WHILE the race was a tight one for finals positions in the West Coast Classic, it’s hard to argue we aren’t left with the top four teams with the semi finals to take place Friday night to determine who advances to Saturday night’s Grand Final.
The West Coast Classic was created in place of the SBL season for 2020 and the nine-round competition proved to be tremendously competitive and provided some exciting basketball action with players young and old able to deliver standout performances.
Still coming into last week’s last round there were seven teams as well who could still reach the top four and qualify for the finals.
The Perry Lakes Hawks ended the seasons of the Lakeside Lightning, Perth Redbacks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns, though, when they won their last match which saw them join the Joondalup Wolves, Warwick Senators and Rockingham Flames in the finals.
That means that the semi finals this Friday night feature the Senators hosting the Hawks at Warwick Stadium while the Lady Wolfpack take on the Flames at HBF Arena.
The winners of both those match ups will advance to Saturday night’s Grand Final at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The first semi-final match up sees the first placed Lady Wolfpack play the reigning SBL champion Flames at HBF Arena.
The Wolves finished the West Coast Classic season with a 10-1 record and a massive percentage almost 30 points more than the next best having been the dominant side all season long.
However, the Flames are the one team that beat the Wolfpack during the season before finishing up in fourth place with an 8-3 record.
That sets the stage for a fascinating semi-final battle on Friday night with a Grand Final spot up for grabs.
Working against the Flames, though, is the absence of superstar forward Christina Boag. She didn’t have to play big in last year’s SBL championship with Maddie Allen and Darcee Garbin up front, but she has been the genuine experienced big on this Rockingham team during the West Coast Classic.
She was also outstanding in that win in Rockingham against the Wolves finishing that night with 16 points, 15 rebounds and four assists in a dominant display.
Now without Boag and with Joondalup possessing Kayla Steindl and Amber Land up front, and then Nes’eya Williams, Alix Hayward and Isabelle Miotti too who are strong rebounders, and a big job is ahead of the Flames.
Rockingham’s other superstar is Perth Lynx WNBL point guard Tayah Burrows. She has averaged 20.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds this West Coast Classic and she’ll need a huge game on Friday for Rockingham to win as will fellow starting guard Paris Duffield.
The Wolfpack are remarkably deep in the back court as well as up front with Mikayla Pirini, Chelsea Belcher, Shani Caldwell and Georgia Denehey ensuring they certainly aren’t lacking for anything in the guard department.
It was only last week without Boag that the Flames fell out of top two contention with a loss to the Warwick Senators while the Wolves have been fighting for that top spot all season long.
So the two teams deserve to be playing off for a Grand Final spot and it’s going to be a tremendous battle Friday night at HBF Arena.
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The other semi-final match up then pits the Senators up against the Hawks at Warwick Stadium in what appears to be a genuine toss of the coin affair.
The Senators locked away second position and a 10-1 record with last Saturday night’s 88-49 victory against the Rockingham Flames to now be entering the finals on an eight-game winning streak.
Perry Lakes did lose its opening two matches of the West Coast Classic but the Hawks have won eight of nine games since to enter the finals from third spot with an 8-3 record.
The teams opened the season way back on July 24 and it was a tight affair at Bendat Basketball Centre with the Senators beating the Hawks 82-77.
Making the contest all the more fascinating is the fact that the Senators’ strength at least in experience is in their backcourt of Stacey Barr and Nicole Jorre De St Jorre while the strength of the Hawks appears up front led by Nat Burton and Sarah Donovan.
Barr has had another scintillating campaign on the back of winning the SBL MVP award last year while Jorre De St Jorre has been superb as point guard and adding some scoring punch.
Tayla Hepburn has been tremendous inside for the Senators too averaging 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds, but it’s now a huge job to take on Burton, Donovan and company from the Hawks.
Barr, Jorre De St Jorre and Hepburn provide the experience for the Senators but it’s their young players who have been particularly exciting with Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard, Chloe Forster and Jayda Clark instrumental in getting them to where they are.
It is no surprise to see Donovan and Burton combine for 27.5 points and 17.4 rebounds a game during the West Coast Classic, but they’ve got plenty of support as well from Madeline Dennis, Annika Renkema and Bella Green.
Nikita Martin is still contributing strongly for the Hawks as well and then there is Morgan Ballantyne, Kate Williams and Millie McCarthy in the backcourt doing a good job for coach Deanna Black.
All signs point to quite the cracking contest with a Grand Final berth on the line for the winner.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
Warwick Senators v Perry Lakes Hawks – Warwick Stadium 6.30pm
Joondalup Wolves v Rockingham Flames – HBF Arena 7pm