Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence Match Report 12th August 2016
The Pioneers finished the regular season on the highest possible note on Friday night, defeating the inexperienced Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence lineup by an emphatic 26 point margin. The Pioneers were dominant from the first tip-off with marquee man Tyrone Lee stamping his credentials all over the contest in the opening term. The undersized BACOE unit was unable to deal with Lee’s strength and ferocity in the paint as he racked up 12 first quarter points. Erik Burdon also enjoyed a stellar opening to the match as he continued his hot streak from triple point territory with two huge treys, including one from way downtown! With Lee dominating the interior and Burdon the exterior, BACOE were quickly running out of ideas on how to combat the pair but they did eventually manage to fight their way back into the contest courtesy of some Matt Kenyon magic. The swingman did his best to lift his team with 7 opening term points but he received little support from his teammates who were swamped by a rampaging Pioneers outfit. There was no respite for the visitors even when Tyrone Lee vacated the court, with his replacement Luke Jamieson icing the first term with a clutch fadeaway jump shot drawing the foul and resulting in a 3 point play that extended the Pioneers lead to 12 points at the first interval. Despite the double digit deficit after one quarter of play, the score line was not a true indicator of the performance of BACOE who battled valiantly only to be denied by poor execution at both ends of the floor.
Given the unknown quantity that is the developing BACOE side, Coach Richard Hill’s quarter time address would have centred on effort and execution in readiness for the commencement of the post-season in a week’s time. It was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the captain as Matt Sutton put the Pioneers on the board first in the second term with a classy jump shot courtesy of a quality Kane DeWit feed. The second term quickly turned into a defensive battle with neither side able to gain the ascendancy with the scores locked at 13 apiece for the quarter. Myles Cherry stepped up his game and became a roadblock in the key with 8 rebounds including 5 offensive boards giving the visitors valuable second chance point opportunities. Desmond Simmons (6 rebounds) and Luke Jamieson (5 rebounds) were not to be outdone and teamed up to form the crash and bash brothers who were on a mission to pummel BACOE into submission on the interior. Midway through the term the Pioneers lead had stretched out to 16 points but a gallant BACOE lineup fought hard to close the margin to just 6 points in just 4 minutes of play. The Pioneers woke from their slumber to go on a 6-0 run to close out the first half led by the unstoppable offence of Tyrone Lee and the impeccable defence of Desmond Simmons and Luke Jamieson. With the scoreboard reading 42-30, the Pioneers were left ruing missed opportunities that would have put the game out of their opponents reach. Tyrone Lee led the way for the Pioneers with 16 points and 3 rebounds, Erik Burdon had 8 points and Luke Jamieson had 6 points and 5 rebounds. For BACOE it was Matt Kenyon starring with 9 points and 2 rebounds whilst Myles Cherry had 5 points and 8 rebounds.
The third term is often referred to as the championship quarter and with the finals just one week away, the Pioneers needed to sound a warning to their rivals that they are more than capable of pulling off a three-peat of titles this season. Desmond Simmons kicked off second half proceedings by converting with a good old fashioned dunny flush that enthused the crowd. Own goals are not heard of in basketball very often but Owen Hulland did his best to extend the Pioneers lead as he fought to keep the ball in only to pass it to Erik Burdon who accepted the elementary layup. Just when BACOE thought their night couldn’t get any worse, Tyrone Lee came back onto the court to throw down a trademark double handed tomahawk dunk that baptised the BACOE defence and brought the bench to their feet. Kyle Zunic was doing his best to keep the score respectable but the Pioneers had answers from every position on the court, emphasised by a rare three point conversion from big man Desmond Simmons. Zunic managed to knock down the final basket of the quarter from long range but he could only trim the Pioneers lead to 20 points. Tyrone Lee somehow emerged from three quarters of play with no fouls and as a result he dominated the game with 20 points and 9 rebounds. He received quality support from Brad Hill with 10 points and 2 rebounds whilst Erik Burdon also had 10 points to go with 2 assists. For BACOE it was Matt Kenyon leading the way with 9 points and 2 rebounds with Kyle Zunich stuffing the stat sheet with 9 points.
The fizz had long been removed from the contest and with one quarter to play surely Coach Richard Hill would begin to rest his starting five to freshen them up for a run at Hobart in next week’s Semi Final. Yet Hill took the alternative route and decided to keep his stars in the contest for the majority of the final term in a bid to ensure they were at full match fitness heading into the high intensity that is post-season basketball. Luke Jamieson kicked off a 14-2 run for the Pioneers to start the final term and suddenly there was a blowout on hand as the lead extended to 32 points. A raft of substitutions late in the match saw a much smaller and inexperienced Pioneers formation take the court with the opportunity to broadcast their abilities heading into the finals. Lachie Hunter played his first minutes of the season, Dellon Brown was given a rare opportunity to impress and Kane DeWit had his minutes extended in readiness for next week. The Pioneers failed to score a single point once the substitutions had been made and this would be concerning to Coach Hill who needs his bench to contribute if they are going to defend their title for a second time. The late 8-0 run by BACOE came via some clutch shooting from Matt Kenyon and Samson Froling but it did little to add respectability to the final score as the Pioneers ran out victors 82-56. Tyrone Lee was clearly the player of the match with 22 points and 12 rebounds and he received quality assistance from Brad Hill with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals whilst Desmond Simmons continued his rebounding dominance with 13 boards accompanying 7 points. For BACOE it was Matt Kenyon dominating with 13 points and 5 rebounds, Myles Cherry chipped in with 9 points and 9 rebounds and Kyle Zunich finished with 9 points.
The Pioneers did not have it all their own way tonight and that places them in good stead heading into a tough encounter with Hobart next week. BACOE have had another quality season given the mismatches they encountered on a weekly basis and the SEABL has been the perfect training ground for these rising stars of Australian basketball.
With the regular season won and done, the Pioneers move on to a Semi Final showdown with South Conference leaders the Hobart Chargers and will be out to exact revenge for the two losses they have sustained against them during the regular season. Should the Pioneers emerge victorious they will have the week off before a home final determines if they progress to the Championship Final. Should they lose they still get a home final the following week against the winner of Geelong and Albury-Wodonga.