By Kasey Cornwell
The Ballarat Miners fell agonisingly short against the Mount Gambier Pioneers in their second last game for the season. Mount Gambier took the win, 89 – 90 in the late stages of the game.
Big man Ollie Bailey contributed a sleek 33 points and 10 boards to the Miners and swingman Earnest Ross scored 24 points with 6 assists and 8 rebounds. Craig Moller was also handy on the night with 13 points and rebounds. Sam Short, a smart team player, had 5 assists along with his 8 points.
It was hard to stop the Pioneers’ Brad Hill with 24 points and Tom Daly on 20 points. Tyrone Lee also caused headaches with 10 rebounds and points to his name.
Ballarat came out firing, and were intense on offence in the early stages. Co-captain Ash Constable made it quickly to 7 points. James Hunter, Bailey and Moller all had 3 boards at the end of the first term, which was testament to the team’s work rate and determination to get to the ball. At the first break the Miners led the Pioneers, 23 – 21.
It was a battle of the offences in the second term, with Brad Hill and our own Ollie Bailey getting to 19 points at the main break. The Miners finished the first half, trailing Mount Gambier by a shot, 48 – 50.
The defensive pressure increased in the third, and this caused Ballarat to rush their offences at times. However the Miners were able to force the Pioneers’ Desmond Simmons and Tyrone Lee to 4 personal fouls a piece. However, late in the third term our big man James Hunter committed his fifth foul for the night and spent the remainder on the bench. Ballarat would go into the last term, 4 points down, 67 – 71.
Momentum swung the Miners way early in the fourth, and within a few minutes Ballarat were able to level the scores once again. It was an arm-wrestle for the entire last quarter, with Mount Gambier able to hold on to steal the win from the determined Miners by 1 point, 89 – 90.
Head Coach Eric Hayes was disappointed in the result of Saturday’s game, but in the end he didn’t think his side executed and made a few poor decisions and that is what cost Ballarat the win in the end.
Defensively, his side was able to better execute the defensive plan, which they attempted to implement when they travelled to Mount Gambier recently. Hayes noted that with a better execution and output from the side, the result on defence was better. Hayes was happy that the team was able to make adjustments, namely on Mount Gambier’s Brad Hill in order to reduce his impact on the game in the second half.
On the game MVP Ollie Bailey, Hayes thought that he gave the team great targets and has been really strong inside. His teammates are looking for him, and it is nice to reward him by giving him good options to score.
Hayes expected the last term to be an arm-wrestle and a battle and against a quality opponent, who are so consistent on the court, it most definitely was.
Eric Hayes touched on some individual improvements within the team, and showed his appreciation to Ash Constable, who he thinks has been really good over the past few weeks and can see that his leadership is great and is now playing with more confidence and aggression.
Sam Short, has slotted in really well to the team and Hayes loves how well he reads the game and his determination on the court. On Casey Marshall, he noted that he has been able to get on the court and immediately look for ways to get a few points on the board, and that has been terrific. Hayes thinks it is good to see these guys take their opportunities and make the best for themselves.
Next week, Hayes wants to win and so does his team, it is as simple as that. The team wants to give something back to the spectators and finish the home and away season with a win.
Next week see both the Rush and Miners take on Canberra from 12pm Sunday 14 August at the MARS Minerdome, for their last game of the home and away season.