Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Nunawading Spectres Match Report- Thursday 28 June 2018
It was a case of David versus Goliath on a rare Thursday night at the Ice House with the 12th placed Pioneers taking on the second placed Nunawading Spectres. The Pioneers overcame the odds to take down their heavyweight opponents and kept their faint playoffs hopes alive as they pulled out their finest home win of the season, eventually prevailing by 10 points.
The Pioneers returned home after a season saving victory on the road against Ballarat and were looking to fly out of the blocks and keep their engine running at full steam in what was a must win encounter. Luke Jamieson certainly provided the play to get the party started when his thunderous dunk got the home side on the board, but it would be the Spectres who would enjoy the better run in the opening term. The Spectres early offensive run was fuelled entirely by the offence of Jesse Caspersz who put up the first 11 points for the visitors, including back to back triples as the Pioneers failed to close him out. The interior battle between Luke Jamieson and Simon Conn was one to savour with neither player giving an inch, with the Pioneers big man gaining the early honours in the matchup as he held the 2017 SEABL MVP to zero points and two rebounds for the quarter. Erik Burdon was proving a handful on the offensive end for the Pioneers, with his rare four-point play keeping the Pioneers within touching distance of the Spectres. That play kicked off an 11-3 run that handed the Pioneers their first lead of the game, but it would be short lived as the Spectres closed out the term on a 7-4 run of their own to lead by a basket at quarter time.
The second term belonged to Alex Marzette who exploded with 16 second term points as he did it all at both ends of the floor, singlehandedly taking the contest away from the Spectres, in one of the finest two-way performances you will ever see. The work of Kane de Wit could also not go unnoticed as he picked up his heaviest workload and provided a strong rebounding presence which generated valuable scoring opportunities for his side. The Pioneers applied the clamps on Tom Wright and Jesse Caspersz who combined for 20 first term points, allowing them to combine for just two points in the second term. Two successful free throws from Marzette closed out the quarter and handed the Pioneers a six-point advantage at the main break. At half time, the Pioneers’ Alex Marzette led all scorers with 18 points and four rebounds with Erik Burdon adding 10 points and two rebounds. For the Spectres, it was Jesse Caspersz with 11 points and five rebounds whilst Tom Wright added 11 points and three assists.
Given their ladder positions, it was expected that the Spectres would overrun the understrength Pioneers in the second half but what transpired showed just how valiant this Pioneers outfit can be. Baskets to Kyle Tipene, Sam McDaniel and Luke Jamieson inspired an 8-2 surge that saw the home side take a commanding 12-point lead. It wouldn’t take long for the Spectres to respond as they hit back with a 9-3 streak of their own to cut the margin back to just six points on the back of quality offensive work from Simon Conn, Jesse Caspersz and Costas Hronopoulos. Kane de Wit responded with a massive trey to provide the Pioneers with adequate breathing space which they maintained to the three-quarter time interval, a comfortable buffer of 10 points.
With their season on the line, the Pioneers had everything to play for and they were not going quietly into the night during the final term as they answered every challenge the Spectres threw their way. Injuries have derailed the Pioneers 2018 campaign and when Sam McDaniel went down writhing in pain, Pioneers fans could not believe the injury curse had struck again. In the absence of McDaniel, Burdon and Marzette stepped up and offered a combined 14 points in the final term as the Pioneers closed out a famous victory. There was some late biff with unsportsmanlike fouls called on Erik Burdon and Shane McDonald as well as a technical foul called on Alex Marzette, but it would play no part in the final result as the Pioneers knocked off the Spectres to record another season saving victory, 82-72.
For the Pioneers, Alex Marzette led the way with 27 points, seven rebounds and two assists, Erik Burdon had 17 points and three rebounds and Lewis Thomas doubled up with 11 points and 13 rebounds. For the Spectres, it was Tom Wright leading the way with 20 points and four assists, Jesse Caspersz put up 16 points and nine rebounds and Simon Conn rallied late to compile 10 points and 18 rebounds.
Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was pleased with his side’s defence, stating that “our defence was first class, particularly on both Conn and McDonald. Holding them to a combined 5/27 from the field was a credit to our individual and team defence”. “We had a good spread of contributors at the offensive end, but Alex Marzette and Erik Burdon stood out as the most productive offensive players on the court”. With their season still hanging in the balance, the injury to Sam McDaniel was disconcerting and Hill understands that it is a “three-week injury so he will be back for playoffs if we are still playing with every attempt made to get him back sooner, but it doesn’t look good”. With every game a must win it will be interesting to see how Hill rolls the dice with his injured players in the closing weeks of the season.
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.
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.
Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Kilsyth Cobras Match Report Friday 15 June 2018
The Pioneers were cruelly denied their fifth victory of season 2018 on Friday night when they fell to the Kilsyth Cobras by three points in an overtime thriller. Despite trailing for most of the match, the home side dug deep in the final term as they fought back from a nine-point deficit at the last change to force overtime against their ladder leading opponents. A parochial home crowd did their best to lift their team to an unlikely victory but were left broken hearted as their side fell agonisingly short 100-103.
The Pioneers were looking to put a rough few months of basketball behind them and with the new faces of Sam McDaniel and Alex Marzette filling some gaping holes on the Pioneers roster it appeared they would be a new team after the bye long weekend. A McDaniel triple was the perfect start to the Pioneers night, but the home side would not have it all their own way as the Cobras made them sweat on every possession. The height of the Cobras was stretching an undersized Pioneers line up, led by Dane Pineau who was wreaking all kinds of havoc on the interior. Tom Daly was the one man wrecking crew for the Pioneers in the opening term as he fought valiantly to the basket time and again to register 13 points in one quarter of basketball. Despite their problems in the paint, the Pioneers found themselves in front at quarter time by two points courtesy of an Alex Marzette buzzer beating trey.
Cobras captain Chris Patton set the tone for his side to commence the second term with his opening basket fuelling a 13-4 run that saw the visiting side take control of the match. Alex Marzette was doing his best to keep his new side in the contest with his energy, effort and commitment at both ends of the floor exemplary. Marzette was keeping the Pioneers in the contest as Daly was kept to just three second term points and when he hit 2/2 from the line the game was all knotted up at 47 apiece. However, the Cobras would go on a 7-0 run to finish the term, a tear that would include a third three-pointer from Felix von Hofe for the quarter. It would be those nine points from von Hofe that would prove the difference between the two sides in the second term as the Cobras outscored the Pioneers by 25-16 to set up a seven-point half time lead. Tom Daly led the way for the home side with 16 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds whilst he was ably supported by Alex Marzette who compiled 14 points and 2 rebounds to half time. For the visiting Cobras it was Chris Patton leading the way with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists whilst Dane Pineau had 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
The Pioneers started the third term in the same way they started the match with another customary Sam McDaniel triple bringing hope to the cause of the home side. When Tom Daly sunk a sensational jump shot, the Pioneers appeared to be back in the contest and trailed by just two points. The Pioneers maintained pace with their more highly fancied opponents for the majority of the quarter but despite their best efforts they could not draw within an arm’s length of the Cobras. When Sam McDaniel hit his fourth triple from five attempts, the Pioneers were once again within two points of the lead but what happened next can only be described as disastrous for the home side. A combination of poor shooting, turnovers, ill-discipline and second chance points hindered the Pioneers cause as they allowed their opponents to close out the third term in the same way they closed the second term with a 7-0 run.
With their season at the crossroads, the Pioneers needed to find something in the final term to inject hope back into their 2018 campaign and an immediate 8-3 run was the perfect antidote for their ailing cause. Suddenly, the Cobras were on the back foot and were making numerous skill errors as the Pioneers defence rose to the occasion. Marzette was putting on a block party whilst McDaniel was at his pick pocketing best as he racked up five steals for the contest. Back to back triples from Sam McDaniel gave the Pioneers a surprising lead and they would continue to maintain the advantage throughout the closing stages of the contest. When Tom Daly hit the second of two free throws, the Pioneers held a three-point advantage with just 33 seconds to play. However, there would be a twist in the plot as Lewis Thomas interfered with Sam Daly’s second free throw and would be called for goal tending which gifted the Cobras a three-point play and locked the game up at 95-95. Both sides attempted to sink game winning baskets, but neither were successful and the game was headed to overtime.
Despite having all the momentum and the home crowd as the sixth man, the Pioneers found themselves struggling to begin the overtime period as they missed their opening three shots. Fortunately, the Cobras only managed one basket in this time and when Sam McDaniel found the bottom of the net for his seventh trey of the evening the Pioneers held a one-point lead. Baskets to Sam Daly and Isaac Turner put the Cobras up by three points with just 24 seconds on the clock. All eyes were on three-point king McDaniel to bridge the gap, but the Pioneers had to settle for a Tom Daly two-point jump shot and the home side trailed by one. A late foul on Turner resulted in two converted free throws and the Cobras lead was back out to three points. Sam McDaniel tried to get off a last-ditch effort from beyond the arc but it was blocked and the Pioneers sunk to the most heartbreaking of defeats 100-103. Tom Daly led the way for the Pioneers with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, Sam McDaniel put up 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals and Alex Marzette impressed with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. For the visitors it was Isaac Turner who top scored with 21 points to go with 2 assists and 2 steals, Sam Daly had 19 points and 9 rebounds, Chris Patton had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists and Dane Pineau had 14 points, 12 rebounds, 7 blocks and 5 steals.
In reviewing the game, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill believed it was “a game we felt we had done enough to win but unfortunately a couple of mental errors inside the last minute proved crucial”. The turning point came at the end of the third term where “unfortunately in less than two minutes immediately before three quarter time we saw a two-point deficit blow out to nine points”. “We showed a lot of courage to keep coming back to give ourselves a chance to win”.
The Pioneers now face a gruelling schedule with four games inside eight days with an upcoming road double header against Bendigo and Ballarat to kick off the hectic period. The Cobras will be looking to maintain top position on the SEABL ladder when they meet Geelong next Sunday at home.
Key Castec rural Supplies Pioneers veteran Brad Hill has succumbed to a chronic ankle injury, forcing him out for the remainder of the 2018 season.
Brad has been battling for the past couple of seasons with a degenerative condition in his ankle. He and the club had hoped that off season surgery had arrested the problem and all early Indications were that he would be able to return to his best. Two pre-season mishaps set Brad back and a recent visit to his surgeon confirmed further damage to the ankle.
After discussions with the Surgeon, his wife Julie, the club and his coach the decision was clear that he was not going to be able to contribute to the team at an acceptable level and without doing irreparable damage.
Brad a veteran of 277 NBL games, 139 of those with the 36ers and 191 SEABL games, 138 of those with the Pioneers where he has found a home and been a key member of the Pioneers incredible run of 5 National finals and 3 National Championships.
Brad has been an all SEABL team member on 3 occasions, Alan Scott medallist twice (runner up twice) and was Grand Final MVP in the Pioneers first Championship win.
Brad started as a Sturt Junior graduated to the AIS, was a Australian representative as a Junior and Senior.
“Brad has been a huge part of our unprecedented Championship run” Pioneers Coach Richard Hill said. “Brad along with his team mates have all sacrificed individually to achieve team success”.
“Brad will be missed but the strength of our program has been the collective unit and the Pioneers will continue to thrive” Coach Hill concluded.
The Pioneers are set to announce a replacement who may be in uniform for the team on Friday night in their grand final re-match with the Dandenong Rangers.