paris Duffield contributed her terrific West Coast Classic for the Flames with 17 points, six rebounds and four steals while Sarah McGowan contributed eight points and four boards, and Zahli Jolly eight points, five steals, five assists and four rebounds.
Boag also finished with nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals before fouling out.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
East Perth Eagles 48 lost to Lakeside Lightning 75
Cockburn Cougars 76 defeated South West Slammers 38
Willetton Tigers 76 lost to Warwick Senators 87
Joondalup Wolves 74 defeated East Perth Eagles 51
Lakeside Lightning 65 defeated Mandurah Magic 53
Warwick Senators 110 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 69
Rockingham Flames 64 defeated Perth Redbacks 60
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 69 defeated Rockingham Flames 59