The Tigers overturned a big third quarter deficit to take the lead to the final break and held on for the upset win.
Lakeside led by 13 in the second quarter in the first Grand Final at the new WA Basketball Centre and had a 12 point advantage midway through the third, but were outscored 53-30 from that point.
Forward Cam Tovey claimed the MVP with an incredible all-round performance, seeing him finish with 31 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Fellow NBL player Daniel Johnson also starred for the Tigers, finishing with 37 points, while shooting guard Alex Prince added 27.
Luke Payne was the best in Lakeside’s losing effort with 22 points, while centre Jarrad Prue had 20 points and 21 rebounds.
The Lightning took a one-point advantage to the first break and extended that to 13 just four minutes after a 16-4 run.
Willetton cut the margin to four with four minutes left in the half, but it was back out to eight by the main break.
Lakeside took the difference back out to 12 midway through the third, but Willetton started its incredible run from there, going on an 18-4 run to take a six-point lead at three-quarter-time.
The Tigers maintained its lead throughout the fourth quarter, with the margin never below four, before Prince secured the championship with a three-pointer in the final seconds.
Winning coach Shayne Hampel said the title was a fair reward for all of Willetton’s hard work.
“This club has been threatening to break through for its first championship for so long, so to finally do it is just great,” he said.
“Our defensive pressure was the big difference (in the second half). In the first half, they shot the s… out of the ball, but we increased our pressure and it got us over the line.”
Perth Wildcats star Tovey said: “This game meant a lot to me. I’ve been a Willetton player since I was nine-years-old. I only found out a few days ago we’d never won a championship, so it’s been on my mind.”
“It’s great to finally win one.”
Tigers captain Adam Nener said winning the title was an unreal feeling.
“These guys are a great bunch of blokes…we stuck together and we did it,” he said.
“Lakeside are a tough side, but I just think we executed a little better down the stretch.”
Article by Jacob Kagi
Photo by Grant Lauterbach