The GMHBA Ballarat Miners, in what was easily their most exciting game of the season to date, were able to get over the line last Saturday night against the Albury-Wodonga Bandits, beating them in overtime, 101-98.
The Miners jumped off to a quick start, with Roy Booker hitting two three-pointers within the first 90 seconds of the game, followed by a three-pointer by Ash Constable off of an Albury-Wodonga turnover. Halfway through the quarter, the Miners would lead 22-5. The Bandits would fight to get within nine points at the end of the quarter, but the Miners looked very much in control, and held the momentum.
The second quarter would see the Miners enjoy as much as a 15-point lead, with Booker and Ken Horton leading the offensive charge. However, Jamar Briscoe would keep the Bandits alive, ending the first half with an impressive 19 points. The Miners would lose their comfortable lead, but would still go into halftime ahead, 40-35.
Horton and Booker stole the show in the second half, with the two of them combining for 19 of the 24 points scored in the third quarter. Anthony Fisher was also key; with his ability to organize the offense, score when necessary, and get the ball to Booker and Horton in the right spots, he would help the Miners go into the final quarter with a 10-point lead, 72-62.
With Briscoe going through a scoring drought, it was hard for the Bandits find an offensive rhythm, and the Miners capitalized on that, getting up by as much as 17 points in the final quarter. However, Albury was relentless, and Bandits forward Alex Opacic would lead the charge to get scores even at 81 with 25 seconds remaining in regulation. The crowd would erupt into a triumphant roar following a gutsy three-pointer by Booker with only six seconds remaining, only to be silenced by an Opacic three-pointer that would tie the game up at 84, and send it into overtime.
With the extra period underway, Horton and Booker would prove why they are clear candidates for this week’s league Player of the Week honours. The scoring efforts were shared between the two every possession, before coming together for a massive alley-oop dunk that brought the house down and took away any momentum for Albury-Wodonga.
With Albury’s Jack Duck missing the front end of two free throws that would have tied the game, a strategic foul had to be committed on Booker with five seconds remaining. With a cool head, Booker knocked them both down, and the Miners would go on to win, 101-98.
Booker and Horton played the entire 45 minutes of the game and shared MVP honours for the Miners; Horton with 30 points on 63% shooting (12-19) and a remarkable 17 rebounds, five assists to add, and Booker with 41 points on 48% shooting (15-31) and also five assists.
Briscoe and Opacic were best on court for the Bandits. Briscoe finished the game with 32 points; Opacic with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Mohamed Ntumba proved his dominance in the paint, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Also noteworthy was the Minerdome crowd, which was instrumental in providing motivation for the Miners all night. Despite ups and downs, the crowd remained strong, cheered loud for the entirety of the game, and was a pivotal factor in gaining an edge over the Bandits.
The Miners are away in Tasmania this weekend as they have a doubleheader against the Hobart Chargers and the Northwest Tasmania Thunder. They will return to action Saturday, 17 May as they take on the Mt. Gambier Pioneers from 8pm at the MARS® MINERDOME.