window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-C0NEPLQW4Z');

Round 3 Cougars Wrap – Men

Share this article

The Cockburn Cougars dug deep to produce a big last quarter to beat the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 88-84 at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night to improve to a 2-1 record.

Considering big men Demetris Morant and Charlie Dimmock were both unavailable through injuries suffered in the lead up to Saturday’s game and Gavin Field was playing through a sore ankle, it was a relieving bounce back win for the Cougars over the Suns.

Both teams came into the match up needing a win with Cockburn disappointing last week losing on the road to the South West Slammers while the Suns had yet to taste victory in 2024.

Cockburn managed to lead by eight in the first quarter but Kalamunda responded to go on a 10-0 scoring run and be leading 26-22 after one.

The Suns stretched that advantage to nine points in the second term too and the visitors remained in front 45-37 at the half-time interval.

It remained a tight contest through the second half but the Eastern Suns were still leading by nine early in the fourth, but the Cougars came out desperate to not lose on their home floor for the first time this season.

Hunter Clarke and Josh Hunt combined to score buckets to put the home team in front with 5:30 to play before a triple from 296-game veteran guard Kyle Armour stretched that advantage to four.

Armour hit another from downtown shortly after to keep Cockburn up by four and the Cougars would never trail again.

Seva Chan was able to stretch the lead out to seven in his first appearance of the season and despite Marek Nelson bringing the Suns back within three with 30 second to go, that would be the last bucket of the game and the Cougars were able to hold on to the four-point win after a free-throw from Hunt.

Josh Hunt would top-score for the Cougars with 19 points and three assists on 6/11 shooting along with going 7/9 at the foul line.

Rhys Vague produced 15 points, 15 rebounds and three assists with Kyle Armour contributing 13 points, Seva Chan 11 points and four assists, and Gavin Field nine points, nine boards and six assists despite an ankle complaint from last week.

Nathan Pond also had eight points and two rebounds, Noah Stewart four points and two boards, and Hayden Bell two points, a rebound and an assist.

Coming off the loss last Friday to the Slammers and then having lost Morant and Dimmock coming into the game, coach Mark Clayden was certainly concerned about how things were looking when behind at three quarter-time.

However, things looked good in the final term as Cockburn put up 33 points with Chan especially important showing his quality.

“If we had not been able to have the last quarter that we did and have a bit of a run on, and get a bit of confidence up there, then it would have been a long week again at training,” Clayden said.

“But to have a last quarter where we got a bit of offensive fluency, got guys in the right spots and having Seva back on the court and doing what he did in the last quarter to get us up and running was very important for us.

“It was just our defence as well and we had two five-minute patches where we held them to six points so the boys took on board those defensive adjustments at half-time and listened.

“That’s all you can hope for as a coach and then the offence had to just take care of itself which took a bit longer than I would have wanted, but we got there in the end.”

Having Chan back for the first time this season and Field able to play despite hurting an ankle last Friday against the Slammers proved crucial, and Clayden was relieved to have his leaders out there after losing a couple of key bigs before the contest.

“It was very important having those guys. We managed Gav throughout the week and he did a light workout on Thursday and we left it as long as we could to make a decision,” he said.

“Then Demetris doing his calf in the last five minutes of Thursday obviously threw a spanner in the works, and then poor Charlie Dimmock did a quad in the second quarter of the Champ Men’s game.

“So we went from Gav skimming through to needing him to tough it out and play big minutes, but you always know he will do whatever is needed for the team so that was fine.”

While three weeks into the season, Clayden is still waiting to see what his best line-ups will be and what this Cougars team of 2024 will be capable of considering they are yet to see everyone out on the floor together.

With Chan returning on Saturday against the Suns, he was hoping to get that first look at everyone out there until Morant’s injury on Thursday at training and then Dimmock in the Championship Men’s game on Saturday afternoon leading into the NBL1 match up.

That has meant he has had to play around with different looks out on the floor so far, he has been encouraged with a lot of what he’s seen and is hopeful of having a full squad soon available to see it all come together.

“I think it’s still hard to tell. Back on Thursday we were feeling good feeling like we’d have our full squad on the floor for the first time, but then that didn’t quite eventuate and on Saturday we were still figuring out our rotations,” Clayden said.

“We’re still trying to find out what the best combinations are at the moment but it was good to get Seva back in there and our smaller line-up with Rhys at the five seemed to work quite well.

“We’ve then got someone like Demetris who adds a new element and we think his defence from what we’ve seen will be pretty good on most of the big guys in the league.

“But we have to still do some work on his offence which is exactly why he’s here, to get better, and he’s doing work with Andy (Stewart).

“We’re still a while away from our best and obviously having Mandurah this week who are looking very strong while playing a small rotation, it will be interesting to see how we plan to get ready for that and see where that heads.”

Major Partner - Dentistry Plus