THE Willetton Tigers have taken control of first place in the State Basketball League standings after a pair of hard fought victories over the weekend.
They held off the Perry Lakes Hawks 88-87 at home on Friday night, followed by an impressive 105-93 victory over the Joondalup Wolves on Saturday n Joondalup.
Perry Lakes came into Willetton stadium on Friday missing several key players through injury.
On paper they looked very out-matched against a red-hot Willetton team, but the Hawks didn’t let that stop them from taking it right up to the Tigers and almost winning it.
“I never question the heart and the passion of Perry Lakes teams in general, and Matt Parsons-coached teams,” said Tigers coach Stephen Black after the game. “But did I think it would be that close? No,” Black said bluntly.
Hawks import Robert Waters was exceptional for the visitors; he scored 38 points and made several big plays, consistently finding his way to the free-throw line to keep the Hawks competitive throughout. With just 20 seconds remaining, the Tigers had the ball with the scores tied at 87-87.
The ball found its way to young Tigers guard Lachie Evans who was then fouled while heaving up a potential game-winning shot, sending him to the free-throw line with the clock stopped at just 0.4 seconds to go.
Despite the game resting on his shoulders, the 19-year- old Evans showed poise beyond his years as he calmly stepped to the line and knocked down the first shot to bail the Tigers out and give them the victory.
Ray Turner led the scoring with 27, Damien Scott had 16, Jay Bowie 14, and Evans finished with 10 points.
Coach Black was happy to see Evans make the all important shot, but he believes his young guard can go to even greater heights.
“I think my goals for Lachie are higher than his performance tonight,” Black said.
“I think he can be a real difference maker, and I thought it showed a lot of poise for him to make that first shot and put it beyond doubt, but I really think he can be a real X-factor for us.”
Evans must have heard the message from his coach because the following night at Joondalup he was brilliant, knocking down several three-pointers throughout the game to help the Tigers pick up a rare victory on the Wolves’ home floor.
Ray Turner was dominant as always and led the team in scoring again in Joondalup.
The Tigers now sit in outright first place with 12 wins and two losses, with another big match-up this Friday against former Perth Wildcats champion Shawn Redhage and the fourth-placed Perth Redbacks.