The Perth Redbacks are back at home this Saturday night and it’s two more monster games in both the Women’s and Men’s Divisions of the NBL1 West with both teams up against the Lakeside Lightning.
The women’s match begins proceedings at 5pm with the men’s match to follow at 7pm.
There is plenty on the line in both encounters for the Redbacks. As we get down to the business end of the season, every game takes on greater significance in the race for the playoffs.
Coming into Saturday night’s women’s encounter, Perth come into the contest in sixth position with a 7-6 record while Lakeside is just outside the top eight with a 4-6 record.
Plenty at stake for both teams
That means that a win on Saturday night for the Redbacks would go a long way to securing their playoff position while also keeping themselves in with a chance of breaking through for a top four finish.
There’s plenty at stake for Lakeside too, though, with all four teams from 8th through to 11th on four wins coming into Round 14. A win on Saturday night for the Lightning could well see them back in the top eight.
The Redbacks had a mixed bag last weekend with the double-header as part of NAIDOC Round starting with an impressive win on the road against the Joondalup Wolves on Friday before a loss at home against the Willetton Tigers back at Belmont Oasis.
The Lightning, meanwhile, are coming off a win last up against the Cockburn Cougars. But that 38-point victory was now three weeks ago and they haven’t played since given the COVID-19 lockdown two weeks ago and then their bye last weekend while their men played in Kalgoorlie.
Last time they met
The two teams haven’t played yet this season in the NBL1 West competition meaning their last meeting was in the final round of the West Coast Classic in 2020.
On that occasion, the game promised to be a cracker coming into it with the potential of a finals spot on the line and the Redbacks should have been fresh off the bye as well and ready to fire while the Lightning had to bounce back from losses last weekend to the Wolves and Senators.
But it was Lakeside who were unstoppable from the outset at Lakeside Recreation Centre. The Lightning raced to a 22-3 start and the game was effectively over already.
Lakeside would go into the half-time break leading 45-15 before winning 74-40. Courtney Mansfield delivered 18 points, Ash Isenbarger 15, Kyrah Daniels 12, Ellyce Ironmonger eight and Mia Jacobs eight.
There wasn’t much to write home about from a Redbacks perspective with Maddie Allen growing frustrated but still finishing with four points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
Bri Bailey scored eight points for the Redbacks, Sarah Allen seven, Ella Thornton-Elliott seven, Jess Jakens six, Chanah Crugnale four and Shenae Hartree three.
The Redbacks will now be determined to turn that result around even though there is plenty of difference in personnel at both clubs including Makailah Dyer back for Perth, and she’s looking forward to the contest.
“We’re feeling pretty confident even though we didn’t win on Saturday,” Dyer said.
“We thought we ended up having a pretty good fight left in us and in the fourth quarter we brought it back within four points.
“We feel good having been able to split against those two good teams so hopefully we can take that momentum from those games into this weekend and try and get another win.”
That then leads into what should be a tantalising men’s battle between two on fire teams in the Redbacks and Lightning who have every right to be able to call themselves the form teams of the competition alongside the Perry Lakes Hawks.
Both teams are in great form and stacked with talent
The Redbacks have won their past three matches and going back further, seven of the previous eight after starting the season losing four of their opening six games. That now has them in fifth position coming into Round 14 with a 9-5 record but three games behind third.
As good as the Redbacks have been playing, the Lightning certainly present a significant test on Saturday night.
Lakeside has now won five straight matches to sit in second position with an 11-2 record and they can continue to press for top spot with another victory at Belmont Oasis over the Redbacks. So they will not arrive lacking in any motivation whatsoever.
There’s a lot to like about the match ups to look forward too as well with each club led by an all-time great with the Joel Wagner captaining the Redbacks as the league’s assists leader while Jarrad Prue continues to lead the Lightning as the league’s greatest ever rebounder.
The Lightning then have dynamic scorers like Jay Bowie, Jack Isenbarger and Rowan Mackenzie with Kyle Armour running the point as he resumes his long-standing rivalry with Wagner.
Then with the Redbacks you have the big-time scoring abilities of Marshall Nelson, Zac Gattorna and Louis Timms with the all-round talents of Tevin Jackson so the stage is set for a fascinating match up.
Last time they met
This will be the first meeting between the clubs since last round of the West Coast Classic when there was a spot in the top four on the line.
The competition came to the most dramatic of finishes with the Lightning needing to win by 15 points to advance to fourth position and into the semi finals. In the end, they would beat the Redbacks by exactly that margin.
The Lightning led by 19 when Nick Palleschi scored and were still up 19 a couple of more occasions, and still by 18 before Marshall Nelson hit a three for the Redbacks and Joel Wagner scored inside.
That cut it back to 13 and meant the Redbacks were back in fourth spot. But Isenbarger scored again for Lakeside to make it a 15-point game and that’s where it stayed until the Lightning had possession from the side out of a timeout with no shot clock left.
They couldn’t get the ball inbounds though. The Redbacks forced the turnover and then it was their ball and all they had to do was score and fourth position was theirs.
They got a good look too with a drive and dish to Nikora, but he couldn’t knock down his third triple of the night and the Lightning won by 15 and booked in a finals spot.
Anything close to a dramatic encounter like that between two quality teams and everyone in attendance at Belmont Oasis on Saturday night will be in for a treat.