A tough Willetton side proved too much for a young Mandurah Magic outfit in their round one clash on Saturday night.
The Magic put in a spirited fight, even leveling scores midway through the third quarter, but the Tigers showed why they are touted as one of the top sides in the competition running away with an 87-73 win.
Mandurah coach Aaron Trahair was pleased with his side’s admirable effort, but conceded their was plenty of room for improvement.
“I was really happy with the effort the guys put in against what is a pretty strong side in Willetton,” he said.
“We’ll continue to develop our execution and being a fairly young side we have to work our tails off for rebounds so those are a few things we can work on.”
Mandurah’s long-term view of getting minutes into their younger players has been well documented in the lead up to the season.
Their development strategy was evident on Saturday night, with youngsters like Fletcher Klasztorny and Chad Simpson getting their share in the rotation.
“I think our young guys were pretty good for a first up game and they’ll obviously come along more as the season goes on,” Trahair said.
“I think on a whole we were pretty close to a good side and we probably missed a tiny opportunity to get a win.”
Standing out for Mandurah in the stats column were captain Taylor Mullenax and new American import Rick Kreklow.
Mullenax finished with an equal game high 27 points and 11 rebounds to complete a strong double-double, while in his first game for the club Kreklow flirted with a triple-double tallying 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Simpson was also a strong contributor, scoring 11 points and pulling down six rebounds.
“I think all of the guys did their bit,” Trahair said.
“It was probably a little disappointing to have the margin stretched out to 14 points in the end, I thought we competed a little better than that.”
Mandurah will travel to Lakeside to take on a Lightning outfit coming off a double-header of action in round one.
Lakeside went 1-1 after edging out the South West Slammers by two points and going down to Geraldton by 14.