With three weeks of the NBL1 West regular season remaining, the Round 16 double-header looms as a crucial one for the Cockburn Cougars away to the Warwick Senators and at home to the South West Slammers.
Both the women’s and men’s Cougars teams are attempting to finish as high up in the standings as possible heading towards the NBL1 West finals for 2022 making every game now in the run home especially important.
The Round 16 double-header looms as especially crucial starting on Friday night against the Warwick Senators at Warwick Stadium. The women’s match up begins at 6.30pm with the men’s to follow at 8.30pm.
That leads into Saturday evening with the Cougars returning to Wally Hagan Stadium to host the South West Slammers. The women’s match tips off at 5.30pm with the men’s to follow at 7.30pm.
Starting with the women’s double-header in Round 16, Friday night presents a real chance for Cockburn to make a statement against a Warwick team which is now the hottest in the league.
The Cougars women enter Round 16 in fifth position in the standings with a 10-6 record but if they can win their remaining four matches then a top four finish is still not out of reach. If not, finishing fifth will now be the goal given they hold a one game lead on the sixth placed Lakeside Lightning.
Friday night’s opponent is a Senators team fresh off handing the Joondalup Wolves their first defeat of 2022 last Saturday night also at Warwick Stadium.
They now return to their home court this Friday to host the Cougars on a 12-game winning streak and with a 15-2 record, they need to keep winning to both lock away a top two finish but to also remain a chance of knocking the Wolfpack out of that top spot.
That sets the stage for what should be a fascinating Friday night battle at Warwick Stadium between two playoff bound teams, both of which have enough all-round talent and firepower to be championship contenders.
The frontcourt battle will be especially fascinating and Cougars centre Jessie Edwards is up for the challenge to continue her career-best season that is currently seeing her average 18.3 points and 12.7 rebounds a game.
It is a big test against the bigs from the Senators led by former Australian Opals and WNBL stalwart Nat Burton along with current Perth Lynx forward Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard and import Leonie Fiebich.
Edwards is looking forward to that challenge on Friday night as the Cougars attempt to show their championship credentials, and there would be no better way than snapping Warwick’s 12-game winning run.
“We’re definitely still aiming to go for the championship, for sure. We do need to tighten a few things up I think, but that’s still definitely the end goal and we feel like we’ve got a team capable of doing that,” Edwards said.
“They’ve got some great players that we have to look out for. Obviously Stacey Barr is leading the league in scoring so we’ll have to lock her down and slow down their scoring especially. It will be a really good challenge to see if we can coordinate our defence to do that.
“I’ve played with both of them before and Nat when she was at the West Coast Waves back when I was development player, and obviously I’ve played with Mackenzie at Lynx. It’s going to be exciting to play against them and I always love playing against taller players as well so I’m looking forward to it.”
The Cougars men enter Round 16 in sixth position in the standings with an 11-7 record but if they can win their remaining four matches then a top four finish is still not out of reach.
That’s where Friday night’s clash with the Senators at Warwick Stadium becomes especially important.
With Cockburn sixth at 12-6 and the Senators fifth at 12-6, this match up could very well determine which of the two teams will not only finish fifth heading into the finals, but also which one of them will remain a chance of nabbing a top four finish over the last two rounds.
The Cougars are coming off a hard earned come from behind win away to the Kalamunda Eastern Suns last Saturday night where Carter Skaggs put up 20 points and six rebounds, Gavin Field 18 points and four boards, Seva Chan 13 points and six assists, and Paschal Chukwu 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Senators have hit a bit of a rough patch lately as well having lost three of their past four matches, including the last two against the Lakeside Lightning and Joondalup Wolves.
With so much at stake at both teams, it is going to be a season-defining match up on Friday night for the Cougars at Warwick Stadium before turning their attention to hosting a Slammers team on Saturday at Wally Hagan Stadium coming off their second win of the season last Saturday night.