Game 3 Women's Semi Final wrap
HOME court proved the answer for the Joondalup Wolves as the minor premier advanced to the Women's SBL Grand Final over the Perry Lakes Hawks while the Willetton Tigers beat the Flames in Rockingham for a second time to win through to a second straight decider.
Both semi-final match ups went into Game 3 deciders on Saturday night after the Orange Autos Rockingham Flames beat the Goodlife Homes Willetton Tigers 76-62 at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Friday night, and the Perry Lakes Hawks defeated the Merriwa Tavern & Bistro Joondalup City Wolves 60-56 at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Heading back to Joondalup Basketball Stadium helped the Lady Wolfpack beat the Hawks 74-49 in Game 3 on Saturday night but the comforts of home didn’t help the two-time defending champion Flames as the Tigers won at Mike Barnett Sports Complex for a second time in eight days, this time in a much closer affair 54-50.
That sets up a tantalising Women's SBL Grand Final at Bendat Basketball Centre on Friday night with the Joondalup Wolves playing the Willetton Tigers.
It is the first Grand Final for the Lady Wolfpack since winning the 2013 championship and it's a second straight for the Tigers who last won a title with a third in succession in 2011.
Joondalup dominated Game 1 at home against Perry Lakes leading 51-14 at half-time before going on to win 80-50, but the Hawks responded on Friday night to prevail by four points on their home floor to force the decider.
However, the Wolves again showed they are tough to stop at home controlling the game from the outset to again hold match-winning advantage by half-time, this time it was 40-17 and they went on to win by 25 points.
Neither team shot overly well with the Wolves going 35 per cent from the field and 31 per cent from deep, and the Hawks 32 per cent from the floor and 42 from three.
Perry Lakes also won the rebounding count by three but had a monstrous 31 turnovers and Joondalup scored 32 points from those which saw them end up taking 21 more shots which was decisive.
Klara Wischer set the game up for the Lady Wolfpack in the first half and finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while Amy Kidner contributed 13 points and six boards, Shani Amos 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Nikita-Lee Martin nine points, seven boards and four assists.
Shanice Swain gave great production off the bench with 11 points including three triples with Sherelle Knight contributing six points, four rebounds and two steals.
The Wolves were again without centre Ellyce Ironmonger as she attended a wedding in the United States but she is expected back for the Grand Final.
Wolfpack coach Craig Friday was relieved to get past a tough Hawks team on the back of having two of the three games at home.
"They were really good on Friday and we weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be, and we probably went away from what we did really well the last week," Friday said.
"But coming back onto our home court we were comfortable in our own surroundings and got some things done which was nice. The margin probably isn’t fair to Perry Lakes in the finish but credit to my girls for playing very, very well."
Deanna Smith scored 10 points for the Hawks to go with eight rebounds in what is likely her last SBL appearance with retirement on the horizon.
Lauren Jeffers added 10 points and four assists for Perry Lakes while Kate Anthony finished with six points, Mia Satie six points and five rebounds, and Antonia Edmondson five points and 14 boards.
Hawks coach CJ Jackson was deservedly proud of the season of his team but falling behind in both semi finals at Joondalup proved too much to overcome.
"During the season we set ourselves up well by coming in fourth spot and we kind of surprised a lot of the competition who might have underestimated where we were situated at, and what we were able to achieve," Jackson said.
"For us to go to the final four, speaks volumes of what we have achieved and we have only missed out on one more week of basketball so we did alright.
"But it's tough playing catch up especially when you are going against the experience of the opposition like they have. They only lost three games all season and that's a testament to how well they are help give us a chance to be in a winning situation."
Then at Mike Barnett Sports Complex, the two teams from last year's Grand Final went at it with only one team able to make it back there in 2016 and it was set up for a tense affair after the first two games went the way of the visiting side.
Last Friday night, Willetton played an outstanding Game 1 in Rockingham to win 82-59 but the Flames bounced back on Friday night at Willetton Basketball Stadium to by 14 to force the decider back on their home floor.
The Flames did lose Ifunanya Ibekwe from Friday night and in the end neither team could really get any flow going under the pressure with a Grand Final berth at stake considering both deservedly had championship aspirations in 2016.
The Tigers did break away in the second quarter holding the Flames to just the five points to lead 31-18 at the half but Rockingham hit back hard in the third period with 21 points to eight to see scores all tied up going into the fourth.
But Willetton scored the opening eight points of the quarter and that was enough to make the job too hard for Rockingham and the Tigers advance to the Grand Final and eliminate the team that beat them in last year's decider and who won the last two championships.
It was far from a pretty game with Willetton ending up shooting 19-of-62 from the field at 30 per cent with 3-of-10 from three while Rockingham hit just 17-of-69 at 24 per cent from the floor and 7-of-38 from deep at 18 per cent.
The Tigers did outrebound the Flames by three but also had six more turnovers but in the end Willetton hit its shots to start the fourth quarter when it mattered.
Kate Malpass was terrific for Willetton finishing with 22 points and seven rebounds while going a perfect 8-of-8 at the foul line.
Desiree Kelley added eight points and 10 rebounds, Ebony Antonio eight points and five boards, Zoe Harper six points and five rebounds, and Louella Tomlinson four points and six boards.
Sami Whitcomb top-scored for the Flames with 19 points and 14 rebounds while Darcee Garbin added 11 points and nine boards, and Jacinta Bourne eight points, four rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and two steals.
WOMEN'S SEMI FINAL GAME 3 MATCHES
Merriwa Tavern & Bistro Joondalup City Wolves 74 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 49
Orange Autos Rockingham Flames 50 lost to Goodlife Homes Willetton Tigers 54
Article by Chris Pike
Photo by Serene-Elise Photography