THE Perry Lakes Hawks and Joondalup Wolves both delivered emphatic semi-final performances to set up what shapes as a scorching finish to the West Coast Classic in Saturday night’s Grand Final at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The West Coast Classic has proved a tremendous success having started up in place of the SBL season for 2020 which had to ultimately be cancelled courtesy of COVID-19, and now it all comes down to Saturday night to determine the winner.
After nine rounds of action, we were down to four teams in the West Coast Classic and they locked horns in the semi finals on Friday night with the Perry Lakes Hawks beating the Warwick Senators 95-70 at Warwick Stadium.
The other semi-final saw the Joondalup Wolves prove too strong as well for the Rockingham Flames winning 101-48 at HBF Arena.
That now sets the stage for Saturday night’s Grand Final between the Hawks and Wolves at Bendat Basketball Centre with tip-off at 7pm.
Perry Lakes last won an SBL championship in 2017 in the first season in charge of coach Deanna Black. She is now looking to add to that title on Saturday night while the Hawks look to add to their seven SBL championships all up in the women’s competition.
Meanwhile at Joondalup, the Wolves are hunting a first championship since their triumph in 2013 as they look for their fifth championship overall and Charles Nix is looking for his first.
All signs are pointing to a tremendous contest as well between the two teams who are coming off momentum boosting semi-final victories by a combined 78 points in quality opponents from the Flames and Senators.
The two teams met during the regular season of the West Coast Classic back on August 28 at Joondalup’s HBF Arena and on that occasion the Wolves beat the Hawks 67-55.
But going back 13 or so months and they played in the quarter finals of the last SBL season in 2019 with the Hawks dominating the Lady Wolfpack winning in two games by a combined 80 points.
There are stars right across the board on both teams, though, featuring current, former and future WNBL talent as part of it.
If you look at the Lady Wolfpack, up front they are led by Kayla Steindl and Amber Land while they are backed up by Nes’eya Williams, Isabelle Miotti and Alix Hayward who will also share the load at the three spot.
Then in the back court they are well equipped too with Georgia Denehey, Chelsea Belcher and Mikayla Pirini.
That is a team to strike fear into most opponents and it’s why they ended the West Coast Classic on top of the ladder at 10-1.
But it’s a strong Perry Lakes team that they will now face in the Grand Final anchored by their imposing frontcourt of Nat Burton, Madi Dennis and Sarah Donovan.
They too will have former Wolf Nikita Martin and Annika Renkema then sharing the small forward spot with Kate Williams, Millie McCarthy and Morgan Ballantyne in the guard roles.
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Perry Lakes couldn’t have been more impressive in overcoming the Warwick Senators in the semi finals on Friday night away from home.
The Hawks put in a terrific performance at both ends of the floor, but coach Deanna Black knows it’s going to be a much different task ahead against the Wolves in the Grand Final with the championship at stake.
“It’s just a different style of game now for the Grand Final. It will be tough competition and it will be a lot more physical,” Black said.
“Whilst we did what we needed to tonight, tomorrow’s a new ball game and Grand Finals are always a different feel. We take confidence from this game obviously but we take confidence from each week of training and the work we put which is where we grow from.
“I think we’re definitely up for the challenge but it will be a tough game against a great opposition. Hopefully people will get down to support both teams because it should be a great game.”
While it remains to be seen if history where the West Coast Classic will be judged compared to a normal SBL season, the sacrifices required and obstacles overcome in 2020 mean that Black has no doubt it is still going to mean a lot to be crowed champions no matter what.
As she prepares for another life-changing moment with the pending birth of her first child with husband Stephen Black, she certainly isn’t shying away from how much she wants to lead the Hawks to the West Coast Classic championship.
“It might not quite mean the same as an SBL championship, but this has been a really hard time for all basketball players around the world, and it’s been a phenomenal opportunity to get to play the sport that they love especially here in WA,” Black said.
“For us it’s just a different meaning than SBL and playing for a Grand Final is a great opportunity at any level, and you respect that and you really want to play to win.
“But at the same time, it’s a different kind of meaning because it’s that reward for effort and commitment through what has been some of the hardest times people have gone through with isolation and things like that.
“The SBL is the pinnacle obviously but this is a different meaning and a reward for the commitment and what we’ve built as a club, and it’s a great opportunity for us to work on and build for next season as well.”
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – WOMEN
Joondalup Wolves v Perry Lakes Hawks – Bendat Basketball Centre 7pm