A dismal first quarter by the GMHBA Ballarat Miners was in no way indicative of the excitement that was in store for the following four terms as they took on the Geelong Supercats Saturday night at the MARS® MINERDOME. The Miners would snatch the lead by half time, fighting all the way to the end, but would eventually go down the Supercats in overtime, 95-97.
The Geelong Supercats showed up to the Minerdome ready to play from the first tip, jumping out to a 19-1 run in the first four minutes of play. A Ken Horton three-pointer with two minutes remaining in the opening term would spark some offensive consistency from the Miners, however, they would head into the first break down a considerable amount, 17-33.
The excitement picked up in the second quarter, as the Miners went on a 19 point run of their own, putting Geelong on their heels, but also completely taking away any momentum the Supercats previously held. A Horton field goal off of an assist from Anthony Fisher would give the Miners the lead with three minutes remaining into the second term, before heading into the main break up by two, 45-43.
Horton worked as the catalyst to the Ballarat offence, starting the third quarter with two successive field goals, followed by a steal that led to a Roy Booker field goal. Nevertheless, Geelong would not go down without a fight, as Geelong’s Eric Gaff asserted his dominance in the paint, and the duo of Nick Owusu and Mike Mercer caused chaos for the Ballarat defence. In spite of Geelong’s effort, the Miners would head into the fourth quarter with a six-point lead over the Supercats, 73-67.
While the fourth quarter did not see the same offensive prowess that was displayed in the prior three quarters, the defensive effort from both sides was there. Geelong was able to hold Ballarat to a 12-point fourth quarter, and also capitalize off of the early exit of Booker (Booker left the court with two minutes remaining in the fourth with an ankle injury) to tie scores up at 85, and send the game into overtime.
The first two minutes of the extra period maintained the excitement of the four previous quarters, as defence remained an emphasis and scoring did not come easy for either side. With three minutes remaining, and all scores tied at 89, a three-point field goal by Owusu, followed by a Mercer field goal, following a baseline jumpshot from Miners captain Liam Gibcus would see Geelong with a 3-point lead with 90 seconds remaining in the game. Horton making only the second of two free throw attempts on two different occasions in the final seconds of the game would keep the Miners within striking distance, but could not get them over the line. Horton was able to get a good look at a three-point field goal that could have won the game, however the shot would just rim out, and the Miners would fall to the Supercats, 95-97.
It was a collective effort from the Geelong roster in their win. All of the Geelong starters wound up scoring double figures, big man Eric Gaff leading the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds (five offensive). Mercer, before going off in the extra period with an unknown injury of his own, would finish with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
Booker was top-scorer for the Miners with 29 points and also dished the ball out for five assists before heading into the changeroom with his injury. Horton played the entire game and continued his remarkable effort on the glass, pulling in 17 rebounds and scoring 25 points. Anthony Fisher continued his sharpshooting that has been prominent throughout the season, scoring 20 points on 54% shooting, grabbing six rebounds, and also kept the Ballarat offence from going stagnant, racking up seven assists.
Although the Miners could not come out with a win, they were able to take the top team in the league down to the wire, and it is clear that they are playing some of their best team basketball of the season. Come in this Sunday to support your Miners as they return to the MARS® MINERDOME to take on the Knox Raiders from 2pm, following the Integra Ballarat Rush at 12pm.