The Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush put their first win on the board with a 3 point victory over the Canberra Capitals Academy 70 – 73. The GMHBA Ballarat Miners also managed to continue their consistent season with an 8 point win over the Canberra Gunners 91 – 83.
By Kasey Cornwell
An aggressive Rush side broke their drought in front of a packed MARS MINERDOME last night with co-captain and game MVP Abbey Wehrung impressing with 17 points and 3 steals against many of her WNBL teammates. Shenae Graves and Jess May contributed 16 points apiece, with co-captain Kristy Rinaldi dynamic in the second half with 10 points and 3 steals.
In a physically heated clash between the two sides and with 9 points being the largest lead to the Rush, the team managed to ward off a desperate Canberra side. With 19 seconds to go in the final term the scores were 69 apiece, when Shenae Greaves was sent to the line where she sunk 2 from 2 free throws. The Rush forced a turnover with 10 seconds to go and were able to seal the game with 2 made free throws from Sophie Alexander. It is with full credit to the Rush they managed to remain focused and walk away with the win.
Rush coach Peter Cunningham was so pleased for the team to finally get the win on the board after all of their hard work throughout the beginning of the season. For a majority of the game Cunningham was impressed with the leadership shown on the court and the way the team played together. Cunningham and the team really noted the strong support from the bench and of the crowd.
Offensively Cunningham planned this past week to run a small number of plays as opposed to over complicating things. This resulted in the plays running smoothly and the team being focused on executing the offences well. The movement of the ball was excellent and allowed players like Jess May and Shenae Greaves into the highest scorers. Cunningham made special mention of Olivia Thompson’s selfless game, as she worked tirelessly to keep her direct opponent Stephanie Talbot away from the ball. Defensively the team has been working on their presses and improving their man-to-man defense, which was evident in Saturday night’s game.
Co-captain Abbey Wehrung is focused on doing what she can for the team and making sure the girls are together when it gets tough and she was impressed that this worked out for the end result today. Wehrung was thrilled to get the first win on the board and was so proud of the girls, especially how they were down by 10 and found a way to win. She and the team adjusted from last week’s game to focus on hitting the points in the paint and she put this down to one of the reasons they got the win, which Abbey thinks is something to be proud of.
An intense GMHBA Ballarat Miners took their fourth win for the season over Canberra Gunners on Saturday night. Co-captain and game MVP Roy Booker finished the game with an impressive 35 points and 4 assists, and was aptly assisted by Kodi Augustus on 15 points, 2 assists and 11 boards. Anthony Fisher and Everard Bartlett also notable with a team style of play contributing 6 points, 6 assists and 9 assists, 7 boards respectively. The Miners 3 point shooting was the main difference in the game, finishing on 43.8% from beyond the arc.
The Miners took the lead early and built up an 11 point margin at half time off the back of 16 points from guard Roy Booker. Kodi Augustus, Everard Bartlett and Kris Blicavs were also vital players with solid overall performances. The Gunners came back hard cutting the lead to 5 points late in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for the home side, star guard Booker hit a deep 3 pointer to seal the win for Ballarat.
The team worked well together for most of the game according to Coach Eric Hayes, they played hard, the defense was solid and the guys made great choices to find the opening to hit the shots.
The team showed their intense, aggressive style of play as perhaps mirrored by the Coach who was much the same court side. Eric felt he needed to show a bit more intensity in his contribution to the game in order to get the guys to right level of physicality in their game, “I coached with a bit more intensity and aggression, I want them to mirror what I am doing”
Liam Gibcus was pivotal in the win finishing the game on 13 points and 5 boards and managing to keep Ben Allen to 6 points and 5 boards. Gibcus mentioned he had played on Allen before and knew he was a hard style of player to guard, but he worked hard and was glad he was able to stop him from scoring inside the paint. Liam knew that this was his main target coming into the game, to try and eliminate him from the game. Coach Hayes confirmed this and noted that with Chris Smith’s assistance they were able to limit Allen’s opportunities and helped the team a lot.
Gibcus felt the work at training has paid off; the team has worked hard on pushing the ball and running hard. The Miners were able to force a high intensity and eventually run Canberra out of legs and Liam is happy he is finding his place within a team that plays with such a high tempo. He is happy getting good positions in the paint, receiving the pass and contributing on the scoreboard.