By Kasey Cornwell
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners were knocked out of the playoffs by Dandenong last night, in an eerie deja-vu moment from last season.
Guards Anthony Fisher, 12 points 10 rebounds and Roy Booker finished with 22 points and 6 assists. Greggory Thondique notched up 13 rebounds and 10 points.
The Miners fired out of the starting blocks with a 3 point lead at the first break. They were fast and intense and looked in control with a large supporter base behind them.
The 2nd quarter, had Miners trailing by only 4 points at times, and this was the result of fast moving offences and great passing around the arc. Centre Liam Gibcus excelled, throwing himself at the loose ball and being strong in the key.
The momentum swung Dandenong’s way late in the second term with a quick succession of missed shots from Ballarat. Dandenong were able to penetrate the Miners defence, stretching their lead to 13 points at the halftime break, on the back of good work inside from Dandeong forwards. The Miners went 4 from 14 from beyond the arc by halftime, finding it difficult to put much scoreboard pressure on the Rangers during the second quarter.
Centre, Chris Smith had one of his best games for the season, and really stood up on the court tonight. He had 8 points and 3 boards at the main break.
The start of the third term continued in the same fashion as the second. With the Rangers extending their half time lead to 20 off the back of an alley-up dunk from import Daequon Montreal. With 4 minutes left, the Miners kicked into gear from then on. Down the stretch in the third the Miners were able to make some big plays and give themselves a chance heading into the fourth.
At the third break, the Miners had 10 points to chase. Ballarat’s trademark never say die attitude had them looking focused stepping back on the Court for the final term.
Anthony Fisher looked steady on the court, able to control the game and hit the important shots when needed, especially late in the game. With 4 minutes left in match, and 9 points to chase, Coach Eric Hayes called a time out to pull his team together and make some changes to get them back in the game.
The Miners managed to decrease Dandenong’s lead to 4 points, with some gallant efforts from returning Kiwi national Everard Bartlett, Kris Blicavs and Fisher, but perhaps it was too little too late and they ended their season. Going down by 6 to the Dandenong Rangers.
Dandenong’s import Daequon Montreal scored an impressive 31, much to the dismay of the Ballarat defense, and despite no love for Lucas Walker from the Ballarat supporters; he was consistent with 18 points and 21 boards.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Ballarat Miners have had a good season, which included an impressive run of victories down the stretch to scrape into the playoffs.
The Miners will be looking to improve in the off season and come back bigger and better next season.