A heated battle ensued as the GMHBA Ballarat Miners took on the Northwest Tasmania Thunder Sunday afternoon at the MARS® MINERDOME. Despite taking a loss the night before to the Dandenong Rangers, the Thunder showed no signs of fatigue as they challenged the Miners to a physical and fast-paced contest in which the Thunder came out on top, 102-84.
An exciting opening quarter that saw three Ken Horton blocks, a massive block by Nathan Sobey, and an Anthony Fisher dunk set the scene for a thrilling match between the two sides, both fighting for a solid position in the upcoming SEABL finals. Even with a solid defensive effort by the Miners, the Thunder crashed the boards hard at the offensive end to come out of the first term with a three-point lead over the Miners, 20-17.
The Thunder would hold onto their lead for the second quarter as well, largely due to the Thunder role players taking advantage of the majority of the Miners’ defensive attention going towards imports Robert Jenkins and Tyrone Lee. Nathan Wilson, Mason Bragg, and Joe Chilcott doing the majority of the scoring for the Thunder in the second quarter was troublesome for the Miners defence, putting them at an eight-point deficit heading into the main break, 37-45.
In addition to the usual heroics of Horton, Sobey and Fisher seeming to find their stride against the overly-aggressive Thunder allowed the Miners to gear up for a third quarter comeback, however, a technical foul by Sobey which led to two free throws and a subsequent score from Jenkins put the Miners at a 19-point disadvantage with four minutes remaining in the quarter. The Thunder took advantage of having the momentum on their side, and by quarter time stretched the lead out to 25 points, 82-57.
With Sobey receiving a second technical as result of a controversial flopping violation, he was out early in the fourth quarter, leaving the Miners without an important weapon as they looked to lessen the scoring margin. Horton did his best to bring the Miners within striking distance, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter alone, but the Thunder proved to be too strong and would go on to beat the Miners, 102-84.
A quiet first half didn’t seem to worry imports Jenkins and Lee, as Jenkins ended up with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Lee with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Wilson played the entire game to rack up a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Ken Horton continued his weekly MVP standard of performance, with 37 points on 50% shooting and a game-high of 17 rebounds. Fisher was solid with 14 points, seven assists, and Dyricus Edwards finished with 16 points for the match.
The Miners travel to Sandringham this Saturday to take on the Sabres and improve their standing on the ladder and thus their spot in finals. Tip-off is from 8pm and the action can be followed live at seabl.com.au/livestats.