THE Lakeside Lightning continued to push the pace and jack up the three-ball on Friday night on the way to what could be a critical 83-62 victory against the Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena.
Entering the second last round of the West Coast Classic, remarkably little separated the fourth placed Wolves and fifth placed Lightning with the top four teams to take part in the finals in the competition.
Both teams held 7-3 records with Joondalup only ahead because of a three-point percentage edge over Lakeside which set the stage for Friday night’s games which could still end up proving to be virtually an elimination final.
Lakeside hasn’t been able to have a settled line-up all the way and while they now are without Rowan Mackenzie and Corey Shervill, Jay Bowie, Jack Isenbarger and Ben Lee are all back in the side, and boy are they making their impact felt.
That was only magnified with the Wolves missing the defensive prowess and experience of Seb Salinas while Lee Roberts is now heading to Europe, and the Lightning fell in love with the three-ball early on and that set up their big night at HBF Arena.
In the first quarter alone the Lightning got up 15 three-point attempts to be on track for the 61 they shot the previous Friday night against East Perth.
Bowie put up eight of them making three and while the Wolves did well to keep pace with the Lightning by quarter-time, the gap continued to widen the rest of the night with Lakeside up 12 by half-time, by 21 at three quarter-time and then also 21 by the final buzzer.
While Joondalup did well to withstand the 15 three-point attempt onslaught from the Lightning in the opening term, Lakeside proved too good the rest of the way and could well be a result that decides which of the two teams plays finals in the West Coast Classic.
With so little separating them coming into the game and with percentage to determine who makes it should teams finish on the same record in this competition, it wasn’t just the win for the Lightning but the fact that they won by 21 points in the finish that will prove crucial.
The win improves the Lightning to an 8-3 record now in the West Coast Classic to move into the top four at the expense of Joondalup.
The Wolves now need to back up on Saturday night and beat the South West Slammers at Eaton Recreation Centre before finishing at home to the Willetton Tigers next Saturday.
But things don’t get any easier for Lakeside on Saturday night at home to the league-leading Warwick Senators before then finishing things off next Saturday night at home as well to the currently third placed Perth Redbacks.
It was only fitting that Lakeside’s first score was a three to Jay Bowie. He hit another soon after and when Ben Lee hit the floor and nailed another, the lightning were up 11-4 which quickly became 13-4 when Nick Palleschi finished the fast break.
But with Reece Maxwell and Lochlan Cummings leading the way, the Wolves did well to work back into the contest and scores were all locked together by quarter-time.
A pair of threes from Jack Isenbarger early in the second term helped the Lightning open up a handy lead, though, and when Bowie hit his fourth of the half, suddenly Lakeside was up by eight.
That became 13 when Michael Vigor hit another from downtown and then Bowie kept it at 12 with his fifth three-point bomb of the half with Lakeside leading 48-36.
The Lightning then continued to pull away in the third quarter with another 22 points to 13 to go on and win 83-62 to not only get the crucial victory but also get a big percentage boost at the same time.
Lakeside ended up shooting 14/45 from three-point territory at 31 per cent but it was the rest of the game that was behind the final result.
The Lightning ended up with 20 more rebounds for the game and that was behind them getting up 20 more shots despite getting to the foul line on 10 fewer occasions.
Jay Bowie finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Lightning on 9/24 shooting from the field and 6/16 from three-point land.
Jack Isenbarger also had 21 points, six rebounds and three assists with 5/9 from beyond the arc while Michael Vigor put up 12 points and four assists the night before celebrating his 30th birthday.
Josh Davey was instrumental in the second shots for Lakeside with 13 rebounds of which seven were offensive while Nick Palleschi was tremendous all-round with five points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Reece Maxwell top-scored for Joondalup with 15 points and three assists with Lochlan Cummings contributing 12 points and six rebounds.
Trian Iliadis finished with eight points and three rebounds, Rob Huntington seven points and four boards, and Archie Hall six points and seven rebounds.
The Lightning now back up at home to the Warwick Senators on Saturday while the Wolves are on the road to the South West Slammers.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN
Mandurah Magic 54 lost to Rockingham Flames 119
Perry Lakes Hawks 95 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 75
East Perth Eagles 74 lost to Warwick Senators 103
Joondalup Wolves 62 lost to Lakeside Lightning 83
Geraldton Buccaneers v Willetton Tigers – Active West Stadium 2.00pm
Goldfields Giants v Perth Redbacks – Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium 7.00pm
South West Slammers v Joondalup Wolves – Eaton Recreation Centre 7.00pm
Lakeside Lightning v Warwick Senators – Lakeside Recreation Centre 7.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v Mandurah Magic – Wally Hagan Stadium 7.00pm