WA SBL Quarter Finals (Week 1): Eagles men upset Flames to take early lead

East Perth’s men have taken a 1-0 lead in their finals series’ with Rockingham after upsetting the Flames in game one. Elsewhere, Geraldton and Perth secured dominant away wins to be in control of their series’, while women’s title fancies Rockingham, Lakeside and Joondalup all won away from home to take the early advantage as they look to advance to the final four.

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SBL Men

Geraldton opened their post-season account with a strong 99-88 win over South West that saw the Buccs take a 1-0 series lead with two home games to come. In an otherwise even contest, conversion at the offensive end proved the difference between the sides with the Slammers attempting 20 more shots but finishing with two less makes than their opponents. The visitors were led by Carter Cook (32 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 16-18 FT) and Bennie Lewis (27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) as the star duo managed to get off the leash. The Slammers had five players reach double digits, with every starter finishing with 13 points or more despite the loss. Markus Monroe had 20 points, 6 boards and 4 assists and Clive Weeden added 19 points and 19 boards to lead the scoring, while player-coach Ty Harrelson (16 points, 11 rebounds, 17 assists) had a monster triple-double as his side went down. The Slammers will now need to win two straight games away to the Buccs if they are to steal the series and advance.

East Perth came from the clouds to take a 1-0 lead in their series with Rockingham, with the Eagles securing a 102-91 win at home. A 32-13 final term saw the home side erase an eight-point deficit at the last change to give themselves a chance of advancing past the first stage of the post-season. The Eagles were dominant on the glass, collecting 18 more rebounds than their opponent as Tom Jervis (20 points, 23 rebounds) led from the front. Sunday Dech added 20 points, 7 boards and 3 assists while Kyle Armour (8 rebounds, 5 assists) and Drew Williamson (4 rebounds, 5 assists) each finished with 19 points. For the Flames, Cooper Land (26 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists) starred and looked to have done enough to get his side over the line, while Ryan Godfrey was also strong with 18 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. The series now shifts to Rockingham for games two and three.

Perth comfortably accounted for Mandurah 114-91 to grab a first-up win and assume control of their series with the Magic. The Redbacks committed just 8 turnovers for the match and shot the ball at 48% to get home, with Stanley Okoye (29 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists) and Lee Roberts (21 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists) leading the way with a pair of impressive performances. The Magic, who were thoroughly outclassed by their opponents, got great service out of Taylor Mullenax (27 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists) but lacked a second match-winner. Ben Smith (16 points, 12 rebounds) recorded a double-double but it wasn’t enough as the in-form team of the competition continued their march towards the grand final. Mandurah now face an uphill battle to advance as the series will head to Perth for games two and three.

A barnstorming 31-16 third term saw Stirling nab a 105-94 win and a series lead over Lakeside, putting the pressure on the Lightning to perform on their home court. The home side shot the ball at 55%, including 43% from deep, and held their opponents to just 39% in the same category to secure the important victory. NBL star Cody Ellis (13 rebounds) and Cory Cooperwood (8 rebounds, 3 assists) each finished with 26 points to lead their side, while Jordan Wild recorded a solid but unspectacular double-double with 14 points and 13 boards. For the Lightning, who now face two must-win clashes in their home gym to win the series, it was Brad Tinsley (31 points) leading the scoring and Jarrad Prue (11 points, 22 rebounds) doing the work inside the paint but their offense lacked the potency to go with the hot-shooting Senators.


SBL Women

Rockingham opened their series with Willetton with an impressive 98-84 away win, setting up two chances to advance at home in a week’s time. Strong quarters to open and finish the match saw the Flames take the win despite a plucky Tigers being just five points down heading into the final term before being eventually outclassed. Samantha Whitcomb (29 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists) starred for the minor premiers while Darcee Garbin was also superb in adding 26 points and 7 boards in just 25 minutes as she battled foul trouble. Ebony Antonio (26 points, 7 rebounds) nearly willed her team over the line and Melissa Marsh (22 points, 6 rebounds) was very good off the bench but the Tigers lacked the depth to go with the Flames as the game got hot. The series will now move to Rockingham for games two and three, if required.

Lakeside saw off a stern challenge from Mandurah to open their post-season campaign with a 69-56 win. A 20-10 second term and 16-7 final term were pivotal as the Lightning wore down their opponents in a contest where both sides from the field (35% to 33%), including a combined 5-of-42 from beyond the arc. Kari Pickens (22 points, 8 rebounds) shone and was head and shoulders the best player on the court, while Krystal Stoneking added 14 points and 7 boards. Hayley Dunham (18 points, 5 rebounds) and Casey Mihovilovich (12 points, 4 rebounds) were predictably the leading scorers for the Magic but were restricted to 9-of-22 and 4-of-22 shooting respectively in a telling stat. That will need to change dramatically within a week as Mandurah will face two sudden death matches at Lakeside with a single loss ending in their season.

Joondalup held off a determined Stirling to win 74-71 thanks largely to a 20-11 run to finish the match in the final term. The Senators looked set to cause an upset and blow the series open but ran out of legs in the last ten minutes as the Wolves found a way to get the win. In a tight contest, it was Nikita-Lee Martin (3 rebounds) and Shani Amos (3 steals) who finished with 15 points apiece to lead the visitors, while Amy Kidner stepped it up off the bench to finish with 14 points and 5 boards in her best performance of the season. Import Taylor Wild was the star for the Senators, netting 21 points on 4-of-8 from deep, while Taylor Bestry (19 points, 5-7 3PT) made the most of just 15 minutes on court with some hot shooting from the perimeter. The Senators will now face an uphill battle to advance as they move to Joondalup for the remaining two games of the series.

Cockburn edged Kalamunda 73-68 in a tough contest to claim a 1-0 series advantage and put the pressure on the Suns to win two from two at home. The Cougars shot the ball at 43% to just 32% for their opponents and used a 42-31 run over the middle two quarters to get the result. Sam Richards (21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) starred while Marita Payne (17 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks) also came up big for the home side, with the former in particular regaining some form at the right time after an up-and-down season. The Suns were led by Melissa Moyle (4 assists) and Jennie Rintala (6 rebounds) who each netted 15 points, while Sarah-Jane Knox (11 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists) was big off the bench despite the defeat. The Suns will be looking to bounce back on their home court but cannot afford another loss or they will face elimination.

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