THE Perth Redbacks will finish the West Coast Classic regular season undefeated on their home floor at Belmont Oasis after two more wins against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns on Friday night.
While there is three rounds still remaining in the West Coast Classic for 2020, the Redbacks have exhausted their home fixtures but certainly made the most of them with both the women and men going through undefeated at Belmont Oasis.
It was a thrilling women’s contest on Friday night but ultimately it was a Jess Jakens offensive rebound and put back that won the game for the Redbacks 74-72 over the Eastern Suns who had two chances at the death but Jewel Williams’ three-point attempts from way downtown didn’t fall.
The Redbacks men then had to overcome a slow start and trailing by eight points midway through the second quarter to end up dominating from that point on to come away with the 90-63 win over the Suns.
Not only do the results mean that the Redbacks remain unbeaten at home this season, but both the women’s and men’s teams remain in the finals mix with three rounds of the West Coast Classic remaining.
Coming into the women’s game the Redbacks and Eastern Suns appeared like they would be tough to separate and that’s exactly how the game panned out at Belmont Oasis.
It was a remarkably close affair the whole way with nothing more than five points separating the two teams the entire contest. Both teams made a run of scoring eight straight points at different times, but never did more than five points separate them.
It was always destined to go down to the wire as a result especially with both teams knowing what was at stake with it marking the beginning of the last month in the West Coast Classic.
Kalamunda started the fourth quarter up three but Shenae Hartree soon changed that and gave Perth the one-point lead with a triple to start the fourth quarter. Jess Jakens then hit a jumper two to make it a three-point lead before the Eastern Suns responded with an and-one from Jessie Edwards.
Jewel Williams then connected from deep and Beige Harris scored inside and suddenly the Suns were up by a game-high five with seven minutes to go.
Sarah Allen kept the Redbacks close when she hit from downtown but Rebecca Motroni soon responded for the Eastern Suns to keep them up three, now with five minutes remaining.
A lane opened up for Jakens to lay it up soon after for the Redbacks and they were back up one and then former Sun Chanah Crugnale regained the lead for the home team connecting from deep with three minutes remaining.
Edwards tied things up a minute later but then it was time for the game-winning offensive rebound and put back basket from Jakens.
That gave the Redbacks the 74-72 which is where the game finished despite Denielle Lipscombe having two free-throw attempts for the Redbacks and Williams ultimately missing the two deep threes just before the buzzer for the Eastern Suns.
Redbacks coach Craig Allen was pretty happy even on the way his team defended on that last possessions just not with the second chance the Suns got.
But in the end for his team to respond after blowing a lead last Sunday against the Warwick Senators when leading by 12 with three minutes to go meant he came away happy with the performance and the result.
“I wasn’t happy with the offensive board they got, because we had actually cleaned out the bigs quite well and when the ball fell on the ground we should have got to that,” Allen said.
“But at the end of the day, what we did do well defensively was make them take two bad offensive shots. Both those threes Jewel took were two, three, four metres outside the three-point line. So I don’t think we can be too negative about our defence.
“I could see them going in actually, but I was really happy with how it panned out. As I said to the girls, we didn’t finish pretty but we got the job done. I was really happy with how we fought it out and I think we just wanted it at the end of the day.
“That probably is a step up from what happened last Sunday and we realised we probably weren’t going to go through that again. So we fought it out well and there are always little things to work on and get better at, but I was happy with the endeavour and the intent, and really happy with how the group worked together. The bench was loud and we played for each other.”
Jess Jakens delivered 21 points, 12 rebounds and three steals for the Redbacks on hot shooting of 9/11 from the field to continue her brilliant West Coast Classic.
Denielle Lipscombe added 10 points, six rebounds and five assists while reigning SBL Shootaround Player of the Week Maddie Allen had another eight points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.
Chanah Crugnale also had nine points for the Redbacks, Shenae Hartree eight points and two rebounds, Sarah Allen seven points and two boards, Brooke Malone six points and two rebounds, Bri Bailey three points, two boards and two assists, and Ella Thornton-Elliott two points.
Coach Allen enjoyed watching on as Perth Lynx WNBL teammates Maddie Allen and Jessie Edwards went at it all evening.
“It was a really good match up and in the end they probably just about fought out a draw. It was a good effort I think but where Maddie is so good for us is where she is so creative and brings other people into the game,” Allen said.
“Her numbers aren’t always reflective of how important she is to the group. But what Maddie brings to the group is getting everybody else in a better position and I think she was leading the league in assists even coming into this round so I think that’s where she is a real benefit to us as a group.
“We’re still working out how to work off her really so it’s only going to get better in that regard.”
In the end, Allen was delighted with the effort put forward by the Redbacks to cling to the win, to remain unbeaten at home in the West Coast Classic and to stay in the finals race.
“I was really happy with the endeavour, really happy with that. Again there is execution things that we can work on and get better at, and make sure we are all on the same page consistently,” Allen said.
“But those things are building as a group and we’re getting better as a group, and we are seeing each other and working out how we play together. I think the endeavour, intent and support for each other was the thing that really showed out tonight.”
The Suns made a flying start to the men’s game with consecutive three-pointers from Corey Easley before Brendan Dinardo also scored to put them up 8-2. That became 11-4 after a Carl Aylett three-point play, and then 16-9 when Ryan Blanchett also converted an and-one.
Kalamunda still led 26-22 at the end of the first quarter and then Aylett knocked down two more triples to start the second period to keep the Eastern Suns up seven.
They were still up eight when Easley hit another three with seven minutes to go in the half and that’s when the Redbacks got rolling.
Ethan Vlahov sparked thing for the home team knocking down a triple and when Marshall Nelson threw one down on the pass from Joel Wagner, scores were all tied.
Then all of a sudden with Nelson nailing a buzzer-beating three on half-time the Redbacks were on fire having turned that eight-point deficit into a nine-point lead by the main break.
The Redbacks had their tails up by that point and then there was no stopping them in the second half as they put up 22 points to 11 in the third quarter, another 18 to 11 in the fourth to come away with the commanding 90-63 victory.
While the slow start wasn’t ideal for Redbacks coach CJ Jackson, he can see reasons for it and he’s now confident of his team finishing the season strongly even on the road to the Flames, Giants and Lightning.
“Other than against Cockburn and Stirling when we’ve got off to a good start, the other games we’ve got off to slower starts and I just think it’s about us feeling each other out still,” Jackson said.
“We are so new to each other and what this West Coast Classic is like we don’t have the chances to work together as much as we probably could because a lot of guys are working or can’t make sessions. I think our slow starts can be attributed to that.
“I feel pretty confident with the run home that we can be successful in this run home now. The Joondalup result tonight against Perry Lakes doesn’t help us but I think we have a pretty good run home and I think we can put together what would be a pretty good season if we would only lose three games. I think that would be really good.”
Caleb White produced another impressively efficient performance for the Redbacks with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals on shooting 8/10 from the field, 2/3 from deep and 5/5 from the foul line.
Marshall Nelson delivered another 15 points, six rebounds and four assists with Tevin Jackson adding 13 points, three boards and three steals, and captain Joel Wagner 11 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals.
Michael Riley was impressive for 10 points and five rebounds with Ethan Vlahov contributing five points and five boards, and Kyden Edman five points, two boards and two assists.