Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Frankston Blues – Saturday 5 May 2018
The Pioneers took all before them on Saturday night as they returned to form on the first night of a back to back set on the road, defeating a struggling Frankston opponent by 25 points. The Pioneers were keen to atone for a poor showing at home last week against Bendigo and were buoyed by the signing of Tim Coenraad mid-week who would provide much needed front court depth to a Pioneers side still struggling to get its best starting five on the court.
The Pioneers came out all guns blazing in the opening term as they shot out to a 17-6 lead inside the first five minutes of the contest. The combination of Tim Coenraad, Lewis Thomas and Luke Jamieson in the front court was overwhelming the Frankston defence, as they not only worked the Blues over on the interior but also stretched the floor and knocked down shots from beyond the arc. Thomas continued his good work from last week as he exploded for 12 points and 5 rebounds in the opening term. Bennie Lewis was doing his utmost to keep the Blues in the contest but despite putting up 7 points to commence the evening, his side would trail 28-19 at the first change.
The Blues opened the second term on fire with Bennie Lewis knocking down back to back triples to trim the Pioneers lead to just three points. Frankston started to provide excellent defensive pressure and forced the Pioneers in to rushed shots and costly turnovers as they hung tough against the reigning champions. When Aaron Ross sunk a mid-range jump shot, the Blues drew level at 38 apiece and what looked like an easy game for the visitors had suddenly turned into a dogfight. However, a 12-2 run fuelled by the offence of Coenraad and Thomas allowed the Pioneers to close out the first half with a 50-40 lead and head into the main break with all the momentum.
Lewis Thomas once again led the way for the Pioneers with a massive 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first half. Unlike last week, Thomas had help in the front court with new signing Tim Coenraad clicking immediately with his new teammates as he added 14 first half points for the Pioneers. Bennie Lewis was causing the Pioneers all sorts of problems offensively as he put up 20 first half points and he was finding quality support at both ends of the hardwood from Aaron Ross who compiled 12 points and 7 rebounds to half time.
Despite starting the second half with a rare eight second violation, the Pioneers continued their hot finish to the first half by adding the first six points of the third quarter. A 15-6 run by the visitors stretched the Pioneers lead out to 19 points and the game looked as good as over with Coenraad’s blistering 11-point third term putting the Blues on the canvas. Despite putting up 26 points in three quarters, Bennie Lewis could do very little to halt the Pioneers momentum as they maintained a 19-point advantage at the last change. Adding to the Blues’ woes was the foul trouble surrounding Aaron Ross whose court time was limited in the third term with four fouls to his name. Despite having just three days to gel with his teammates, Tim Coenraad led the Pioneers charge with 25 points and 5 rebounds whilst Lewis Thomas once again doubled up with 24 points and 10 rebounds in three quarters of play.
Despite having somewhat of a quiet night, Luke Jamieson fuelled the Pioneers offence in the final term as he scored the first seven points in the quarter for the visitors. Frankston tried valiantly to reduce the margin but were stopped at every attempt by a dominating Pioneers offensive display. When Ross fouled out halfway through the term, the Blues lost their key two-way enforcer and the Pioneers made the most of his absence nailing back to back triples via Erik Burdon and Kyle Tipene to put the result beyond doubt with a 28-point advantage. A final triple for Chol Luk iced the game for the Pioneers as they ran out victors, 100-75.
The Pioneers bounced back strongly in this contest thanks largely to Lewis Thomas who compiled 26 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. The addition of Tim Coenraad was also timely as he showed his NBL credentials to finish with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. For the home side, Bennie Lewis put up 26 points and 5 rebounds whilst Aaron Ross put up 14 points and 8 rebounds.
Pioneers coach Richard Hill hailed the win as a great victory for the club, stating that “we were down on numbers but big on effort and commitment”. “The victory was one of our best road wins in the last few years, Lewis Thomas was great as was our eleventh-hour addition, Tim Coenraad and we had contributions from every member of our group”.
The Pioneers will face Kilsyth on Sunday afternoon whilst the Blues will hit the road next Friday night to face North West Tasmania.