The Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush took control of the Albury Wodonga Lady Bandits at home on Saturday night with a 14 point win, 72 – 58.
Rush started strong, ending the first period with 23 points and a 10 point lead over the Bandits. Co-captain Kristy Rinaldi was excellent with 10 points to her name and 100% from the field, aptly supported by her co-captain Abbey Wehrung with 7 points in the first term. Albury Wodonga were heavily reliant upon Kristina Baltic whom scored 11 of their 13 points.
Entering the second quarter, the Rush lead was cut to 9 points and the Lady Bandits were effective in slowing Ballarat down, and the Rush entered the main break with a 3 point lead.
Within the third quarter, the Rush side utilized all players and shared the scoring around and continued this into the fourth. Molly Matthews really stepped it up and her intensity and shooting was phenomenal. Ballarat stretched the lead and ended the final period with a 14 point win.
Kasey Burton ended the game with 14 points and 7 boards, Abbey Wehrung 18 points and 9 rebounds. Special mention to the much improved Molly Matthews on 11 points and 4 boards.
Peter Cunningham loved the way the girls came out with intensity and played well as a team. He felt the team struggled a bit when Albury Wodonga slowed the tempo down and stressed the importance of the girls hitting their outside shots when the pace is slower. The young Rush side really impressed their Head Coach Saturday night, a great contribution by everyone
When Albury Wodonga made their run back into the game, it was the Rush turnovers and drop in shooting percentage that hurt the team, Cunningham noted that while during that period the team did not score well, their ball movement was okay but it was their foul shooting, that kept them in front of the Lady Bandits.
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners put a dent in their playoffs campaign with a tough 8 point defeat to the Albury Wodonga Bandits 88 – 96.
MVP Greg Thondique finished the game with a double double, 25 points and 10 rebounds, and co-captain Roy Booker made 26 points and 7 assists.
While the first period ended with the Miners trailing by 10, they were relentless and entering the second quarter the team improved their defensive effort and players such as Anthony Fisher and Kris Blicavs impressed for the team.
The Miners managed to contain the Bandits’ scoring for the first four minutes of the second period only letting the lead increase to 12. With 6:50 remaining in the term the Bandits’ import Devon George made a 3 point shot which sparked a 8 – 0 run by the visitors.
At the main break Albury Wodonga lead by 19 points, and coincidently had 19 points from Ballarat’s turnovers. It was a hard fought 3rd quarter and the Miners entered the 4th period fired up. Anthony Fisher forced Albury Wodonga to 5 team fouls and subsequently tightened the scores to 84 – 88, with a 1:45 remaining.
The fourth period was played tight and the Miners forced turnovers late in the game, but unfortunately fell short at the end.
Head Coach Eric Hayes, was positive on the teams effort, he does not usually walk away from a loss feeling positive but noted that the Miners put in a consistent effort and their communication and defence was much improved.
Offensively the Coach was pretty happy with their shot selection, and thought the scoring was not bad, especially having 41 points at the main break. The team went into the game knowing that Albury Wodonga were going to be consistent in their efforts for the full 40 minutes and the Miners needed to match that and lift. Hayes was happy that the side was able to match it in the 2nd period.
After Saturday nights game, Hayes thought his side has made some strides forward. The Miners did some really great things on their defence, and Hayes is content with their boards in the second half, out rebounding a strong Bandits side.
While playoffs are not out the question, it is certainly difficult to get there, said Coach Hayes and it is imperative that the Miners get up and win their next game against Frankston on Sunday 26 July.
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners return the MARS MINERDOME next Saturday taking on Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence from 8pm. the Harvey Norman Ballarat have the home game off but will return for our final home game against Nunawading on Saturday August 8.