Wolves pack up for next year

Joondalup Times - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Don­ald­son

PERRY Lakes Hawks pinched a State Bas­ket­ball League cham­pi­onship on Satur­day night and the look on Joon­dalup Wolves’ power-for­ward Jalen Billups (pic­tured) and his team­mates, who were favoured to win, said it all. Pic­ture: Michael Far­nell, sport­sim­agery.com.au

THE tears in the eyes of Joon­dalup Wolves cap­tain Seb Sali­nas and the level of ela­tion in the Perry Lakes Hawks camp said it all.

The Hawks’ ju­bi­la­tion at the clos­ing of the State Bas­ket­ball League grand fi­nal was the kind that only comes when you pinch a cham­pi­onship you weren’t meant to win.

And the emo­tion of Sali­nas and his team­mates re­flected the depth of the sting of a third-straight grand fi­nal loss.

They thought it was their time after back-to­back cham­pi­onship losses.

They thought they had found the miss­ing pieces to the puz­zle. A three-peat of de­feats in the fi­nal game of the sea­son could not be con­sid­ered.

But it hap­pened in a pul­sat­ing 94-87 con­test on Satur­day in front of a rau­cous packed house at Ben­dat Bas­ket­ball Cen­tre, where the Hawks never trailed at any point of the game.

The cham­pi­ons, who fin­ished the sea­son in fourth, held their big­gest lead of 13 points with two min­utes to go in the first half.

The Wolves pegged it back to twice draw even in the third quar­ter and trail by just four points head­ing into a riv­et­ing fi­nal term after some fancy foot­work from Joon­dalup im­port Brian Sul­li­van (13 points) got him clear for a roofrais­ing three-point swish on the buzzer.

Joon­dalup got within one point of the Hawks four min­utes into the last quar­ter after Sali­nas (eight points) drained a three, but Perry Lakes had an an­swer for ev­ery­thing that was thrown at them.

Sali­nas’ dis­ap­point­ment was clear when he spoke to Com­mu­nity News after the game.

“Three in a row, we’re start­ing to get a bit over it,” he said.

“Straight after the game, you just won­der ‘what’s the point?’.

“You bust your butt all pre-sea­son and all sea­son and you get to this point ex­pect­ing to win and to fall so short is gut wrench­ing but, silly me, I’ll prob­a­bly come back next year and do it all again.”

Sali­nas wrote the loss off as a “tough one to ex­plain”.

“I think we just didn’t take our op­por­tu­ni­ties when we needed to. They played an ex­cel­lent game. They shot the ball well and pretty much had all the loose balls,” he said.

“In a game like that, a team that does all the lit­tle things is go­ing to win in the end.”

Perry Lakes Hawks cap­tain Ben Purser was named grand fi­nal MVP with a de­ci­sively dis­ci­plined dis­play at both ends of the court leav­ing him two as­sists short of a triple dou­ble.

The fan favourite was rock solid on de­fence and cre­ative on of­fence, scor­ing 12 points, dish­ing a game­high eight as­sists and tak­ing 10 re­bounds.

De­spite the im­pres­sive fig­ures, Purser thought he had “strug­gled”.

He said it was “part joy and part re­lief” to have fi­nally won a de­cider after losses in 2009 and 2011 – the lat­ter be­ing a mem­o­rable con­test against the Wolves.

“I don’t think any­one thought we would win tonight. The only peo­ple who thought we could win would be us and our close fans,” he said.

The Wolves were again left won­der­ing what they had done to up­set the bas­ket­ball gods, with their shoot­ing, like the pre­vi­ous two grand fi­nals, go­ing awry at the worst pos­si­ble time.

It was a gut-wrench­ing loss for Wolves leader Seb Sali­nas.

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