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Round 3 Cougars Wrap – Women

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The Cockburn Cougars unveiled the trio of Steph Gorman, Alex Ciabattoni and Jewel Williams in the backcourt for the first time and the signs were exciting in the 98-69 home victory against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.

While the Cougars did have that backcourt trio in action at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night, they didn’t have frontcourt trio Jessie Edwards, Maria Blazejewski and Daniel Raber nor young guns Amelia Corasaniti and Kinley Paterson.

That set up an intriguing match up with the Eastern Suns coming off their first win of the season and in the end, Ciabattoni, Gorman and Williams would end up combining for 70 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists between the trio.

The Cougars got up to a 14-point lead by quarter-time and then saw that get out to as much as 21 in the third quarter, 36 in the fourth and they would end up winning by 29 to go to 3-0 on the season and having won nine straight NBL1 West matches.

Ciabattoni was playing just her second game with the Cougars and put up 31 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals on shooting 13/21 from the floor.

Gorman was making her first appearance of the season and had 24 points and nine rebounds with Williams contributing 15 points and eight assists.

Harriet Ford also had 11 points and eight rebounds with Regan Turnour-McCarty adding nine points, 11 boards and three assists as she continues to settle into an important role with the Cougars.

Lily Gammidge also played a crucial almost 23 minutes for four points, three rebounds and three assists with Abbey Hall contributing two points, and Maia Clayden two points and three boards.

While it might not have always been pretty, considering the Cougars were without their three main front court players and then also lost Jaya Scafidi early in the game, there was a lot for coach Tyrone Thwaites to be pleased with.

“It was a little bit messy and it’s probably the last week where we’re going to have a bit of an awkwardness when it comes to who’s playing where,” Thwaites said.

“We also lost Jaya early, so everyone had to play out of position probably more than we would have liked them to and ultimately given that was the case, we were pretty pleased with how we played it out.”

The signs from seeing Williams, Ciabattoni and Gorman all playing together for the first time was exciting with Thwaites looking forward to seeing how it works with Edwards, Blazejewski and Rabert up front, and Turnour-McCarty continuing to find her feet.

“It’s only going to get better too the more they play together, and the more they get comfortable then the more exciting it’s going to be,” he said.

“They’re all very intelligent players so to see their IQ as they start to understand what we want to get done a little bit more will be fun to watch for everybody.

“Then ultimately when you start to combine them with a frontcourt as they start to arrive and return into the mix, it’ll be a lot of fun basketball.

“Equally Regan Turnour-McCarty is looking a lot better with those girls around her as well and she’s playing a really good glue-piece role for us at the moment similar to what KP did for us last year.”

Given the Cougars haven’t been close to full strength at any point yet this season with Gorman playing just one game, Corasaniti one, Paterson one, Ciabattoni two and Edwards two, and then none so far from Blazejewski and Raber, and Thwaites is rightfully happy with the opening three weeks.

“I am pretty happy so far, it was always going to be a little bit messy to start,” Thwaites said.

“We’ll make sure that every week we’ll get a little bit better, and it’s about winning in August, not necessarily in April so we’ll keep getting better every single week and we know we’ve got a big month coming up.”

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