History was made on Saturday night when a packed crowd saw the Mount Gambier Pioneers women’s side take all before them against the Southern Tigers to record their first ever victory by seven points.
Isabella Stratford opened the scoring for the visitors with a swift steal leading to a quick layup on the other end. The Pioneers answered through captain Amanda Frost who sparked an early Pioneers run as they went on a 10-0 scoring spree to establish a substantial early lead. The Tigers tried valiantly to get their offence running but Frost continued to prove a thorn in their side as she led her fledgling team from the front, putting up nine points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in the opening term. Substitutions were made early and often by the Tigers as they looked to their bench to halt the Pioneers momentum but they could not string buckets together and trailed by double digits at the first break 21-11.
Denelle Fawcett gave the Tigers the start they needed to the second term when she converted both attempts from the charity stripe and the two sides would trade baskets back and forth early in the second term. The introduction of Hannah Frisby-Smith seemed to light a fire under the Tigers offence as she poured on seven points in just over three minutes and suddenly the Pioneers lead was cut to just four points. Emily Winter channelled her inner Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when her crafty hook shot hit nothing but net but the Tigers were not going anywhere and were making a game of it. When Tenille Gray grabbed the offensive board off a stray Frost triple and converted the put back, the Pioneers went into the main break with all the momentum and a six-point lead. Amanda Frost was leading from the front for the Pioneers with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal and Emily Winter was providing the perfect foil with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. For the Tigers, Hannah Frisby-Smith had 7 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal and Hannah Fisher had 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
The Tigers came out roaring in the third term as they looked to wrest back the advantage from their opponents as Tara Dodman and Denelle Fawcett sparked a 7-0 run for the visitors that handed them a one-point lead. The run woke the Pioneers from their slumber and they went toe to toe with the Tigers in the third term with neither side able to gain a lead of any significance. With 4:36 remaining in the third and the scores locked away it seemed as though the match was heading for a cliff hanging finish until Frost and Mel Russell entered the conversation and enabled the Pioneers to regain momentum with a combination of dogged defence leading to flowing offence. The veteran duo put on the next 11 Pioneers points to just five from the Tigers and when Maddy Wormald nailed a triple, the Pioneers had a comfortable nine-point buffer. A late basket to Emily Winter saw the Pioneers stretch the lead back out to double digits and with one quarter to play the scoreboard showed a 57-46 differential.
Fawcett ensured the Tigers scored the first points of every quarter in the match when she drove to the basket for the easy layup before a turn around jump shot from Jemma Thacker gave the Tigers a sniff at 57-50. Frost was doing it all to keep the Pioneers afloat but the Tigers kept on coming and another Fawcett layup whittled the Pioneers lead down to just four points with still 4:11 left on the clock. Frost again stood tall and bombed a crucial trey from the corner, but Fawcett would continue to do her best to keep the Tigers close and two successful free throws did just that. A late basket to Stratford appeared to be too little too late with 19 seconds on the clock and the Tigers being four points adrift. And that would prove to be the case as three late Pioneers free throws ensured a seven-point victory for the home side as the scoreboard finished at 69-62.
Amanda Frost was outstanding in this one as she put up 28 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, Maddy Wormald played second fiddle with 14 points and 3 rebounds and Emily Winter shone through for 12 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds. For the Tigers, it was Denelle Fawcett leading the way with 15 points, 5 steals, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and Tara Dodman put in a captain’s effort of 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Pioneers now have the week off before facing Norwood at home on Saturday 30 March whilst the Southern Tigers will look to get back into the winner’s circle when they face off against Central Districts Lions at home in Morphett Vale next Saturday night.