Week 1 Friday night Men's SBL Quarter Final wrap
THE Men's SBL finals for 2016 got underway with a lone clash at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Friday night with the Goodlife Homes Willetton Tigers delivering a strong second half to win Game 1 of its quarter-final series against the Bethanie Stirling Senators by 13 points.
The Senators had the better for large parts of the first half but the Tigers had done well to only trail by three points at the break and that was just on the back of a Tom Witts three on the buzzer for Stirling.
But the Tigers caught fire hitting seven threes in the fourth quarter and kept the Senators in check for the second half to end up winning 110-97 to claim the opening game of the best of three series that will now head to Warwick Stadium next Friday for Game 2.
The Senators started the game strongly and led for much of the first quarter before the Tigers did well to have scored tied up by quarter-time.
Again Stirling got on top for much of the second quarter and were in the bonus after only a couple of minutes with that potentially helping them open up a handy lead.
But the Tigers did well to minimise the damage and at half-time the Senators only led by three on the back of that buzzer-beating triple from Witts.
Willetton coach Stephen Black has no doubt his team not falling further down in the second quarter was a big factor in their win in the finish.
"In the second quarter we were able to minimise the damage and just by being able to keep that thing even, when it was our turn to do our thing we were able to push ahead rather than coming from 10 down," Black said.
"I was particularly happy that at half-time we were playing quite poorly, but we were in the game and only three down so that was pleasing."
It was then all Willetton in the second half and the Tigers opened up a game-winning advantage in the third quarter on the back of hitting eight three-pointers as Jay Bowie (four), Josh Johnson (two), Andrew Black and Damien Scott all nailed triples.
The Senators continued to fight hard but the Tigers stretched the gap further in the fourth quarter to go on and win by 13 points.
The Tigers ended up shooting 39-of-78 from the field at 50 per cent including 14-of-28 from three while the Senators finished with 33-of-76 at 43 per cent from the floor, and 5-of-21 at 23 per cent from deep.
Bowie was the star of the night for Willetton with 36 points and seven assists shooting 13-of-18 from the floor and 6-of-7 from three-point range, but he had plenty of strong support.
Captain Kyle Armour added 21 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in a strong performance with Johnson a powerful force inside, and out, ending up with 17 points and four boards while hitting all three of long-range attempts.
Nic Cody contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots for Willetton while Charles Funches added eight points and eight boards, Scott seven points and six rebounds, and Dan Casey six points.
Kyle Lindbergh top-scored for the Senators with 26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots on shooting 10-of-16 from the field.
Ashley Litterick was a spark off the bench for Stirling with 18 points while AJ Majstrovich added 16 points and nine rebounds, Corban Wroe 12 points, six boards and four assists, and Cody Ellis 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Black came away happy with the result but still feeling both teams would feel they can improve next week with the series on the line. But for so many guys to step up was something that left him most proud of his group.
"I think it was one of those games where both teams probably felt they could have played a bit better, but I was really proud of the way our guys hung in there. We then just caught fire for a few minutes there in the third and that was the difference. I'm really proud of the way the guys played," Black said.
"Obviously Jay's a superstar but all year we have shown we have such a wealth of scoring talent. JJ was great tonight and Scotty was as sick as a dog and did anything he could to still help us, and you put a guy like that in and it shows what it means.
"I thought Kyle Armour was fantastic as well and that's where we have that wealth of offensive talent, and when they play defence together like they did in this game they can really do good things.
"I thought that we had a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. Dan Casey was sensational, Andrew was great, JJ at times as well and all of these guys came in and had an impact."
FRIDAY MEN'S SBL QUARTER FINAL MATCH
Goodlife Homes Willetton Tigers 110 defeated Bethanie Stirling Senators 97
Article by Chris Pike
Photo by June Halliday