By Kasey Cornwell
The Ballarat Miners fell just short in a thrilling loss to the Sandringham Sabres, 87 – 90. Roy Booker excelled on his home court, with 29 points and 8 assists. Ollie Bailey had an outstanding 24 points and 6 boards, and Earnest Ross took 18 points. Sandringhams’ top scorers were Ari Stewart with 27 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Aquill Baynard on 18 points.
Ollie Bailey opened the game with a lovely 3 point jump shot, less than 15 seconds in. Despite Sandringham’s start to the season, they looked dangerous and only let the Miners get out to a 6 point lead and managed to keep Ballarat within 3 points at the first break. Booker and Bailey were quick to get out to 10 points a piece for the term.
The second term saw Sandringham’s power forward Aquill Baynard start on the bench despite 10 points in the first period, this seemed to help the Miners push the lead out to 8 points early in the quarter. Dyson King-Hawea was instrumental in this quarter, grabbing rebounds and getting assists early. The lead changed midway through the term, with Sandringham’s Stefan Uzelac downing a big three. Sandringham were able to break through the Miners defence and at the main break the Ballarat Miners were down 9 points, 45 – 54.
The Miners worked hard in the third term, with Roy Booker contributing 14 points throughout the quarter to tie the scores on 70 at the final break. Support from the bench was phenomenal and the Miners looked determined to grab their first home win.
Scores remained very close for comfort in the early stages of the fourth, with Booker constantly taking back the lead with his trademark 3 point jump shots. The Miners were up 1 at the midway point, when Aquill Baynard sent shivers through the Minerdome and cut the Miners defence, with a huge dunk. With less than 60 seconds remaining on the clock the Miners trailed by 1, despite having all the play they just could not convert and unfortunately gave Sandringham their first win for the season, 3 points over the Ballarat Miners.
Coach Eric Hayes talked about putting pressure on the opponent, and felt that this was not executed well enough throughout the game. He and the team wanted to play with more physicality and he thought that the absence of this was evident in the second term, where the Miners committed no fouls, with Hayes noting “with physicality there will inevitably be a few fouls committed.”
He thought his side’s flow was effected by phases of effort, he knows that if his side makes the effort to box out and get rebounds it turns into great basketball. He noted that the second half was a vast improvement from the stagnant offences of the first half, he knows his team did not make great decisions in the first 2 periods, especially noting that Ollie Bailey was shooting so well, but not getting all the looks from fellow players.
Eric had praise for Roy Booker, once he got going he certainly turned things around, Eric says this is something he knows Booker is capable of and thought he shot the ball and distributed the ball really well. On young local Sam Short, Hayes feels confident with him out the court, he likes utilsing his length, and Short’s ability to get a hand on the ball.
The Miners hit the road next week, playing NW Tasmania and will return to the Minerdome Sunday May 1 to take on Brisbane.
Click http://www.fibalivestats.com/u/SEAB/281649/to see all the stats from Saturday night’s nailbitter.