THE Perth Redbacks took their talents to Warwick Stadium on Sunday backing up the wins over the South West Slammers on Saturday and performed well despite just coming up short against two strong Warwick Senators teams.
There’s every chance that both the Senators women and men are favourites to win the West Coast Classic championships in this SBL replacement season so Sunday’s trek for the Redbacks to Warwick Stadium was always going to present a challenge.
But the Redbacks did come into the afternoon full of confidence with the women having beaten the South West Slammers 111-34 on Saturday at Belmont Oasis to improve to a 5-2 so far in the West Coast Classic.
The Redbacks men were also coming off a strong 93-55 victory against the Slammers on Saturday night setting up the tantalising match up with a Senators team led by Mike Ellis as coach and Cody Ellis as captain up against Perth’s coach CJ Jackson and his son Tevin Jackson.
The Sunday women’s contest to close Round 5 in the West Coast Classic always shaped as being a fascinating affair and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Senators had improved to 3-1 on the back of their win on Friday while the Redbacks remained undefeated at home after beating the South West Slammers on Saturday night by 77 points to improve to 5-2 and be knocking on the door of the top four.
Warwick threatened to open a handy gap in the first quarter with Jayda Clark putting the home team up 15-9 before Shenae Hartree responded for the Redbacks with a three-pointer.
Things remained tight with the Senators a point up by quarter-time before Jess Jakens gave the Redbacks the early lead in the second period. She scored again to put her side up by three before Maddie Allen made it five.
The Redbacks were building momentum with Jakens putting them up seven before a three-point play from Allen made it eight shortly before half-time. By the main break, the Redbacks had done well to lead 42-34 after Hartree converted the and-one.
The lead for the Redbacks was then out to 10 early in the second half with Jakens scoring another bucket and by three quarter-time they did remain in control leading 62-53.
When Maddie Allen hit four quick points for the Redbacks midway through the fourth quarter to have them leading 70-58 with 5:45 to go, they appeared on target for the win.
But the scene was set remarkably similar to Friday night for the Senators only this time on their home floor.
The first sign of the fight back began with a Jayda Clark triple except that was immediately answered by Bri Bailey to keep Perth up 12 with under four minutes left.
This time it was Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard who firstly scored from inside and then from beyond the arc to make it a seven-point game.
Turnovers were stopping the Redbacks even getting shots off at the other end and when Nicole Jorre De St Jorre connected from deep, the Senators were down just one and there was less than two minutes now to go.
Ultimately the game then went the way of the Senators for good when Stacey Barr hit a triple from way downtown as the shot clock was expiring, and then a foul was called under the basket on Redbacks veteran Denielle Lipscombe.
Clearly the Redbacks didn’t like the crucial call, but it sent Clark to the foul line where she made both and put the Senators up five and they went on to win 81-77.
For Redbacks coach Craig Allen, it was a frustrating finish to the game but not totally unexpected against a Senators team that just has that belief they can win from any position.
“It pretty much was the same in the finish to their game on Friday, unfortunately for us. I think at the end of the day we just went away from what was working for us and played into their game play really, and into a style that suited them,” Allen said.
“We went away from what we do well and that hurt us at the end of the day. They have got a whole lot of really potent scoring outputs.
“Stacey hits the three from deep deep to tie the game up and they obviously do have that belief which comes from experience and knowledge of what their game is like. They executed well at the end there and unfortunately we fell a bit short.”
Maddie Allen backed up her triple-double from the night before by delivering another 18 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots.
Jess Jakens was outstanding too for the Redbacks with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists while Shenae Hartree finished with 16 points and five boards.
Bri Bailey continues to impress as point guard too and had 12 points, five assists and four rebounds with Denielle Lipscombe adding nine points and eight rebounds.
For coach Allen, while the loss was tough to take, he wants his team to learn from what the Senators did to them in the dying stages of the match and now to take that with them going forward to make sure nobody does that to them again.
“There’s a lot for us to take out of it, absolutely. We showed that when we play our game that we are an excellent team, we are a very good team if we play our game,” Allen said.
“But we have to maintain that composure and that belief that what we do is more than adequate to play at this level, and be competitive with the better teams.
“Now we can use this pain moving forward from losing this game and take positives and learning from that, and know where we can develop as a group going forward, and have belief.
“We were excellent defensively for that first 35 minutes and we contained their scoring threats, but unfortunately we lost a little bit of composure at the offensive end and they hurt us up the other end.
“Those sort of learnings are things we need to take on board and it’s all about 100 per cent of focus for 100 per cent of the game time.”
Then in the men’s battle, even though Caleb Davis scored the first basket of the game for the Senators, the Redbacks got off to the quick start and when Tevin Jackson drained a triple, they were up 9-2 before Justin King steadied the home team with a pair of free throws.
But Marshall Nelson hit from downtown to stretch Perth’s lead to 14-4 before he again connected from three-point land to give the Redbacks the early 17-4 advantage.
That became 16 just before the end of the opening period with another three-pointer from Ethan Vlahov before Justin King connected from downtown from the Senators just on quarter-time.
The Redbacks were able to maintain a near double-figure lead for much of the second period and were still up seven with 2:30 to go in the half when Tevin Jackson nailed one from three-point land.
But the Senators kept fighting and had the deficit back to just three at half-time after a late triple from Jay Thwaites.
The Senators then took over in the third quarter and piled on 33 points while holding the Redbacks to 21. They were on top by nine at three quarter-time and then were never seriously threatened in the fourth period despite the best efforts of the Redbacks.
Nelson fouling out didn’t help the cause of the visitors and it was a Cody Ellis triple that staved off any fight back from the Redbacks to steady the Senators to a six-point lead with three minutes to go, and they went on to win by 11.
Despite battling foul trouble and fouling out in the end, Marshall Nelson had 25 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Redbacks while hitting 4/9 from three-point territory.
Tevin Jackson added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists with Joel Wagner contributing 13 points and eight assists.
Caleb White also had 11 points and three rebounds, Ethan Vlahov five points and six rebounds, Dennis Tawhiti four points and four boards, Neema Kazemi three points, and Michael Riley two points and two rebounds.
Redbacks coach CJ Jackson always knew it would be a tough ask against the Senators having played the previous night, but ultimately he takes a lot from the game despite the result not going the way of the Redbacks.
“I think it was always going to be a tough ask especially after how we started out. I think we had a lot of guys who were pretty tired after playing a lot of minutes in a pretty physical game last night against the Slammers,” Jackson said.
“It was a physical game for us because we ran hard to establish a good lead. And then today to back it up for a lot of guys to play against some big, big units out there and some healthy bodies and experienced players was always going to be a tough ask for us.
“I don’t feel too disappointed even though obviously you don’t like losing. But at the end of the day, this is a pre-season tournament and it gives us a chance to play some of the boys in the heat of the games to see how they go in those moments.
“It will hold us in good stead for next year and one of our player, Michael Riley’s father told me that we have so many guys on the roster under 20 years old. So to be bringing those guys along and to be going how we are, I think we’re going OK. I’m pretty happy with how we are going.”