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Crucial double for Cougars against Suns

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The Cockburn Cougars came away from Ray Owen Sports Centre with two crucial wins over the Kalamunda Eastern Suns on Saturday to set up a massive final three weeks of the NBL1 West season.

Round 15 in the 2022 NBL1 West season saw the Cougars hit the road to play the Eastern Suns at Ray Owen Sports Centre on Saturday night.

The women’s clash began proceedings and with Jessie Edwards and Jewel Williams back on their old home floor against their former teams, the Cougars proved too strong winning 98-74.

The men’s clash was then to follow and the Cougars found themselves in a significant whole during the first half against a determined Eastern Suns team who wanted to make a statement against a playoff bound team.

In the end, Cockburn responded in the second half to end up prevailing 94-88 in what was an exciting and dramatic contest up the hill.

That sets up quite the final three weeks now for both Cougars teams in the NBL1 West competition.

The Cougars women now sit in fifth position with a 10-6 record to be behind the fourth placed Mandurah Magic who are 13-4 but ahead of the Lakeside Lightning who are 9-7.

The run home now sees them take on the red-hot Warwick Senators away this Friday night, the bottom placed South West Slammers on Saturday and then then ninth placed Goldfields Giants in Round 17, and the defending champion Willetton Tigers in Round 18.

As for the men, the win improves the Cougars to an 11-7 record on the season to be sitting in sixth position in the standings. That has them two games behind the fourth placed Goldfields Giants but ahead of the 11-8 Mandurah Magic.

The games to come for the Cockburn men are against the fifth placed Warwick Senators, last placed South West Slammers, fourth placed Goldfields Giants and out of finals contention Willetton Tigers.

Going back to Saturday night, there was an added level of intrigue with both Jewel Williams and Jessie Edwards returning to their old home court at Ray Owen Sports Centre to play for the Cougars against an Eastern Suns team they started their careers with as teenagers.

However, it was a big ask for Kalamunda without Imani Guy and Georgia Denehey, and coming off a Friday night loss to the Perth Redbacks while it was a fresh Cougars team who arrived on a mission.

Cockburn turned it on in the opening quarter putting together nine straight points and to open up an 11-point lead by quarter-time.

The game was never in doubt from there with another 13-0 run from Cockburn in the second quarter seeing that lead grow to 29 points.

It was an even second half but the damage had been done and the Cougars went on to win 98-74.

It was an incredible rebounding dominance from Cockburn with 63 boards to 39 including 28 at the offensive boards to 13. That helped the Cougars take 15 more field goals and three extra free-throws for the night.

Jewel Williams enjoyed her first return up the hill as an opposition player by delivering 25 points and five assists for the Cougars on shooting 9/14 overall and 4/6 from three-point land.

Kat Tudor added 16 points and three rebounds, Jessie Edwards 14 points and 14 boards, Alina Hartmann 12 points and 17 rebounds, and Haylee De Sousa nine points.

Edwards didn’t feel too strange heading back to her old home floor but she was happy with how the team performed heading into the crucial last three weeks of the season.

“It wasn’t too strange, honestly. I do feel a bit removed from Kalamunda even though it was only a few years ago I did play there. I kind of feel like I’ve been playing at Cockburn forever already so it wasn’t too strange going back there,” Edwards said.

“We’ve got a good run now going into the finals with some challenging teams coming up like Warwick and Willetton. It’s a good mix of tough games coming up and the way we played against Kalamunda was a good way to lead into that.”

Then in the men’s clash on Saturday night, Kalamunda and came out impressively going on an 8-0 run to lead by as much as six points to end up leading 31-28 by quarter-time.

The Eastern Suns then really fired in the second quarter scoring 10 straight points to open up a 17-point lead to end up outscoring the Cougars 25 points to 12 to end up leading 56-40 by half-time.

However, the Cougars had too much to play for and too much quality not to stage a fightback in the second half. Cockburn did pull the deficit back to eight by three quarter-time before continuing on with that momentum in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars put together 10 straight points to grab the lead before eventually a trademark three ball from captain Gavin Field put them up 88-84 with two and-a-half minutes remaining.

The Eastern Suns stayed in touch but Field hit two more clutch free-throws to keep the Cougars up four and the Suns couldn’t quite get that big shot to fall and Carter Skaggs iced the 94-88 win at the foul line.

Carter Skaggs finished with 20 points and six rebounds for Cockburn while knocking down 6/12 from three-point range.

Gavin Field added 18 points, four rebounds and two assists, Seva Chan 13 points and six assists, Paschal Chukwu 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, Josh Hunt 10 points and three assists, and Nathan Pond nine points and seven rebounds.

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