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

Round 6 Cougars Wrap – Men

Share this article

It was ever so close to the perfect double-win weekend for the Cockburn Cougars men against the South West Slammers and Willetton Tigers in Round 6 of the NBL1 West season.

It’s the start of a string of double-header weekends for the Cougars and it started on Friday night at Wally Hagan Stadium with the 93-81 victory against the South West Slammers.

The Cougars were looking for a measure of revenge for losing to the Slammers down south earlier this season and while they didn’t have it all their own way through the game, there was plenty to like in the 12-point win.

Josh Hunt continued his career-best form for Cockburn with another 21 points, five rebounds and three assists while shooting 6/11 from the field and 8/10 from the free-throw line.

Rhys Vague added 16 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals with Gavin Field contributing 15 points, 12 boards, five assists, three blocks and two steals with Nathan Pond impressing with 10 points on 5/8 shooting.

Hunter Clarke also added nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, William Yarran eight points and two boards, Demetris Morant four points and four rebounds, Charlie Dimmock three points and three boards, Matt Clifford three points and three assists, and Kyle Armour three points, five rebounds and four assists.

That led into Saturday night with the Cougars taking on the on-fire Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium and Willetton opened up an 18-point lead in the second quarter, but from that moment Cockburn worked back into the contest impressively.

The Cougars even went on a 16-0 scoring run in the second half to open up a six-point lead, but in the finish it was a two-point lead for Willetton coming down to the last possession of the night.

Vague had already hit seven three-pointers in the game for Cockburn so the ball was in the perfect hands for the last shot, and he got a good look at the three, but it wouldn’t quite fall with Willetton holding on to win 99-97.

By the end of the game, Vague finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals on 7/13 three-point shooting.

Field added 16 points and eight assists on 4/9 three-point shooting with Hunt contributing 15 points and six assists, Morant a supremely impressive 12 points and 15 rebounds, and Pond another eight points and two boards.

Armour finished with seven points, four rebounds and four assists in the 300th game of his career with Clifford adding five points and two rebounds, Clarke three points, three boards, two assists and two steals, and Noah Stewart two points and two assists.

Clayden was reasonably happy by the end of Friday night’s win over the Slammers, but there were times throughout the game he wasn’t especially during the first quarter after giving up four consecutive fast breaks to a South West team that loves to push the ball.

“I was pretty happy with patches of it and anyone who heard my first timeout would have known that I wasn’t very happy,” Clayden said.

“That was coming back to what we want to do and you saw the response from the players. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning or losing, we need to be playing the right way and when you’re letting Bunbury, who want to run transition, get four fast breaks in-a-row and two of them where no one even steps up, I didn’t care that we were up by 10 points or not.

“That was not who we are so we had a really positive response and then to get up by as much as we did, it was a bit of a unique situation for us. We don’t have that killer instinct yet and Bunbury is a good team with some good shooters, and their young players came on and gave them a spark.

“We held on and finished off well, but there was a bit of a sour taste because we knew we had to play a lot better against Willetton.”

While Clayden was nervous about what would happen should the Cougars have some of the breakdowns from Friday night on Saturday against the Tigers, those fears were confirmed midway through the second quarter.

However, from that point he liked a lot of what the Cougars did to give themselves a chance to win at the death.

“Halfway through the second quarter I thought it was going to be pretty nasty because we were playing selfish, we weren’t playing defence at all and we were letting them get out of our scout again which has been our No. 1 problem all year,” Clayden said.

“Darren and I focus on what we want to do and they just weren’t doing it, but then Matty Clifford comes off the bench and does the job on Nelson, Noah comes off and does a great job on Dupree and Rhys started to find some confidence with his shots.

“Demetris also realised how good he could and got more opportunities as a result. As I said to the boys at the end, we got a bit of our mojo and confidence back, and a better idea of what our identity is.

“It was good apart from the result obviously and I did feel a lot better after that even though we lost than I did after Friday night.”

While Saturday night might not have been a win for the Cougars, any time a game comes down to a shot at the buzzer it’s very much a toss of the coin.

What Clayden did like was the way the team played especially from midway in the second quarter onwards and moving forward, he is confident if they can keep playing that way and getting the contributions they did that they would be a good chance to win on most nights.

“It’s just about being consistent in our effort now and the thing we keep working on is playing for longer periods of time,” Clayden said.

“Even against Rockingham and probably even the week before against Mandurah, I love our competitiveness which is one of our core values, but when we’ve been getting down double-figures we’ve fought back every time.

“I think that’s a little bit of a culture thing we’re trying to build and even when we were down by 12 halfway through the third quarter against Willetton, GD and I were getting a bit stressed but we were confident the boys would find a way.

“I think we’re starting trust each other a little bit more and getting a feeling for each other, and it helps when you have players like Gav and Rhys who are capable of putting the pressure back on the other team.

“It was also our younger guys who made an impact led by Matty Clifford, and Pondy continues to show that his hard work is paying off too. What we were happiest with was the guys like that who stepped up and I think if we get eight or nine guys all playing at that level, then hopefully we can get on a bit of a roll.”

Major Partner - Dentistry Plus