THE Lakeside Lightning and Perth Redbacks knew going into Saturday night they just had to win and then hope the Cockburn Cougars upset the Perry Lakes Hawks at the same time, but a dominant Lightning win wasn’t enough to book a West Coast Classic finals spot.
The Lightning and Redbacks have put together strong West Coast Classic campaigns but a couple of slip ups along the way meant that their destiny wasn’t quite in their own hands heading into the last round of the competition.
The Lightning had lost twice last weekend to the Joondalup Wolves and Warwick Senators by a combined 40 points to put their finals aspirations in serious jeopardy to go with losses earlier on to the Rockingham Flames and Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
The Redbacks had been untouchable at Belmont Oasis winning all five home matches but it had been more challenging on the road even though recent losses away to the Senators and Flames saw them give themselves a real chance.
That all added up to both teams entering the final round with 6-4 records but reaching the top four in the West Coast Classic and taking part in next Friday’s semi finals was still a possibility.
It would take an upset from the Cougars against the Hawks at Wally Hagan Stadium, though, and that didn’t happen. Perry Lakes was too good for Cockburn winning 70-65 to lock in their own playoff spot and eliminated the Lightning, Redbacks and Eastern Suns in the process.
But while their game was going on, the Lightning and Redbacks still thought they could play finals so it should have been an enthralling contest.
What resulted was Lakeside dominating from start to finish, leading early 10-1, 24-4 and 33-10 and then leading by as much as 41 points along the way to the commanding 74-40 victory.
It’s a frustrating way to end for both clubs with the Lightning sending a reminder of their abilities while they also finished with a better percentage than the third and fourth placed teams, but just one game back.
The Redbacks will be left shattered in saving their worst performance of the competition for last up when there was still the potential of reaching the finals.
The game promised to be a cracker coming into it with the potential of a finals spot on the line and with both teams having strong line-up with a couple of veterans with WNBL experience, and then a good band of youngsters gaining in experience.
The Redbacks should have been fresh off the bye as well and ready to fire while the Lightning had to bounce back from losses last weekend to the Wolves and Senators, but it was Lakeside who were unstoppable from the outset at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Courtney Mansfield got things flowing for the Lightning with the game’s first five points before Ash Isenbarger got in on the act with the next five in between one free-throw for the Redbacks from Maddie Allen.
Allen also hit Perth’s first field goal shortly after but there was no let up from the Lightning and Kyrah Daniels hit a jumper for the 12-3 start which was 16-3 when Isenbarger also nailed a pull-up jumper.
Mia Jacobs made it 18-3 with a pair of free-throws, Courtney Beavis did the same to make it 20-3 and then Daniels scored again for 22-3 just before quarter-time.
The game was effectively over already but this was a frustrated Redbacks outfit where nothing would go right. They might have been justified in feeling on the wrong end of some of the calls throughout the night too, but that didn’t account for the scoreline ultimately.
After Daniels nailed a triple and Ellyce Ironmonger scored inside, Lakeside led 29-9 which Courtney Green soon made 31-9.
Lakeside would go into the half-time break leading 45-15 and desperately hoping Cockburn could find a way to beat Perry Lakes.
Daniels then opened the second half converting a three-point play for the Lightning and the lead ballooned to 51-17 when Ironmonger hit from downtown.
Mansfield hit another and-one to make the lead 37 and Mia Jacobs nailed another triple to make it 40.
The Lightning’s lead was still 39 by three quarter-tim and did get to 41 early in the fourth when Isenbarger scored all too easily inside.
From there Lakeside cruised to the 74-40 victory to farewell their home fans in 2020.
Lakeside didn’t quite set it alight shooting going at 25/60 at 41 per cent from the floor and 7/28 at 25 per cent from three-point land.
But the Redbacks saved their worst shooting for last going at 14/73 at 19 per cent, 5/28 at 17 per cent from beyond the arc and 7/18 at 38 per cent from the free-throw line.
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Courtney Mansfield delivered 18 points, five assists and three rebounds for the Lightning while Ash Isenbarger had another good night with 15 points, eight boards, three blocked shots and two assists.
Teenager Kyrah Daniels continued to impress with 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists too with Ellyce Ironmonger contributing eight points and 11 rebounds, and Mia Jacobs eight points and seven boards.
There wasn’t much to write home about from a Redbacks perspective with Maddie Allen growing frustrated but still finishing with four points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
Bri Bailey scored eight points for the Redbacks, Sarah Allen seven (three rebounds, two assists), Ella Thornton-Elliott seven (two steals), Jess Jakens six (three assists), Chanah Crugnale four (six rebounds) and Shenae Hartree three (six rebounds).
The semi finals are now set for Friday night in the West Coast Classic with the Warwick Senators hosting the Perry Lakes Hawks at Warwick Stadium, and the Joondalup Wolves playing the Rockingham Flames at HBF Arena.
The winners will go into Saturday night’s Grand Final at Bendat Basketball Centre.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
Willetton Tigers 75 defeated Cockburn Cougars 68
Cockburn Cougars 65 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 70
Lakeside Lightning 74 defeated Perth Redbacks 40
Warwick Senators 88 defeated Rockingham Flames 49
Joondalup Wolves 89 defeated Willetton Tigers 60
Mandurah Magic 42 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 66