The Buccaneers will not embark on a record-breaking start to season 2023 as they fell short in Karratha to Perth in a 96-80 point loss. Last season the Buccs did not taste defeat until June after a 10-0 start but they have felt the sting early this year with the Redbacks proving far too strong on Saturday night. While not quite a rollicking Activewest Stadium, the Geraldton Buccaneers certainly had the home support as plenty of blue-and-gold turned up to the Karratha Leisureplex for the first-ever NBL1 game at the venue. The Buccs started brightly with Ryan Blanchett’s three the first NBL1 points to be scored in Karratha before fouls to Zac Gattorna and Malik Meunier helped them to an early lead. But Perth hit back with Brian Voelkel and Bryton Hobbs hitting the scoreboard as they briefly took the lead. However, Fletcher Klasztorny hit some late baskets in his first game of the year to help the Buccs on an 8-0 run to close out the quarter and take the lead 28-23. The two sides traded baskets throughout the second quarter with Gattorna playing his first game against his old side, and Shaun Stewart doing most of the damage for the Buccs. But the Redbacks were able to draw a series of fouls as they racked up free points from the line allowing them to close the gap. The Buccs were struggling with their shooting sitting just above 30 per cent from inside the paint compared with Perth’s 50. Compounded by fouls giving the Redbacks the weight of possession a Voelkel tip-in gave them the lead from the first time since the midway through the first quarter. It was a lead they would not give up for the rest of the match as the Buccs were blown away in the third quarter after Perth scored the first seven points to jump to a nine-point lead. The Buccs improved their work inside the paint to stem the bleeding, but Hobbs and Sioeli Vaiangina began draining shots from deep as they stretched the lead to 11 points at three-quarter-time. Perth jumped out of the blocks again to start the fourth quarter which left the Buccs too much ground to make up despite the efforts of Meunier and Hunt late. Hobbs finished with a game-high 22 points for the Redbacks with Vaiangina next with 18 as the Buccs could never regain the initiative after falling behind. Hunt was the best for the Buccs with 13 along with Meunier. As a team, they failed to make the most of their opportunities, shooting at 45 per cent from inside the paint compared with Perth’s 63 and going at less than 17 per cent form the three-point line in the second half. It sees the Buccs in sixth after two rounds as they now prepare for an away double-header weekend against Joondalup and Cockburn on April 15 and 16.