New Look Miners Win a Thursday Night Thriller

By Kasey Cornwell

The Miners cinched their first win for the 2017 season, 99 – 94, over Frankston at home on Thursday.

MVP Craig Moller was dominant with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. Our Captain Pete Hooley impressed with 23 points and 8 assists, supported by Davon Usher with 21 points.

Frankston’s Taylor Dyson top scored for the visitors with 29 points and Nathan Buss took 13 rebounds and finished with 20 points.

The new look Miners side looked happy to be back on their home court Thursday night, and with a loud supporter base behind them, rallied to take the win, in a close encounter with the Blues.

Frankston opened the scoring for the game, with Ballarat having a string of missed scoring opportunities in the opening minutes. Half way through the term, they trailed by 9 points but Pete Hooley’s leadership enables his side to fight back with great teamwork, getting everyone involved in the offense. The Miners ended the term 4 points ahead, 31 – 27. Miners forward, Craig Moller had a blistering start with 11 points and 7 rebounds in the opening period.

The scores remained tight to open the second quarter. Despite the Ballarat Miners looking dominant, it did not translate to the scoreboard. At the main break the Miners lead, 54 – 53, making the most of their opportunities at the line, converting 10 of 14 times from the charity stripe.

In the third term Marvin King-Davis made the first 4 scores, by utilising his body really well on the low block. Frankston Guard Taylor Dyson was able to hit a big 3 in the middle of the term, to swing the momentum back to Frankston. This allowed the Blues to build a handy lead, before Craig Moller at the line, narrowed Frankston’s lead to 2, with the Miners ending the term down 4, 73 – 77.

At the last break, Ballarat’s assists totalled 17, and were shooting the ball at 48%, they were playing for each other.

The Miners’ intensity lifted even further in the fourth, with a large home crowd really getting around them. Cam McCallum’s defensive pressure was evident, causing a number of vital Frankston turnovers deep in the final term. Peter Hooley stepped up once again, to take the lead, 84 – 83, with just over 4 minutes to go. The crowd went wild for Moller’s ferociousness under the basket, and despite loosing the offensive rebound, took the ball straight back from the Blues, and made the shot to level the scores.

The determination in the Miners camp to come away with the win, was evident and the communication on court was excellent. With a few minutes to play, Davon Usher took the lead, with a 3 point jump shot and the Miners opened a 3 point gap, 90 – 87. Ash Constable, who didn’t have his best night shooting the basketball, hit a vital jump shot with 29 seconds on the clock, sealing the game.

At the final siren, the Miners took the win over the Blues, 99 – 94.

Having a vast number of players able to contribute offensively, Eric Hayes was really happy that “everyone made a nice contribution” and that teammates found each other and distributed the scoring options well.

Craig Moller was phenomenal, winning the MVP award on the night, and he noted at the post game function that it was his teammates, that allowed him to play so naturally and freely. He spoke of the crowd atmosphere, which got him and the team over the line and will carry that confidence into the Kilsyth game.

Moller feels like the team he is apart of, is a really special group and the 2017 season will bring great things for the Miners.

Captain, Pete Hooley was an outstanding on court leader on Thursday night. Eric Hayes knows he can trust in Pete to gather the team together, and make sure everyone is on the same page, because when that occurs his side is so much better. Eric also noted that Ash Constable, does a great job of making sure the team is cohesive, and working together. Eric had high praise for his leadership group, which also included Davon Usher and Craig Moller and thought their on court communication translated to great basketball to watch.

Defensively, the Miners still have improvements that need to be made, but did show a bit more fight in the second half. Eric thought the physicality in the second half from Ballarat made it a bit tougher for Frankston to run their offenses. He praised Cam McCallum’s physicality and thought his presence on the court changed the landscape of the match and made scoring tougher for the Blues.

The Miners gave up 23 offensive boards, and whilst Coach Hayes was not impressed having a stat like this, he noted positively, there is room for improvement. He talked about needing to box out at the oppositions offensive end, and even mentioned this at halftime. Hayes was frustrated that at that stage the team had given away 11, only to make the situation worse in the second half.

Ballarat committed a small 7 turnovers for the game, and following on from 16 against Geelong, was a great improvement. Hayes was pleased with this, and noted that they took care of the ball and were able to create more opportunities to score.

Thursday night saw the Miners look for each other during offenses, and the team really played hard for one another. When the going got tough they looked for the right option, instead of taking it upon themselves. Eric thought his side “used the process to find the right person to get a scoring opportunity and it worked really well”.

The Ballarat Miners have a short rest, and take on Kilsyth away on Saturday night.