IT is quite remarkable that we can play a whole nine weeks and 13 games of a West Coast Classic competition and in the end the Joondalup Wolves and Lakeside Lightning only play finals ahead of the Willetton Tigers and Perth Redbacks because of two missed shots just before the buzzer.
Things couldn’t be any more tightly placed coming into the last round of West Coast Classic even if the Warwick Senators and Perry Lakes Hawks had secured top two positions and home court advantage for this Friday night’s semi finals.
But third and fourth positions were anything but secured with the Perth Redbacks coming into the round third and the Joondalup Wolves fourth with the Lakeside Lightning, Willetton Tigers and Rockingham Flames just outside but still with a chance of booking in a finals spot.
The first domino that had to fall to leave everything on the line on Saturday night was for Willetton to beat Cockburn at home on Friday night. The Tigers got the job done meaning that quite simply the winner of their game with the Wolves at HBF Arena on Saturday night would play finals.
And what a cracking game it was. It was tight all night long and came down to the last possession and probably the one man you’d most like shooting for your season across the West Coast Classic, Damien Scott had a look at three for the game winner for the Tigers.
But it didn’t fall and the Wolfpack held on for the 97-95 victory to see them advance to the finals and eliminate the Tigers.
The other cut-throat game was at Lakeside Recreation Centre between the Lightning and Redbacks. This one wasn’t quite as simple as the winner takes all with Lakeside needing to make up the percentage gap so to reach finals ahead of Perth, the Lightning had to win by 14 or more points.
As it turned out, Lakeside was 15 points up with the possession from the side. But they turned it over and the Redbacks got a good look at a three that would have seen them play finals and eliminate the Lightning.
But the shot from Ezra Nikora rimmed out, the Lightning won 84-69 and reached the finals as a result at the expense of the Redbacks.
The Flames still had an outside chance coming into Round 9 but those hopes ended with Willetton winning on Friday night. A big loss to the Senators meant it wasn’t to be for Rockingham anyway.
So to recap, Round 9 in the West Coast Classic got underway on Friday night with the Willetton Tigers beating the Cockburn Cougars 81-74.
Then on Saturday night in the games with finals implications, the Lakeside Lightning beat the Perth Redbacks 84-69, the Joondalup Wolves defeated the Willetton Tigers and the Warwick Senators downed the Rockingham Flames 126-94.
The Perry Lakes Hawks then also beat the Cockburn Cougars 112-82 while the Goldfields Giants defeated the East Perth Eagles 96-79, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns won 79-77 over the Mandurah Magic, and the Geraldton Buccaneers prevailed 82-46 over the South West Slammers.
Those results in the last round leave the top four in the West Coast Classic made up of the Warwick Senators (12-1), Perry Lakes Hawks (11-2), Joondalup Wolves (9-4) and Lakeside Lightning (9-4).
Those four teams will now compete in this Friday night’s semi finals with the Senators hosting the Lightning at Warwick Stadium while the Hawks play the Wolfpack at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The winners will advance to Sunday night’s West Coast Classic Grand Final also at Bendat Basketball Centre.
As for the teams with their seasons now over, the Perth Redbacks (9-4) finished fifth one basket out of the top four with a percentage 0.36 behind Lakeside.
The Willetton Tigers (8-5) are next ahead of the Goldfields Giants (7-5), Rockingham Flames (7-6), Cockburn Cougars (5-8), Geraldton Buccaneers (4-8), Kalamunda Eastern Suns (3-10), East Perth Eagles (3-10), South West Slammers (2-11) and Mandurah Magic (1-12).
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN’S ROUND 9
WILLETTON TIGERS 81 defeated COCKBURN COUGARS 74
The Willetton Tigers had no choice but to beat the Cockburn Cougars at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Friday night if they wanted to stay in the West Coast Classic finals race, and they got the job done to set up a do-or-die Saturday evening.
Willetton always knew that to make it to the finals in the West Coast Classic that they had to win twice this weekend in the space of 24 hours, but Friday night at home to the Cougars was always going to be a tricky affair with the pressure to set up a cut-throat battle with the Wolves.
The Cougars might have still been without rising superstar Luke Travers who now hasn’t played since having 40 points, 36 rebounds and 12 assists across two games back in Round 4, but with Gavin Field and a strong support cast, they arrived motivated to upset the finals hopes of their local rivals.
Andrew Black and Damien Scott hit some big shots early for the Tigers but when Field nailed a triple for the Cougars, the game was on.
The Cougars stayed close with a triple from Jaarod Holmes too but Scott produced nine first quarter points to help the Tigers lead 23-17 after one.
Black hit a three to make the lead seven but a couple of consecutive buckets to Noah Stewart, and another to Field and in the blink of an eye it was a tied ball game again midway through the second.
A Lewis Thomas three-point play steadied Willetton as did another three-point bomb from Black, and the Tigers went into half-time with the momentum and a 47-38 on the back of three free-throws for Scott on the buzzer.
Yet another three-ball from Black to open the second half had the Tigers then up by double-figures and they were threatening to blow it out when Thomas scored inside again to take the lead to 14.
Dylan Hampson made it 16 but once more Cockburn just refused to go away as has been their trademark and had cut that deficit in half by three quarter-time.
Scott hit a huge three with 3:30 remaining in the game to again have the Tigers looking comfortable leading by seven, but then Holmes scored on a hook shot inside and the Cougars stayed in touch.
Field fouled out shortly after and you could the energy leave the crowd a little, but the Cougars players didn’t give up. Young big man Nathan Pond scored twice down in the block and Seva Chan nailed a huge turnaround fadeaway mid-range jumper and it was a two-point game.
But the Cougars couldn’t find another score the lead minute and-a-half and it was a Hayden Noordhoek finish that provide the dagger as the Tigers went on for the crucial 81-74 victory to now set up a must-win clash for both themselves and Wolves on Saturday night at HBF Arena.
Tigers coach Stephen Black might not have been overly happy with his team’s shooting on the night with 41 per cent from the field, 21 per cent from downtown and even 55 per cent from the foul line, but the effort was certainly there.
Damien Scott finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals with backcourt partner Andrew Black delivering 17 points and four assists on 4/8 shooting from three-point land.
Lewis Thomas came up huge too for 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks with Connor Mincherton adding nine points, Dylan Hampson six, Travis Fee five and Hayden Noordhoek five.
Gavin Field put up another 16 points, five rebounds and three assists for Cockburn with Jaarod Holmes delivering 12 points and eight boards, Hayden Bell 10 points and four rebounds, Nathan Pond 10 points and four boards, and Seva Chan eight points and three assists.
GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 82 defeated SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 46
The Geraldton Buccaneers and South West Slammers both were attempting to end their West Coast Classic campaigns on a high on Saturday night, and it was the Buccs that offered some joy to their home fans with the 36-point victory.
Neither the Buccs nor Slammers were still in finals contention but this West Coast Classic has been all about building and developing for the future, and both teams have done a good job with that as they looked to finish off on a winning note.
After playing six road games in the opening three weeks, the Buccaneers have finished the season not having to leave Geraldton and playing all their remaining games at Active West Stadium including on Saturday night against the Slammers.
Geraldton then got off to a flying start on Saturday night with 30 points to 16 in the opening quarter. The Buccs kept it going into the second period with another 18 points to seven to lead 48-23 by half-time to effective end the game as a contest.
The Buccaneers still outscored the Slammers 34 points to 23 in the second half to come away with the 82-46 win and finish the West Coast Classic at 4-8 with the Slammers ending up at 2-11.
The gap in the rebounding count was remarkable with the Buccs pulling in 65 rebounds to just 24 from the Slammers and the fact that Mitch Keller didn’t play for the Slammers can’t be ignored in that factor.
The Slammers also made just 1/28 from three-point territory on the night which didn’t help matters but what did was forcing the Buccs into 30 turnovers from which they scored 18 points from.
Johny Narkle has been one of the huge positives to come out of the West Coast Classic for the Buccaneers and he finished off in fine style delivering 19 points, six steals, five rebounds, our blocked shots and three assists on 7/11 shooting from the field.
Aaron Ralph had an efficient night too with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while hitting 4/7 from three-point territory while partner-in-crime Mat Wundenberg came up big for 11 points, 15 rebounds and three assists.
Brayden Inger also had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for Geraldton.
Brody England came off the bench for Slammers for 13 points, two assists and two steals while Alastair Ishigami-Sims had six points, five steals and five rebounds, and Rivar Evans six points, six boards and three steals.
MANDURAH MAGIC 77 lost to KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 79
Desperate to take a winning finish out of the West Coast Classic with them, the Mandurah Magic and Kalamunda Eastern Suns put on an entertaining affair on Saturday night that went right down to the wire.
The Magic and Eastern Suns had only won three games between them coming into Saturday night’s meeting at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre, but the West Coast Classic has been about more than just wins and losses.
It’s been all about developing players for the future and at Mandurah Josh Hunt, Aaron Kearing, Riley Parker, Tom Atkinson, Riley Fitzgerald and Isaiah Walley-Stack have benefited greatly as have Carl Aylett, Dyson Lowe, Nathan Drown and company at the Suns.
So Saturday night presented a chance for one of the teams to end their campaigns on a high note, and it took right until the final buzzer to determine who that would be.
Mandurah led by two points at quarter-time before Kalamunda turned that around with 25 points to 18 in the second to take a 44-39 advantage into the half-time break.
The Suns extended their lead to seven by three quarter-time before triples to Nathan Drown and Carl Aylett stretched the advantage to 13.
But the Magic fired back opening with their own three-pointers from Riley Parker and Riley Fitzgerald, and then with five minutes to go it was a four-point game after Connor Richards drained a three for Mandurah.
Free-throws from Josh Hunt had the Magic within two and then another three ball from Parker put the home team up one. Hunt stretched their lead to three before it was Kalamunda’s turn to snatch back momentum starting with a Brendan Dinardo finish inside.
Nathan Drown then drained a three and hit two more free-throws to put the Suns up 78-74. Parker responded with a huge three for Mandurah to make it a one-point game with time running out.
They subsequently fouled Ryan Blanchett who made one at the line and the Magic had run out of time to have a shot at the game-winner with the Eastern Suns winning 79-77.
Carl Aylett ended the night with 14 points for the Suns with Logan Viskovich also scoring 14 points to go with eight rebounds and Ryan Blanchett put up 13 points along with six boards and four assists.
Nathan Drown finished with 11 points and four assists with 3/4 from three-point land while Cooper Lowe had eight points and seven rebounds, and Corey Easley seven points, nine boards and four assists.
Riley Parker had a massive night for Mandurah with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists including hitting 7/12 from three-point range.
Aaron Kearing added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, Connor Richards 14 points, six boards and three assists, Josh Hunt 10 points and four blocks, and Tom Atkinson 10 points.
WARWICK SENATORS 126 defeated ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 94
The Warwick Senators confirmed their status as the team to beat in the West Coast Classic heading into the finals with another emphatic performance against the Rockingham Flames on Saturday night.
The faint finals hopes of the Flames were all but extinguished when the Willetton Tigers won their game on Friday evening to open Round 9, but with Jackson Hussey, Ryan Godfrey and Travis Durnin leading the way, they were still looking to take the challenge right up to the Senators.
But as it turned out, once again the Senators showed just how deep, athletic and versatile they are in another commanding performance to ensure they finish the West Coast Classic in first place at 12-1 and with a 12-match winning streak.
Cody Ellis returned from having not played the previous weekend in big wins over the East Perth Eagles and Lakeside Lightning, and made his mark with nine points on three triples in a 37-point first quarter from the Senators.
Ellis added another eight points to have 17 at the half with Warwick adding another 32 as a team to be playing some dazzling and unstoppable basketball to be up 69-45 over a Flames team who weren’t exactly doing too much wrong themselves.
The Senators went on with it in the second half too with another 57 points to 49 from the Flames to come away with the 126-94 victory to set up their run at the West Coast Classic championship from first place.
Both teams had pretty good shooting nights but the Senators were just on fire going 46/72 at 63 per cent from the field and 20/37 at 54 per cent from downtown. The Flames still went at 45 per cent from the floor and 30 per cent from beyond the arc themselves.
Cody Ellis finished with 30 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for Warwick including going 7/10 from the land of plenty.
Ngor Manyang continued to thrive in the absence of Ash Litterick with another 24 points and three assists while 16-year-old sensation Ethan Elliott set the crowd alight with his 21 points, three assists, two steals and two rebounds on shooting 8/10 from the floor and 3/5 from long-range.
Caleb Davis also had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Justin King 10 points, six rebounds and four assists, Corban Wroe eight points and nine assists, and Wani Swaka Lo Buluk seven points and three dimes.
Jackson Hussey put in another huge showing for Rockingham with 33 points, six assists and five rebounds with Ryan Godfrey adding 14 points and six assists, Callum Beard 15 points and three rebounds, Justin Beard 13 points and six boards, and Travis Durnin 11 points and 11 rebounds.
LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 84 defeated PERTH REDBACKS 69
Finals in the West Coast Classic came early on Saturday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre as the competition came to the most dramatic of finishes with the Lakeside Lightning needing to win by 15 points to advance, and beating the Perth Redbacks by exactly 15 points.
There were exciting match ups all over the floor between the up-tempo Lightning and Redbacks teams, but none better than in the shooting guard spot and Marshall Nelson and Jack Isenbarger. Both opened the contest hitting three-pointers.
Nelson soon hit a second and when Kyden Edman, who was starting for the injured Tevin Jackson, did the same the Redbacks led early 12-10. That became 17-12 when Nelson drained another triple before he delivered the most amazing of blocked shots flying in from nowhere to deny Jay Bowie.
But Andrew Ferguson and Michael Vigor then combined to help Lakeside to a 25-20 lead by the end of one.
Ezra Nikora hit a three to steady the Redbacks early in the second period and then Edman hit his second from downtown and the margin was just three.
Nikora hit again from three-point land and scores were tied with the Redbacks going on to have the momentum and lead of 39-37 by the half-time break.
The Redbacks were back on top by six midway through the third quarter when Nelson drained another three ball, but Isenbarger answered with a three and Lakeside was about to make their move.
Bowie started to turn his night around with another three too before he finished twice inside in no time having scored, then stole the ball and scored again to put the Lightning up two heading towards quarter-time.
Bowie added four points more before the break too and Lakeside was up 63-57.
Ben Lee nailed two big shots from three-point territory to start the fourth term to help Lakeside to a 14-point lead as they completed a run of 18 straight points either side of three quarter-time to go from down four to up 14.
It was then a matter of the margin with both teams knowing the magical number for the Lightning to advance at the expense of the Redbacks was 14.
The Lightning led by 19 when Nick Palleschi scored and were still up 19 a couple of more occasions, and still by 18 before Nelson hit a three for the Redbacks and Joel Wagner scored inside.
That cut it back to 13 and meant the Redbacks were back in fourth spot. But Isenbarger scored again for Lakeside to make it a 15-point game and that’s where it stayed until the Lightning had possession from the side out of a timeout with no shot clock left.
They couldn’t get the ball inbounds though. The Redbacks forced the turnover and then it was their ball and all they had to do was score and fourth position was theirs.
They got a good look too with a drive and dish to Nikora, but he couldn’t knock down his third triple of the night and the Lightning won by 15 and booked in a finals spot.
Jay Bowie ended the night with 25 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals for Lakeside on 10/27 shooting from the field even though he did go just 3/15 from three-point territory.
Jack Isenbarger also delivered 23 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals on 5/11 shooting from deep with Andrew Ferguson producing 13 points and 14 boards off the bench.
Ben Lee also had nine points for the Lightning, Josh Davey six points and 12 rebounds, and Michael Vigor six points, six boards and four assists in his first game as a 30-year-old.
Marshall Nelson finished his outstanding West Coast Classic with another 27 points and seven rebounds for the Redbacks but his nine turnovers and four fouls did hurt. He shot 5/11 from three-point land, though, and his block on Jay Bowie was phenomenal.
Caleb White added 14 points and four rebounds for the Redbacks, Kyden Edman 11 points, four rebounds and three assists on 3/5 from long-range, Joel Wagner nine points, nine assists, five rebounds and five assists, and Ezra Nikora six points and three boards.
GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 96 defeated EAST PERTH EAGLES 79
The Goldfields Giants have been one of the most exciting teams to follow in the West Coast Classic while East Perth’s growth has been fun to watch too setting up a tantalising last round match up in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night.
Neither the Giants nor Eagles could quite reach the finals in the West Coast Classic entering the final round, but both clubs deserve to feel positive about what they have taken out of the competition.
Giants coach Wayne Creek has put together two genuine superstars up front with ‘Twin Towers’ Mayo Malek and Majier Garang while the rest of his starters are all versatile and interchangeable, making them invaluable in Jerome Reid, Fletcher Klasztorny and Damon Ballantyne.
East Perth, meanwhile, had scored a couple of heart stopping wins over Kalamunda and Lakeside, and have been more than competitive most of the way while putting the likes of Shaquille Maharaj, Kieran Berry, Logan Thwaites, Bailey Basso and Joel Offereins in positions to thrive.
So it was all set up for an exciting finish to the West Coast Classic for both teams in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night, and on their home floor, made a flying start putting up 32 points in the opening quarter to 21 from the Eagles.
Goldfields consolidated that advantage to still lead 57-44 by half-time and then maintained their edge throughout the second half to come away winning 96-79 to finish the West Coast Classic at 7-5 while the Eagles end up with a 3-10 record.
Mayo Malek completed his second season at the Giants in style with another 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals while Majier Garang also delivered 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals. The pair combined to shoot 15/24 from the floor and 4/8 from deep too.
Sam Morrow also had 12 points for Goldfields, Damon Ballantyne 10 points, six rebounds and six assists, Noah Hinkley nine points and four boards, Fletcher Klasztorny eight points and five rebounds, and Jerome Reid eight points and four assists.
Shaquille Maharaj finished his fine campaign for the Eagles delivering another 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals with Jayden Coburn putting up 18 points, four boards and three assists.
Logan Thwaites also had 11 points and 10 rebounds for East Perth, and Joel Offereins eight points, seven boards and three assists.
JOONDALUP WOLVES 97 defeated WILLETTON TIGERS 95
Everything went on the line at HBF Arena on Saturday night with the Joondalup Wolves and Willetton Tigers fighting for a West Coast Classic finals spot, and fittingly it was decided on the last shot of the game.
Willetton kept themselves in the finals race with a win against the Cockburn Cougars at home on Friday night meaning that quite simply whoever won this match between the Wolves and Tigers at HBF Arena would advance to the finals.
The Tigers had won six of seven matches coming into the game to give themselves a chance while the Wolves had started the West Coast Classic winning their first four before going 4-4 since to just be clinging to their post-season aspirations.
So the stage was set and it was Willetton who made the strong start to lead 32-27 by quarter-time but Joondalup turned that around in the second period with another 30 points to 24 and the Wolves held a narrow 57-56 advantage by half-time.
It was a high quality and entertaining game with the stakes high and by three quarter-time the Tigers had managed to assume a two-point advantage.
A couple of threes to start the fourth quarter saw Willetton go up three as well before Reece Maxwell and Kade Muru combined for a 5-0 Wolves run to put them up two before Lewis Thomas scored inside for Willetton to tie scores back up.
Connor Mincherton and Lochlan Cummings traded three-pointers not long after before Mincherton nailed another to keep Willetton up one with five minutes remaining.
But Cummings then put the Wolves back up one before Seb Salinas stretched that lead to four with 3:30 left on the clock. Once more it was Mincherton delivering a three ball for Willetton to bring them back within one before Rob Huntington had the Wolfpack back on top by three.
A pair of Cummings free-throws put Joondalup up five with under a minute left before Andrew Black drained a three-point bomb for Willetton to make it a two-point game.
The Tigers then forced the Wolves into a 24-second violation and ultimately it was Damien Scott who had a look at a three ball to win the game for the Tigers and to send them into the finals. It didn’t quite fall and the Wolves collected the rebound to hold on to win and advance.
Lochlan Cummings had a big night for the Wolfpack with 27 points and four assists while draining 5/7 from three-point land.
Rob Huntington was huge too with 25 points and eight rebounds while Reece Maxwell contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Trian Iliadis 13 points and four boards, Seb Salinas 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Kade Muru seven points and three boards.
Lewis Thomas fought bravely for the Tigers to end the night with 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots on 10/15 shooting.
Connor Mincherton added 18 points on 6/8 shooting from downtown while Damien Scott had 16 points and four assists, Travis Fee nine points and six assists, Andrew Black nine points and four assists, and Michael Garbellini eight points and two assists.
COCKBURN COUGARS 82 lost to PERRY LAKES HAWKS 112
The Perry Lakes Hawks guaranteed they entered the West Coast Classic finals in impressive winning form with a 30-point win over the Cockburn Cougars at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night.
Cockburn might have been out of the playoff race and had already played on Friday night in a loss to Willetton while Perry Lakes was already guaranteed of second position, but both teams still had plenty to play for on Saturday night.
The Hawks didn’t want any sort of drop off to take into their semi-final on Friday night and they ensured that didn’t happen with a hot opening with 33 points to 16 in the first quarter.
Perry Lakes added another 32 points to 25 in the second period as they went into the half-time interval leading 65-41.
Things were relatively even during the second half with the Hawks going on to win the game 112-82 and finish the West Coast Classic in second position at 11-2 while the Cougars finish up with a 5-8 record.
Perry Lakes produced a brilliant shooting performance on the night going 43/72 at 59 per cent from the field and 18/35 at 51 per cent from three-point territory. The Cougars, meanwhile, didn’t shoot terrible going 40 per cent from the floor and 31 per cent from downtown.
Bailey Cole had a big night for Perry Lakes with 24 points and five rebounds while hitting 6/8 from three-point territory.
Ryan Smith contributed 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals too while hitting 5/5 from downtown as Matthew Leary had another 15 points, Rob Cassir 10, Austin Kisselev nine, Mitch Clarke nine, Cooper Hamilton eight and Ben Purser six.
Jacob Polglase top-scored for Cockburn with 13 points and three rebounds with Gavin Field finishing with 12 points and eight assists, Nathan Pond 11 points and four rebounds, Jaarod Holmes 11 points and four boards, Seva Chan eight points and four assists, and Noah Stewart eight points and four rebounds.