Week 1 Friday night SBL wrap
WARWICK Stadium hosted its first two official SBL matches on Friday night since its grand opening to begin the 2016 season and they were two beauties with the Stirling Senators women and Lakeside Lightning men coming away victorious.
The three women's matches to open the season saw the Willetton Tigers beat the East Perth Eagles 72-57, the Perth Redbacks down the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 72-56 and the Stirling Senators win the thriller of the night over the Lakeside Lightning 67-66.
Then in the men's contests, the Willetton Tigers defeated the East Perth Eagles 90-82, the Perth Redbacks won a high-scoring shootout 123-112 over the Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Lakeside Lightning prevailed in a thriller 101-98 over the Stirling Senators.
The women's action began at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre, with last year's grand finalists Willetton proving too strong for East Perth ending up winning by 15 points. The Eagles got off to a strong start but the Tigers took over the second and third quarters to set up the win.
Ebony Antonio finished with 19 points and five rebounds for Willetton while shooting 6-of-10 from the floor, and 2-of-4 from three-point range. Kate Malpass started the season impressively too with 19 points and six boards while shooting 7-of-11 from the field.
Lara Napier contributed 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Tigers.
Nicole Jorre St Jorre top-scored for the Eagles with 14 points while hitting 6-of-8 from the field. No other East Perth player managed more than Gemma Houghton's six points though.
Then at Ray Owen Sports Centre, the off-season's biggest movers the Redbacks got their season off to an impressive start scoring a win on the road over the Eastern Suns by 16 points.
The Redbacks got off to a stunning start with 25 points to nine in the opening period and opened up a 60-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter before winning 72-56.
Perth's new signings all made an impact on the opening night as well with Rebecca Mercer scoring 12 points to go with five assists while Lisa Wallbutton had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Ajay Jones eight points, five boards and three assists.
Jess Jakens enjoyed having more help around her and contributed 10 points and nine rebounds for the Redbacks while off the bench, Shannon Street had seven points and Lori Ashworth seven.
Natalia Soli'ai top-scored for the Eagles off the bench recording a double-double made up of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Melissa Moyle also had 10 points, six boards and three steals off the bench.
Sarah-Jane MacMahon had eight points and nine rebounds for East Perth, Sabrina Jeridore eight points and eight boards, and Jorjah Smith seven points and four assists.
And finally at the new Warwick Stadium, the new venue hosted its first official SBL match and it was a cracker. The Lightning led narrowly most of the evening but it was the Senators who found something late to outscore them in the fourth quarter for the one-point win.
Amber Land had a monster night for Stirling with 18 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks. She also had eight turnovers. New import Kara Van Dyke also had 18 points and nine rebounds on debut.
Taylor Bestry added 13 points and six boards for the Senators while Amanda Beatson finished with seven points and five rebounds off the bench.
Alison Schwagmeyer showed why she is a huge pick up for the Lightning on return to the SBL in 2016 with 24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Courtney Byrnes contributed 10 points and six rebounds as well for Lakeside with Devanny King finishing with eight points and 10 boards.
The men's opening night also had three corresponding at the same venues following on from the women's contests.
That saw Willetton start its new campaign off on a winning note downing East Perth by eight points at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre. The Tigers took the game over in the third period with 28 points to 13 to set up the eventual victory.
Jay Bowie had an outstanding SBL season in 2015 for the Goldfields Giants and showed why he will be such a valuable pick up for the Tigers with 36 points and 12 rebounds on the back of shooting 14-of-20 from the floor.
Nic Cody added 12 points for Willetton, Josh Johnson 12 points and seven rebounds, Damien Scott eight points, Kyle Armour eight points and Mitchell Clarke eight points.
New import Thomas Korf was East Perth's top-scorer with 24 points hitting 8-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-5 from downtown.
Rhys Vague finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Eagles, Nikola Donlagic 18 points and Drew Williamson 10 to go with four rebounds and two assists.
At Ray Owen Sports Centre, the Redbacks got off to a scintillating start against the Eastern Suns with a 69-point first half to be leading by 20 points at the main break. Kalamunda had a solid second half outscoring Perth 63 to 54, but the Redbacks won by 11 points.
Coming off two outstanding import signings the last two years in Stan Okoye and Ray Turner, Redbacks coach Nik Lackovic looks to have found another based on his debut.
Jourdan DeMuynck was outstanding with 49 points and 11 rebounds shooting 18-of-28 from the field and 4-of-8 from the land of plenty.
Fellow import Reed McConnell impressed as well with 30 points and nine rebounds while Lewis Thomas had 17 points and 20 rebounds for the Redbacks, and Joel Wagner ran the ship with eight points and eight assists.
It was the Suns' bench that made the strongest contributions with Brandon McGill scoring 25 points, Tim Squire 22 and Ryan Blanchett 16 to go with 11 rebounds.
Kerrod Horn was the only starter for the Eastern Suns in double-figures finishing with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The men's contest at Warwick Stadium then backed up the women's thriller earlier in the night with the Lightning delivering a three-point victory over the Senators in the game of the night.
New Lightning import TJ Hallice was impressive with 24 points and 12 rebounds hitting 5-of-9 from three-point territory.
Tom Parkinson contributed 20 points as well for the Lightning with Daniel Alexander adding 16 points, nine boards and four assists, Corey Martin 15 points and six rebounds, and Seva Chan eight points, five rebounds and five assists.
Cody Ellis returned from his strong finish to the NBL season with the Illawarra Hawks to lead the Senators with 24 points and seven rebounds. Adrian Majstrovich also had 23 points and seven rebounds, and Kyle Lindbergh 15 points, 10 boards, five assists and three steals.
Another player from the NBL this season, Perth Wildcats championship winner Corban Wroe added 11 points and five assists in 32 minutes off the bench for Stirling with Ashley Litterick also contributing eight points and 11 rebounds.
FRIDAY WOMEN'S SBL MATCHES
East Perth Eagles 57 lost to Willetton Tigers 72
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 56 lost to Perth Redbacks 72
Stirling Senators 67 defeated Lakeside Lightning 66
FRIDAY MEN'S SBL MATCHES
East Perth Eagles 82 lost to Willetton Tigers 90
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 112 lost to Perth Redbacks 123
Stirling Senators 98 lost to Lakeside Lightning 101
Article by Chris Pike