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Round 4 Cougars Wrap – Women

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The Cockburn Cougars went south to tackle the Mandurah Magic on Friday night and came away with the victory for the first time since 2021 to remain undefeated in their championship defence.

While the Cougars won the NBL1 West championship in 2023, the first loss they suffered was in Mandurah on the back of also going down on the road to the Magic in 2022.

That meant nobody at Cockburn was under any illusions as to how tough it would be to get the win on Friday night in Mandurah, but the Cougars produced a standout performance despite the absence of Alex Ciabattoni, Daniel Raber and Maria Blazejewski.

Cockburn only lost nine regular season games the past two years, but two of them were in Mandurah and the Magic started strongly as well going on a 10-0 run in the first quarter to lead by as much as eight but it was back to a one-point ball game by quarter-time.

The Cougars kept that momentum going to complete an 11-0 run of their own in the second period to open up a double-figure lead, and then to go into half-time leading 41-31.

Cockburn maintained control through most of the second half leading by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, and 21 in the fourth before winning 79-60 to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Steph Gorman was playing her second game of the season and hit 5/10 from three-point range for 21 points along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Jewel Williams added 19 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals with teenage star Amelia Corasaniti back from the national championships to start and deliver 11 points, six boards and two assists.

Jessie Edwards also returned and had 10 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three assists with Regan Turnour-McCarty contributing seven points, six boards and two assists.

Kinley Paterson was also back from representing Western Australia and had five points, five rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes with Harriet Ford adding six points and five rebounds.

Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites was pleased on a number of fronts with the gutsy win at a venue they had lost at in their previous two visits.

“I was really pleased. I won’t hide the fact given our history there the past couple of years that I was a bit nervous, but we were really pleased with the group,” Thwaites said.

“To have six of our eleven 19 years or under, including the rotation off the bench, it was a pretty impressive win.

“We were very proud of them.”

While the Cougars are yet to be at full strength so far this season and again in Friday’s win against the Magic there was no Ciabattoni, Raber nor Blazejewski, but Thwaites is fully aware the importance of building early momentum.

Playing catch up by not getting the early wins on the board can be costly in terms of final positions. Thwaites has been pleased with the first four games the Cougars have delivered, and especially with what he saw at the defensive end against the Magic.

“I think some coaches underestimate the importance of a good start to the season, and how it can come back to bite you later in the year if ou don’t start as well as you would like,” Thwaites said.

“Some frame it as you just have to win at the right time of the year, but equally the advantage you get from being at the top with two home finales, which we experienced last year, massively plays to your advantage.

“To be 4-0 to start the year, that’s a big one for us especially having played Mandurah twice who are no easybeats.

“It’s a really good place to be in and Friday night was probably the first time where we started to see some growth in our defence, we saw some signs that show us getting back to being the standout defensive team.

“That was a big, big step in the right direction and we hope that progresses into this week.”

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