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.
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Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Hobart Chargers- South Conference Final Preview Report
The Pioneers face a stern test at home this Friday night when they take on a fired up Hobart Chargers side looking to exact revenge for their recent loss in the South Conference Semi Final a fortnight ago. The Pioneers suffered defeat in both regular season fixtures they played against the Tasmanian side but were able to overcome a hostile Hobart crowd and produce some of their finest play of the season to emerge 14 point victors and secure the all-important home court advantage for the South Conference Final.
With Brad Hill on the sidelines it was a backs to the wall scenario for the Pioneers but Captain Matt Sutton turned back the clock and filled the void as he caught fire from beyond the arc with 4 triples at 57.1% for 16 points. The Pioneers bench aced the test they were handed with on the night with all players contributing to the final result. Desmond Simmons led the way with 21 points at 66.7% and added 8 rebounds whilst Erik Burdon put up 14 points and 5 assists, Tyrone Lee had 11 points and 8 rebounds and Tom Daly recorded an entry-level double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
With just 8 players making the trip south, Coach Hill was faced with a difficult assignment against a side with 11 players and home court advantage. But as always Hill was unphased by the challenge. The suffocating zone defence that he drew up was executed effectively with the stifle towers of Tyrone Lee and Desmond Simmons shutting down Shane Southwell and Zac White whilst the defensive pressure of the Pioneers’ backcourt limited the ball movement of floor generals Jarrad Weeks and Tom Wright.
The Chargers were able to bounce back last weekend in the Preliminary Final against Albury/Wodonga where they exercised their minor premiership muscle and overpowered the visitors by a commanding 31 points led by Tom Wright with 23 points and 4 assists. The Chargers were never headed during the match and eased to a comfortable victory that would have renewed much needed confidence heading into this weekend’s cut throat South Conference Final on foreign floorboards.
The Pioneers will need to reenact their approach from a fortnight ago if they are to capture their third successive South Conference Championship. Team first play is the Pioneers major strength and when they are producing the desired results they do so with each player contributing to the team cause. There is very little to separate the Pioneers starting lineup from the Chargers starting five so the end result will likely come down to the depth of each side and the amount of bench points that each side can generate.
Luke Jamieson is undoubtedly the key for the Pioneers, as the sixth man he must stand up and be counted whenever he is called upon and should Tyrone Lee face foul trouble his performance may significantly influence the final result. Erik Burdon’s three point shooting has the ability to turn a game on its head and the home side will be looking for “Eze” to fill it up from beyond the arc after shooting 0/4 from long range against Hobart a fortnight ago. The Pioneers will be sweating on the fitness of Brad Hill whose NBL experience and 150+ SEABL matches are invaluable to his side particularly in the clutch environment of an elimination final. Should Hill not come up expect Matt Sutton to receive Hill’s minutes once more and for Jack Madgen to have an increased role off the bench.
Hobart showed why they finished top of the South Conference at the end of the regular season last week when they demolished Albury/Wodonga by 31 points at home. Despite the threat of going out in straight sets, the Chargers played like the underdogs and were ice cold under pressure. Tom Wright regained his scoring touch, Jarrad Weeks ran the floor effectively as he had done throughout the regular season and support inside the paint was provided by Shane Southwell and Zac White all night long. If the Chargers are to emerge as South Conference Champions they will need to first shutdown the Pioneers backcourt in Brad Hill, Tom Daly and Erik Burdon. This trio has a wealth of experience playing together and they formulate each of the Pioneers plays with great precision. The quality ball that they provide the Pioneers frontcourt with is telling and it will take strict Chargers defence to disrupt their tempo. The Chargers will also need career defining games from both Shane Southwell and Zac White if they are to upset the reigning champions. The last time the two sides met in the Semi Final, Southwell dominated proceedings with 15 points and 11 rebounds but he received no support from his fellow bigs with Zac White putting up just 4 points on 28.6% shooting with 3 rebounds. The battle between Tom Daly and Jarrad Weeks will be the matchup of the night with both players coming off stellar seasons marshalling premium ball to their teammates. The battle of the point guards is expected to be tight throughout with the winner of this matchup strongly influencing the final result.
Coach Hill is renowned for instructing his teams to attack the post-season and leave everything out on the court, a formula that has worked for him for decades and this match will be no different. Expect the Pioneers to fly out of the blocks and put early scoreboard pressure on their opponents in a bid to have them playing catch up all night long. A chance at greatness awaits the victor who will take on the winner of the East Conference Final between Nunawading and Bendigo in the National Championship Final in Melbourne on September 10.
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.
Mount Gambier Pioneers vs BA COE Match Preview Report Friday 12th August 2016
The final round of the regular SEABL season is already upon us and the defending champion Mount Gambier Pioneers are sitting pretty in second place in the South Conference. Despite having a home final already secured, Coach Richard Hill will ensure no player in his team is resting on their laurels as they prepare to defend their title. The final stop features a match up with the up and coming talent of Australian basketball in the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence team in a contest that pitches men against boys. Despite the David and Goliath billing, the match offers to be a showcase of quality basketball as the BACOE boys have proved to be a thorn in the side of many teams throughout the season with their youth, athleticism and enthusiasm rising to the fore.
The Pioneers are coming off a hard fought one point road win over a gallant Ballarat outfit that played with its season on the line and it is this kind of fight that positions them well as they transition into the extreme pressure of cut throat basketball. How the Pioneers handle this week’s assignment against the underrated BACOE team remains a mystery. Should Coach Hill restrict the playing time of his starting five or does he use it as a means by which to ensure his key players are match conditioned? It is a tough call for Hill as the draw does not really allow them to play with the necessary intensity that will be required of them in a week’s time. What will ease Coach Hill’s mind is knowing that he has all five of his starters in outstanding form at the right time of the season and he has the deepest bench in the SEABL to call upon when required.
The Pioneers will be looking to their twin towers in Tyrone Lee and Desmond Simmons to continue to menace their opponents at each end of the court and provide crucial momentum swings in play, whether it be through defensive dismantling or outrageous offence. Not to be outdone, the Pioneers also pose the greatest threat in the league in the back court with tried and true pairing Brad Hill and Tom Daly able to instigate rapid ball movement, killing runs to the basket and sublime outside shooting. If max deals were being handed out at present, Erik Burdon would be at the top of the list to receive one, if his recent long range shooting is anything to go by. “Ezy” makes it look so easy from beyond the arc and in the last month has been knocking down around five triples per game. As far as sixth men go, Luke Jamieson is by far the stand out in the competition and would fit into the starting lineup of any other side in the competition. Jamieson may have limited minutes but he makes the most of every opportunity and does whatever is required of him whether it be suffocating defence or overpowering offence, Jamieson is a luxury that the Pioneers cannot afford to be without. The depth of the Pioneers bench has not been required for the majority of the season but Friday night is the perfect opportunity for Coach Hill to blood inexperience to see what he has on his roster heading into the playoffs and also next season.
BACOE have a tough assignment to close out their season with a triple road trip over the coming weekend the closing chapter in a grueling campaign. Their ability to play 16 matches over the course of the season against well-seasoned veteran players is commendable and their ability to win one of those matches and be competitive in most of their games is incredible. These young guns are the face of the future for Australian basketball with many of them preparing to make an assault on the US scene with the hope of landing a college contract. The height of the BACOE line up is one of their greatest strengths with seven of their players standing at 200cm or taller. Not only do they have the height to maul the Pioneers on the interior but these are not your regular seven-footers and they have the ability to stretch the Pioneers perimeter defence with the ability to knock down the three ball. Look for Tom Fullarton and Jack White to provide the unconventional big man perimeter scoring. As is the case with the BACOE system there is always a regular turnover of players from season to season as graduates move on to greener pastures and this always works to their detriment as they cannot gain the consistency of playing together for long enough. Jack White is one player to watch all night long as he prepares to venture to the States to play college basketball for Duke shortly this will be the last round he will appear in Australia for several years at least. White is the face of the BACOE franchise and averaged a near double-double per game last season and is currently averaging 19.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game so far this season. The battle between White and Lee will be one to savour with the victor of that contest heavily influencing the result. Another player to watch out for is Matthew Kenyon whose swingman role sees him devastate on the offensive end before hustling back on defence and denying opposing offences time and time again.
The Pioneers are the clear favourites in this contest but BACOE will be up for this game and a young side without fear of failure will prove a difficult opponent regardless of the significant gulf in experience that separates the two sides. The Pioneers will look to blow BACOE away early and ease their way to the finish line but BACOE won’t take this match lying down and will fight from start to finish, leaving nothing on the court but blood, sweat and tears.
Photo by GAVIN MALE DESIGNS
Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Sandringham Sabres Match Report Friday 22nd July 2016
The Mount Gambier Pioneers left the Sandringham Sabres toothless on Friday night as they flexed their championship credentials to emerge victors by an astonishing 49 points. The Pioneers were looking to redeem themselves for last week’s poor showing against Geelong and left no stone unturned in the impressive display.
Neither side started the game strongly with poor offensive execution and tight defence the order of the day. Then Tyrone Lee entered the conversation and the match was turned completely on its head. Lee was in everything, cutting down the Sabres offensive forays, providing a devastating offensive presence in the paint and getting his teammates involved with exquisite passing. Yet it is extremely rare for the Pioneers to be reliant on one player and soon enough there was an even spread of entries in the box score. The Sabres were struggling to score and the Pioneers made them pay as they went on an 18-2 run that blew the game wide open to the point where the contest was basically over at the first interval. To their credit the Sabres did battle back to close out the first quarter but a 24-11 start to the game was not what the coach had ordered. Erik Burdon was the highest scorer on the floor with 8 points and clearly had the golden touch from his beloved three point range. Tyrone Lee (7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) found able support from fellow big man Desmond Simmons (3 points, 4 rebounds) whilst Tom Daly shot 100% for the term to finish with 6 points and 2 assists. The Sabres were a one man wrecking unit with Aquill Baynard putting up 5 points and 4 rebounds.
The Sabres needed a spark to kick start their second quarter but their hopes were crushed by a devastating slam from Luke Jamieson. This offensive effort ignited the Pioneers cause once more as they demoralised their opponents into missing shot after shot so much so that the crowd became involved in the Bronx cheer department. The Pioneers strung together a 13-2 run before Aquill Baynard finally scored the Sabres second basket with just 4:12 mins remaining in the term and was met with a rousing jeer from the home fans. Erik Burdon was in rare air as he repeatedly found time and space to knock down 60% of his shots from beyond the arc with his pump fake three a rare treat. Desmond Simmons ability to box out his opponents time and again fueled the Pioneers run and the impact of Luke Jamieson from the bench in the second term was telling as he bobbed up everywhere to contribute to the team’s cause. Jack Madgen was given ample time on the floor in the second term and he made the most of his playing time by putting up 6 points for the term, with a finesse layup through 4 defenders one of the highlights of the night. The Sabres again fought the quarter out to close the gap from 24 points to just 15 points but this was short-lived as the Pioneers stretched the lead back out to 21 points at the main break. The Pioneers were led by Erik Burdon with 14 points, Tyrone Lee accumulated 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists whilst Desmond Simmons had 6 points and 8 rebounds. Aquill Baynard continued to play a lone hand for the Sabres with 9 points (35% of team scoring) and 8 rebounds (53% of team rebounding).
After two second half fade outs against Albury/Wodonga and Geelong in recent times, the Pioneers were looking to go on with the job against the Sabres and confirm home court advantage for the upcoming post-season. Tyrone Lee’s block on Corin Henry early in the third typified the type of night that was unfolding for the visiting side, a brutal one. Sabres’ Captain Nathan Crosswell was trying to inspire his teammates by nailing a classy jump shot but any sign of momentum was soon snuffed out by a trademark Tyrone Lee power dunk! Rarely does a game go by without Tyrone Lee finding foul trouble and Pioneers fans often wonder just how much impact he can have on a game when he plays maximum minutes. This match was clearly one of those rare occasions with Lee picking up just 2 fouls for the night and erupting for 21 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds to three quarter time. As has been the case all season, Lee received quality support from his teammates with Erik Burdon sinking five triples for 20 points to go with 4 rebounds, Desmond Simmons eyed off another double-double with 8 points and 12 rebounds and Tom Daly chipped in with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Aquill Baynard (15 points, 8 rebounds) finally found some support in Nathan Crosswell (7 points, 4 rebounds) and Jamie Batish (7 points, 3 rebounds) but it would take a near miracle for the Sabres to get within double digits of the home side. Despite their best efforts the Sabres could not cut into the deficit despite nearly doubling their half time score in the third term as the Pioneers held a commanding 29 point lead.
With pride in their jersey on the line, the Sabres were simply looking to win a quarter of basketball and when Stefan Uzelac knocked down his first triple for the match it appeared they may have a chance of doing just that. Consecutive baskets to Jordan Vandenberg and Uzelac fueled the Sabres last quarter crusade but poor ball handling and questionable shot selection was wreaking havoc on their forays forward. Pioneers’ Captain Matt Sutton turned back the clock in the final term to record 6 points, 3 assists and 2 steals and further underline the depth of the reigning champion side. Heavy rain fell throughout the contest and the roof was not up to the challenge with the game being stopped at regular intervals as players slipped over left, right and centre. It may not have been the Brad Hill Show as the Pioneers gun failed to fire (0 points) but it was clearly the Benny Hill Show with one play in particular resulting in more slipping over then you would see in Steven Bradbury’s speed skating final. Despite the Icehouse living up to its name, the Pioneers still managed to tack on 20 points to their lead in the final term. When Kane DeWit found Tyrone Lee the lead was out beyond 40 points and the half century mark was in sight. Jordan Vandenberg connected on an Allister MacDonald lob to provide a rare highlight for the Sabres but that type of play late in a blowout would not have pleased Coach Sinisa Markovic. With the game blown out of proportions, Coach Richard Hill blooded his young guns and they did not disappoint. Dellon Brown scored 3 points in less than 2 minutes for his first points for the season and Monyjath Makoi showed a brief glimpse of his future value. A late double tech foul on Corin Henry saw him ejected from the game and summed up the frustration that was clearly evident in the orange and blue all night. The Sabres avoided the 50 point margin barrier by the barest of margins with the final score reading 106-57. Tyrone Lee put in a man of the match performance with 25 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks. Erik Burdon provided strong support with 20 points and 4 rebounds whilst Desmond Simmons accumulated another double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Sabres were led all night by Aquill Baynard with 15 points and 8 rebounds whilst Nathan Crosswell finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Pioneers had a point to prove and sent a warning to their final-bound opponents with a devastating display that lasted all four quarters. The Sabres on the other hand played like a team with nothing to play for with the knowledge they are not going to feature in the playoffs and must find something to savour from their season in their remaining games. The Pioneers will be looking to close the gap on South Conference leaders Hobart when they venture to Frankston to take on the Blues on Sunday afternoon. The Sabres meanwhile, have to wait till Saturday week to take on the East Conference leading Bendigo Braves in what will be another tough encounter.