It’s a Friday night road trip for the Cockburn Cougars in Round 10 of the NBL1 West competition setting the stage for two terrific match ups against the Mandurah Magic.
With both Cougars and Magic teams occupying positions in the top eight coming into Round 10 of the 2022 NBL1 West, plenty goes on the line at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Friday night.
The evening’s action gets underway with the Women’s clash between the Cougars and Magic from 6.30pm before the Men’s battle featuring Cockburn and Mandurah will tip-off at 8.30pm.
Starting with the Women’s contest, the Cougars come into the game following last week’s 101-89 loss on the road to the undefeated Joondalup Wolves that has them in fourth position still in the standings with a 6-3 record.
However, the Magic also hold a 6-3 record coming off a win against the Perry Lakes Hawks last Saturday night on the back of a big loss to the Willetton Tigers on Friday by 31 points.
So the winner of Friday night’s contest will sit clear in fourth position on the table setting the stakes for a terrific match up.
Despite the loss to Joondalup for Cockburn last Saturday night, there was plenty to like in the performance with Alina Hartmann leading the charge with 24 points and five rebounds.
Jewel Williams was impressive running the point with 18 points, nine assists and five rebounds too with Kat Tudor adding 13 points and eight rebounds, Jessie Edwards 12 points and six boards, Kirsty Whitfield 11 points and five boards, and Haylee De Sousa 11 points.
The Cougars will now look to bounce back in their second meeting with Mandurah already for the season after beating them 105-93 at Wally Hagan Stadium back on May 7.
In that victory, Edwards was a dominant force for Cockburn with 36 points and 13 rebounds with Tudor adding 19 points, Hartmann 16 and Williams was again tremendous with 22 points and seven assists.
That will set the stage for a tantalising Men’s match up featuring two in-form teams coming off big Round 9 performances.
The Cougars missed a golden chance on Saturday night to beat the Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena ending up losing by a point despite the 27 points and 11 rebounds from inspirational captain Gavin Field.
Cockburn backed it up on Sunday by hosting the undefeated Geraldton Buccaneers at Wally Hagan Stadium. After going down to the Buccs in Geraldton in overtime earlier in the season without Field along with Matt Clifford, it was a motivated Cougars outfit.
The Cougars dominated most of the way including a monstrous 29-point first half from Carter Skaggs with eight three-point bombs.
However, the Buccaneers were always going to hit back to make a game of it and in a thrilling and dramatic finish, it was Skaggs that dropped his ninth three of the afternoon to seal the 98-94 win and hand the Buccs their first loss.
That improved Cockburn to a 6-5 record on the season in seventh spot on the Men’s NBL1 West table as they prepare to face the 7-4 Mandurah Magic this Friday night.
But looking back on that stunning win for the Cougars over the Buccs on Sunday where Skaggs finished with 37 points with the nine triples, it was an afternoon to savour for the man himself in his first season down under.
“It was awesome to get that win. We also played Saturday night and definitely gave one away losing by one on the road after being up the whole game,” Skaggs said.
“So we kind of came out on Sunday and knew they had to keep their streak alive. We went up there about a month ago and again led the game all the way but ended up losing in overtime without our captain Gavin Field.
“We really felt like we owed them one and we stayed on our thing the whole game, and then down the stretch found a way to pull it out. It was fun in a good environment and it was super competitive, and I was really glad we were able to get that one.”
It now sets the stage for a tremendous Friday night battle for the Cougars as they look to build on that momentum after beating Geraldton, but it won’t be easy up against Mandurah especially on their home floor.
The Magic had a double-win Round 9 beating the Willetton Tigers on Friday night and backing up to down the defending champion Perry Lakes Hawks on Sunday in Mandurah.
Mandurah coach Jamie O’Loughlin only used seven players in that Sunday win, but 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds from Jay Bowie, 22 points from Dequan Abrom, 16 points from Riley Parker, 14 points and nine assists and Kyle Armour, and 13 points from Christian Jurlina saw them home.
It will now be the second meeting of the season as well between the Magic and Cougars, with Mandurah winning big 93-67 at Wally Hagan Stadium back on May 7.
As for Skaggs, he is having quite the impact with the Cougars in his first season as a professional on the back of his college career at both Washington State and UNC Wilmington.
The 26-year-old sharpshooter is a native of Logansport, Indiana, but is already enjoying everything about the basketball and lifestyle of living down under and in Western Australia where living down near Fremantle is something he’s making the most of.
“This is my first time in Australia, I landed in Sydney and then came over to Perth and it’s been beautiful. I’m still getting a little adjusted but I feel lucky to be here absolutely,” Skaggs said.
“It’s been really good so far, it’s been fun and it’s been really, really nice to get back to playing post-COVID. So that was No. 1 and I got super lucky to find this opportunity and I’m trying to make the most of it. It’s been a blessing for sure.
“You know what, it’s been a really good competition. I’d heard through the past couple of years that basketball in Australia was growing and with the NBL taking over the NBL1, and the guys in the league who have been at a high level.
“And honestly there are local guys who have played in this league for years who are really skilled and fun to play with and against.”