WE are entering the final round of the Women’s West Coast Classic and we couldn’t be in for a more exciting Saturday night with three teams battling over the top two positions and the chance that any one of four teams could end up finishing fourth.
Given the very real possibility that COVID-19 might have robbed us off a state league competition at all, we certainly have been blessed with what we’ve had over the last eight weeks with the West Coast Classic.
And now the stage is set for a fascinating finish to the regular season as the teams continue their battle over just the four finals positions ahead of the semi finals next Friday night and the Women’s Grand Final next Saturday evening at Bendat Basketball Centre.
All seven of the teams battling for finals positions are all in action on Saturday night and as it turns out, things really couldn’t possibly be set up any better.
We have the Joondalup Wolves, Warwick Senators and Rockingham Flames all locked in a fight over the top two positions which will mean a home semi-final next Friday night.
Then we have all eyes on what the Perry Lakes Hawks do against the Cockburn Cougars. A win for the Lady Hawks and the battle for that fourth position is theirs.
However, a loss from Perry Lakes and all of a sudden one of the Perth Redbacks, Lakeside Lightning or Kalamunda Eastern Suns could very well end up replacing them in that playoff position.
There is just the one match to open Round 9 in the West Coast Classic on Friday night and it takes place at Willetton Basketball Stadium between the Willetton Tigers and Cockburn Cougars.
Both teams enter the weekend on identical 3-6 records and while they can’t reach finals, neither will want to lose to their nearby rivals.
Then we turn our attention to Saturday night and let’s start by looking at the games that have finals implications.
Let’s start at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cougars backing up from playing on Friday night to play host the currently fourth placed Perry Lakes Hawks.
The Lady Hawks currently sit in fourth place with a 7-3 record and it is their spot in the top four to secure so their destiny is in their own hands.
All Perry Lakes need to do is beat Cockburn and they will be guaranteed of at least finishing fourth, and potentially even third depending on how the Rockingham Flames go in their game with the Warwick Senators.
It’s going to be a big ask for the Cougars to match the frontcourt firepower of Nat Burton, Sarah Donovan and Madi Dennis from Perry Lakes, but should they cause the upset on their home floor, then it creates quite the dramatic finish between the teams below the Hawks trying to break in.
Speaking of those teams, two of them play one another and it takes place at Lakeside Recreation Centre with the Lakeside Lightning hosting the Perth Redbacks.
Depending on what happens with Perry Lakes against Cockburn, this game could very well be for all the marbles or for nothing.
Should the Hawks lose, the winner between the Lightning and Redbacks are a good chance of finishing fourth with percentage the determining factor. However, if Perry Lakes beats the Cougars and the best Lakeside or Perth can finish is fifth.
The Redbacks and Lightning both hold 6-4 records coming into the game with Perth having only won once away from Belmont Oasis during the West Coast Classic while they are coming off the Round 8 bye.
Meanwhile, Lakeside suffered two tough losses last weekend to the Wolves and Senators to now have their fate taken out of their hands with one game remaining.
The other team who could still finish fourth should Perry Lakes lose to Cockburn is the Kalamunda Eastern Suns. They travel to Mandurah to play the struggling Magic and the Suns could very well end up with the best percentage out of themselves, the Hawks, Redbacks and Lightning with a big win.
However, once again it all comes down to Perry Lakes’ game with Cockburn and that’s where all eyes are going to be first and foremost on Saturday night.
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That sums up the race for that fourth and final playoff position, but the battle for the top two spots is equally as fascinating coming into the last round especially knowing a home semi-final which will determine the Grand Final spots is on the line.
The first domino needing to fall is the Joondalup Wolves hosting the Willetton Tigers at HBF Arena.
The Lady Wolfpack come into the game at 9-1 and simply just need to win the game and because of their incredible percentage, they will claim the regular season championship and lock in a home semi-final against the fourth ranked team next Friday night.
A loss and it’s unlikely the Wolves would fall below second, though, because of their superior percentage.
Then there is the Warwick Senators hosting the Rockingham Flames at Warwick Senators with it all to play for.
The Senators come into the game in hot form on a seven-game winning streak sitting second at 9-1 while the Flames are third at 8-2 but both have them have delivered outstanding basketball during the West Coast Classic.
Warwick will guarantee at least second position with the win and potentially first should the Wolves lose to the Tigers. That will lock them in to host a semi-final next Friday.
However, a Flames win and that’s where things get interesting.
Because the Senators are currently ahead by five percentage points, not only does Rockingham need to beat Warwick, but they will need to win by at least 15 points to see their percentage leap over that of the Senators to see them finish in second spot and to host a semi-final in Rockingham.
It is a remarkable Saturday night set up to close the West Coast Classic with all five matches having some say on the finals.
There’s plenty of pressure on Perry Lakes with the Redbacks, Lightning and Eastern Suns all hoping they lose while the Flames head to Warwick needing to win big to earn a home final.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
Willetton Tigers v Cockburn Cougars – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm
Cockburn Cougars v Perry Lakes Hawks – Wally Hagan Stadium 5pm
Lakeside Lightning v Perth Redbacks – Lakeside Recreation Centre 5pm
Warwick Senators v Rockingham Flames – Warwick Stadium 5pm
Joondalup Wolves v Willetton Tigers – HBF Arena 5pm
Mandurah Magic v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 5pm