Fitch’s dream game paved path to a golden era

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Slammers trio Damien Chalk, Matt Petrich and Joe Regnier were all smiles during the 1992 post-season.
Camera IconSlammers trio Damien Chalk, Matt Petrich and Joe Regnier were all smiles during the 1992 post-season. Credit: Paul Webster

If you ever spot Printsync South West Slammers legend James Fitch at the Eaton Recreation Centre during a Slammers home game, chances are “the money man” will have a glint in his eye.

This is due to his memories of when the Slammers possessed one of the most potent offences in SBL history.

To this day, one performance still stands above them all.

On the back of securing the 1992 men’s minor premiership, the Slammers faced the East Perth Eagles in the opening round of the finals series.

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After claiming a straightforward 118-88 win in game one, the Slammers returned to the “Hay Shed” and gave their supporters a performance they would never forget.

The Slammers’ final score of 164 (v 116) remains an SBL play-off record, due to Fitch dropping a staggering 61 points, while his American teammate Joe Regnier helped himself to 51.

But Fitch told the South Western Times both he and his teammates remained humble in their intentions throughout the game.

“It did not seem to me like we were scoring that heavily — I thought it was more of a team effort,” he said. “And if you look at the score, to hit 164, it has to be a lot to do with the team.

“I guess it one of those games where you felt like you could not miss and it just kept falling for you.”

Although they were defeated by the Cockburn Cougars in the grand final, the success of 1992 ultimately paved the way for a golden era of SBL basketball in the South West.

The Slammers played in the 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999 grand finals, where they triumphed in every one.

And another man who made a significant contribution to the offence during those later years was another American sensation, Riccardo Boyd, who joined the team from the Rainbow Coast Raiders in 1996.

Fitch, who played college basketball with Boyd at Idaho University, knew full well just how dangerous the 201cm player could be while soaring to the glass — with some in the SBL community even comparing his dunking ability to that of NBA great Michael Jordan.

And four years before Boyd joined the team, the Raiders ace gave the Slammers a crash course on how effective he could be.

“I remember in that 92 season we started off down in Albany,” Fitch said. “And Alan Black was our coach and he told us that he would guard Riccardo.

“I told him “you better let me do that” but he told me he had it. On the very first play, Albany came down, gave the ball to Riccardo and I was standing at the top of the key.

“He (Boyd) goes from the left baseline, jumps and collided with Joe Regnier in mid-air and dunked it so hard, our whole bench and fans jumped up and were yelling for Albany.

“Because at the time, they had not seen a dunk like it for a while. So after that, Alan told me I should guard him.”

Although Fitch enjoyed a successful career and averaged close to 30 points per game, he is adamant the Slammers’ glory days in the tough competition were made special by the quality of players who came through the locker room.

“All those guys who came through and played with me, I will always class those guys as part of my brothers,” he said.

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