With finals a near certainty for the GMHBA Ballarat Miners, this weekend is important, not only for maintaining their position on the ladder, but also for their sense of pride. The Miners travel to Sandringham for their second meeting against the Sandringham Sabres, and after suffering a Round 11 loss at home to the Sabres, the Miners are certainly ready and willing to repay the favour.
In their first meeting, the Sabres shot an impressive 60% for the first half of the match to jump out to an 11-point lead over the Miners heading into the main break. The Sabres were also the aggressors on defence as well, making it difficult for the Miners to find an offensive rhythm, forcing them into a low 30% shooting percentage for the half.
With the Miners able to claw their way back after the main break, they would head into the final quarter with a two-point lead over the Sabres. The third quarter saw the proficient shooting of the Sabres drop off immensely, thanks to a tough Miners defence, however, their scoring drought would not last long. The Sabres would go on to shoot 70% and get to the free throw line 12 times in the fourth quarter alone, which would eventually get them over the line against a foul-ridden Miners team.
While it was only Junior Hairston’s second game with the Sabres, he was able to have a huge impact. With 25 points and 17 rebounds, it was hard for the Miners to find an answer for his explosiveness and athleticism. Equally as dangerous was the work of big man Rayshawn Goins and veteran guard Nathan Crosswell, who both pitched in for 20 points apiece, Goins with seven rebounds and Crosswell with nine assists.
Nathan Sobey was clearly able to hold his own in the match, with 21 points on 56% shooting, while Ken Horton picked up a double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds. Anthony Fisher was also a solid contributor, with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds. In spite of those numbers, the absence of Roy Booker may hurt the Miners in this weekend’s contest, as he was able to record an amazing 27 points and 10 assists against the Sabres. However, with improved numbers from all across the roster since Booker’s injury, the Miners definitely have what it takes to exact their revenge on this tough Sabres outfit.
Coming off of tough losses (Sandringham by 16 to Nunawading, Ballarat by 14 to Northwest Tasmania) it will be a fight by both teams to get back onto the winning side of things. Expect a hard-fought battle in the post between posts Goins and captain Liam Gibcus, exciting displays of athleticism and finesse at the forward spot between Hairston and Horton, as well as a thrilling match-up between Sandringham guard Crosswell and Ballarat’s Sobey and Fisher. Follow the action live from 7:30pm at seabl.com.au/livestats.