A massive double-header for both Cockburn Cougars NBL1 West teams awaits in Round 14 of the 2022 season with the battle for top four and playoff positions ramps up even further.
Round 14 in the NBL1 West could well end up being the biggest of the season so far for the Cougars with the two matches each for the Women’s and Men’s teams equally massive.
It all gets underway on Friday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre with the Women’s clash beginning at 6.30pm and the Men’s battle to follow at 8.30pm.
Then on Saturday night it’s back to Wally Hagan Stadium to host the Rockingham Flames with The Wave Cup at stake thanks to 91.7 The Wave.
With the Cougars women entering the weekend in fifth position in the standings at 8-5 ahead of playing the seventh placed Lakeside and sixth placed Rockingham, and then the men in sixth spot at 9-6 with matches with the 11th placed Lightning and third placed Flames, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a crucial weekend.
Starting with the Women’s match ups in Round 14, it gets underway on Friday night with the Cougars heading to Lakeside Recreation Centre to take on the Lightning with only one game separating them.
The Cougars are 8-5 and the Lightning 7-6 with Cockburn fresh off a tremendous fightback win last week over the Perry Lakes Hawks to win 77-75 at Wally Hagan Stadium despite the absence of Jessie Edwards.
The Lightning have also won their last two matches against Perry Lakes and East Perth since the Cougars beaten them back on June 25 with the 108-87 victory.
On that night, Cockburn were on fire knocking down 22 shots from three-point land with Jewel Williams brilliant with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Kat Tudor also had 20 points and nine rebounds, Alina Hartmann 18 points and five boards, and Jessie Edwards 15 points and 10 rebounds.
That looms as a crucial match up for both the Cougars and Lightning before Cockburn returns home to host the Rockingham Flames on Saturday night at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Both teams will be coming off playing on Friday night with the Flames also taking on the Perry Lakes Hawks.
It will be their second meeting of the season as well with Rockingham getting the 90-82 win at home back on May 21.
On that night, Hartmann had 19 points for Cockburn, Tudor 17, Edwards 17 and 11 rebounds, and Williams 12 points and seven assists, but Rockingham got 41 points after Patty Brossmann.
Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites knows it’s a significant weekend for all clubs involved, but is confident his team will step up to the occasion starting Friday night against Lakeside before turning their attention to hosting Rockingham.
“We know that it’s an important weekend and as we’ve drummed in for much of the year, we try not to be outcome focused and we try to be process focused. We know that there’s certain things we need to do to be successful this weekend,” Thwaites said.
“We do know that while we got Lakeside comfortably at home last time, it will be a very different story this time. It won’t be anywhere near as comfortable there as it was on our home floor. We’ve now had a little bit of an opportunity to see how Ash Isenbarger fits into their game style too and she gives them another piece on the offensive end.
“We know that on Friday night it’s not going to be that same Lakeside. Then to back it up against Rockingham on Saturday is going to be a challenge and we know they will get Patty Brossmann back this weekend. They got us on their home floor last time and we had a pretty bad night, and they had a pretty terrific night.
“We know that we are much better than what we showed, but with Mehryn Kraker as well as she is and despite Taylor Ortlepp flying in for the weekends, she knows how to shoot the basketball incredibly well. We know we have a big job to do on both nights and we’re not taking anything for granted but we have to start with Friday first. The one positive is that they both have double-headers as well.”
Thwaites is fully aware of what two, one or no wins this weekend could mean in the context of the season, but doesn’t want his players getting too caught up in that and just wants them to focus on the job at hand and let the ramifications looking after themselves.
“I think as a program we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t aim for a top four finish every single year,” he said.
“We believe we have the talent to do that. We know the resources at our table have sort of allowed us to compete for a top four spot every year, that’s how we define it and that’s where we would like to be.
“But in terms of this weekend specifically, this is top four stuff in the balance without a doubt. You drop both and you’re really competing for five to seven, if you win one you have a glimmer but we really need to win both to stay a genuine contender.”
Then there are the Men’s contests in Round 14 starting with Cockburn taking on a dangerous Lakeside team on Friday night.
It might look a mismatch on paper with Cockburn in sixth spot at 9-6 and Lakeside 11 at 3-12, but that doesn’t tell the story about what a competitive contest it should be.
The Cougars are fresh off a terrific 94-91 victory against Perry Lakes last Friday night where Carter Skaggs knocked down 12 three-pointers on his way to 38 points in a starring performance.
Lakeside might have lost last Friday night in overtime to East Perth, but they had their own standout performers with Landon Taliaferro catching fire late for 27 points while import point guard Donnie Vaughn had 23 points and 11 assists.
The two teams met only three weeks ago at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cougars winning 104-94 on that occasion with Skaggs scoring 21 points while it was Gavin Field’s night with 10 threes on the way to 35 points.
Taliaferro top-scored for Lakeside on that night too with 20 points while Vaughn added 19 points and six rebounds.
That will lead into Cockburn hosting Rockingham at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night in a massive game for both teams.
Both teams will have played on Friday night with Rockingham having taken part in another Grand Final rematch with Perry Lakes while Cockburn has that match up with Lakeside.
The two teams did play off with one another back on May 21 and on that night at Mike Barnett Sports Complex, Rockingham prevailed 82-63.
In that win, Devondrick Walker scored 25 points for the Flames, Brendan Redhead 16 and Ryan Godfrey 15. Meanwhile, Field had 18 points for the Cougars and Paschal Chukwu 11 to go with seven rebounds.
The Wave Cup will be awarded to the team between the Cougars and Flames on Saturday night who has the points advantage from the Women’s and Men’s match ups.