Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Ballarat Miners Match Review Report- Saturday 23 June 2018
The Pioneers got their season back on track on Saturday night when they accounted for the Ballarat Miners on the road by 10 points in what was easily their finest win of the season. Despite struggling on offence against Bendigo the night before, the Pioneers exploded out of the gates to lead by 18 points at quarter time and never let up as they proved to their critics that they are still a fighting chance for finals in season 2018.
The visiting Pioneers were keen to put a disastrous offensive display against Bendigo in the previous match behind them and came out firing on all cylinders as twin towers, Lewis Thomas and Luke Jamieson led from the front, combining for 16 of the Pioneers 34 opening term points. The form from Jamieson was particularly welcoming as he has struggled to impose himself on the contest for the majority of the season. The Pioneers were simply unstoppable in the paint in their finest inside game of the season and when the Miners looked to double team the Pioneers’ big men in the low post, they kicked it out to shooters Sam McDaniel and Kyle Tipene who punished them from deep. Alex Marzette joined the party when he entered the court with his personal 5-0 run stretching the Pioneers lead to 22-6 with 3:38 minutes remaining. The Miners managed to salvage some scoring from Davon Usher late in the term, but they were powerless to stop a rampant Pioneers offensive unit which poured on 34 points to 16 in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Just as it appeared that the Pioneers were going to rack up a cricket score, the Miners tightened their defence and began to get their offence flowing as they went on a 10-4 run to kick start their second term assault. It looked like the Pioneers would get a lucky break when Peter Hooley stepped on the foot of a photographer and looked to suffer a serious ankle injury. Fortunately for the Miners, Hooley returned to the contest soon after and unfortunately for the Pioneers he led his side from the front to compile 11 first half points. Meanwhile, Erik Burdon and Luke Jamieson were doing their best Stockton to Malone impersonation as the Pioneers continued to strike gold against the Miners inside the paint. Despite their offensive success, the Pioneers defence began to falter in the second term as they allowed the Miners to get within seven points at one stage before allowing them to win the quarter 22-16. However, the Pioneers would close the term with a hail Mary triple from Erik Burdon which kicked their lead out to 12 points at the long break. Luke Jamieson led all scorers with 15 points and five rebounds, Lewis Thomas had 10 points and six rebounds whilst Sam McDaniel had eight points and three rebounds to half time. For the Miners, Peter Hooley had 11 points and Josh Fox had eight points and eight rebounds.
Coming out of half time, the Pioneers needed to strike the first blow to give them the required momentum to complete the task at hand and when Sam McDaniel sunk a trademark triple the Pioneers lead was out to 15 points. The Miners countered with a 9-0 run accented by a Peter Hooley triple that cut the Pioneers lead to just six points. The third term was a real arm wrestle as the two sides traded basket for basket and matched each other on the defensive end. Despite their best efforts, the Miners could not get within an arm’s length of the Pioneers as they held sway to lead by 13 points heading into what would be a season defining fourth term for the visitors.
With their home crowd behind them, the Miners were always going to make a final charge and the question remained whether the Pioneers could weather the storm and claim the much-needed W. Davon Usher gave the Miners a much-needed basket to open the final term, but the Pioneers continued to counter with Kane de Wit coming up big when his team needed him. His key plays included a gutsy offensive rebound, a lay up and a steal which led to a fast break basket, all occurring in less than a minute of action. But the Miners would not go away, and a Peter Hooley trey cut the deficit to just eight points with 4:36 minutes still on the clock. From there, neither side could make much of an offensive impact as an unlikely Pioneers victory became more realistic with every passing second. With 15 seconds left on the clock, Sam McDaniel sunk the final nails into the Miners coffin with two successful free throws and the Pioneers had their fifth victory of 2018 by 10 points.
Lewis Thomas led the way for the Pioneers with 20 points and 12 rebounds, Luke Jamieson had 17 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, Sam McDaniel had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists and Erik Burdon had 15 points, five assists and four rebounds. For the Miners, Peter Hooley had 20 points and three assists, Josh Fox had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Davon Usher had 16 points and five rebounds.
After a tough encounter in Bendigo the night before, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was impressed with how his side “exploded out of its scoring slump from the previous night in the first quarter scoring 34 points”. “This was an outstanding response and showed a lot of character” stated Hill. “Lewis Thomas and Luke Jamieson provided the best inside presence we have had all season and set the tone for the rest of the team”. “We were able to play well with a big lead and respond to every challenge that the Miners made”. “Restricting the league’s leading offensive team to 78 points was a huge defensive effort”.
The Pioneers will now return to the Ice House to take on Nunawading on Thursday night and Frankston on Friday night in a double header that will define the Pioneers season. The Miners will be looking to get back into the winner’s circle when they meet Kilsyth at home next Saturday night.