Media Release

Pioneers vs Sandringham Sabres Match Report- Saturday 21 July 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Sandringham Sabres Match Report- Saturday 21 July 2018

The Mount Gambier Pioneer’s season came crashing down around them on Saturday night as a second half capitulation to Sandringham brought a horror season to a premature end, as they eventually fell by 14 points. The visiting side had high hopes and their destiny in their own hands heading into the contest, with a win all but ensuring safe passage into the post-season. However, the Sabres were rallying behind the retiring Nathan Crosswell and despite having very little to play for in terms of their season, fought valiantly to give their veteran leader the perfect send-off. 

The Sabres flew out of the blocks, opening up a 10-2 lead within five minutes of play, as the Pioneers defenders found it difficult to cover all bases. The Sabres opened the game with four different scorers and were finding high percentage shots as the Pioneers struggled to close them out. Once again, the Pioneers found scoring difficult with just two points through almost six minutes of play before Tom Daly nailed a timely triple to give the Pioneers hope. Another quick trey to Daly cut the Sabres lead to just three points but the Sabres would counter via a three pointer to David Barlow who was on fire in the opening term, putting up seven points and five rebounds to commence the contest as his side took a five-point lead into the first break. 

The Sabres had clearly come to play and the Pioneers were feeling the weight of expectation, but the second term would be all about the visitors who would go on an offensive tear of 32-20 to turn the game on its head. Alex Marzette and Tom Daly got the Pioneers offence flowing, combining for half of the Pioneers second term points whilst Sam McDaniel presented as a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor in just his second game back from injury. With 6:41 remaining in the term, the Pioneers took the lead courtesy of a Marzette triple and would go on a 18-9 run to close out the first half which translated into a seven-point advantage at the long break. Crosswell was doing his best to keep his side in the contest in his final game with six second term points but he found little assistance in the second period as the other Sabres starters were well held. Heading into half time, Alex Marzette topped the scoring column with 13 points to go with four rebounds and Tom Daly piled on 11 points and three rebounds. For the Sabres, Alister MacDonald had 10 points and David Barlow compiled nine points and five rebounds. 

The Pioneers have faced numerous second half fadeouts throughout season 2018 and were keen to avoid another with their season hanging in the balance. However, it would be another cold start to a second half for the visitors who failed to score a field goal until the 6:39 mark of the term when a Daly lob found a Jamieson jam and lob city was alive and well. Despite their inability to convert offensively, the Pioneers held a six-point advantage on the back of their alley-oop play, as the Sabres also struggled on the offensive end. The teams traded baskets during the latter stages of the term before a late 7-2 surge by the Sabres cut the Pioneers lead to just two points heading into a season defining final term. 

The Pioneers needed a confidence boosting basket to commence the final term but when Barlow was fouled by Daly and converted both free throws, the game was knotted up and the Pioneers season was in jeopardy. Sam McDaniel answered with a trademark triple but the Sabres shot back, going on a 9-0 run to open up a six-point advantage. The Pioneers needed to respond and marquee man Alex Marzette did just that to close the margin to four points with more than six minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the Pioneers would miss their next 10 field goal attempts amidst a five minute shooting dry spell which handed the game to the Sabres on a silver platter. By the time Marzette broke the scoring drought, the Pioneers were down by 15 points and their season was over. Kane de Wit offered a final highlight for the Pioneers season with a big three-pointer right at the death but it would do little to console a disheartened Pioneers side who fell to pieces in a final term where they were outscored 26-10. The Mount Gambier side will now miss the post-season for the first time since 2012, ending a dominating run of three titles from five straight championship final appearances.   

Alex Marzette top scored for the Pioneers with 19 points and eight rebounds, Sam McDaniel had 13 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench and Tom Daly put up 11 points and five rebounds. David Barlow led all scorers with 21 points and eight rebounds, Alister MacDonald produced 19 points and three rebounds and Igor Hadziomerovic doubled up with 14 points and 11 rebounds. 

Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was disappointed with his side’s slow start to the game, stating that “in contrast to last night against Melbourne, we were very slow to get started”. “Tom Daly knocked down a couple of threes to get us going” in a tough opening term. “Our second quarter was the best quarter we have played for some time”. “We had contributions across the board in the first half but everyone struggled after half time”. “Our second halves in the last three games have been poor and consequently we are not playing in the playoffs”. “Shooting just 4/22 in the last quarter and not getting to the free throw line sums up our recent second half performances”.  

A 14-point defeat at the hands of lowly Sandringham summed up a dismal season for the Pioneers who were dogged by injuries all season and hampered by a demanding schedule to close out their 2018 campaign. There will be a lot of soul searching and player movement over the off-season as the reigning premiers look to return to their usual place atop the SEABL standings in 2019. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 3.51.35 pm


Pioneers vs Melbourne Tigers Match Report- Friday 20 July 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Melbourne Tigers Match Report- Friday 20 July 2018

The Pioneers kept their faint post-season aspirations alive on Friday night when they overcame a tough Melbourne Tigers line-up by just four points. With the town painted red and the Pioneers sporting red uniforms in support of major sponsors McDonalds, the big question leading up to the match was whether the other Big Mac, Sam McDaniel would take the floor after missing the previous three weeks with injury. Pioneers Coach Richard Hill chose to roll the dice and activated his star import but he would see a limited role and monitored minutes coming off the bench.

The Pioneers drew first blood when Erik Burdon pick-pocketed Dexter Kernich-Drew and found Lewis Thomas who put the Pioneers on the board with a driving layup on their first forward foray of the evening. The offence of Alex Marzette, Lewis Thomas and Erik Burdon was on fire in the opening term as the Tiger’s defence struggled to close them out. The Pioneers big three combined for 20 of their side’s 24 first term points to create a double-digit lead heading into the first break. Despite outrebounding the Pioneers 13-8 in the first term, the Tigers were unable to make their opponents pay on the offensive end as they shot just 31% from the field to begin the contest. The Tigers also failed to take care of the basketball with six turnovers in the opening term handing the Pioneers all the momentum in the early going. 

The Pioneers were playing like a team with its season on the line and began the second term as they finished the first, with strong defence and fluent offence the order of the day. Luke Jamieson picked up where he left off last week as he piled on the Pioneers first six points of the term to stretch the home side’s advantage to 15 points. The Pioneers looked like a different side to that which was humbled in last week’s debacle against Geelong, as they provided a stronger paint presence, locked down on defence and shared the ball to find the best shot on a regular basis. Despite their strong start to the term, the Pioneers went missing on the offensive end as the quarter wore on and had to wait for the best part of four minutes between baskets. Melbourne were also struggling to convert from the field but they did manage to outscore the Pioneers on a 7-2 run that took seven minutes to complete. The Pioneers rallied late in the term, with Marzette scoring back to back baskets and Thomas nailing a buzzer beating triple to ensure the Pioneers headed to half time with a commanding 15-point lead. Lewis Thomas was providing strong two-way play with 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half, whilst Alex Marzette was the perfect foil with 10 points. For the Tigers, captain James Todd played a lone hand with six points and seven rebounds as his teammates struggled to impact the box score. 

The Pioneers were in a comfortable position but as has been the case all season, it would be the third term that would bring their season to the brink of destruction. It all started when the Tigers went on a 15-3 run to begin the second half, as Dexter Kernich-Drew, Maxwell Viitala and Deng Acuoth came to the aid of their captain and shot the lights out from inside and outside the perimeter. After just four minutes of play, the Pioneers lead had suddenly whittled down to just three points and the home fans were on the edge of their seats as the struggle got real. The Pioneers took more than four minutes to register their first basket for the term but once again shot back at their opponents with a 9-6 reply but the Tigers kept on coming and when Kernich-Drew beat the buzzer from downtown, the Tigers headed into the final term with a four-point deficit after outscoring the home side 25-14 in the third period.

With their season on a knife’s edge, the Pioneers needed to find an extra gear and it would come courtesy of veterans Erik Burdon and Tom Daly who combined for 11 of the Pioneers 17 final quarter points. The home side did not have it all their own way though, with the Tigers briefly taking a one-point advantage courtesy of a Patrick Bines triple. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that basket would be their last from the field for the best part of four minutes as the Pioneers built a seven-point advantage with 4:30 minutes to play. The Tigers kept the heat on the Pioneers via the charity stripe before back to back baskets to Kernich-Drew and Todd tied up the contest. With less than a minute remaining, El Capitan Tom Daly bobbed up with a crucial jump shot conversion before Burdon iced the game for the Pioneers with two successful free-throws. The Tigers were unable to find the quick basket and the game was over with the Pioneers running out victors by a slender four points. 

Lewis Thomas led the way for the Pioneers with 19 points and 13 rebounds, Alex Marzette provided 18 points and five rebounds and Erik Burdon chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds. For the Tigers, it was Dexter Kernich-Drew top scoring with 16 points, four rebounds and six assists, James Todd had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Deng Acuoth added nine points and 12 rebounds.

Upon reviewing the game, Pioneers coach Richard Hill “was pleased with how we came out of the blocks. We were aggressive at both ends of the floor, our defence sparking our offence”. At half time, “Melbourne made some adjustments and we responded poorly. Some defensive breakdowns and poor perimeter shooting put us under pressure”. “I was pleased with our improved defence and rebounding when it was required in the last few minutes” stated Hill. They may have been made to work for it but in the end the Pioneers gave their fans the perfect send-off for season 2018 with a hard-fought victory in their final home game of the season. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 10.01.39 pm

Pioneers vs Geelong Supercats Match Report- Friday 13 July 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Geelong Supercats Match Report- Friday 13 July 2018

The Pioneers faint playoff hopes took a massive hit on Friday night when they succumbed to the suffocating defence of a Geelong side who took no prisoners and easily prevailed by 17 points. Despite a horror run in season 2018, the Pioneers entered round 14 needing to win their remaining three matches to qualify for their sixth consecutive playoffs berth but they were taught a basketball lesson by a side who will genuinely contend for this year’s crown.

It was a finals type atmosphere that greeted the visiting Geelong outfit and it would be finals type basketball that would come to the fore in the opening minutes of the game as neither side could gain offensive flow and defence was the order of the day. Half way through the term, the scoreboard read six points apiece and the natives grew restless as the game failed to reach any great heights in the early going. The Pioneers were looking to share the rock and break down a stellar Supercats defence but they found themselves shooting from deep early in possession as their opponents dared them to hit from distance. The Pioneers did make the Supercats pay from long range in the latter half of the opening term with two treys to Luke Jamieson and one to Erik Burdon keeping the Pioneers abreast of their opponents.  However, Geelong would close the term strongly and go on a 10-3 run as they returned serve from beyond the three-point line and would finish the first quarter with a seven-point advantage.

The Pioneers needed to find another gear and work out how to break down a stern Supercats defence but they find the going tough to begin the second term, managing just four points in the opening five minutes. With Geelong’s lead growing to double digits, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill had seen enough and called for a timeout to break down the Supercats momentum. The ploy worked well for the Pioneers as they came out of their huddle looking like a different side. A 14-6 run gave the Pioneers fans renewed hope of an upset win, with the offence of Luke Jamieson, Tom Daly and Alex Marzette hauling their side back into the contest. After trailing by 10 points midway through the term, the Pioneers entered the main break down by just two points with so much to play for heading into the second half. Tom Daly led the way for the Pioneers with 11 points and three assists, Alex Marzette had 10 points and three rebounds and Luke Jamieson competed strongly for nine points and five rebounds. For the Supercats, DeMarcus Gatlin led all scorers with 12 points and two rebounds and veteran Nathan Herbert was having a night out with eight points and four rebounds through two quarters of basketball.

Having won three of the last four SEABL championships, the Pioneers know all about the championship quarter but what followed in the third term showed just how far off the mark the side is from a title in season 2018.  The Pioneers went scoreless until the 5:30 minute mark of the term as they threw up bricks, shooting 0/11 to begin the term, with Geelong’s defence tearing the Pioneers forwards to shreds and destroying their season. Gatlin was proving a handful on both ends of the court, Herbert continued to add to his points tally from all angles and John Davis was hitting hook shots more frequently than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Lewis Thomas tried to get his side going with his big dunk cutting the deficit to seven points but once again Geelong answered via Gatlin whose three-point play pushed the lead back out to double digits. A late floater from Geelong’s Jamie Medved ensured the visitors went into the final change with a commanding 12-point lead and the Pioneers were feeling the weight of their heavy schedule and were on the canvas. 

With the home crowd reaching fever pitch, the Pioneers started the final term with consecutive baskets to Daly and Kane de Wit and suddenly the lead was back to a manageable eight points. Gatlin once again answered for the visitors before Jamieson’s fifth triple of the evening cut the lead down to just seven points with almost nine minutes to play. However, there would be no fairy tale ending for the Pioneers in this one as they allowed their opponents to go on an 11-3 run that blew the game wide open. Trailing by 16 points with less than five minutes remaining, all appeared lost for the Pioneers as the visitors ran riot, forcing their opponents into taking low percentage shots and making them pay on the other end. With seven games in 22 days, the Pioneers were clearly out on their feet with the shortened season taking its toll on a Pioneers side that has had to battle every step of the way in 2018. There would be no highlight plays to end this one as both coaches cleared their benches and the game descended into garbage time. Kyle Tipene had the final say for the Pioneers with a three-point bomb but it would do very little to improve the score line as the home side fell to their worst loss at home in recent memory, going down by 17 points. 

Luke Jamieson fought hard for the Pioneers all night and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, Tom Daly played the part with 15 points and six assists, whilst Alex Marzette chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds. For the Supercats, DeMarcus Gatlin led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Nathan Herbert had 16 points and seven rebounds and John Davis compiled 12 points and eight rebounds. 

Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was quick to praise Geelong’s effort, stating that “we had a patch in the second quarter where we were able to compete but in general, Geelong outplayed us in every facet of the game”. “Our inability to compete on the boards and follow our game plan made Geelong look far superior”. One positive that the Pioneers leader took from the game was the outstanding play of Luke Jamieson, with Hill finding it “pleasing to see Luke find his three-point shot”, as he converted on six of seven attempts from distance. 

Despite the loss, the Pioneers remain a mathematical chance to reach the post-season but must now rely on other results. Wins against Melbourne at home and Sandringham on the road next weekend are a must and they will be counting on losses for Bendigo, North West Tasmania and Dandenong.  




Pioneers vs Canberra Gunners Match Report- Saturday 7 July 2018

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. 


Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 3.47.51 pm


Pioneers vs Frankston Blues Match Report- Friday 29 June 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Frankston Blues Match Report- Friday 29 June 2018

Backing up after their famous victory over the Nunawading Spectres the night before, the Mount Gambier Pioneers continued their good form on Friday night as they accounted for the visiting Frankston Blues by 10 points. The Pioneers headed into the game as outsiders, given the recent injury to Sam McDaniel and the ongoing injury problems plaguing captain Tom Daly. Add to that the fact that the Pioneers were playing their fourth game in eight days and it makes the win even more remarkable. 

Alex Marzette had to once again shoulder the bulk of the offence for the Pioneers and he wasted no time getting started with the opening two baskets for the home team. However, the Pioneers offence would prove to be pedestrian as they managed just those two Marzette buckets in five minutes of basketball. Two triples to Kyle Tipene in the space of 1:15 minutes gave the Pioneers some offensive traction before a Luke Jamieson layup brought the Pioneers within a single point of the lead. Discipline cost the Pioneers dearly late in the first term as they allowed the Blues to make three trips to the foul line in the final two minutes of the quarter, but they couldn’t make the Pioneers pay as they converted at just 67% from the line. A buzzer beater from Bennie Lewis stretched the Blues lead out to five points at the first change and the Pioneers had a fight on their hands. 

Turnovers, missed shots and fouls were all commonplace at the beginning of the second term as neither side could bother the scorers table. The match turned into a real dogfight with excellent defensive pressure being applied by both sides, limiting each other’s forward forays for most of the term. Just as it appeared that the game’s offence had ground to a halt, Alex Marzette decided to repeat his second quarter heroics from the previous night and once again exploded, this time piling on 14 points for the term to set up a narrow advantage for his side heading into half time. The Pioneers’ lead would have been six points at the half if it wasn’t for another buzzer beater, this time from Thomas Garrett whose long-range effort trimmed the Pioneers lead to three points. The Pioneers were leaning heavily on Alex Marzette’s offence and he responded with 18 points and two rebounds whilst Kyle Tipene was having a breakout game with 11 points and three rebounds for the half. For the Blues, Daniel Trist was the go to guy with 16 points and five rebounds and Bennie Lewis chipped in with 10 points and three rebounds. 

With his family in the stadium, Lewis Thomas was looking to impress, and he gave his side the perfect start to the third term with a trey that doubled the Pioneer’s half time advantage. Daniel Trist was doing it all for the Blues as he hauled his side back into the contest with five points and seven rebounds for the term. The Pioneers struggled on the boards in the third term as they allowed their opponents to outrebound them 12-6, with the Pioneers particularly vulnerable on their defensive end where they struggled to box out the Blues forwards and allowed numerous second chance point opportunities. With just two seconds remaining in the third term, Tristan Lloyd sunk the third buzzer beater of the night for the Blues as the visitors went into the final huddle with a three-point lead. 

When Lucas Walker hit money from long range, the Pioneers were looking at a five-point deficit early in the final term and with injury and heavy scheduling ravaging the team, it appeared the Pioneers season would come crashing down around them. But in true Pioneers fashion, they would respond with a team effort which hauled them back into the contest as Marzette once again took flight with 11 points for the term and Thomas, Jamieson and Tipene all chipped in to lead the Pioneers home. The 14-5 run executed by the Pioneers midway through the final term handed them a four-point lead with 4:41 minutes still on the clock. The Blues did not give up and got the margin back within two points at one stage, but they lost their way when power forward, Samuel Muldrow fouled out and the Pioneers took full advantage of his absence as they scored the majority of their points inside the paint to close out another 10 point win. The 17-8 run in the last five minutes of the game was unbelievable basketball from the Pioneers, a side who were playing their fourth match in eight days. Add to the fact that they played this match without Sam McDaniel and Tom Daly and it is even more surprising. Alex Marzette was simply sensational once again and led the way for the Pioneers with 33 points and four rebounds, Kyle Tipene put in a season high 20 points and four rebounds, Lewis Thomas compiled 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Luke Jamieson doubled up with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Blues were well served by Daniel Trist with 25 points and 15 rebounds, Bennie Lewis had 14 points and four rebounds and Samuel Muldrow had 13 points and nine rebounds. 

In his post-match analysis, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was pleased with how his side maintained their recent form because “backing up against a talented Frankston unit was going to be tough with the front court size and overall talent they have”. “After a sluggish start, we were able to compete on level terms until a 17-8 last five minutes secured what was an outstanding win for us”. “To be able to finish as strongly as we did in our fourth game in eight days and down another player was a credit to the toughness and character of our group”. “Alex for the second night running was outstanding on the offensive end and he was well supported by Kyle Tipene, Luke Jamieson and Lewis Thomas who have been huge for us in the last three games”. 

The Pioneers now head to the nation’s capital to take on the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence team and the Canberra Gunners in a back-to-back set that will define their season. Frankston will meet Diamond Valley at home in round 13 as they look to finish their season in a positive manner.