Geraldton Buccaneers split results on Perth weekend as Cougar mauling offsets Wolves shootout loss

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Malik Meunier played one of his best games in Buccs colours in their Cougar mauling
Camera IconMalik Meunier played one of his best games in Buccs colours in their Cougar mauling Credit: Erin Tuckey/RegionalHUB

The Geraldton Buccaneers dished out the pain to Cockburn Cougars reminiscent of the playoffs last year, the Buccs keeping their opponents winless so far in 2023 with Sunday’s 124-87 thumping.

After falling to the Wolves on Saturday, the Buccaneers bounced back strongly.

Last year they defeated the Cougars by 31 points in the playoffs and put on an even more emphatic performance on Sunday on the road.

It was a dominant showing from the outset by Geraldton, leading 30-20 by quarter-time before going into the half-time break on top 67-41.

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Unlike their two previous outings, the Buccs maintained control throughout the contest as Malik Meunier played one of his best games in Buccs colours on his way to a game-high 33 points.

They also showed much better ball control, committing 14 turnovers to Cockburn’s 21 while their three-point shooting was some of the best this year going at above 40 per cent in the second half.

For every bit as good as Geraldton was, the signs were equally as bad for Cockburn who have not won in the NBL1 West since the end of last regular season, losing in straight sets in the playoffs and now the first four games of 2023.

Along with Meunier’s 33 points, Shaun Stewart had a double-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals.

WHile Zac Gattorna contributed 19 points and five rebounds, Johny Narkle 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals, and Fletcher Klasztorny 10 points and four assists.

It was arguably the Buccs’ best performance this year and ensured they came back home on a high after they fell short in a final quarter shoot-out against the Joondalup Wolves on Saturday night.

Much like they did in Karratha, the Buccs made the better start as Gattorna got in some early drives supported by field shooting from Klasztorny and Aaron Ralph to take a seven-point lead after the first quarter.

The teams traded baskets to start the second term, but the Wolves had a brief period of dominance when the Buccs made some costly misses and turnovers in a 10-0 two-minute run, with former Bucc Mathiang Muo hitting back-to-back threes to put the Wolves in the lead.

The Buccs wrestled back control with the help of some free throws and strong drives from Gattorna but it was even at the half at 47-all.

The third quarter was a showcase of the teams’ strengths, with the Buccs scoring at a perfect 100 from inside the paint while the Wolves looked to answer with their three-point shooting.

Quintin Dove, who was proving to be the most dangerous player on court, passed 20 points for the night with a three in the dying seconds to limit the Buccs’ lead to three at the start of the final term.

Neither team was able to grab hold of the game to start the final term before a shootout ensued, with the Wolves nailing three threes in a row. But the Buccs replied with three of their own.

However, the Buccs blinked first in the shootout as Gattorna missed back-to-back threes and jump shots to allow the Wolves to take the lead with six-point run.

In the end, the Wolfpack closed the game scoring nine of the last 11 points, including a strong finish from Bryan Michaels, dunk from Dove and three-pointer from CJ Turnage.

The 96-90 win improves the Wolves to a 2-2 record.

New import Dove was outstanding with 34 points, 14 rebounds and two steals and going 14/16 at the free-throw line, highlighting his aggressiveness.

Gattorna delivered 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Buccaneers.

Ralph had 14 points and three boards, Meunier 13 points, four assists, three steals, three rebounds and two blocks, Liam Hunt 11 points and four boards, and Stewart 10 points and eight assists.

It was a high-quality game but the Buccs will be disappointed with committing 19 turnovers while they struggled to contain Dove, with his 14 free-throw points proving key.

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