The GMHBA Ballarat Miners are back on track after two outstanding wins in Tasmania this weekend against the Hobart Chargers and the Northwest Tasmania Thunder.
Despite being down by as many as 18 points in the early stages of the game on Friday night, the Miners relied on their fierce competitive nature and team cohesiveness to help get them over the line against a tough Chargers offense that saw three of their starters score 20 points or more.
Hobart seemingly had the momentum heading into the halftime break, holding a 13-point advantage over the Miners and having a boisterous home crowd behind them. While the third quarter saw the Miners get within five points of the Chargers, they would head into the fourth quarter with a 15-point deficit.
With three minutes remaining in the game the Miners went on a 9-0 run, sparked by a three-pointer by Anthony Fisher that was quickly followed by two three-point baskets from Roy Booker. An offensive rebound by Sean Massey became a three-point field goal for Ken Horton, and the Miners were up by one with 21 seconds left. A Chargers turnover would force them to strategically foul Booker, who would increase the lead to three at the free throw line, and despite Chargers import Deba George getting a good look at a final three-point attempt to force overtime, it was missed, and the Miners held on for the sensational come-from-behind victory, 92-89.
Credit for the win over Hobart can be spread all across the board, as five Miners had scoring numbers in double figures. Booker led all scorers with 24 points, and Horton produced another double-double effort, going for 18 points and 14 rebounds. Anthony Fisher was outstanding for the Miners, shooting a remarkable 70% from the field (5/6 from behind the arc) to score 20 points, as well as having the difficult task of defending Hobart captain and top-scorer Tom Wright. Wright finished the game with 25 points shooting 69% from the field (11/16), while George had 21 points. Khalil Hartwell was also troublesome for the Miners, as he had 20 points, shooting 9/14 from the field.
The Miners travelled to Ulverstone to play the Northwest Tasmania Thunder for the second game of the dreaded Tassie Double. The start of this game was opposite to that of the showdown in Hobart, as the Miners were able to get out to an early 17-point lead due to a solid defensive start and strong execution of their offensive game plan. The Miners would go into the main break up by 10, and looked to have a strong chance to run away with the win.
The Thunder, however, had different plans and would fight back to even the score at 55 halfway into the third quarter, and take the lead, 69-65, going into the final quarter. They would continue their offensive assault against the Miners by the hands of Tyrone Lee and Robert Jenkins, going on a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter and put them ahead 82-65. The Miners would be forced to stop the bleeding by calling a full timeout with six minutes left to play.
A three-pointer by Miners young gun Brady Neill would ignite a previously stagnant Miners offense, which put the Thunder on their toes as the Miners would fight their way back into the game. With two minutes left, a Ken Horton field goal followed by a steal from Anthony Fisher that would lead to three-point play by Ash Constable, helped the Miners to get within five points in a matter of 30 seconds.
Coming out of a Thunder timeout, Lee would fail to convert a strong post move on Horton, which led to two-point field goal by Fisher, assisted by Booker. A turnover by the Thunder with 13 seconds remaining would allow the Miners the opportunity to take the final shot of the game. Booker was in control of the ball, and with eight seconds left and two defenders in his face, would pull up to sink a buzzer beater from deep behind the arc to get the Miners a win over a highly-regarded Northwest Tasmania team.
The Miners improve their record to 4-4 and look to be clicking on all cylinders as they head into another doubleheader weekend. New team member Nathan Sobey will debut for the Miners this weekend as they take on the Mt. Gambier Pioneers Saturday night at the MARS® MINERDOME from 8pm, followed by an away game to take on the Dandenong Rangers Sunday at 2pm.
Thank you to Thrifty Ballarat for providing all of our travel needs.