Basketball: Willetton Tigers through to next round

Jay Bowie flies high and slam dunks one for the Willetton Tigers last Saturday.
Jay Bowie flies high and slam dunks one for the Willetton Tigers last Saturday.

THE Willetton Tigers men’s team are through to the next round of the 2017 State Basketball League finals after defeating the Perry Lakes Hawks 90-87 in game three of their quarter-finals series at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday night, winning the series 2-1.

After falling behind 26-18 at quarter-time, Willetton clicked into gear in the second quarter. Feeding off their electric home crowd energy, the Tigers used a 27-7 run over the first seven minutes of the second period to take control of the game.

Jay Bowie and Andrew Black were particularly influential in sparking the run, with both players knocking down multiple three-pointers during that stretch, while Ray Turner – fresh off hitting the game-winning shot in game two the night before – brought the X-Factor with a powerful dunk and some huge rebounds, helping the Tigers take a 50-41 half-time lead.

Willetton continued their good play in the third quarter, finally looking like the team we saw throughout the regular season again. On display was their intensity, slick ball movement and impressive shooting, and by three-quarter time they’d extended the lead to 16 points, up 71-55.

Perry Lakes weren’t going to fade quietly into the night however, and they majorly lifted their level of play in the final quarter to storm back into the contest. Ben Purser made big plays, while Travis Hayto and Ryan Smith hit crucial shots as the margin continued getting smaller throughout the quarter.

When Hawks guards Roberts Waters and Hayto each landed a three-pointer with around four minutes left, the scores were tied 81-81, with the Tigers home-crowd looking very anxious.

Each team traded baskets back-and-forth over the closing minutes, but a huge three-pointer from Tigers star Jay Bowie with 50 seconds left, followed by a defensive stop on the next play proved to be the difference.

The Hawks were then forced to foul to stop the clock – and just like in game two the night before – Tigers captain Kyle Armour stepped to the line and calmly sank both shots, putting his side up 90-87.

Perry Lakes had one final chance with 10 seconds left, but their play broke down, and a last ditch three-pointer from centre Brian Carlwell rattled in and then rattled out again, sealing their fate and sending the Tigers into the semi-finals.

Jay Bowie led Willetton with 21 points and seven rebounds, Ray Turner had 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Nic Cody also made a big impact, putting up 14 points, including some important baskets in the fourth quarter. Kyle Armour added 12 points and five assists.

Ben Purser and Brian Carlwell led the way for the Hawks, each scoring 16 points, while Ryan Smith had 14, Travis Hayto 11, and Robert Cassir with 10.

The Tigers are now set to face off against Shawn Redhage and the Perth Redbacks in a best-of-three semi-final series beginning this weekend.

Victory in that series will earn them a place in the SBL Grand Final, which would be against either the Geraldton Buccaneers or the Joondalup Wolves, who will square off in the other semi-final series.