Ray Turner had 27 points and 15 rebounds, Jay Bowie added 19 points, and the Willetton Tigers rebounded from their disappointing loss last weekend to easily defeat the bottom-placed Mandurah Magic 75-59 at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Sunday afternoon.
After a poor showing against East Perth last week, it was important the Tigers bounced back – especially against the lowly Magic who were coming off a game against Lakeside the night before – and the Tigers came out blazing and did exactly what they needed to do, setting up their win early with a 26-13 first quarter.
Mandurah picked up their energy on defence in the second quarter and held their own to win the quarter by a point, but the Tigers ran away with it in the second half as Bowie and Turner once again proved to be major difference-makers. The Magic just didn’t have anyone to counter the size, speed and skill of the dynamic duo, especially in the absence of injured import Rick Kreklow.
If it wasn’t Bowie twisting and weaving through the key and finishing ridiculously tough shots, it was the 6’9 Turner Train running the floor in transition and dunking on people, and then getting back and swatting dunk attempts at the other end.
Tigers coach Stephen Black was relieved to get back in the winners circle, and he spoke after the game and to give his thoughts on the win.
“It was good to win, I thought that our defence was pretty good, our offense could do with some work, but it was really good that we brought some energy and played hard and did a good job on the boards,”
“I thought at the start of the third quarter we really needed to lift in all areas, and I thought the way that we came out was fantastic and we were really able to change the tempo of the game, that was probably the most pleasing thing,” Black said.
The Tigers won the rebound count 50-37 and also outscored the Magic 48-20 for points inside the paint, with both stats reflecting the way Turner changes the game with his inside presence, and coach Black also talked afterwards about Turner’s impact.
“Ray is exceptional, he just does so many different things. He can be the best player at both ends at any stage of the game and that was all part of that change in tempo.
“It was him running the lanes that hard, it was him blocking shots, and we barely even gave him the ball on the block during that third quarter, but he was still able to impact the game, which is what great players do” Black said.
For the Magic, import Will McNeil followed up his massive 42-point game against Lakeside the night before by scoring another 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while captain Taylor Mullenax was the only other Mandurah player to hit double-figures with his 12 points.
Mandurah shot just 31 per cent from the field as opposed to the Tigers 41 per cent, and while that could partially be attributed to fatigue, it was more a testament to Willetton’s defence not allowing them to get clean shots off.
Magic coach Aaron Trahair, who like Stephen Black is a former Perth Wildcats champion himself, spoke afterwards about the factors that contributed to the defeat.
“That first quarter, we were pretty slow to get going, and a lot of that was due to that physicality that we probably weren’t ready for.
“I thought after quarter-time we picked that side of things up pretty well and competed, but they pushed us out of our offense and really made it hard for us to score the basketball. There were still some positives in there but at the same time they were a level above us today,” Trahair said.
In the women’s game earlier, it was a different story, as the second-placed Magic comprehensively out-played the Tigers by 44 points, winning 98-54.
Stacey Barr top scored for the Tigers with 16 points, Jess Hootmann added 12 and Emma Lobb chipped in with 10, but the team didn’t have the firepower to match it with a dominant Magic team on their home floor, especially with captain Kate Malpass not able to play with injury, and Des Kelley overseas.
Nici Gilday continued her stellar season for the Magic by scoring 33 points on an impressive 60 percent shooting, while Casey Mihovilovich added 21 points in 17 minutes of court time.
At this stage, it appears to be a two-horse race for the women’s title this season between the Perry Lakes Hawks and Mandurah, with both teams sitting clearly ahead of the rest of the pack with only one loss each.
Only time will tell if Willetton, or any other team for that matter, are able to pick up the pace at the business end of the season and knock them off their perch.
The Tigers men’s and women’s teams will return to action this Saturday when they host the Rockingham Flames at Willetton Basketball Stadium.