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Pioneers vs Frankston Blues Match Preview – 19th May 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Frankston Blues Match Preview Report Friday 19th May 2017
The Pioneers will be looking to redeem themselves this week when they return home to take on a Frankston side desperately looking to salvage their season. The match will be the first of several special jersey nights with the green and black being replaced by the red and gold of silver sponsors McDonalds. “It’s a big night for the club on Friday with the team wearing Maccas red and gold in support of one of our Silver sponsors” said Pioneers coach Richard Hill.
The Pioneers were humbled against Bendigo last weekend, being down as much as 36 points before eventually falling by 21 points. Coach Hill is looking for his “team to bounce back hard after our loss on the road last week. Training on Tuesday was pretty tough as was our film review” he said. The match against Bendigo was easily one of the poorest showings from the Pioneers in the last 5-6 years but it is the reality check that the side needed heading into the second half of the season after eight consecutive victories. Frankston have struggled to piece together competitive performances and are coming off a hiding of their own by 24 points against the Supercats in Round 7.
Frankston may be sitting in last place in the East Conference with just one win from nine matches but they do boast quality across their roster. According to Coach Hill, “although Frankston have been struggling for wins, they have a good deal of talent, with two quality imports and a volume scorer in Benny Lewis”. Lewis has played in the NBL, NBA D-League and in Europe and brings a wealth of experience to the floor and is enjoying a hot start to the season to date putting up 14.7ppg, 4.7rpg and 3.3 apg.
Hill is also wary of Alex Francis “who looks very impressive on tape and would probably be leading the league in scoring if he was converting better from the free throw line”. Francis poses a huge threat in the paint and will be a major challenge for Daniel Alexander and Luke Jamieson on the interior as his current stats of 20ppg and 10.6 rpg suggest. Hill is aware of the threat that Francis poses and believes a team effort will get the job done, stating that “Francis will provide a real challenge for Daniel and Luke and they will need some real support from their team mates to contain him”.
Tom Daly was enjoying a stellar start to his first season as captain of the Pioneers but had his colours lowered severely against a Dyami Starks inspired Bendigo side last weekend. Starks would pile on 32 points against Daly who would not bother the scoreboard attendant until the final term when he finally broke free for nine consolation points. Daniel Alexander was also well below his best as he faced the man mountains of CJ Aiken and Matt Andronicus with little assistance from Luke Jamieson and John Jones. Hill expects both Daly and Alexander to return to form against the Blues, stating that “Tom and Daniel were below their usual standard in Bendigo and I would expect them to bounce back on our home court”.
The true strength for the Pioneers in this match will be at the guard positions with both Tom Daly and Erik Burdon looking set to dominate against Tristan Lloyd and Jake Macaulay. The Pioneers should have too much depth across these positions with Kane DeWit and Jack Madgen providing more than serviceable relief to Daly and Burdon as required. Hill echoes these sentiments in stating that “our advantage should be in the guard spots where we have very good depth of talent”.
The stage is set for an epic encounter with the Pioneers looking for a confidence boosting victory after an abysmal showing in their last outing. Frankston will be looking to cause the boil over of the season to date as they look to gain some respect from their Eastern Conference peers. Expect early fireworks as both sides come ready to play but it is a case of being wary of the wounded Pioneers who are smarting after last week’s horrific performance and with their coach’s words ringing loudly in their ears they will look to remind the competition of their true identity as championship contenders.

Pioneers vs NW Tasmania Thunder Match Preview

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs NW Tasmania Thunder Match Preview – Friday 28th April 2017

The Mount Gambier Pioneers return home this Friday night as they look to continue their stellar early season form against a North-West Tasmanian opponent intent on turning their season around.

Despite starting with just one win from five matches and being at polar opposites to the Pioneers (5-0) in the East, the Thunder have great confidence that they are just one win from taking back their season and moving up the conference standings.

The Thunder have signed two new imports in guard Ahmad Starks (Oregon State) and power forward Jeremiah Ingram (North Carolina Central University) and both will be looking to repay the faith shown in them by club management by filling the box score this week and leading their side to a much needed victory.  The Thunder have had their struggles in putting their new group on the floor together with Starks joining the team late as a replacement for Akeem Richmond (family reasons). Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is well aware of Stark’s capabilities stating that Starks “is very small but had a good college career at Oregon State and was one of the leading players in the top Swedish league last season” and that he “would expect the Thunder to be an improved and dangerous unit tonight”.

The Pioneers are enjoying the perfect start to season 2017 having won all five of their matches including a strong showing last weekend that yielded victories against Dandenong and Ballarat on a back-to-back set. Daniel Alexander continues to impress in the green and black with averages of 18ppg, 9rpg and 2.2apg and was rightfully awarded for his efforts when he was named in the Week 4 Team of the Week. Pioneers Captain Tom Daly is enjoying a red hot start to the season with his 20.2ppg, 4.6rpg and 4.8apg proving highly valuable given the slow start to the season by Brad Hill and Erik “Eze” Burdon from the field. “Eze and Brad have both been shooting the ball poorly from three, usually a strength for us…to be able to win both games last weekend with them down was very encouraging” said Coach Hill.

Coach Hill was impressed with the way Alexander and Daly have gone about it so far this season stating that “Daniel and Tom have been performing consistently at a high level”. Last week it was Jack Madgen and John Jones who stood up for the Pioneers and Hill was quick to credit their work stating that Alexander and Daly “were well supported by the group last weekend, particularly Jack Madgen and Big John who both had their best games for the club”.

The Thunder will be looking to take the crowd out of the equation early on but there are question marks over their ability to stay in the contest for the duration of the evening given their lack of playing time together. The Pioneers have weathered the fast start storm in recent weeks and been able to quickly find their feet and get back in the game but it is not a trend they will want to continue moving deeper into the season.

The key matchup will be between point guards Tom Daly and Ahmad Starks as both look to provide quality distribution of the basketball to their shooters and ensure the floor is run like clockwork. The hustle of Daly will need to be matched by Starks on the interior, he will need to remain accountable for the Pioneers Captain all night and he will need to receive support from his teammates if he is going to contain the Pioneers leading scorer.

Jeremiah Ingram (17ppg, 7.25rpg, 1.25apg in 2017) brings a strong presence to the paint and the 6”7 power forward who joined the Thunder straight from his senior year at North Carolina Central University “comes in as a hybrid power forward who can play inside and outside” according to Thunder Coach Sam Armstrong. Ingram’s athleticism makes for an intriguing matchup with Daniel Alexander whose aerial assaults in recent weeks have been compelling viewing. According to Armstrong, Ingram “played smaller ball as a guard in college but is really strong and has a big rebounding mentality as well” which will test Alexander to his limits.

Despite their slow start to the season, the Thunder have a solid lineup that is sure to fire anytime soon. Once Starks is fully integrated into their system they have the potential to be a serious threat but the question remains whether that will be this week. The Thunder have lacked offensive firepower recently and put up just 63 points against Sandringham last week. Meanwhile, the Pioneers have continued to score heavily even with two of their best shooters in Burdon and Hill misfiring at 31% and 39% respectively in 2017. Look for the Pioneers to get the early advantage and be unrelenting as they seek to continue their journey as the “Redeem Team” making amends for last season’s championship miss.

South Conference Final Match Report

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Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Hobart Chargers South Conference Final Match Report

All roads led to the Icehouse on Friday night when the defending champion Mt Gambier Pioneers looked to defend their South Conference title for a record fourth time against the visiting Hobart Chargers. This was not a match for the faint hearted with plenty of heat generated on and off the court but it would be the Pioneers who would hold sway and prevail comfortably in the end by a commanding 25 points, setting up a clash with Bendigo in next week’s National Championship bout.

The Pioneers as expected came flying out of the blocks in the opening term with Erik “Eze” Burdon setting the standard for the night, drawing first blood for the home side with a trademark triple. Whilst Tiri Masunda provided the quick reply for the Chargers it would be a hot start for the Pioneers who were clearly handling the pressure of the contest better than their opponents as a double digit differential opened up at 15-5. Tyrone Lee was uncontested in the paint, Tom Daly was running the floor like clockwork and the Pioneers were proving threatening from all angles whether by interior Lee dunking or outside Burdon shooting. Back to back baskets to Zac White and Jarrad Weeks trimmed the deficit to just 6 points but they lost their momentum once more when Burdon found Desmond Simmons who converted from long range. The Pioneers answered every challenge of the Chargers whether by oppressive offence or smothering defence and it was no surprise that they found significant separation at the end of the first term with the scoreboard indicating a 25-12 domination. The home side was dominating the boards at both ends of the court and this was allowing for second chance points whilst restricting their opponents’ ability to do likewise. Erik Burdon led all scorers with 6 points at the first break whilst Desmond Simmons had 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Jarrad Weeks was doing his best to lift his side with 5 points and 3 rebounds but was receiving little support from his teammates.

Hobart needed to score first in the second term but the story of the night could not have been scripted worse for the visitors as any sign of early momentum was snuffed out by a monstering slam from Tyrone Lee that sent the bench into raptures. Luke Jamieson began to find his feet in the second term coming off the bench to stretch the Chargers in the height department with the triple towers of Lee, Simmons and Jamieson appearing too much for the Chargers to overcome. Tiri Masunda was doing his best to keep his side in the contest, a task made easier by a full court turnover by the Pioneers that allowed the guard to score the easiest basket of the night. Coach Richard Hill was filthy with the discipline of his side whose foul trouble allowed the Chargers to stay in the game albeit from the charity stripe. Despite their charity collection the Chargers were finding it difficult to score and were forced to take low percentage shots from beyond the arc on most occasions where they shot 1/14 or 7.14% for the half. The second term was a tightly contested affair with the Pioneers winning the quarter by just a solitary point but the damage had already been done and the home side stretched out to a 14 point lead heading into the main break. Desmond Simmons was producing his best work at the best time with 11 points and 5 rebounds whilst Tyrone Lee was keeping pace with 11 points and 4 rebounds. It was a two horse race for the Chargers box score lead with Jarrad Weeks leading the way with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals, followed closely by Tiri Masunda with 9 points and 4 rebounds.

The third term has not been kind to the Pioneers this season and they needed to make it count tonight if they were genuine about remaining in the title race. The Chargers looked to draw first blood and did so when Tiri Masunda knocked down the 2 points whilst drawing the foul but he failed to convert the 3 point play which would have been the perfect start to the second half for the visitors. Tom Daly quickly answered for the Pioneers as he absorbed heavy contact and managed to convert an off balance jump shot to once again extend the Pioneers lead out to 14 points. A hot streak from Brad Hill melted the Icehouse as he converted the 3 point play before making the most of some quality ball from Tyrone Lee to rise above the Chargers defence and nail a clutch jump shot making it successive baskets for the Melbourne United native. The Chargers woes from beyond the arc were not improving and it was getting costly as they shot 3/22 for 13.64% to three quarter time. The Pioneers continued to suffer foul trouble and Jarrad Weeks was the beneficiary as he made 9-10 (90%) from the line. Brad Hill was killing the offensive hopes of the Chargers with 10 defensive rebounds whilst Tyrone Lee chipped in with 7 defensive boards to thwart the highly touted Chargers attack. The Pioneers depth was always going to be an additional battle for the Chargers to overcome and to the end of third quarter the Pioneers led this department 10-0 with 5 point contributions from Luke Jamieson and Jack Madgen. The Chargers were never saying die but despite their best efforts they could not make inroads into the Pioneers lead which extended slightly to 16 points heading into the final break. Tyrone Lee was putting on a clinic with 14 points and 8 rebounds and was finding adequate support from Desmond Simmons with 13 points and 6 rebounds, Tom Daly had 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and Brad Hill had 8 points and 11 rebounds. Jarrad Weeks was the shining light for the Chargers with 20 points and 4 rebounds, Tiri Masunda had 11 points and 4 rebounds and Shane Southwell had 9 points and 6 rebounds.

The writing was on the wall and it appeared there would be little that the Chargers could do to stop the Pioneers from capturing a record fourth straight South Conference title. This became more apparent when Luke Jamieson put back a Tom Daly miss and Tyrone Lee followed up on the next offensive foray with a signature slam that blew the lead out to 20. With the fizz fading from the game nobody could have expected the fiery exchange that was to follow. Luke Jamieson and Tom Wright had been going toe to toe all night and after some push and shove between the pair, Hobart Coach Anthony Stewart got involved and heavily shoved Jamieson leading to a melee between the two teams. To the referees credit the fight did not escalate further and they were calm and calculated under the intense pressure they were faced with as they ejected Coach Stewart from the arena. The type of behaviour shown by the leader of the Hobart side was unprecedented and a disgraceful example to the multitude of young people present at the game. The punishment was not limited to those on the court as Desmond Simmons and Monyjath Makoi soon found out when they were both ejected from the game for leaving the bench. Coach Hill was livid with his team for their response to the incident and laid down the law to his players who would have to finish the game minus two of their teammates. Technical fouls were instated for both sides as the referees tried to turn the collective chaos into calm and avoid Malice at the Palace 2.0.

Tyrone Lee proved the difference between the two sides all night and he exploded in the final quarter recording 12 points and 3 rebounds to finish with 26 points, the same amount of points the Chargers needed in the end to defeat the Pioneers. Shane Southwell fought back after a tough night at the office to finish with 17 points, with 10 of those coming too late in the game for Hobart. The Chargers were unable to gain any respite from their bench who failed to score until late in the game. The Pioneers bench was led by Luke Jamieson who recorded 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in just 22:45 of action. Matt Sutton and Jack Madgen also played crucial roles in the match with 5 points apiece ensuring the Pioneers lead was maintained throughout the night. Captain Sutton’s points were the icing on the cake as the last two baskets for the Pioneers, a fitting way to capture a fourth successive South Conference Title. The Pioneers were able to keep the Chargers at arm’s length all night courtesy of the efforts of Tyrone Lee with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists, Tom Daly with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists whilst Desmond Simmons had 13 points and 6 rebounds. The Chargers were led by Jarrad Weeks who finished with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, Shane Southwell tallied 17 points and 6 rebounds with Tom Wright putting up 13 points and 2 assists.

The Pioneers were clinical in the clutch situation they found themselves in tonight and this confidence should augur well for their shot at a third successive National Championship in the ensuing decider next Saturday night at the Melbourne State Basketball Centre against the Bendigo Braves. The Chargers must receive accolades for the way in which they have performed all season after capturing the minor South Conference title and will be a force to be reckoned with moving forwards. The Pioneers have fought against the odds and overcome a difficult start to the season and the complexity of an away final to win through to next week’s big decider and Coach Hill and his charges deserve credit for the way in which they have applied themselves all season.

Watch the game here

 

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Pioneers V BA CoE Review

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence Match Report 12th August 2016

The Pioneers finished the regular season on the highest possible note on Friday night, defeating the inexperienced Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence lineup by an emphatic 26 point margin. The Pioneers were dominant from the first tip-off with marquee man Tyrone Lee stamping his credentials all over the contest in the opening term. The undersized BACOE unit was unable to deal with Lee’s strength and ferocity in the paint as he racked up 12 first quarter points. Erik Burdon also enjoyed a stellar opening to the match as he continued his hot streak from triple point territory with two huge treys, including one from way downtown! With Lee dominating the interior and Burdon the exterior, BACOE were quickly running out of ideas on how to combat the pair but they did eventually manage to fight their way back into the contest courtesy of some Matt Kenyon magic. The swingman did his best to lift his team with 7 opening term points but he received little support from his teammates who were swamped by a rampaging Pioneers outfit. There was no respite for the visitors even when Tyrone Lee vacated the court, with his replacement Luke Jamieson icing the first term with a clutch fadeaway jump shot drawing the foul and resulting in a 3 point play that extended the Pioneers lead to 12 points at the first interval. Despite the double digit deficit after one quarter of play, the score line was not a true indicator of the performance of BACOE who battled valiantly only to be denied by poor execution at both ends of the floor.

Given the unknown quantity that is the developing BACOE side, Coach Richard Hill’s quarter time address would have centred on effort and execution in readiness for the commencement of the post-season in a week’s time. It was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the captain as Matt Sutton put the Pioneers on the board first in the second term with a classy jump shot courtesy of a quality Kane DeWit feed. The second term quickly turned into a defensive battle with neither side able to gain the ascendancy with the scores locked at 13 apiece for the quarter. Myles Cherry stepped up his game and became a roadblock in the key with 8 rebounds including 5 offensive boards giving the visitors valuable second chance point opportunities. Desmond Simmons (6 rebounds) and Luke Jamieson (5 rebounds) were not to be outdone and teamed up to form the crash and bash brothers who were on a mission to pummel BACOE into submission on the interior. Midway through the term the Pioneers lead had stretched out to 16 points but a gallant BACOE lineup fought hard to close the margin to just 6 points in just 4 minutes of play. The Pioneers woke from their slumber to go on a 6-0 run to close out the first half led by the unstoppable offence of Tyrone Lee and the impeccable defence of Desmond Simmons and Luke Jamieson. With the scoreboard reading 42-30, the Pioneers were left ruing missed opportunities that would have put the game out of their opponents reach. Tyrone Lee led the way for the Pioneers with 16 points and 3 rebounds, Erik Burdon had 8 points and Luke Jamieson had 6 points and 5 rebounds. For BACOE it was Matt Kenyon starring with 9 points and 2 rebounds whilst Myles Cherry had 5 points and 8 rebounds.

The third term is often referred to as the championship quarter and with the finals just one week away, the Pioneers needed to sound a warning to their rivals that they are more than capable of pulling off a three-peat of titles this season. Desmond Simmons kicked off second half proceedings by converting with a good old fashioned dunny flush that enthused the crowd. Own goals are not heard of in basketball very often but Owen Hulland did his best to extend the Pioneers lead as he fought to keep the ball in only to pass it to Erik Burdon who accepted the elementary layup. Just when BACOE thought their night couldn’t get any worse, Tyrone Lee came back onto the court to throw down a trademark double handed tomahawk dunk that baptised the BACOE defence and brought the bench to their feet. Kyle Zunic was doing his best to keep the score respectable but the Pioneers had answers from every position on the court, emphasised by a rare three point conversion from big man Desmond Simmons. Zunic managed to knock down the final basket of the quarter from long range but he could only trim the Pioneers lead to 20 points. Tyrone Lee somehow emerged from three quarters of play with no fouls and as a result he dominated the game with 20 points and 9 rebounds. He received quality support from Brad Hill with 10 points and 2 rebounds whilst Erik Burdon also had 10 points to go with 2 assists. For BACOE it was Matt Kenyon leading the way with 9 points and 2 rebounds with Kyle Zunich stuffing the stat sheet with 9 points.

The fizz had long been removed from the contest and with one quarter to play surely Coach Richard Hill would begin to rest his starting five to freshen them up for a run at Hobart in next week’s Semi Final. Yet Hill took the alternative route and decided to keep his stars in the contest for the majority of the final term in a bid to ensure they were at full match fitness heading into the high intensity that is post-season basketball. Luke Jamieson kicked off a 14-2 run for the Pioneers to start the final term and suddenly there was a blowout on hand as the lead extended to 32 points. A raft of substitutions late in the match saw a much smaller and inexperienced Pioneers formation take the court with the opportunity to broadcast their abilities heading into the finals. Lachie Hunter played his first minutes of the season, Dellon Brown was given a rare opportunity to impress and Kane DeWit had his minutes extended in readiness for next week. The Pioneers failed to score a single point once the substitutions had been made and this would be concerning to Coach Hill who needs his bench to contribute if they are going to defend their title for a second time. The late 8-0 run by BACOE came via some clutch shooting from Matt Kenyon and Samson Froling but it did little to add respectability to the final score as the Pioneers ran out victors 82-56. Tyrone Lee was clearly the player of the match with 22 points and 12 rebounds and he received quality assistance from Brad Hill with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals whilst Desmond Simmons continued his rebounding dominance with 13 boards accompanying 7 points. For BACOE it was Matt Kenyon dominating with 13 points and 5 rebounds, Myles Cherry chipped in with 9 points and 9 rebounds and Kyle Zunich finished with 9 points.

The Pioneers did not have it all their own way tonight and that places them in good stead heading into a tough encounter with Hobart next week. BACOE have had another quality season given the mismatches they encountered on a weekly basis and the SEABL has been the perfect training ground for these rising stars of Australian basketball.

With the regular season won and done, the Pioneers move on to a Semi Final showdown with South Conference leaders the Hobart Chargers and will be out to exact revenge for the two losses they have sustained against them during the regular season. Should the Pioneers emerge victorious they will have the week off before a home final determines if they progress to the Championship Final. Should they lose they still get a home final the following week against the winner of Geelong and Albury-Wodonga.