Pioneers vs Dandenong Rangers Match Report Friday 1 June 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Dandenong Rangers Match Review Report Friday 1 June 2018

The Pioneers season took another turn for the worse on Friday night when they were once again humbled at home, this time by arch-rivals Dandenong in a rematch of last year’s championship final with the visitors prevailing by 16 points. 

The Pioneers came out all guns blazing in the opening term, scoring the first five points of the contest and taking the game right up to their more favoured opponents. Luke Jamieson was providing a focal point inside the paint and the Pioneers continued their excellent ball movement from last week as they shared the rock and found the open man. The Pioneers defence was solid to start the game and forced the Rangers into taking ill-advised shots, with the Rangers taking 2:18 minutes to register a score. But it didn’t take long for the Rangers to find their feet on offence with Rhys Vague and Lucas Barker causing serious headaches for Pioneers Coach Richard Hill. Vague was connecting on just about all of his shot attempts including a nasty sky hook whilst Barker was unstoppable from all angles, bombing a three, converting at 100% from the line and driving to the hoop. The offence of Sam McDaniel was keeping the Pioneers in the contest, with his eight opening term points ensuring the Pioneers went to the break within a bucket of the Rangers at 18-20. 

The Pioneers needed a spark and it would come in the form of a highlight alley-oop play as Kane de Wit found Lewis Thomas to kick start the Pioneers cause in the second quarter. However, the highlights would be few and far between for the Pioneers in the second stanza as the Rangers dominated on the glass and made the most of the second chance points that were served up to them on a silver platter. The Pioneers simply could not score with everyone bar Sam McDaniel struggling to get their shot going. Tom Daly struggled to overcome a constant double teaming, Erik Burdon was throwing up bricks and Lewis Thomas was unable to continue his recent offensive dominance. Meanwhile, Lucas Barker was running the floor like clockwork for the Rangers with Rhys Vague and Tim Lang combining to maul the Pioneers in the paint. With time expiring in the first half, it was a sore and sorry tale for the Pioneers who could only manage 11 second term points as they fell adrift by double digits, 29-39 at the long break. Sam McDaniel led all scorers to half time with 13 points and 5 rebounds for the Pioneers whilst Luke Jamieson provided the only other resistance on offence with 7 points and 4 rebounds. For the Rangers it was Lucas Barker leading the way with 11 points and Rhys Vague added 9 points and 6 rebounds in the first half. 

The Pioneers first half showing was a far cry from their stellar performance against Canberra only one week ago and Coach Richard Hill put it on his players to come out and show some grit and determination to commence the second half. The Pioneers heeded these words and flew out of the gate in the third term as they went on a 7-2 run which cut their double-digit deficit in half. But the Rangers would not go away as Vague and Lang continued to prove unstoppable on the inside with the Pioneers bigs brigade unable to dent their impact on the scoreboard. The Pioneers were starting to click on offence and found several avenues to the basket but they could do very little to halt the Rangers momentum as the visiting side extended their lead to 14 points at the final change.

If the Pioneers had any hope of getting back into this contest, their hopes were soon dashed by Keli Leaupepe whose long-range effort to commence the final term broke the hearts of the Pioneers fans. Rhys Vague was simply unstoppable from start to finish as his 20 points and 16 rebounds paved the way for a Rangers victory. Sam McDaniel continued to have the hot hand from deep for the Pioneers as he shot 6-7 (85%) from long range for the match but there was little he could do to stop the Rangers onslaught. The only other highlight for the Pioneers was the play of Kane de Wit who continues to show more poise under pressure with every passing contest. De Wit’s 12 points were a season high for the young Pioneer and many of his teammates could take a leaf out of his book as he shot 62% from the field. It is not often that offensive boards are the decisive statistic in a game of basketball but that was surely the case in this contest as Dandenong maintained a telling edge on the glass with a 15-0 differential in second chance points and a 62-33 edge in rebounds. As time wound down in the final term it would be the Rangers who would prevail by 16 points as they subjected the Pioneers to a 4-6 record and 11th place on the ladder. Sam McDaniel led the way for the Pioneers with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists whilst Luke Jamieson put up 14 points and 9 rebounds. Rhys Vague starred for the Rangers with 20 points and 16 rebounds, Lucas Barker had 17 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds and Tim Lang had 15 points and 6 rebounds. 

In reviewing the game, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill credited the Rangers approach, stating that “Dandenong had a great game plan and whilst we were able to create good scoring opportunities, our inability to convert enabled them to sit in their zone for the entire game”. “Their size proved too much for us to handle as they smashed us on the boards” he said. Hill once again praised the work of new addition Sam McDaniel, stating that “McDaniel was a shining light for us at the offensive end” but unfortunately for the Pioneers there would be no supporting cast to carry them to a winning total. 

The Pioneers now have a 14 day break in which to find some resolve that will carry them to the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The Rangers will have to back up on Sunday when they face Diamond Valley and will be keen to climb into the top four on the ladder. 

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