Miners and Rush Split the Weekend

Kasey Cornwell wraps up another weekendof basketball for the Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush and GMHBA Ballarat Miners

After both the GMHBA Ballarat Miners and the Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush secured wins on the road Saturday night, they fall short at home on Sunday

The Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush went down to Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (“BACoE”) 71 – 72 in the dying seconds. Rush Co-captains Abbey Wehrung and Kristy Rinaldi notched up 20 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds and 16 points, 8 rebounds respectively. Olivia Thompson and centre Shenae Greaves assisted with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists apiece.

The girls held the lead for over 20 minutes of the game and their intensity and will to win was high. It was obvious, the team really wanted to make this a 2 and 0 weekend.

The Rush started the game strong, and finished the first quarter a shot ahead. Good shot selection and intensity on defence kept the Rush in it during the second quarter and whilst Sophie Alexander entered the main break with 3 personal fouls, the team only trailed by 3 points, 37 – 40.  The Rush quickly leveled the score with a steal and a 3 point jump shot, both courtesy of Wehrung. The Rush ended the 3rd period level with BACoE on 56 points apiece. The Rush began and maintained their lead throughout the final quarter, with the largest lead being 8 points with 3:47 to play. The side fell short in the dying seconds of the game, with BACoE taking to the free throw line and converting 2 from 2 to take the score to 71 – 72 with a second or two to go.

Head Coach Peter Cunningham’s Rush played better team basketball on Sunday and for longer periods than what they have previously managed this season, whilst managing to run their offences well and move the ball smoothly around the arc.

With some younger girls in the side now, Cunningham is happy that the scoring is well shared, with everyone getting a basket and everyone getting a shot. This can be attributed to the improvement in the offense and communication within the team.

After the girls got a win on the road against Sandringham on Saturday night they did not celebrate the win, but focused on wining against BACoE. There is a huge amount of support and enthusiasm within the team, and that was evident with the size of the bench yesterday, Cunningham noted, despite being 2 and 11.

The Rush has now raised their standard of play and Cunningham thinks this is a positive the Rush can take away from the loss and the focus is now how to maintain it.

Despite the close finish of the game, Cunningham stressed that the team should not have been in that position in the first place, due to turnovers and incomplete offenses late in the game. The Rush let BACoE back in to take the win by not taking their chances.

Despite playing a significantly taller side, the Rush won the rebound count on 37 for the game and Kasey Burton finished with a total of 7 boards. Defensively Cunningham thought the girls showed some grunt and he thinks this is attributed to the work at training and their tough mentality.

The GMHBA Ballarat Miners played a hard fought competitive game against the top of the table Mount Gambier Pioneers and at the final break lost by 18 points, 73 – 91. Anthony Fisher led the scoring count for the Miners with 22 points and 7 boards. Guard Everard Bartlett and co-captain Roy Booker both finished the game on 15 points and new addition, Gregg Thondique contributed 9 points and 10 rebounds.

Playing against Mount Gambier, who have won 9 games in a row, Head Coach Eric Hayes was impressed with his side’s play in the first half, but conceded they got run over early in the third. The intensity from the Miners was impressive, but Hayes thought that Mount Gambier was able to maintain their intensity for longer than the Miners. While the entire team’s intensity was up in the first half, special mention to co-captain Kris Blicavs, with his daring leaps on the loose ball and his drive to the basket, his passion to win was second to none.

After the main break Mount Gambier really came out to play, and notched up a 9-point lead within 3 minutes. Hayes said his team just wasn’t able to stop their run. The Pioneers ability to spread the load on the offensive end of the floor added an extra dimension which made it all the more difficult to stop them scoring. Ballarat battled through the third period to enter the fourth 12 points down.

The Miners were more competitive during the fourth and worked hard at reducing Mount Gambier’s lead, and were only outscored by 7 during this term. The team played cohesively together and with true determination but unfortunately went down to the league powerhouse by 18 points.

Defensive pressure really notched up a level in the second half, especially in the last quarter when the Miners were down by 10. Centres Liam Gibcus and Chris Smith contributed defensively with 7 boards each. Hayes reminded the team to understand the guy you’re defending, weigh his strengths and weaknesses then play to his weaknesses. The Miners were able to do this effectively last night, but Hayes thinks with a few errors by his side today, Mount Gambier were able to exploit their mistakes.

Hayes was full of praise for the Mount Gambier, “they stick to their guns and they just keep fighting”, they are a quality, experienced team. Talking about the Saturday night win over Sandringham Hayes was happy with the team that came out to play, a better brand of basketball. The team competed and nullified some of the things the other side does well and able to stick to the game plan, and that is what the win comes down to. Hayes and the team implemented this against Mount Gambier, but were unable to maintain this for the four quarters.

Gregg Thondique’s inclusion into the side is the final piece to the puzzle, and Hayes is rapt with how well he has fit into the team, he is a real competitor and plays the Miners brand of basketball excellently.

The GMHBA Ballarat Miners and the Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush take on Brisbane at home next weekend, from 6:00pm Saturday June 27 2015 at the Mars Minerdome.