Week 2 Men's Quarter Final Saturday night wrap
FOR the second straight year the Perry Lakes Hawks fell agonisingly short of beating the No. 1 seeds in the Men's SBL with the Cockburn Cougars winning Saturday's Game 3 with the Geraldton Buccaneers advancing also at the expense of the Land brothers, and the Rockingham Flames.
It was a cracking night of Men's SBL quarter-final action starting at Active West Stadium with Game 2 between the S&K Electrical Geraldton Buccaneers and Nags Head Tavern & Bistro Rockingham Flames.
Despite Cooper and Taylor Land giving everything in what is likely their final games for the Flames, the Buccaneers prevailed in the finish 107-101 to advance to the semi finals.
The Lapa Brazilian BBQ Restaurant Cockburn Cougars then hosted Game 1 of their quarter-final match up with the Perry Lakes Hawks at Wally Hagan Stadium.
It might have been the top seed against No. 8, but it proved a tremendous battle for the three games. In the finish the Cougars just managed to prevail in an outstanding contest, and series, 130-115.
The Saturday night results now see the Cougars and Buccaneers meet in the semi finals for a place in the 2016 Men's SBL Grand Final. Game 1 will take place next Saturday night in Geraldton.
The other semi-final battle was decided on Friday night with the Joondalup Wolves and Willetton Tigers eliminating the Perth Redbacks and Stirling Senators respectively.
Starting at Active West Stadium, it was a big and raucous crowd on hand to cheer on the Buccs after their remarkable Game 1 comeback victory last Sunday in Rockingham. They were given more to cheer about pre-game with the retirement of Ray Evans' No. 4 jersey.
The Flames, though, were determined not to bow out in two games and started strongly to lead by three at quarter-time.
The visitors still were two points up at half before the Buccs gradually wore them down with their home fans cheering them on to end up winning by six points to advance to the semi finals and end a season for Rockingham that promised so much more.
Little separated the two teams on the scoreboard or in any other area with the Buccs shooting 40-of-89 from the field at 44 per cent and 14-of-35 from three while the Flames shot 40-of-91 from the floor and 9-of-31 from three. But missing 12 free-throws could haunt Rockingham over summer.
Following his 39 points last Sunday, Jackson Hussey delivered another 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Buccaneers on the back of nailing 4-of-7 from three-point territory.
Matthew Adekponya returned from taking in the Olympic Games action in Rio and had 22 points, five assists and four rebounds for Geraldton as well less than 48 hours after returning.
Carter Cook also contributed 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists for the Buccs, Aaron Ralph 17 points and eight boards, Maurice Barrow 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Mat Wundenberg six points and 13 boards.
The Land brothers desperately didn’t want their time with the club to end and did all they could to get the Flames over the line. Cooper finished with 35 points and nine rebounds shooting 11-of-22 from the field, 6-of-11 from downtown and 7-of-9 from the foul line.
Taylor had a tremendous game as well ending up with 27 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals on 12-of-19 shooting from the floor.
Ryan Godfrey contributed 15 points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals for the Flames and Chudier Pal battled hard inside for 11 points and 14 rebounds, but he missed five of his six free-throw attempts.
The Hawks had plenty of momentum heading to Wally Hagan Stadium to take on the minor premier Cougars. Perry Lakes finished Game 1 at Cockburn strongly to fall just five points short and then prevailed in Game 2 at home on Friday night by 11.
The Cougars were without captain Gavin Field as well with an elbow injury that has ended his 2016 campaign, but the Hawks were still missing key role players Jordan Hickert and Josh Garlepp also.
All was on the line with the Cougars desperate not to bow out in the first round after finishing first and the Hawks not wanting to fall agonisingly short of beating the No. 1 seeds for a second straight year.
That set up a tense battle all evening on Saturday at Wally Hagan Stadium in a game played in front of a terrific atmosphere.
The inside battle between Marcus Goode and Brian Carlwell was worth the price of admission alone, as was Najee Lane trying to stop Bryton Hobbs from helping the Hawks steal the game from them.
But in the end the Cougars had too much depth with their firepower and were able to pull away in the second half to win by 15 points, but that final margin doesn’t tell the story of the closeness and tense nature of the contest right down to the dying stages.
The Cougars ended up having a terrific shooting night going 44-of-81 at 54 per cent while nailing 10-of-23 at 43 per cent from three, and getting to the line a monstrous 37 times and making 32. The Hawks shot 45 per cent from the field, 35 per cent from three and 75 per cent from the stripe.
Cockburn won the rebound battle 48 to 35 as well but Carlwell had a big impact inside helping the Hawks to 46 points in the paint to 36.
In the absence of Field, the Cougars someone to step up and it was Julian Pesava delivering the best performance of his young career with 31 points and eight rebounds while nailing five of six threes.
Goode did much of his damage outside the paint opposed to Carlwell ending the night with 26 points and 14 rebounds with Lane again contributing 22 points, five assists and four boards.
Daniel Thomas helped spark the Cougars early and finished with 19 points and three assists with Rhett Della outstanding finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Sheldon McIntyre added five points, seven boards and three assists.
Hobbs did all he could to keep the Hawks in the contest and to try and lift them over the line finishing with 43 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals shooting 14-of-32 from the floor, 7-of-18 from deep and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Carlwell was an intimidating force inside for Perry Lakes with 27 points and nine rebounds with Ryan Smith adding 18 points, six assists and five boards, and Ben Purser 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
MEN'S QUARTER FINAL GAME 2
S&K Electrical Geraldton Buccaneers 107 defeated Nags Head Tavern & Bistro Rockingham Flames 101
MEN'S QUARTER FINAL GAME 3
Lapa Brazilian BBQ Restaurant Cockburn Cougars 130 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 115
Article by Chris Pike
Photo by Mick Cronin