It’s a double-header for both Cockburn Cougars teams in Round 11 of the NBL1 West starting at home to the Mandurah Magic on Friday and then away to the Warwick Senators on Saturday.
First up in Round 11 for the Cougars is the battles with the Magic on Friday night at Wally Hagan Stadium. The women’s match tips off at 6.30pm followed by the men’s match up at 8.30pm.
Then on Saturday night, the Cougars make the trip to Warwick Stadium to play the Senators. The women’s game begins at 5pm and the men’s at 7pm.
The Cockburn Cougars women put their unbeaten record this season on the line twice in Round 11 of the NBL1 West firstly at home to the Mandurah Magic, and then away to the Warwick Senators.
The Cougars made it 10 consecutive wins to start this season by winning in Kalgoorlie against the Goldfields Giants last Saturday night heading into this week’s double-header.
First up is a clash with the third placed Magic at Wally Hagan Stadium on Friday night which gives the Cougars the first chance to come up against their teammate from last season, Kat Tudor.
She is fresh off scoring 31 points on Monday in Mandurah’s win against the East Perth Eagles as well after back on Friday night the Magic lost to the Rockingham Flames lost by 25 points.
A 25-point loss and 39-point win in the one weekend highlights why the Magic are a bit of a challenge to prepare for if you’re the Cougars and coach Tyrone Thwaites heading into Friday night.
“They are a little bit up and down, they took care of Willetton a few weeks ago and then lost to a very good Rockingham team on Friday night. They then took care of East Perth on Monday,” Thwaites said.
“I think they’re a team that is fun to scout because they run a bunch of different things, and they’re pretty obvious with what they are doing. They also execute pretty well so you can be as obvious as you like, but if you execute well it’s still hard to stop.
“Milo (Casey Mihovilovich) is playing good basketball and when you allow her to facilitate and run offence, they look good. We obviously know Kat (Tudor) very well and know what she’s capable of, but she has also broadened her game and got really comfortable off the bounce.
“Sarah Toeaina is a tough match up no matter how you look at it, and Hannah Hank is just a bully in the post, and I mean that in a nice way. She’s tough to guard so Jessie will have her work cut out there.
“We know it’s not going to be easy even on our court, it’s not going to be a straight forward affair against a team who is feeling pretty good after a big win on Monday.”
Not only will the Cougars be trying to take on a Magic team featuring Tudor who scored 31 points on Monday, but then on Saturday it’s the reigning league MVP Stacey Barr they are up against fresh off 51 points last week against the Perth Redbacks.
The Senators are not only the reigning NBL1 West champions but also the defending national champions, and are starting to build some form with that win against the Redbacks that improved them to a 5-5 record.
Even though 449-game veteran point guard Nicole Jorre de St Jorre won’t be playing for the Senators, Nat Burton will be celebrating her 200th game and it’s a team featuring Perth Lynx pair Chloe Forster and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard, and relatively new import Karly Murphy.
Thwaites is fully aware of the job ahead for the Cougars up against the Senators at Warwick Stadium on Saturday.
“Kat Tudor had 31 on Monday and Stacey Barr 51 on Saturday so that’s great timing for us, right?
“They have been up and down too, but finding a little bit of form last week against Redbacks will certainly make them feel good,” Thwaites added.
“I’m sure Jonelle (Morley) was looking for a response after the week they had against Willetton. We know they’re a very talented team and when they start to put it together, they are very hard to beat particularly on their home court and when Stacey’s flying like she is.
“Chloe Forster’s also having a really good year and her ability to get it and go in transition makes her an underrated weapon for them.
“Karly Murphy is tough and has a very quick release around the rim, finishes really well and rebounds like a monster.
“Hoycard is having a breakout year too almost leading the league in rebounds so it won’t be easy.
“They’re a team we have to prepare adequately for, and we know we’re not unbeatable, but we know that if we are going to drop a game, it will be because a team was better than us. Not because we didn’t play our way.”
Just as luck would have it, the Cockburn Cougars men prepare for their double-header this weekend with both the Mandurah Magic and Warwick Senators coming off their best performances of the season.
The Cougars produced a stunning performance in Kalgoorlie last Saturday night to defy the odds and the absence of Seva Chan, Nathan Pond, Hayden Bell, Charlie Dimmock and Luke Phillips, to beat the Goldfields Giants with a short rotation.
That victory improved Cockburn to a 4-8 record on the season as they now prepare to host Mandurah on Friday night, and then to play the Senators at Warwick Stadium on Saturday.
Just in time for the Cougars to play host to the Magic on Friday night, they are fresh off their breakthrough first win of the season on Monday afternoon against the East Perth Eagles.
With Dequan Abrom averaging 29.6 points over his past five games and then with Ray Turner and Celneque Bobbitt II posing threats with some impressive local talent, and Cougars coach Andrew Cooper is fully aware the Magic won’t be easy.
“I watched most of their game on Monday and they’ve certainly got quality in Abrom and Ray Turner, and their new import Bobbitt is starting to find his way a bit too,” Cooper said.
“In a way they’re similar to us and need their locals to be able to contribute to compete just like we do. They’re going to be tricky and they are going to have some confidence now after that win so we certainly can’t take them lightly. They are no different to us and I’m sure on their day they can get it right and beat anyone.”
What Friday night will also provide is the chance for Cooper to lock horns with Magic coach Mark Utley who is in his first season back in charge in Mandurah in 2023.
“We’ve obviously known each other for a while now and he’s in and out of the league,” he said.
“Every time you turn your back and he pops up somewhere else but he’s a very crafty man, and he certainly knows what he’s doing and he always has something in his back pocket ready to throw out there.
“We can scout them as much as we want, but I know there’ll be something that he will throw out there that we haven’t seen yet. We’ll certainly be very cautious because it’s important for us to keep this momentum rolling.”
Once the Cougars get over the match at home to the Magic on Friday, it will be time to turn attention to facing the Senators at Warwick Stadium on Saturday.
It’s a Warwick team fresh off beating the Perth Redbacks last week and with point guard Ethan Elliott’s expected return to a team featuring Cody Ellis, Caleb Davis, Hussayn Ford, George Pearl and Connor Mincherton, Cooper knows Luke Brennan will have his team ready.
“I know Trigger’s probably in a similar boat to us where when they’re good, they’re great and when they’re not so good, they’re not so good,” Cooper said.
“They’re a little Jekyll and Hyde similar to us but they had a good win last week against Redbacks so they’ll be up and about, and I’m expecting Ethan Elliott to play so that will be a big in for them and he changes the dynamic of their team.
“We’ve got to sort out Mandurah first but certainly I as a coach have one eye on Warwick and we’ll be hoping that we can match them with what we’ve got compared with what they’ve got.”