WA SBL Semi Finals (Week 1): Eagles snap Redbacks streak to draw first blood
East Perth sent Perth to their first loss in nearly two months of basketball with a vital home win to take a 1-0 series lead and be on the brink of a grand final, while women’s favourites Rockingham and Lakeside are both in the box seat to meet in the decider after first-up away wins.
Geraldton are a win away from the grand final and now have two matches at home to qualify after a 108-102 win against Lakeside. A slow start was offset by a dominant 33-19 third term, helping the Buccs to get on top in all the key stats by the end of the match. The home side attempted 16 more field goals but simply couldn’t find the net often enough as they finished the contest shooting just under 40% as their opponents finished with a 49% shooting clip to claim victory. Carter Cook (32 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 13-19 FG) and Bennie Lewis (28 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) proved to be the difference makers in the end, while Aaron Ralph also finished with a solid double-double in 19 points and 10 boards. Brad Tinsley nearly willed his side over the line, with the Lightning star netting 41 points and dishing 7 assists to continue his stellar post-season run of form, but he ran out of helpers as the next best Lakeside player finished with 17 points.
East Perth toppled Perth 106-98, handing the Redbacks their first loss in nine games and putting the Eagles on the brink of grand final qualification. A nine-point halftime lead put the home side in the box seat and they were able to repel every challenge from their opponents in the second half to claim the important win in what was a very even contest between the sides. Kyle Armour (23 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) and Tom Jervis (22 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks) were the stars of the win for East Perth but got plenty of help with three others reaching double figures. Perth also had five players in double digits but import duo Lee Roberts (21 points, 15 rebounds) and Stanley Okoye (20 points, 10 rebounds) were well-held throughout the night, restricted to 14 and 16 field goal attempts respectively. Perth now faces two must-win clashes at home if they are to reach the grand final, while the Eagles just need to win once to qualify.
Rockingham put themselves in the box seat to reach the grand final after a hard-fought 95-88 away win over Kalamunda. The Suns led by a point at the main break but the Flames managed to close out the match with a strong final term to hold the home side at bay. In a very even match, and despite getting just four points from their bench, the Flames found another gear as the class of Jess Bourne (30 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals), Samantha Whitcomb (27 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) and Darcee Garbin (20 points, 12 rebounds) proved too much for the Suns to handle, with the star trio accounting for all-but 18 of their side’s total points. Kalamunda got a much more even contribution from their outfit, with Melissa Moyle (6 rebounds) and Jennie Rintala (7 rebounds) each netting 22 points and Alison Schwagmeyer (14 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals) providing her side with a little bit of everything, however they ultimately lacked the firepower to go with the Flames down the stretch.
Lakeside held off Joondalup 80-77 in a tight and entertaining encounter to head home with a 1-0 advantage. The Lightning let a 12-point lead slip in the final five minutes as the Wolves came home hard but just fell short despite holding the visitors scoreless for all of the last two and a half minutes. The brilliance of Kari Pickens, who finished with 26 points, 14 boards, 8 assists and 3 steals, was essentially the difference in the end, with teammate Kate Stoneking also strong in adding 19 points and 5 boards. At the other end, Chelsea Burns (20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) was superb and nearly dragged her side over the line, while Ellyce Ironmonger added 16 points and 9 boards as the in-form Nikita-Lee Martin was held to just 7 points on 3-of-8 shooting. The Wolves will now face two must-win away games in an uphill battle to reach this season’s decider.
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