It was a case of coming back down to earth for the Mount Gambier Pioneers women’s side on Saturday night when they lost to Forestville Eagles in a close encounter by just five points. After winning four successive contests, the Pioneers failed to keep their winning streak alive as they succumbed to a final term fadeout which turned a two-point advantage into a five-point defeat.
With both sides jostling for position at the pointy end of the ladder, neither side was prepared to back down and it showed through what was a tough start to the contest. Amanda Frost drew first blood for the Pioneers as she found her way to the hoop for the easy layup before Forestville answered with an 11-2 run that put the home side in full control of the contest early on. Pachis Roberts was the standout player on the court throughout the first term as she racked up nine first term points to help the Pioneers stay in the game. Roberts was playing a lone hand with Frost unable to make any genuine impact on the box score as the Pioneers captain was held to just two first term points. Meanwhile, the Eagles were finding contributions across the floor with Ella Sawyer leading the way with 6 points and 3 rebounds in the opening stanza. A Katia Stamatelopoulos driving layup blew the Eagles lead out to nine points before a late 6-3 Pioneers run cut the margin to six points at the first change.
The Pioneers needed the first bucket of the second term to wrest back momentum and they achieved just that when young rising star Emily Dawe made her way inside for the easy two. A three-point play to Frost was the perfect follow up and suddenly the Pioneers were within one point of their opponents. Forestville responded like a side with a 5-2 record and put up seven of the next nine points to return to a six-point advantage. Not to be outdone, the Pioneers responded with a 7-2 run of their own with Frost putting on a clinic in the second term as she ran hot with 13 points for the quarter. The Pioneers stepped up their defence and forced the Eagles to make their shots from the charity stripe where they showed no mercy, converting on all seven attempts for the term. Despite the Eagles’ success from the line, they were unable to match the Pioneers from the floor and they had no answer for Frost or Roberts who were unstoppable. Emily Winter stepped to the line with 28 seconds remaining in the term and buried two free throws to tie the game at 33-33 heading into halftime. The Pioneers were led by their captain Amanda Frost who put up 15 points and 2 rebounds and she was supported by Pachis Roberts who compiled 11 points and 4 rebounds in one half of basketball. For the Eagles, Ella Sawyer led the way with 10 points and 3 rebounds and Chelsea Roberts had 5 points and 5 rebounds.
With the scores locked away, early third term scoring would prove pivotal in defining this contest and it was Winter who got the Pioneers on the board first with an easy two inside. Sawyer provided the immediate response for the Eagles with a layup of her own as the two sides went toe for toe. Frost and Roberts combined for the next six Pioneers points to establish a six-point lead but their run was quickly stalled by the offence of Stamatelopoulos and Gabriella Vidmar who countered with a 6-0 run of their own which drew their side level at 41 apiece. A 10-4 scoring spree from the Pioneers handed them a six-point buffer before a Vidmar triple sucked the life out of the Pioneers cause. When Jemma Westhoff hit the final basket of the term, the Eagles had cut the Pioneers lead to two points with a quarter to play. Pachis Roberts dominated the Eagles in the third term, putting up nine points in the quarter to lead all scorers with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals heading into the last quarter. Not to be outdone, Gabriella Vidmar bobbed up with nine third term points of her own to shoot her way to 11 points for the contest and keep her side in the game.
Shutting down Frost and Roberts was the task ahead of the Eagles and they did just that as they kept the Pioneers marquee signings to a combined six points in the final term. Not only did they stop the Pioneers star players in their tracks but they turned defence into effective offence time and again to close out the game with Chelsea Roberts going ballistic in the final period, putting up a staggering 14 points for the quarter. With Frost and Roberts in foul trouble, the Pioneers needed somebody else to step up and win the game for them but nobody was able to do so. Shooting 5/16 (31%) from the field in the final term did not help the Pioneers cause with full credit going to the Eagles whose defence suffocated the Pioneers offensive forays in the final stages of this match. When Frost hit money from long range, the Pioneers still had a pulse with a 65-63 disadvantage but Chelsea Roberts returned serve with a trey of her own and the Eagles lead was back out to five points. A late foul to Frost saw her fouled out of the contest and allowed Vidmar to add a point to the Eagles lead from the charity stripe. With 22 seconds remaining, Maddy Wormald stepped up and hit a clutch step back jump shot to bring the Pioneers within four points of the lead but they were unable to close the margin further as Pachis Roberts also fouled out and the Eagles edged their way to a five-point victory, 70-65.
The Pioneers were led by Amanda Frost with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, Pachis Roberts had 22 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals and Emily Winter had 12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. The Eagles were led by Chelsea Roberts who compiled 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, Ella Sawyer had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists and Gabriella Vidmar had 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Pioneers backed up their match tonight with another contest against Woodville at St Clair on Sunday afternoon with the Eagles enjoying a week’s rest before they meet South Adelaide at Marion next Saturday evening.