Twenty Years in the making - Cougars 2012

As quoted from Cougars Coach Steve ‘Charlie’ Charlton, his Grand Final program write up read; “who’d have predicted a Cockburn Cougars and East Perth Eagles grand final?”

The realistic answer – Not many.

Which teams in the SBL could have beaten the Cougars on Saturday night with their all round team effort, the flawless stretches of execution on offense and tough defense?

The realistic answer – Not many.

Traditional powerhouses Lakeside Lightning and the Wanneroo Wolves at full strength also may have struggled against the dominant Cougars on Saturday night. The culmination of a three-year guidance under the reign of Coach Charlton and the twenty year title drought for a proud club all came to fruition on completion of the 105 – 72 rout of the East Perth Eagles on Saturday night.

Every team, every premiership/championship carries many stories within it be it during the game or through the players that got there. The 1993 Wolves with the Craig Weston ‘show’ is one such example. ‘Westy’ went from unknown bench role player to hero with his late 3pt shooting onslaught vs. the favourite Cockburn Cougars in that final.

The dynasty’s of the 90’s Bunbury Slammers and the might of the Perry Lakes Hawks of the ‘noughties’ struck fear into opposition teams knowing that to get to the promised land, any title aspirations of other SBL teams had to pass through them to get there and most......failed.

The Geraldton Buccaneers of 2000 always had the depth to get to the grand final however it wasn’t until Big Al Erickson (ironically a favourite son of Cockburn) and a fiery redheaded Queenslander called DJ McGlynn arrived to mesh their talents with iconic SBL players such as Dan Hunt and Greg Brown that they got over the line. The Andy Stewart led Lakeside Lightning were powered by Andy Gilbert in 2005. Gilbert, a multitalented import who nobody wanted in college as a Division III product, came briefly to our league, and coupled with a young supporting cast (who are now solid veterans) and a couple of wily veterans they wrestled the trophy from the Perry Lakes Hawks who were on an unprecedented run to nab their fifth consecutive title.

The same could be said of the Giants premierships of 2007/2008. The arrival of Michael ‘The Beast” Haney and Darnell Dialls who joined city slickers Shamus Ballantyne and Mark Heron and a loyal local playing cast to create an unbeatable winning culture. Alex Prince’s shooting in the ‘clutch’ complemented NBL, Willetton Tiger talent Daniel Johnson and Cam Tovey on the way to the 2010 triumph.

Now the Cougars have many success stories from within. From the upcoming youth to the veterans of this proud team, the team can now boast 12 new premiership players.

I have vivid memories of a packed ‘Superdrome’ in 1992 when I went to the Cougars versus Slammers GF. The alleyoop dunks from Allen/Farrell/Clarke to Cattalini (the fist pump and blown up face of the ‘Cat’ holding the rim mid-dunk was the SBL guide pic the following year), the 'Warhorse' Kelly Houston greedily taking every rebound and tipping in ridiculous shots from all over the paint and hobbling back on defense, The ‘Glove’ Mike Forsyth wearing down anyone in a Slammers top, with his defensive prowess under coach Greg Gurr. Lining up to enter the game as a youngster (yes lining up to enter an SBL GF) and then being in awe of the James Fitch vs. Alan Erickson showdown was also a memorable sight. All of this was squashed into that one grand final with the Cougars emerging victors 107 – 91.

Fast Forward to 2012 and once again “it is a great day to be a Cougar!”

A symbolic picture hangs in the Cougar Den of the 1992 team. As mentioned previously the image of then Assistant Coach Garry Field with then little two year old son Gavin on his lap was repeated on Saturday night. With victory complete, the team recognised the sentiment and value of the occasion and got another team photo complete with father and son, front and centre of the treasured post-game celebrations. Unfortunately for Field Snr, said son is now 205cm!

Some things you may not have known from the grand final;

Congratulations to Joe-Alan Tupaea who took part in his eighth SBL grand final. Four titles with the powerhouse Hawks and contributing to the Eagles first trip to the SBL grand final highlights this hardened veterans value to any team.

Coach Adam Forde has brought success to both the Mens and Womens programs at the East Perth Eagles in a short time frame at the club. Not bad for a young coach who was controversially sacked prior to his involvement with the Eagles. Coach Forde might need to change his long term plan for the Eagles as he may have already fast tracked to a couple of his targets within this season alone! If the Eagles can maintain their core depth they will still continue to surprise and be amongst the teams to beat in 2013.

Coach Steve Charlton is the first Coach in SBL history to win a title as Head Coach of two different teams (The Goldfields Giants and the 2012 Cockburn Cougars).

After a lifetime involvement with the club Grant ‘Gary’ Davey earns his first SBL title. A true reward for perseverance, loyalty and providing leadership and guidance to a relatively young basketball team. He was the lone survivor from the 1998 loss to Bunbury and whilst others sought glory elsewhere and left the club, Davey stayed true to the Blue and Gold and deservedly received the second loudest cheer of the night.

Sheldon McIntyre set the tone early for the Cougars on Saturday night with critical clutch plays at both ends off the floor. In 2008, a promising career looked a possibility to end with some serious knee problems that also plagued his 2009 season. For those who witnessed his game on Saturday, this could not have been further from the truth.

Gavin ‘Bag of Bones’ Field, rids of his monstrous but hideous playoff beard and coupled with his stellar defense on former Wildcat Drew Williamson, contributed massively to the win on Saturday night. ‘BOB’ now has a photo of his own to brag about instead of being the “who’s that little kid at the front” every time someone looks at the 1992 Cougars title picture!

Basketball journeyman Luke ‘Maddawg’ Callier finally won the elusive championship that he could not get in an ABA/SBL career that has spanned 16 seasons and covered four states. Callier was also the only non-Cougar junior amongst the entire grand final roster which highlights the importance of home grown talent versus the quick and easy method of ‘buying a playoff roster’.

Steve Van Lit missed the grand final due to injury, however his contribution to aid in getting the Cougars there should not go unnoticed. If they return to the Grand Final in 2013 he will seek validation on the games biggest stage. If they get back there, will he deliver?

The play of Jeremiah Wilson! What an all-round, athletic basketball specimen with the complete skill set. Anybody complaining about the ticket price or the overinflated food costs would have been happy that they paid to see Wilson in full flight. I think the Cougars will prioritise his signing amongst others.

The flashy brilliance of Damian Scott. Scoring 21 points in the grand final, Scott was the perfect complement to the import tandem of Brian Carlwell and Wilson. Not only did he wow the crowd with his array of offensive moves, he also showed that his defense is improving. All of this was also done under the watchful scrutiny of Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge.

Brian Carlwell vs. Tom Jervis – These two behemoths fought hard for their respective teams with Carlwell getting the nod with a solid double-double. One of the highlights of the night was the ‘pain threshold’ of Carlwell when he experienced calf cramps. Whilst all were concerned for his well-being, the theatrics, the looks to the heavens, the hobbling and the animation made for a few light hearted moments in the second half. The ‘amazing’ comeback was complete when he hobbled out and still managed to score a few more buckets. An SBL title and the following celebrations may have resulted a swift recovery!

Finally I mentioned the second loudest cheer of the night went to Cougar stalwart Grant Davey. The loudest cheer was rightfully saved for the spiritual leader of the Cougar family – Team Manager Pete ‘Satay’ Stanley. On the announcement of his name, Stanley turned and gave the Cougar crowd a huge double pump and the faithful went crazy. All team managers in all sports take on a selfless role and often thankless task that players sometimes forget – players often screaming “pass me the water”, “where’s my towel”, “get me some tape!” and so on and so on. On this night all of the boys made sure that Big Pete was front and centre of any photo or celebration which is highlighted by the picture as well as the team song rendition post-game. The Team Manager was also proud father on the mid-range jump shot that was hit by his son and long-time Cougar Ben ‘Ziggy’ Stanley as the Cougars wound up their late game celebrations. Nobody epitomises this team more than the ‘Satay’. Congratulations to you Pete Stanley.

Congratulations to the Cockburn Cougars SBL Champions 2012.

By Bryce McGlaughlin-Williams
Photo by Helen Theoharakis (Hoop Shots)


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