Despite a hard-fought battle, the GMHBA Ballarat Miners suffered a loss to the Frankston Blues last Saturday, falling 89-95.
Foul trouble plagued the Miners early, as captain Liam Gibcus was called for his first personal foul only 10 seconds into match play, and his second foul was committed shortly after. Chris Smith and Roy Booker were also struggling through foul trouble, forcing Ballarat to employ a more cautious style of play for the night.
The Miners put forth a superb first half in spite of the adversity, with scores tied at 43 heading into the break. The third quarter alone would see eight lead changes, as both teams fought hard to pull ahead. Foul trouble continued to be an issue for the Miners, with Gibcus and Booker both having to sit out early into the third with four fouls apiece. Solid contribution from young guns Brady Neill and Ash Constable—who combined for nine points in the quarter—and a lay-up by Dane Sisic to end the quarter, helped the Miners to a 67-61 lead heading into the final quarter.
With plenty of momentum, the Miners would sustain the lead for a considerable portion of the fourth quarter, being led the whole way by Ken Horton. Unfortunately, adversity would strike again, as Gibcus would foul out halfway into the quarter, leaving Ballarat without a strong defensive presence to contain Frankston’s import, Brandon Polk. An unsportsmanlike foul from Anthony Fisher, quickly followed by a personal foul by Chris Smith would see Frankston pull ahead to take the lead, 84-82, and although the Miners fought hard to come within two points with 11 seconds remaining, they would eventually lose by six.
Ken Horton played the entire game and was the clear MVP for the Miners, with 34 points on 13-26 shooting (5-11 from the 3), and an outstanding effort on the glass, pulling in 14 rebounds (6 offensive). Booker, foul trouble aside, was also strong for the Miners, with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Throughout the entirety of the game, the dominance of Polk was unstoppable. With 27 points on 9-19 shooting, it was his clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch (9-12 FTs) that helped to get Frankston over the line. Mitch Chapman was also valuable for the Blues, chipping in 19 points to the winning effort.
The Miners will look to end their losing streak this Saturday as they take on the Albury-Wodonga Bandits from 8pm, following the Rush, who return to action against the Lady Bandits at 6pm at the MARS® MINERDOME.