The GMHBA Ballarat Miners were unable to get over the line against the Dandenong Rangers last Saturday night at the MARS® MINERDOME. After what was an exciting and hard-fought first half by the Miners, the Rangers regrouped during the main break and came out with a renewed focus that helped them go on to win the contest 86-74.
The Miners maintained the lead for the majority of the first half, fuelled by exciting offensive plays such as a massive dunk by Nathan Sobey or a timely three-pointer from Ken Horton or Anthony Fisher. The Miners collectively shot an impressive 51% from the field in a first half where everyone that stepped on to the court made a positive contribution on offence, but it was also the Miners’ defence that was a key factor in their ability to stay on top of the Rangers in the first half. Forcing Dandenong into shots outside of their comfort zone, and a clutch defensive rebounding effort that ensured the Rangers did not get many second-chance points was crucial to the Miners holding on to their lead. Despite holding the Rangers to a 44% shooting percentage for the half, two free throws and a field goal by Dandenong’s Daequon Montreal, followed by an offensive put-back in the final seconds of the quarter saw the Rangers fight back to even all scores at 45 going into halftime.
The second half, however, was a different story for the Miners. The Rangers were able to jump out to a quick nine-point lead, largely due to the versatility of Dandenong’s Montreal and big man Tony Lewis. Lewis’s ability to assert his dominance in the paint, as well as occasionally lead the break to create plays for his teammates proved troublesome for the Miners. By the same token, Montreal’s efficiency from behind the arc, as well as his ability to score inside seemed to rock the Miners defence in the second half. The Miners weathered the storm, and were well and truly in the hunt for a win, only trailing by three at the end of the third quarter, 59-63.
The Rangers, unfortunately, would run away with it in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Although the Miners would only trail by three with four minutes remaining, the Rangers would go on a 12-3 run to finish out the game, defeating the Miners 86-74.
Montreal and Lewis, as predicted, were standouts for the Rangers on the night, scoring 23 points apiece (Montreal with 10 rebounds, Lewis with 13). Rangers captain Andrew Harms also provided considerable support for Montreal and Lewis, with eight points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals.
Young local Nathan Sobey led the way for the Miners, with 20 points, four steals, three assists, and a couple of emphatic dunks to keep not only his teammates, but the crowd engaged. Fisher was also solid on the night, shooting an impressive 60% from the field for 17 points, as well as grabbing seven rebounds. Horton, although quiet on offence, was able to produce another double-double for the round, with 10 rebounds and 11 points. Newcomer Dyricus Edwards, still looking to find his feet within the team and overcome the jetlag, was able to chip in 14 points to the Miners effort.
The Miners travel to Bendigo Stadium this Friday night to take on the Bendigo Braves at 8pm before returning home to the MARS® MINERDOME to take on a tough Brisbane Spartans outfit the next night from 8pm. Come in and support your Ballarat Miners as they strive for a strong regular season finish and good playing form heading into the postseason.