The Cockburn Cougars produced their best and most emphatic four-quarter performance of the season in Friday night’s 125-87 win over the South West Slammers at Wally Hagan Stadium with Courtney Alexander II and Josh Hunt combining for 47 points.
Coming off a top four finish last season, the Cougars had lost six of the first seven matches this season but that did include missed opportunities against the Lakeside Lightning and Joondalup Wolves, and two decent showings against the rampant Rockingham Flames.
There was exciting signs too in the narrow loss to Joondalup last week in the performance of Alexander, and the import big backed it up with a dominant showing against the Slammers.
Cockburn started strongly with 31 points to 23 in the opening quarter and went on with the job from there with another 33 to 20 in the second term to go into the half-time break leading 64-43.
The Cougars went on to outscore South West 61 points to 44 in the second half to and scored the 38-point victory to make it eight wins in succession against the Slammers dating back to 2018.
The win improves the Cougars to 2-6 on the season and it was Alexander who shone with 30 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks on 13/18 shooting.
The Cougars had another six players in double-figures with Josh Hunt putting up 17 points and five assists, Taj Benning 11 points, three rebounds and three assists, Gavin Field 11 points, three boards and three steals, Luke Phillips 11 points and three rebounds, and Hayden Bell 10 points and four boards.
Keegan Phillips knocked down 3/4 from three-point range for 12 points with Kieran Berry celebrating his 100th game in the league starting again in the absence of Seva Chan and delivering eight points and six assists.
Cougars coach Andrew Cooper was pleased with the four-quarter performance from the team that he hopes that they can now take momentum from.
“It was a game that were confident that we had the talent to win it, no disrespect to Slammers, and in the end it was a pretty polished performance for four quarters, which is what we’ve been looking for,” Cooper said.
“There was still some goals that we didn’t quite meet, but that’s also a good sign because it means there’s still plenty of room for improvement moving forward.”
The last nine quarters that Alexander has produced this season is showing exactly why Cooper was so excited about signing him to the Cougars this season.
It started with a huge fourth quarter in the win against the Lightning before he shone last week against the Wolves, and backed it up with a match-winning display on Friday against the Slammers.
“Well he’s found his groove that’s for sure,” Cooper said.
“He’s found his spots within the offence and he’s obviously getting to under the players around him a bit better now and he’s starting to show what his abilities are at both ends of the floor, which is a good sign for us.”
Another exciting sign out of Friday night’s win was the continued improved form of rising star Josh Hunt who is now in his best period of play for the 2023 season.
“I think Josh was a bit lost in the pre-season with some injuries and things like that so it took him a little while to settle into this season,” Cooper said.
“Again, that can happen when you’re trying to fit in with two new imports as well especially for a young guy like Josh. I think we forget sometimes that he’s only just turned 21 but when he’s aggressive and just does the things that he’s really good at, it shows.
“It’s when he goes away from what he’s really good at that he tends to struggle a bit. We’re trying to get that message through to him and he’s trying to work on that more and more, and once he continues in that mindset he’ll only keep on improving.”