Pioneers vs Dandenong Rangers Match Report Friday 1 June 2018

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Dandenong Rangers Match Review Report Friday 1 June 2018

The Pioneers season took another turn for the worse on Friday night when they were once again humbled at home, this time by arch-rivals Dandenong in a rematch of last year’s championship final with the visitors prevailing by 16 points. 

The Pioneers came out all guns blazing in the opening term, scoring the first five points of the contest and taking the game right up to their more favoured opponents. Luke Jamieson was providing a focal point inside the paint and the Pioneers continued their excellent ball movement from last week as they shared the rock and found the open man. The Pioneers defence was solid to start the game and forced the Rangers into taking ill-advised shots, with the Rangers taking 2:18 minutes to register a score. But it didn’t take long for the Rangers to find their feet on offence with Rhys Vague and Lucas Barker causing serious headaches for Pioneers Coach Richard Hill. Vague was connecting on just about all of his shot attempts including a nasty sky hook whilst Barker was unstoppable from all angles, bombing a three, converting at 100% from the line and driving to the hoop. The offence of Sam McDaniel was keeping the Pioneers in the contest, with his eight opening term points ensuring the Pioneers went to the break within a bucket of the Rangers at 18-20. 

The Pioneers needed a spark and it would come in the form of a highlight alley-oop play as Kane de Wit found Lewis Thomas to kick start the Pioneers cause in the second quarter. However, the highlights would be few and far between for the Pioneers in the second stanza as the Rangers dominated on the glass and made the most of the second chance points that were served up to them on a silver platter. The Pioneers simply could not score with everyone bar Sam McDaniel struggling to get their shot going. Tom Daly struggled to overcome a constant double teaming, Erik Burdon was throwing up bricks and Lewis Thomas was unable to continue his recent offensive dominance. Meanwhile, Lucas Barker was running the floor like clockwork for the Rangers with Rhys Vague and Tim Lang combining to maul the Pioneers in the paint. With time expiring in the first half, it was a sore and sorry tale for the Pioneers who could only manage 11 second term points as they fell adrift by double digits, 29-39 at the long break. Sam McDaniel led all scorers to half time with 13 points and 5 rebounds for the Pioneers whilst Luke Jamieson provided the only other resistance on offence with 7 points and 4 rebounds. For the Rangers it was Lucas Barker leading the way with 11 points and Rhys Vague added 9 points and 6 rebounds in the first half. 

The Pioneers first half showing was a far cry from their stellar performance against Canberra only one week ago and Coach Richard Hill put it on his players to come out and show some grit and determination to commence the second half. The Pioneers heeded these words and flew out of the gate in the third term as they went on a 7-2 run which cut their double-digit deficit in half. But the Rangers would not go away as Vague and Lang continued to prove unstoppable on the inside with the Pioneers bigs brigade unable to dent their impact on the scoreboard. The Pioneers were starting to click on offence and found several avenues to the basket but they could do very little to halt the Rangers momentum as the visiting side extended their lead to 14 points at the final change.

If the Pioneers had any hope of getting back into this contest, their hopes were soon dashed by Keli Leaupepe whose long-range effort to commence the final term broke the hearts of the Pioneers fans. Rhys Vague was simply unstoppable from start to finish as his 20 points and 16 rebounds paved the way for a Rangers victory. Sam McDaniel continued to have the hot hand from deep for the Pioneers as he shot 6-7 (85%) from long range for the match but there was little he could do to stop the Rangers onslaught. The only other highlight for the Pioneers was the play of Kane de Wit who continues to show more poise under pressure with every passing contest. De Wit’s 12 points were a season high for the young Pioneer and many of his teammates could take a leaf out of his book as he shot 62% from the field. It is not often that offensive boards are the decisive statistic in a game of basketball but that was surely the case in this contest as Dandenong maintained a telling edge on the glass with a 15-0 differential in second chance points and a 62-33 edge in rebounds. As time wound down in the final term it would be the Rangers who would prevail by 16 points as they subjected the Pioneers to a 4-6 record and 11th place on the ladder. Sam McDaniel led the way for the Pioneers with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists whilst Luke Jamieson put up 14 points and 9 rebounds. Rhys Vague starred for the Rangers with 20 points and 16 rebounds, Lucas Barker had 17 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds and Tim Lang had 15 points and 6 rebounds. 

In reviewing the game, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill credited the Rangers approach, stating that “Dandenong had a great game plan and whilst we were able to create good scoring opportunities, our inability to convert enabled them to sit in their zone for the entire game”. “Their size proved too much for us to handle as they smashed us on the boards” he said. Hill once again praised the work of new addition Sam McDaniel, stating that “McDaniel was a shining light for us at the offensive end” but unfortunately for the Pioneers there would be no supporting cast to carry them to a winning total. 

The Pioneers now have a 14 day break in which to find some resolve that will carry them to the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The Rangers will have to back up on Sunday when they face Diamond Valley and will be keen to climb into the top four on the ladder. 

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Pioneers V Canberra Match Report

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Canberra Gunners Match Report Friday 25 May 2018

The Mount Gambier Pioneers returned to form in devastating fashion on Friday night when they accounted for the visiting Canberra Gunners by a jaw dropping 45 points. With the return of team captain Tom Daly to the floor and the fresh ink still drying on Sam McDaniel’s contract, the Pioneers team chemistry did not take long to gel as they exploded on offence and battled hard all night on defence. The victory was a welcome return to form for the Pioneers after a tumultuous start to their title defence.

The Pioneers came into the contest with a 3-5 record, staring down the barrel of the possibility of missing the post-season for the first time since 2012 and were desperate to right their ship against a cellar dwelling Canberra opponent. The recent rust in the Pioneers’ game showed early as they kept the home crowd on their feet for the best part of two minutes until Tom Daly dropped a three-point bomb to get the Pioneers going. Ben Allen returned to the familiar surrounds of the Ice House once more and was proving a handful for his former side as he continued to maul his opponents inside the paint. Luke Jamieson was also playing against his former side, the Gunners and his battle with Allen was one to savour with both players not giving an inch in the low post. It was a case of Jamieson by name, jam by nature when number six threw down a thunderous dunk that fuelled a 10-0 Pioneers run and required a timeout for the Gunners. The run from the Pioneers gave them all the momentum and heading into the first change, the Pioneers had stretched out to a double-digit lead 23-13.

Sam McDaniel gave his side the best possible start to the second term when he nailed a tough jump shot before filling the box score with a block, rebound and assist in the space of 26 seconds. Tom Daly was relishing his return to the floor with his direct dime dropping and driving runs to the hoop breaking down the Gunners defence time and again. The Pioneers ball movement was a highlight of their first half play as they began to move the ball more quickly and find the open shot with such frequency you could have been mistaken that you were watching the San Antonio Spurs in full flight. The second term produced another double-digit differential and the game was as good as over at half time with the Pioneers up by 21 points. Whilst Allen was getting some help from Daniel Joyce and Eric Gaff it wasn’t anywhere near enough to thwart a Pioneers team effort that was firing on all cylinders. To half time, Tom Daly led all scorers with 14 points and 6 assists whilst Sam McDaniel had 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Ben Allen led the scoring for the Gunners with 9 points and 2 rebounds and Eric Gaff had 8 points and 5 rebounds.

The Pioneers continued their good work in the third term as they outscored their opponents by 38-21 as points in the paint became all too easy for the home side. Dunks and driving layups were the order of the third term for the Pioneers with the front court of Thomas, Jamieson and McDaniel feasting on a relatively inexperienced Gunners forward setup. The biggest thorn in the Gunners side was proving to be new signing Sam McDaniel who despite coming off the bench in his debut appearance for the Pioneers was lighting it up from three. McDaniel hit four three-pointers in the third term alone, including three in less than two minutes to set up a monstrous 38-point lead for the Pioneers heading into the final term.

The Pioneers could have cruised to the finish line but they wanted to send a statement to the critics who have written off their season and finished in top gear right to the very end with a 27-20 final term providing them with a percentage boosting win. Ben Allen was doing his best to save face for his side but just like Michael Jordan against the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980’s, Allen needed help but none was forthcoming. As Coach Richard Hill emptied his bench, the young talent of the Pioneers did not let up with the likes of Chol Luk, Lachie Hunter, Dellon Brown and Josh Murphy all holding their own late in the game. A rare dunk by Dellon Brown sent the crowd into raptures before Lachie Hunter put the icing on the cake for the Pioneers with the final shot of the night as the home side prevailed by a commanding 45 points. Five Pioneers players scored in double digits with Lewis Thomas leading the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Sam McDaniel had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Erik Burdon had 20 points and 7 assists and Tom Daly had 19 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds. For the Gunners, Ben Allen had 22 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Daniel Joyce had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

In his post-match review, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was relieved stating that “it was great to be back in the winner’s circle after a difficult few weeks. We jumped out of the blocks pretty well with Tom Daly back on court, attacking the rim and setting the tone for his teammates”. “Lewis Thomas continued his great form and he was a huge factor at both ends of the floor”. “Our solid defence and speed of play eventually became too much for the Gunners”. “Sam McDaniel made a great debut for us slotting into his role, defending very well and shooting the ball at a high level”.

The Pioneers will look to continue their good form when they face off against Dandenong next Friday night at home, a game that Coach Hill expects to be “a much tougher challenge”. The Gunners will be looking to salvage their season when they meet Diamond Valley tomorrow night.



Round 7 Game 2 Match Report 19th May

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs NW Tasmania Thunder Match Report Saturday 19 May 2018
The Pioneers season is slowly slipping away after yet another defeat, this time at the hands of a rampant North West Tasmanian opponent who dominated the Pioneers for three quarters en route to a 10-point victory.

With just eight players making the trip across Bass Strait, the Pioneers were always going to struggle on the second night of a back-to-back and were completely outplayed for the first three quarters of this contest with the Thunder’s lead blowing out to as much as 23 points early in the final term. To their credit, the Pioneers fought to the finish and a 15-0 run provided some consolation for a Pioneers side that would eventually fall by 10 points.

The Thunder roared from the beginning in this one as they piled on the first seven points of the contest, all courtesy of the Jeremiah Ingram hot hand. Tim Coenraad answered with seven points of his own as the Pioneers maintained pace with their opponents for the majority of the quarter. However, a late 12-0 run ignited the home side who would head into the first change, leading by those 12 points. Mason Bragg was drawing on all of his NBL experience with the Perth Wildcats as he led the Thunder strongly. Thankfully, the Pioneers also had NBL experience in their corner and Tim Coenraad’s time with the Illawarra Hawks was paying dividends for the defending champions once again.

Heading into the second stanza down double digits, the Pioneers needed to catch fire but all they could do was maintain pace with the Thunder as the home side sustained their quarter time advantage. Bragg was fast becoming a one man wrecking crew as he kept the Pioneers defenders guessing with slashing drives to the hoop followed by spot up threes from way downtown. The match was fast becoming a nightmare for Pioneers Coach Richard Hill but he could do little to halt the Thunder’s momentum without the services of Tom Daly, Majok Deng and Brad Hill. When Ben Richmond knocked down a trey the Thunder’s lead was 18 points and the game was as good as gone for the visiting side. Mason Bragg ended the half with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists for the Thunder whilst Jeremiah Ingram compiled 11 points and 5 rebounds. For the Pioneers, Lewis Thomas had 9 points and 6 rebounds and Tim Coenraad had 9 points and 4 rebounds to half time with the home side leading by 13 points.

The Pioneers needed to salvage something from their Tasmanian trip and winning the second half would have featured prominently in the half time address of Coach Richard Hill. However, the Pioneers came out cooked in the second half and could only watch as the Thunder grew their lead through the dynamic play of Ingram and Bragg who made a mockery of the Pioneers defence. Coenraad and Thomas did what they could to keep the Pioneers afloat but they could not draw close to the Thunder whose 12-point quarter time advantage was proving a mountain to overcome. A late drive to the basket by Ben Richmond saw the Thunder’s lead stretch to 19 points and with one quarter to play it would take a miracle to get the Pioneers back in the contest.

As he had done all night, Mason Bragg provided the spark to the Thunder’s cause to open the final term, scoring the first four points of the quarter as the Thunder lead ballooned to 23 points. The Pioneers could have easily thrown in the towel but they flexed their championship muscle and fought the match out to the end. When Erik Burdon nailed another customary three-point bomb, the Pioneers were on a 15-0 run and had every chance of pulling off a massive upset. With just 1:04 minutes on the clock, Tim Coenraad sunk a layup and the Pioneers were within four points of the lead. But it would be all North West Tasmania in the final minute as they scored six unanswered points to run out victors by 10 points.

The Thunder were led by Mason Bragg who finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists whilst Jeremiah Ingram finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Tim Coenraad finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists for the Pioneers and was well supported by Lewis Thomas with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was scathing in his post-game assessment stating that “we came out flat against the Thunder and could not deal with their intense defence”. “Down by 23 points, we made a late change to get within four points with about 40 seconds to play. Unfortunately, a couple of silly mistakes put paid to our chances down the stretch”. “Lewis Thomas had another great game for us and Kane de Wit in his 100th game gave us great spark off the bench”. “We simply had no answer for Mason Bragg who dominated the game on both sides of the ball”.

The Pioneers now return home with an unsavoury 3 wins and 5 losses on the season and must win against Canberra next Friday night at the Ice House to keep their playoff chances alive. The Thunder will be looking to continue their good form when they face off against Ballarat next Saturday night.

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Round 5 Game 2

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Kilsyth Cobras Match Review Report Sunday 6 May 2018

The Pioneers fought tooth and nail against Kilsyth on Sunday afternoon but failed to come away with the chocolates as they succumbed to their opponents by 11 points. The gruelling back to back set took its toll on an undermanned Pioneers outfit, with Kilsyth making the most of home court advantage and a one match weekend.

Kyle Tipene got the Pioneers going with the first points of the afternoon but any Pioneers momentum was short lived as the Cobras piled on a 10-3 run to kick out to an early advantage. The visitors shot just 33% from the field in the opening term and although Kilsyth’s field goal percentage of 37% wasn’t much of an improvement it was the Cobras ability to get to the charity stripe with regularity and convert 8/9 attempts (89%) for the quarter that provided the 22-14 differential in their favour at quarter time.

Felix von Hofe came off the bench to spark the Cobras start to the second term, putting up a devastating three which stretched the Kilsyth lead to double digits. Not to be outdone, Tim Coenraad fired back immediately with a triple of his own for the Pioneers and would add another just moments later to cut the Cobras lead to just three points. Coenraad was putting on an offensive masterclass as he wowed his new teammates with a second quarter burst of 15 points which fuelled a 15-3 run that gave the Pioneers the lead momentarily. To their credit, Kilsyth closed out the first half strongly and headed in to the main break with a slender three-point lead. Tim Coenraad exploded in the second term to lead all scorers with 16 points and 3 rebounds whilst Luke Jamieson provided solid support with 10 points and 3 rebounds. The Cobras were led by Felix von Hofe who provided a huge X-factor from the bench with 13 points whilst Isaac Turner was the only other player in double digits with 11 points.

Luke Jamieson gave the Pioneers the start they were looking for when he stole the ball from Cobras captain, Chris Patton and nailed a three-point bomb at the other end. The Pioneers enjoyed a stellar first half of the third term as they stretched out to their largest lead of the contest of four points courtesy of a Luke Jamieson free throw. However, all their good work was undone as they allowed easy baskets for Daly, Patton and von Hofe, fuelling a 16-7 run that put the Pioneers on the back foot, down five points at the final change. Tim Coenraad continued to lead the Pioneers charge with 23 points and 5 rebounds, with Luke Jamieson adding support with 14 points and 5 rebounds. Felix von Hofe was proving unstoppable with 19 points and 2 rebounds whilst Isaac Turner (13 points) and Sam Daly (11 points and 7 rebounds) were getting the job done for the home side.

Despite their heavy weekend schedule and their loss of players to injury, the Pioneers fought bravely throughout the final term but were unable to bridge the gap against a fresh Cobras outfit. When Erik Burdon hit a jump shot with 6:46 minutes remaining in the final term, the Pioneers trailed by just three points but the Cobras kept the reigning premiers at an arm’s length, with their captain Chris Patton adding 9 points in the final term to lead his side to victory. Discipline cost the Pioneers dearly down the stretch as they allowed the Cobras to make 12 trips to the charity stripe where they converted 19/24 attempts (79%). Fittingly, it was two free throws from von Hofe that sealed the deal for the Cobras as they ran out victors 84-73.

The Pioneers were once again led by Tim Coenraad who compiled 30 points and 8 rebounds, with only his front court teammates in Luke Jamieson (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Lewis Thomas (13 points and 7 rebounds) providing any real resistance. For the Cobras, it was Felix von Hofe who led the way from the pine with 21 points and 2 rebounds whilst Chris Patton had 18 points and 8 rebounds.

In reviewing the match, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill was proud of his side’s efforts despite the loss, stating that “Kilsyth presented a much tougher challenge than Frankston, we were slow to get started but were able to fight back and take the lead in the third quarter”. “We weren’t able to sustain our effort, finding it very difficult to put points on the board in the last quarter”. “Once again Tim Coenraad proved his worth with 30 points as Luke Jamieson and Lewis Thomas battled very hard against a very big Kilsyth front line and Kyle Tipene was solid in place of Tom Daly at the point”. “Kilsyth at home will prove a difficult obstacle for all teams this season” added the Pioneers leader.

The Cobras now improve to 5-1 and go top of the table whilst the Pioneers are left in the middle of the pack in eighth position with a 3-3 record. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Pioneers who must now face Nunawading next Friday night at home in a rematch of last year’s East Conference Final whilst Kilsyth will look to continue their strong start to the season when they face the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence in Canberra on Friday night.


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Round 5 Game 1 Report

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Frankston Blues –  Saturday 5 May 2018

The Pioneers took all before them on Saturday night as they returned to form on the first night of a back to back set on the road, defeating a struggling Frankston opponent by 25 points. The Pioneers were keen to atone for a poor showing at home last week against Bendigo and were buoyed by the signing of Tim Coenraad mid-week who would provide much needed front court depth to a Pioneers side still struggling to get its best starting five on the court.

The Pioneers came out all guns blazing in the opening term as they shot out to a 17-6 lead inside the first five minutes of the contest. The combination of Tim Coenraad, Lewis Thomas and Luke Jamieson in the front court was overwhelming the Frankston defence, as they not only worked the Blues over on the interior but also stretched the floor and knocked down shots from beyond the arc. Thomas continued his good work from last week as he exploded for 12 points and 5 rebounds in the opening term. Bennie Lewis was doing his utmost to keep the Blues in the contest but despite putting up 7 points to commence the evening, his side would trail 28-19 at the first change.

The Blues opened the second term on fire with Bennie Lewis knocking down back to back triples to trim the Pioneers lead to just three points. Frankston started to provide excellent defensive pressure and forced the Pioneers in to rushed shots and costly turnovers as they hung tough against the reigning champions. When Aaron Ross sunk a mid-range jump shot, the Blues drew level at 38 apiece and what looked like an easy game for the visitors had suddenly turned into a dogfight. However, a 12-2 run fuelled by the offence of Coenraad and Thomas allowed the Pioneers to close out the first half with a 50-40 lead and head into the main break with all the momentum.

Lewis Thomas once again led the way for the Pioneers with a massive 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first half. Unlike last week, Thomas had help in the front court with new signing Tim Coenraad clicking immediately with his new teammates as he added 14 first half points for the Pioneers. Bennie Lewis was causing the Pioneers all sorts of problems offensively as he put up 20 first half points and he was finding quality support at both ends of the hardwood from Aaron Ross who compiled 12 points and 7 rebounds to half time.

Despite starting the second half with a rare eight second violation, the Pioneers continued their hot finish to the first half by adding the first six points of the third quarter. A 15-6 run by the visitors stretched the Pioneers lead out to 19 points and the game looked as good as over with Coenraad’s blistering 11-point third term putting the Blues on the canvas. Despite putting up 26 points in three quarters, Bennie Lewis could do very little to halt the Pioneers momentum as they maintained a 19-point advantage at the last change. Adding to the Blues’ woes was the foul trouble surrounding Aaron Ross whose court time was limited in the third term with four fouls to his name. Despite having just three days to gel with his teammates, Tim Coenraad led the Pioneers charge with 25 points and 5 rebounds whilst Lewis Thomas once again doubled up with 24 points and 10 rebounds in three quarters of play.

Despite having somewhat of a quiet night, Luke Jamieson fuelled the Pioneers offence in the final term as he scored the first seven points in the quarter for the visitors. Frankston tried valiantly to reduce the margin but were stopped at every attempt by a dominating Pioneers offensive display. When Ross fouled out halfway through the term, the Blues lost their key two-way enforcer and the Pioneers made the most of his absence nailing back to back triples via Erik Burdon and Kyle Tipene to put the result beyond doubt with a 28-point advantage. A final triple for Chol Luk iced the game for the Pioneers as they ran out victors, 100-75.

The Pioneers bounced back strongly in this contest thanks largely to Lewis Thomas who compiled 26 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. The addition of Tim Coenraad was also timely as he showed his NBL credentials to finish with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. For the home side, Bennie Lewis put up 26 points and 5 rebounds whilst Aaron Ross put up 14 points and 8 rebounds.

Pioneers coach Richard Hill hailed the win as a great victory for the club, stating that “we were down on numbers but big on effort and commitment”. “The victory was one of our best road wins in the last few years, Lewis Thomas was great as was our eleventh-hour addition, Tim Coenraad and we had contributions from every member of our group”.

The Pioneers will face Kilsyth on Sunday afternoon whilst the Blues will hit the road next Friday night to face North West Tasmania.


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