The Perth Redbacks made it a memorable night in tribute to Len Vlahov on Friday night against the Cockburn Cougars but couldn’t quite back that up 24 hours later against the Perry Lakes Hawks.
The Redbacks were impressive in both the Women’s and Men’s contests at Belmont Oasis on Friday night. The first home game of any season for the Redbacks is played in tribute to Len Vlahov and it was an evening of wins for Perth against Cockburn.
It started with the Women’s clash with the Redbacks winning 87-71 with Jess Jakens winning the Len Vlahov Memorial MVP trophy. The Redbacks men backed that up with a 112-76 victory and it was Caleb White receiving the Len Vlahov trophy for his performance.
The night didn’t quite go as well on Saturday for the Redbacks at Bendat Basketball Centre with a pair of wins for Perry Lakes. The Lady Hawks beat the Redbacks 71-51 and then backed it up with a win in the men’s encounter 93-65.
That leaves the Redbacks with a 2-2 record in both West Coast Classic competitions after the opening two rounds ahead of hosting the East Perth Eagles on Friday with the men backing up against the Geraldton Buccaneers on Saturday also at Belmont Oasis.
It is now an annual tradition for the first home game of any season to be the Len Vlahov Tribute Game and while it’s a lot later into 2020 than any of us anticipated, that occasion came on Friday night at Belmont Oasis against the Cockburn Cougars.
The night got underway with a seesaw battle in the women’s contest but the Redbacks finished strongly with 30 points to 13 in the fourth quarter to win 87-71.
The Redbacks women came into the game after massively contrasting results in the opening round of the West Coast Classic with a 36-point loss to the Joondalup Wolves backed up by a 33-point win against the Mandurah Magic.
It proved to be the ultimate seesaw contest throughout the evening with the Redbacks grabbing the first piece of momentum with Maddie Allen scoring to give them a 20-12 lead just before quarter-time.
Jess Jakens ensured the home team still led 22-15 by quarter-time and then Sarah Allen hit a three to make it a 10-point margin, which remained at nine midway through the second period with a triple from Shenae Hartree.
Cockburn was working back into the contest, though, and by the time Tahlia Fejo banked in a three on the half-time buzzer the Redbacks were only up two.
Tia Morgan hit from deep to open the second half to give Cockburn the lead to start the second half and then Jodee Sontay extended that advantage to four.
Morgan again connected from beyond the arc and suddenly the Cougars led by seven before another Redbacks turnover and a Kirsty Pitcher layup.
This time it was the Redbacks’ turn to comeback from being eight down and when 16-year-old Brooke Malone nailed a floater, it was again just a two-point game late in the third period.
Briana Bailey made a three to close the quarter to bring Perth back within a point and then the Redbacks turned on the afterburners in the fourth period. They piled on 30 points to 13 to end up with the 87-71 win over the Cougars.
Jess Jakens was the star on the night and received the Len Vlahov Memorial Trophy afterwards for putting up 24 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals on shooting 10/15 from the field.
Shenae Hartree showed what an exciting future she has with 22 points and seven rebounds with Maddie Allen contributing 18 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots.
Denielle Lipscombe added 11 points and four assists too for the Redbacks.
The Redbacks women then backed up against the Hawks on Saturday night, and they actually started well with the opening four points of the game thanks to Briana Bailey and Denielle Lipscombe.
Shenae Hartree even ensured that Perth still led 8-6 halfway through the quarter and they were still only down four by quarter-time.
But the gap was starting to open up and it had grown to 13 points in favour of Perry Lakes by half-time, 22 by three quarter-time and then the Redbacks stemmed the tide to leave the final margin at 20.
The 28 turnovers combined with shooting 33 per cent from the field and 15 per cent from three was far from what coach Craig Allen would have wanted to see.
Jess Jakens still had a strong and efficient game with 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals on shooting 7/9 from the field.
Denielle Lipscombe added eight points, five rebounds and four assists too for the Redbacks while Briana Bailey finished with eight points, Maddie Allen eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks, Brooke Malone six points and four boards, and Shenae Hartree four points, three rebounds and three steals.
Meanwhile, the Redbacks men had an up and down opening weekend in the West Coast Classic losing on Friday to the Joondalup Wolves before beating the Mandurah Magic 24 hours later while the Cougars lost first up to the Rockingham Flames.
With the SBL’s all-time assists leader Joel Wagner running the ship and Tevin Jackson and Caleb White out on the wings with all the athleticism in the world, and then the scoring ability of Marshall Nelson, it was quite a show they were able to put on especially in the first half.
The Redbacks piled on 42 points in the opening quarter topped off with a Nelson three on the buzzer two metres beyond the arc.
The Redbacks would end up dominating the rest of the game and ended up leading by as much as 47 points before eventually winning 112-76.
The Redbacks went on to shoot 41/79 from the field at 51 per cent and 12/29 from deep at 41 per cent.
Caleb White ended up with 28 points, seven rebounds and three assists on remarkably efficient shooting of 10/14 from the floor and 4/5 from deep while playing only 26 minutes.
Marshall Nelson also put up 28 points, six rebounds and six assists for Perth on 9/16 shooting with 3/6 from three-point territory.
Tevin Jackson showed his all-round game with 14 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists including a couple of massive slams, including a thunderous putback dunk.
Joel Wagner might not have scored but had six assists including a wonderful alley-oop pass to Caleb White who finished in style while Neema Kazemi put up 14 points and six boards.
Dennis Tawhiti stood tall for 10 points inside for Perth too with Michael Riley scoring eight points.
Things were much different on Saturday night for the Redbacks again without Zac Gattorna while Joel Wagner also didn’t play and Marshall Nelson ended up only playing 14 minutes for two points due to foul trouble.
The Redbacks were able to keep pace with the Hawks in the opening half for the most part to limit the damage to a Perry Lakes 51-42 lead. But the Hawks ran away with it in the second half piling on 42 points to 25 to end up winning by 28.
Caleb White again top-scored for the Redbacks with 15 points on 7/9 shooting and playing just 23 minutes.
Bang Majok finished with eight points and five rebounds, Neema Kazemi eight points and six boards, Michael Riley six points and four rebounds, Dennis Tawhiti six points and three boards, and Lachlan Bertram six points.
Tevin Jackson added five points and four rebounds, Ethan Vlahov four points, three boards and two steals, David Swaby two points and three rebounds, Kyden Edman two points and two boards, and Ronan Coppin one points, two steals and two assists.