The GMHBA Ballarat Miners have extended their winning streak to five after another outrageously successful doubleheader weekend, beating the previously undefeated Mount Gambier Pioneers and the reigning champion Dandenong Rangers.
On Saturday night at the MARS® MINERDOME, the first quarter would see a rapid exchange of baskets between the Pioneers and the Miners, and although the Miners were able to get a six-point lead at quarter time, the game looked like it would be one to go down to the wire. However, the second quarter would see the Miners go on a scoring rampage, mostly due to the lights-out shooting of Roy Booker, to outscore the Pioneers 28-12. Ballarat would gain a 17-point lead heading into the final quarter and never looked back as they went on to hand Mount Gambier their first loss of the season, 97-80.
Booker was sensational for the Miners, only missing three shots the entire night to score 40 points (14/17 from the field and 9/12 from outside), while also getting his teammates involved and handing out 11 assists. Ken Horton had his career high in rebounds at 19 and continued his weekly double-double effort, scoring 12 points. Anthony Fisher continued his steady gameplay, effectively controlling the pace of the game, while adding in 12 points of his own. Nathan Sobey was solid in his debut for the Miners, playing just under 20 minutes and scoring 13 points including a couple of athletic dunks and grabbing two rebounds.
The Pioneers had four of their starters in double digits, Tom Daly leading the charge with 24 points and five rebounds. Versatile big man Ben Allen gave the Miners trouble early on with his ability to score inside the paint and also from the perimeter. Allen put in for 19 points while also grabbing eight rebounds. Guard Damian Johnson was also efficient for the Pioneers, shooting 64% from the field to score 16 points.
The Miners had a quick turnaround as they travelled to Dandenong to take on the Rangers, who were on a four-game winning streak of their own. Led by last year’s Finals MVP Daequon Montreal, Dandenong looked to be a daunting task for the Miners.
Horton was on fire to start the game, scoring 18 first half points without missing a single shot to help the Miners to a 21-point lead coming into the main break. Halfway through the third quarter and with the Miners still maintaining their comfortable lead, the Rangers started their comeback campaign, getting within seven heading into the final quarter. The defending champions were able to come within two points in the fourth quarter, but the Miners weathered the storm, hanging on to complete the doubleheader weekend with another win, 91-81.
Horton’s effort on the day was extraordinary. Only missing two shots, Horton scored 34 points, shooting an outstanding 8/9 from behind the arc. Booker continued his remarkable play, scoring 18 points and distributing the ball well for 14 assists. Captain Liam Gibcus, despite early foul trouble, was solid as well, grabbing 10 boards and sinking three clutch free throws at the end to secure a double-digit lead for the Miners.
Montreal and center Tony Lewis were best on court for the Rangers. Montreal played the entire game, scoring 28 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Lewis was a dominant force in the paint, getting a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds (8 offensive).
The Miners are away from home for the rest of the month, and will return to action at the MARS® MINERDOME Sunday, 15 of June when they take on the Sandringham Sabres.