SBL: intense Willetton Tigers on winning streak

Jay Bowie in action for the Willetton Tigers.
Jay Bowie in action for the Willetton Tigers.

THE Willetton Tigers followed up their victory over the Perry Lakes Hawks on Friday night by easily defeating the Goldfields Giants 89-65 at Willetton Stadium on Sunday afternoon, moving them into third place on the State Basketball League standings with a 4-1 record.

While Willetton entered the game with only two nights of rest since playing the Hawks, the men from Kalgoorlie had it even tougher, coming in on the second night of a back-to-back. And it showed.

The Tigers stamped their authority right from the start, playing with a fierce defensive intensity that forced the Giants into early mistakes, and offensively the Tigers moved the ball around with purpose, continually finding open shooters on the wings who knocked down shots.

Kyle Armour and Andrew Black were both excellent for the Tigers early on, with both players sinking multiple three-pointers to send Willetton to a commanding 31-13 quarter-time lead.

The Giants lifted in the second quarter as their star player Jacob Holmen started to get it going.

By the midway point of the quarter, they’d cut the lead back to 10 points, however Willetton quickly countered with a run of their own, with Jay Bowie and Damien Scott joining the scoring party to push the lead back out again.

The highlight of the quarter came from Bowie right on half-time, as he landed a contested three-pointer from deep in the corner as he faded out of court, getting fouled in the process.

His miracle shot lifted the Willetton faithful to their feet and gave them a comfortable 53-32 half-time lead.

In the second half, Goldfields imports Holmen and JB Pillard did everything they could to rally the Giants, and finished up with 26 and 18 points respectively, but they didn’t have enough support, with no other Giants player scoring more than five points.

Willetton dominated the rebound count 50-34, won the assists category 27-12, and generally just had too much firepower, as they maintained their big lead throughout the second half and closed out the win.

Kyle Armour led the Tigers with 19 points, Ray Turner had a solid game with 15 points and eight rebounds in his first home game for the Tigers, while Jay Bowie nearly had a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Bowie was pleased to pick up another win.

“Anytime we can get a win it’s good, especially on a week where we had two games,” Bowie said post-match.

“We still have a lot of things we’ve got to work on, but it’s good to get these early-season wins.”

Bowie pointed to his team’s energy as a key factor in the win.

“When we got the lead, we just played with energy, and defensively we were able to get up in lanes and force pressure on them, and offensively we were able to run and get easy baskets.

“At one point, we lost that energy and they cut the lead to 10 or so, but once we picked the energy up we were fine,” he said.

Goldfields coach Lou Causer knew it wouldn’t be easy playing Willetton after battling Kalamunda the night before, and rued Willetton’s dominant first quarter as a key reason for his side suffering their second loss of the weekend.

“Willetton came out really hot, and their intensity was fantastic at both ends of the floor,” he said.

“Their ability to make shots with guys like Armour, Scott and Bowie who were able to create off the dribble with ease today, so that was probably a big reason why they got out to the hot start,” Causer said.

Causer is in his first season as an SBL coach and working to integrate five new players into the team, he knows it will take time to get the chemistry.

“At the moment, our biggest thing is inconsistency. We have patches where we play really well and then patches where we drop off,” he said.

The Giants will now head back to Kalgoorlie and have the Easter break to gather themselves, while Willetton will be back in action against the East Perth Eagles at home on Thursday night.