THRIFTY ROAD GAME REVIEW
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners’ season and finals hopes have come to an end after falling to the Dandenong Rangers in an intense elimination final, 85-92.
It was a spirited affair in which Ballarat banded together despite below-average shooting performances only to bow out in the dying seconds.
The Miners introduced themselves to the Dandenong home crowd with captain Liam Gibcus throwing an alley-oop to star import Ken Horton for the first score of the game.
Ballarat would make seven of their first 10 field goal attempts to hold a three-point lead midway through the first term – Dyricus Edwards asserted himself with eight points – but the team made just two of their next 13 attempts to trail by six at quarter time.
Ranger Daequon Montreal had 13 points in the first quarter, and Ballarat knew they would need to focus.
Gibcus and Anthony Fisher were effective in the second quarter; Gibcus connecting with all three of his shot attempts and Fisher making three of five, but the rest of the team would convert just two of 15 attempts.
Ballarat’s defence had tightened on Montreal who was held to just two shot attempts, only one of which was made. This one make, however, was a three-pointer on the half time buzzer to put Dandenong up by six at half time, 49-43.
The Miners fought hard in the third quarter to snatch the lead again. Ken Horton scored eight in the quarter and Nathan Sobey connected with two three-pointers. Scores were tied with just a few seconds left when Tony Lewis hit a buzzer-beater sending Dandenong into the last break with a two-point lead.
The game went back and forth in the last quarter and Ballarat trailed by two points with two minutes remaining. Lewis, who had struggled with his jump shot until his third quarter buzzer-beater, was allowed a three-point attempt which he nailed, setting off alarm bells for the Miners.
Scores remained deadlocked for the next minute and 14 seconds, and Ballarat were forced to start fouling the Rangers to gain possession. The Miners fought desperately in the closing seconds, with three long-range attempts rattling out, but time would run out for Ballarat.
Horton was superb for the Miners with 27 points and 12 rebounds, Fisher scored 20 points with eight rebounds, Gibcus had 15 points at 78% and seven rebounds, and Edwards scored 14.
Dandenong were led by a monstrous 39 points by Daequon Montreal, and 24 points and 21 rebounds by Tony Lewis.
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