By Kasey Cornwell 

The Ballarat Rush were defeated narrowly by Frankston on Saturday night at home, 75 – 76.  Local favourite Abby Wehrung top scored on 24 points, with Ashleigh Spencer contributing a handy 15 points and 7 boards and star Kerryn Harrington on 14 points and 4 assists.

It was an explosive start, with each side going basket for basket. The Rush shared the load offensively in the first term, and shot the ball at a handy 56%, as compared to Frankston’s 33%. The first term ended with Rush narrowly in front, 20 – 19.

The second quarter saw Abby Wehrung find plenty of easy ways to the hoop. The Rush out rebounded Frankston quite easily in this term, 22 boards to 13. The physicality of the game was evident, with both sides reaching 5 fouls with 2 minutes of the term left.  At the end of the first half, the stats showed an even spread from the Rush, with 7 players contributing offensively and defensively. Ballarat held a handy 8-point lead at the main break, 43 – 35.

Despite entering in the third with an 8 point lead, Frankston quickly clawed back to 49 – 47 4 minutes into the quarter. Head Coach Dave Flint called a timeout, and addressed the team’s intensity. Kristy Rinaldi quickly responded with a 3-point jump shot, to push the lead out to 5. Frankston took the lead at the 4:22 mark, courtesy of Kayla Standish. The remainder of the period was frantic, with the lead changing hands a number of times in the last 4 minutes. At this pivotal moment in the game Abby Wehrung’s shots and leadership on the court were phenomenal. At the final break the Rush chased a one-point deficit, 60 – 61.

The last quarter showed Ballarat’s unity, with all players communicating well on the court, and from the bench, and with 4 minutes to go the Rush had pushed their lead to 5, 74 – 69.  Joy Burke’s pressure under the basket was outstanding and players Kerryn Harrington and Kristy Rinaldi really stepped up in the dying moments of the game. With 44 seconds to go and the scores all tied on 74, Dave Flint called an important time-out. With 34 seconds to go, an unfortunate turnover in the key allowed Kayla Standish to gain possession and combine with Kelly Bowen to hit a 2 point jump shot and Frankstson took the lead, 74 – 76. Rush called a further timeout at this point, with 11 seconds on the clock, the team restructured, and left tall Joy Burke on the bench which looked like Ballarat would be looking the for the 3 point shot to take the win. Kerryn Harrington was fouled taking a shot on the three-point line, and lined up for 3 free throws, with only 6 seconds left on the clock.   Kerryn made 1 from 3, and with time quickly slipping away Frankston devastatingly took the win, 75 – 76.

Despite the narrow loss Coach Dave Flint is happy with where his side is at this stage in the competition, he thinks the last few weeks the Rush have shown that they can match it with the best teams in the competition. Flint thinks that Frankston can be a top 4 team, and has 2 of the best ball movement players in the league and is impressed that Ballarat can show that they can play with them.

A lapse in concentration combined with Frankston’s defence is what Flint attributes to Ballarat’s shooting. He thinks the drop in shooting percentage was due to what Frankston was implementing on their defence, by trapping Rush off their zone and in conjunction he thought his side did not take great care of the ball in the last half.

Flint thought that Ballarat’s offences were compromised due to the tight nature of the game in the last quarter, generally he didn’t think that the side did a good job of running their sets, mainly because Joy Burke only had 5 shots and he wants his side to utilise her ability and ensure she gets a minimum of 8 – 10 shots a game, this hurt his side offensively. However Flint noted that his side played a great game from the 3 point arc, shooting 10 3-pointers for the game, but would like to see the Rush get the ball into the post more often.

Coach Flint was happy with how his side managed Frankston’s key players and how they kept Kayla Standish quiet in the first half. However, based on what Frankston had at the main break, Flint did not think his side should have given up 76 points in the end.

Dave Flint knows he and his side can win these games, and is hopeful heading into the next round.

The Ballarat Rush seek to get another home win on the board. Come and support the Rush on Saturday May 21 at 6pm against Nunawading at the MARS Minerdome.