The Cockburn Cougars are back home this Saturday evening with the women looking to remain undefeated hosting the Lakeside Lightning with the men out to get on the board for the 2023 NBL1 West season.
The Cougars women now haven’t played since their 36-point win on the road two weeks ago to the Lakeside Lightning. They will be back in action this Saturday night at Wally Hagan Stadium against the same Lightning opponents with tip-off at 5.30pm.
The men’s match up will follow at Wally Hagan Stadium between the Cougars and Lightning starting at 7.30pm with Cockburn attempting to win its first game of the season.
It has been a blistering start to the NBL1 West season for the Cougars women with three impressive and emphatic victories ahead of playing host to the Lightning on Saturday evening.
Cockburn have started the season beating the Willetton Tigers by 42 points, Rockingham Flames by 20 and then the Lightning by 36 to be one of just two teams left undefeated to start the 2023 campaign.
The winning margin of an average of 32.7 points is mighty impressive from the Cougars but the marked defence has been where the marked improvement has come with them conceding just the 62 points a game so far.
There has been plenty to like in what the Cougars have delivered so far this season with Jewel Williams running the point and providing 20.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game.
Jessie Edwards is putting up 18.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game inside with new arrivals Sarah Mortensen (19.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists) and Steph Gorman (19.3 points, 7.3 boards, 3.0 assists) settling in seamlessly.
With captain Kirsty Whitfield leading admirably too with 4.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds, and it’s been a strong start from Cockburn but it’s now been two weeks since they’ve played their last game as well.
The last match was the 99-63 win against the Lightning at Lakeside Recreation Centre, but that was a Lightning team missing captain Caitie Jones.
Lakeside has played three games since then with a big win over the South West Slammers and losses to the Goldfields Giants and Rockingham Flames.
The two-week break in between games has been closer to an off-season for Mortensen than a usual rest during a season than she’s been used to, but she’s looking forward to now facing that same opponent this Saturday night at Wally Hagan Stadium.
“I expect that we will come out with the same energy that we had the last game,” Mortensen said.
“It’s a bit weird that we had a whole week off but hopefully this week of practice will prepare us for the game against Lakeside again. This is as long as a whole off-season for me sometimes, but I expect us to come out with the same energy to keep pushing it and to keep getting better.
“Even though I think we already play together pretty well and we have only played together for a month, hopefully we just keep getting to know each other’s strengths better and play to those.”
That will lead into Saturday night’s men’s contest with the Cougars attempting to win their first game of the NBL1 West season up against the Lightning.
It has been a mixed bag from the Cougars so far in 2023 with the five losses to date, but they can take heart from last Friday night’s performance after quarter-time against the undefeated reigning champion Rockingham Flames.
While it was still a 22-point defeat in the finish and Cockburn is now 0-5 as a result, the Cougars did outscore the Flames after quarter-time and will now look to build on that momentum on Saturday night at home to the Lightning.
Cougars coach Andrew Cooper knows that while 0-5 is far from ideal, the reality is that they have now already played the unstoppable Rockingham twice in those five games as well as a powerful Geraldton team, the vastly improved Willetton and then lost a tight one to Lakeside.
“Obviously 0-5 looks bad but at the same time it’s not as dire a situation as a lot of people probably think,” Cooper said.
“We lost nine games last year and finished fourth so our view right now is let’s win enough games to finish in the top eight and then go from there. We’re still confident that when we get it right we’re a good team, and we’ll be capable of taking it up with anybody.”
Last time the Cougars played the Lightning was two weeks ago at Lakeside Recreation Centre and that was a game Cockburn was in control of for most of the opening three and-a-half quarters.
There’s no doubt it was one that got away and now Cockburn will be looking to make amends at home this Saturday night against a Lakeside team who is fresh off a big loss to Rockingham on Wednesday night.
However, there’s a chance Kyle Armour and Rowan Mackenzie will be back in the line-up for the Lightning on Saturday night and that makes them vastly different outfit, but Cooper is confident in what his team will produce.
“We know that our game plan was pretty much on point and we don’t have to adjust too much,” Cooper said.
“We’ll make some adjustments but we felt like it was a game that we lost more than they won. We can go into this game now with the view of having the confidence that we can match it with them.
“It’s just time for us to start making sure we close games out instead of giving teams chances to hang around.”