With Roy Booker out for the remainder of the season, and his replacement, Dyricus Edwards, only able to get one training session under his belt before heading into a tough doubleheader, the odds were stacked heavily against the GMHBA Ballarat Miners to have a successful weekend. However, after falling to the Nunawading Spectres Saturday night at Nunawading Stadium, 82-104, the Miners displayed their trademark no-quit attitude the following afternoon when they returned to the MARS® MINERDOME to easily handle the Knox Raiders in a convincing 107-67 win.
The Miners were the aggressors to start the game at Nunawading; Edwards drawing a foul on Spectres star Mitch Creek and sinking two free throws in the first 15 seconds of the contest, while Anthony Fisher, Ken Horton, and Nathan Sobey played well off of each other to produce an effective and hard-to-contain offence. The Miners defence was stifling as well, as the opening quarter saw four steals alone that looked to rattle the Nunawading offence. The Spectres, though, wouldn’t go away easily, and in what was a pretty even quarter for both teams, would have a two-point lead heading into the first break, 27-25.
While the Miners would continue to shoot the ball remarkably well in the second term, the Spectres effort on the boards would allow them more opportunities to score, making up for the discrepancy in field goal percentage. Edwards and Sobey would work hard keep the offence alive only to have their labours equally matched by Matt O’Hea and Spectres captain Shane McDonald. Despite Sobey having an outstanding 20-point scoring half, the Miners would head into the main break trailing by two, 50-52.
The third quarter would be similar to the previous two quarters: Edwards and Sobey continuing to work hard to keep the offence afloat, and the team as a whole exhibiting a strong defensive stand in hopes of containing the Nunawading starters. The Spectres shot the ball marginally better than the Miners coming out of the main break, helping themselves to a five-point lead heading into the final term, 75-70.
Judging by the nature of the three quarters prior, the crowd at Nunawading Stadium would be under the impression that the fourth quarter would be the most exciting of the game. Unfortunately, for the Miners, that would not be the case. The Spectres’ added determination on defence would unnerve the Miners offence, and hold them to only nine points for the quarter on 22% field goal shooting. Conversely, the Spectres would shoot a remarkable 66% in the fourth quarter, allowing them to run away with the game in its final minutes. Albeit an admirable effort from Ballarat, they would go down in Nunwading, 82-104.
With all five of their starters in double figures, it is no wonder the Spectres were able to get over the line against the Miners Saturday night. O’Hea impressed in his 300th career SEABL game, playing just over 20 minutes to produce a 20-point effort and be top-scorer for the team. Tommy Greer with 18 points and nine rebounds, and McDonald with 16 points and nine assists (shooting an impressive 80% from behind the arc) were unstoppable from the perimeter, while Conn made things difficult for the Miners inside the paint with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Sobey was outstanding in the first half, with 20 points going into the main break, however was relatively quiet from the scoring side of things in the second half, finishing with a total of 25 points for the game. Edwards, in his SEABL debut, shot 50% from the field for 23 points, as well as getting three steals, three assists, and three rebounds. Horton was able to obtain another double-double on the night, but was unable to find a rhythm offensively, going for an unusually quiet 11 points, but still delivering a strong game by bringing in 14 boards.
The next day, in the contest against the Knox Raiders, it was a completely different story. In a game where the Miners maintained a consistent shooting percentage of over 50% for the entire game, they were able to easily steamroll over the Raiders, a victory that was apparent within the opening minutes of the game.
With Horton scoring six points in the first 90 seconds of the game, followed by an Edwards three-pointer and subsequent steal that led to a Sobey dunk, it was clear from early on that the Raiders stood no chance. Playing without their imports, Delwan Graham and Jeffrey Jones due to a club mishap, Knox was only able to score nine points in the opening term, the Miners holding them to a 25% field goal percentage.
The game would continue in that form all the way to the end. With the Miners leading the Raiders in every statistical category (excluding turnovers), and the Raiders failing to put together a solid scoring quarter, the Miners would run away with it, providing sparks throughout with a massive dunk from Sobey or an authoritative block from Horton to keep the crowd entertained. They would eventually win by a grand total of 40, 107-67.
Horton put forth an extraordinary effort after his modest showing the night before at Nunawading. With 40 points (shooting 52% from the field), a season-high of 20 rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and three steals, Horton has definitely solidified himself as a Player of the Week candidate, if not shoo-in, for the round. Sobey gave another solid effort on both ends of the court, shooting an incredible 80% from the field to rack up 21 points, and also delivering on defence, with three steals to add to his stat line.
The Miners will look to build off of this commandeering win and also continue to support Edwards as he finds his niche within the team. They are back in the MARS® MINERDOME this Saturday from 8pm as they take on the Dandenong Rangers, following the Integra Ballarat Rush, who take on the Dandenong Lady Rangers from 6pm.