Mount Gambier Pioneers vs BACOE Match Report- Friday 6 July 2018
The Pioneers held their nerve down the stretch against a highly talented Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence outfit on Friday night with forward Luke Jamieson nailing the winning basket with just three seconds left on the clock. Despite struggling to maintain pace with an energetic BACOE line-up for the majority of the night, the Pioneers put in a stellar final term as Erik Burdon let loose from outside to rack up 14 final term points and inspire a famous come from behind two-point victory.
With both sides fighting for a playoff berth it was expected to be a tight tussle early but what transpired in the opening term was anything but a tight contest as the BACOE flew out of the blocks and opened up a double-digit quarter time advantage. Kyle Bowen was proving a handful inside and outside the paint, as he compiled 10 opening term points which proved to be the difference between the two sides at the end of the first quarter. Tom Daly was a welcome return for the Pioneers and he provided the perfect foil for star import Alex Marzette as the two combined for 14 points in the opening stanza. Half way through the term, the Pioneers only trailed by a basket but the BACOE side were keen to leave a lasting impression on their opponents and rallied to close out the term on a 14-6 scoring spree which turned the game on its head.
The Pioneers needed to find another gear in the second term if they were going to keep their playoff chances afloat and it would be a team effort that would haul them back into the match. Lewis Thomas got busy and enforced himself on the contest with eight second term points whilst Daly and Marzette continued their offensive assault as the Pioneers outscored the BACOE by 23-18 for the term. The Pioneers had to be asking themselves whether they were up against Bruce Bowen or Kyle Bowen, as the young talent piled on the pain for the visiting side with 20 points and nine rebounds in the opening half. Fortunately for the Pioneers, there was very little support for Bowen who had to do it all on both ends of the floor. Despite failing to take the lead, the Pioneers remained in close proximity of the BACOE throughout the term and only trailed by five points heading into half time. Daly led the way for the Pioneers in the opening half with 13 points and two rebounds whilst Marzette assisted with 12 points and four rebounds. For the BACOE it was a one man show with Bowen leading all scorers with 20 points and nine rebounds as time expired in the first half.
The championship quarter produced a dogged battle as both sides fought valiantly to keep their post-season aspirations alive. The two sides countered each other’s offensive efforts in the opening few minutes of the third term before a dry spell saw neither side bother the scorer’s table for the best part of two minutes as defence became the order of the day. A Daly jump shot broke the scoring deadlock but despite his best efforts, captain courageous could not give his side an advantage as the two sides cancelled each other out for a 20-20 differential for the term. The Pioneers finally managed to get a handle on Bowen who managed just two points in the third term but his teammates stepped up their game as they fought hard to retain their lead. Marzette and Daly continued to orchestrate the Pioneers offence combining for 37 of the Pioneers 62 points (60% of their scoring). Heading into the final term, the BACOE held a five-point lead and with the game still up for grabs and with so much to play for, neither side would be backing down in this one.
A three-point play by Thomas was the perfect starting point for the Pioneers final term fight as the Pioneers gun recruit cut the BACOE lead to two points. Bowen would score the next six points for BACOE as the young prodigy once again made the Pioneers pay for a lack of interior pressure and suddenly the home side were ahead by six points. The Pioneers were struggling from the field but were managing to keep in touch via the free throw line where they converted eight of nine attempts (89%) for the term. The Pioneers were looking for a spark and it would come via the x-factor three-point shooting of Burdon who took control of the game down the stretch. Heading into the final term, Burdon had just five points for the night but he turned the game around with a barrage of three triples in 1:34 minutes to compile 14 points for the quarter. Burdon’s bombs fuelled an 18-6 run in the latter stages of the game and before you could say “Eze does it”, the Pioneers held a six-point lead with under two minutes remaining. Just as it appeared that the Pioneers would waltz to victory, BACOE had other ideas as Isaiah Lee’s layup and Alex Ducas’ triple cut the Pioneers lead to just a single point. Burdon had the chance to put the Pioneers up by three points with 17 seconds remaining but only hit 1/2 free throws and the door was left ajar for the BACOE. An offensive team rebound by BACOE led to a Daniel Grida layup and the scores were level at 86 apiece. Burdon was subbed in and was widely expected to take the final shot but he passed it to Luke Jamieson whose mid-range jump shot hit nothing but net with just three seconds remaining! BACOE were unable to get a shot off and the Pioneers held on for their most important win of the season by just two points.
Marzette led the Pioneers charge with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Daly provided 19 points and five rebounds, Burdon put up 19 points and five assists and Thomas scored 14 points to go with nine rebounds. For BACOE, Bowen put up 30 points and 11 rebounds, Lee put up 14 points and four steals and Ducas assisted with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Pioneers Coach Richard Hill viewed the match as “one of our better road wins”. “Despite a slow start and still being down by six points after three quarters, we were able to stay strong and have a huge last quarter”. “Everyone played their part in this victory and our conversion rate from the free throw and three-point lines were key”. “Our ability to execute under pressure down the stretch was very encouraging” stated Hill, a quality that will serve the side well as they continue their late push for a playoff berth.