Friday night couldn’t have gone much more against the script for the Perth Redbacks women but their final season ladder position had earned them a finals double chance and now they will look to make the most of it this coming weekend.
The women Redbacks had done a tremendous job to finish the regular season on a winning note to lock away a third-place finish heading into the inaugural NBL1 West finals series.
That did provide a challenging task first up against the second-ranked Joondalup Wolves on Friday night at HBF Arena Joondalup in a qualifying final with the winner to advance straight into a preliminary final on their home floor.
The end result was a 90-48 win for the Wolfpack and a night to forget for the Redbacks, but the positive is they now get to play a semi-final at home this Friday night at Belmont Oasis with a chance to earn a crack against the Willetton Tigers in the preliminary final 24 hours later.
The opponents will be the same Cockburn Cougars team that the Redbacks did play well against at home in the final round of the regular season to score an impressive win.
Friday night loomed as a fascinating battle between two teams with an intriguing recent history against one another with a spot in the preliminary final on the line as the second-placed Wolfpack hosted the third-placed Redbacks.
The Redbacks had that added motivation of taking on former coach Charles Nix and a host of former players who are now at the Wolfpack.
The Wolves set the tone for the evening with a hot start scoring the first four points before Kayla Steindl hit a three-ball to give them the 7-2 opening. Nes’eya Williams then made it 9-2 but triples from Makailah Dyer and Bri Bailey for the Redbacks steadied the visitors.
The Redbacks then drew level when Dyer knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and it was game on, but the Wolves had all the answers with their impressive physical full-court defence and then scoring punch.
Joondalup finished the quarter with a 9-4 run to lead 26-21 on the back of a Georgia Denehey three-point buzzer-beater.
Turnovers really began to hurt the Redbacks during the second quarter with the defensive pressure of the Wolves leaving them shaken and thrown totally out of their usual game.
They might have felt hard done by to not get some calls their way in response to the defence the Wolfpack was playing, but either way, the home team really asserted their authority as the second quarter progressed.
It was Chelsea Belcher’s turn to hit a three on the buzzer going into half-time and Joondalup was on top 50-33.
Bailey hit her second three of the night to start the second half well for the Redbacks, but that would be as good as things got for the visitors with the Wolves scoring the next 13 points in a remarkably dominant run where the Redbacks continued to turn it over up the other end.
It was all academic from there with the Wolves going on to lead 72-40 by three quarter-time and to go on and score the 90-48 victory.
It was a tough night for the Redbacks, but they have earned a double chance to still make something of this finals campaign.
Makailah Dyer battled hard with 25 points and seven rebounds while hitting four three-pointers.
Bri Bailey added six points, Shenae Hartree four points and six rebounds, Jess Jakens four points and four boards, and Maddie Allen four points, seven rebounds and two assists.