Match Report- Saturday 6 July 2019
The Castec Rural Pioneers continued their winning ways on Saturday night as they overcame a horrific second quarter to eventually prevail over their Sturt opponents by 14 points. With captain Tom Daly sidelined, it would be up to Erik Burdon to lead the Pioneers as brother Sam Daly assumed the vacated role as starting point guard and turned in an epic performance in his stead.
With the two sides at opposite ends of the ladder, it was expected that the Pioneers would have it all their own way but Sturt came to play and took the game right up the Pioneers throughout the evening. The Pioneers took full control of the contest early with baskets to Sam Daly, Kentrell Barkley and Brad Rathjen creating an early 8-2 advantage. Six consecutive points from Rathjen handed the home side a 10-3 lead inside three minutes of play and it appeared another annihilation was in order. But Sturt were not going to go quietly into the night and hit back with six of the next eight points and trailed by just three points halfway through the term. The 12-4 run that followed from the Pioneers broke the resolve of the Sabres as Sam Daly, Brad Rathjen and Kentrell Barkley combined to punish the Sabres with the trio combining for 25 of the Pioneers’ 27 opening term points.
With their backs against the wall, the Sabres needed to respond and they did so in epic fashion as they dominated the Pioneers with a 29-19 differential in the second term. Jack Turnbull and Rivers Carleton sprung to life and combined for 17 points in the quarter and turned the game on its head. At one stage, the Sabres piled on a 15-4 run and suddenly their deficit was just a measly two points. Despite their second quarter superiority, Sturt let themselves down with ill-discipline, sending the Pioneers to the charity stripe on a whopping nine occasions for the term but the Pioneers were unable to make them pay as they shot a woeful 9/17 (53%). With 38 seconds remaining in the half, Ben Carter gave Sturt their first lead of the match, 42-45 and it appeared the Sabres were a chance of providing the biggest boilover of the season. When Sam Daly hit both of his free throw attempts to close the first half, the Pioneers were back within a point of their opponents, down 46-47. Kentrell Barkley led the Pioneers with 14 points and 6 rebounds whilst Sam Daly was on triple double watch with 12 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Jack Turnbull was proving a force to be reckoned with for Sturt as he put up 14 points and 3 rebounds and was ably supported by Rivers Carleton who compiled 10 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the opening half.
The Pioneers were shell-shocked and needed to respond if they were going to maintain their lead at the top of the standings with the playoffs just two weeks away. Sturt continued to take it up to their more highly fancied opponents and went toe to toe with them throughout the first five minutes of the third term. After Nicholas Fassos brought the Sabres level at 54 apiece at the 6:39 mark of the third term, the Pioneers scored the next eight points to stretch out to a handy lead. But Sturt were not going to surrender and answered courtesy of a three-point bomb from captain Michael Shortt. Another triple late in the third term to Fassos cut the Pioneers’ advantage to just six points, with everything to play for heading into the final term.
Sam Daly was having his best game in Mount Gambier colours and he got his side off to the perfect start in the final term with a driving layup that stretched the Pioneers’ lead to eight points. That basket kickstarted a 9-2 run that looked to put the game to bed as the Pioneers assumed full control of the contest with a 13-point ascendancy. Enter Rivers Carleton, the Sturt gun took the game over and piled on the next eight points of the match as Sturt once again asked questions of the Pioneers and trailed by just five points with a whopping 5:41 still to play. Instead of relying on a timeout to break the Sabres’ momentum, it was a Sam Daly dunk that appeared to shift momentum back in favour of the home side. However, that feeling was short lived as Fassos bobbed up and hit money from distance once more and the home side was clinging to a mediocre four-point lead. The Pioneers needed a match winner and they got two as Sam Daly and Kentrell Barkley took over the final term combining for 18 of the Pioneers’ 25 points for the period. The pair combined for nine straight points which formed part of a 12-0 run to close out the game and ensured the Pioneers would save face and keep their winning run in tact. A three-point play from Brad Rathjen sealed the victory for the Pioneers as they eventually ran out victors by 14 points, 93-79.
Sam Daly played the game of his life and finished with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, Kentrell Barkley contributed 27 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists and Brad Rathjen stood tall with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Rivers Carleton kept Sturt in the contest with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists and Jack Turnbull put up 20 points and 4 rebounds.
The Pioneers will have a week’s rest before they look to take on Forestville at home in a top of the table clash to end the regular season whilst Sturt will look to end their season with a victory when they do battle with Woodville at home next Saturday night.