Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Canberra Gunners Match Report- Saturday 7 July 2018
The Pioneers completed their Canberra crusade on Saturday night when they accounted for the Canberra Gunners by 12 points and edged their way into the top eight in the league for the first time in over two months. The Pioneers were always in control of the contest with their 26-17 third term setting up their fifth win in succession. The Pioneers continue to push their case for post-season involvement and their current run of form is right up there with the heavyweights of the competition.
Despite heading into the game as favourites, the Pioneers were made to scrap their way through the first term, thanks largely due to the offensive work of Marshall Nelson and the two-way play of Eric Gaff who kept the Gunners in the contest early. Tom Daly once again laid the platform for the Pioneers to build from with his eight opening term points leading all scorers on the floor. Alex Marzette and Lewis Thomas were also providing avenues to the hoop but despite their best efforts, the Pioneers could only create a two-point buffer heading into the first change.
An early basket to Jack Bartholomeusz in the second term tied up the ball game before Thomas followed up with some strong work on the offensive glass to wrestle back the lead for his side. The Pioneers got on a roll and their 7-0 run produced the Pioneers largest lead of the contest as they gained eight points of separation. To their credit, the Gunners did not go away and kept the margin under double digits for the remainder of the term. Daly (13 points) and Marzette (12 points) continued their strong offensive form from the night before to combine for 57% of the Pioneers scoring to half time, whilst Thomas was offering a strong presence at both ends of the court as he compiled eight points and eight rebounds in the opening half. Nelson was the only Gunner with double digit scoring as he put up 12 points in the first half with only Gaff offering support (nine points and seven rebounds) as he made the most of the undersized Pioneers front court. Heading into the long break it would be the Pioneers who would hold a slender six-point advantage with the job still very much in front of them.
The Pioneers needed to come out of half time and make a statement to the league that they are still genuine contenders in 2018 and they did just that as they opened the second half on a 10-3 run that blew their lead out to 13 points. It was the Daly show once again in the third term as the Pioneers leader racked up 10 points to take his tally to a game high 23 points with a quarter to play. The work of Pioneers forwards Jamieson, Hunter and Thomas could not be underestimated as they took on the challenge of stopping 6”11 Allen and 6”10 Gaff and did so with great effect. The Pioneers big men limited Allen to seven points and four rebounds in three quarters of basketball whilst they halted Gaff’s strong first half play, leaving him scoreless in the second half. Daniel Joyce tried to spark his team into action with seven third term points but despite his best efforts, the Gunners could not get the Pioneers lead under double digits and would head into the final term with a 15-point mountain to climb.
A SOS was sent out to Allen at three quarter time and he responded as only he knows how as he led a 13-6 Canberran tear to start the final term and cut the Pioneers lead to eight points. Despite being well held for the majority of the night, Allen finally broke free in the final term to compile seven points and three rebounds for the quarter but it would be a case of too little too late for the Gunners. The Pioneers answered every challenge thrown their way with Daly facilitating the offence and Marzette and Thomas offering strong two-way play that stopped the Gunners in their tracks. To their credit, the Gunners outscored the Pioneers 13-10 in a low-scoring final term but it would mean very little to them in the wash up as they went down by 12 points to remain winless this season.
Daly led all scorers with 23 points, Marzette offered 22 points on 50% shooting to go with 12 boards and Thomas once again doubled up with 12 points and 11 rebounds. For the Gunners, Joyce led the way with 16 points and three rebounds, Allen had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Nelson had 12 points and six rebounds.
Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was pleased with how his undersized front court handled the Gunners forwards, stating that “Canberra provided us with a size challenge, Thomas, Jamieson and Hunter and de Wit at times did a great job on the 6”11 Allen and the 6”10 Gaff”. “We did not shoot the ball well but our defence was first class” said Hill. “Marzette produced his second outstanding game of the weekend and added 12 rebounds to his impressive offensive output”. Hill praised the resilience of his side stating that “playing our sixth game in 15 days was a challenge but once again we showed great toughness and character”. It is that toughness and character that the Pioneers must now take into their next encounter against Geelong at home next Friday night in what is another must win encounter. The Gunners will be looking to salvage their first victory of the season when they square off against Albury-Wodonga on the road next Saturday night.