Pioneers vs Bendigo Braves Match Report- Friday 22 June 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Bendigo Braves Match Report- Friday 22 June 2018

The Mount Gambier Pioneers met their match on Friday night when they were humbled on the road by a tough Bendigo unit, eventually falling to their eighth loss of the season by 15 points. Despite enjoying the early advantage, the visiting side was unable to capitalise on the offensive end with a low scoring contest featuring a 68-53 differential. The loss consigns the Pioneers to the very real possibility of missing finals for the first time since 2012. 

Luke Jamieson got the Pioneers off to the best possible start with the opening points of the night and the Pioneers would hold sway against their more highly fancied opponents for half of the opening term as they controlled the paint. With Tom Daly not making the trip to Bendigo, it was up to Kyle Tipene to run the floor and the task was made that much tougher knowing his opposite number was 2016 SEABL MVP Jeremy Kendle. The last time the two sides met earlier in the season in Mount Gambier, Ray Turner put up the monster stats of 25 points and 25 rebounds, but he would not have it his own way early as Sam McDaniel and Lewis Thomas provided strong resistance inside. Despite Turner having very little impact on the game early, Kendle was let loose and had eight points to his name in the opening term. Despite their early dominance, the Pioneers were unable to maintain pace with their opponents and fell behind by five points at the end of the first quarter.

Alex Marzette got the Pioneers off to the perfect start in the second quarter as he found space inside to lay it up, but it would mean very little for the Pioneers as Jeremy Kendle continued his highlight show on the offensive end with his high arching shot difficult to defend. To make matters worse for the Pioneers, Ray Turner upped his game in the second term to record six points and five rebounds, including a burst of three offensive boards in the one play as the Pioneers struggled to box him out. Neither side was setting the world on fire on offence, but the Braves were able to build a double-digit lead on the back of stellar offence from Kendle and Turner and out pointed the Pioneers 16-11 in the second term as their lead grew to 10 points at half time. Jeremy Kendle led the way for the Braves with 16 points and two assists whilst Ray Turner piled on seven points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals to half time. For the Pioneers, Lewis Thomas led the way with eight points and seven rebounds with Sam McDaniel compiling six points and three rebounds in the opening half.

With their season on the line, the Pioneers were expected to come out and fight their way back into the contest but what happened in the opening five minutes of the third term could not have been scripted in their coach’s half time address.  Kendle and Turner went berserk as they combined for 11 of the 13 points scored in the Braves’ 13-0 run to open the third term, as their lead stretched to a commanding 23 points. The Pioneers went scoreless for the best part of five minutes, a stretch nobody saw coming with successful free throws from Sam McDaniel breaking their horror run with 5:10 minutes remaining. The Pioneers offered some resistance in the remainder of the third term to only be outscored 22-14 for the quarter but the Braves’ lead was now at 18 points and the match was as good as over. 

Playing in his 350th match, Taylor Bell stretched the Braves’ lead to 20 points with a classy jump shot to begin the final term. The Pioneers were not giving up and went on a 10-3 run, thanks largely due to the offensive prowess of Sam McDaniel who was the only genuine scoring option in a woeful Pioneers offence. Despite their best efforts, the Pioneers simply had too much ground to make up and despite winning the final term 13-10, they would eventually fall by 15 points. Jeremy Kendle led all scorers with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists and he was ably supported by fellow import Ray Turner who compiled 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Pioneers were led by Sam McDaniel with 18 points, seven rebounds and three steals with Lewis Thomas adding a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. 

The match was one that Pioneers’ Coach Richard Hill would like to quickly forget but in review he mentioned that “our defensive effort was very solid, but we were just terrible when it came to putting the ball in the basket”. “A poor first half was compounded by a scoreless five-minute period to start the third quarter”. The Pioneers struggled to contain Jeremy Kendle and Ray Turner with Hill stating that “Kendle and Turner were in a different class in this game”. One positive Hill took from the match was the form of Kane de Wit “who gave us a spark in the second half which enabled us to keep the score line respectable”. 

Another loss only further compounds the Pioneers woes for season 2018 and they must quickly get their season back on track before it passes by them. Offence is the missing link for a side known for its scoring ability and the side needs to get back to what it does best, sharing the rock and getting all players involved on the box score. 

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