A win for the Integra Ballarat Rush was imperative to stay in the race for finals as they took on the talented and experienced Sandringham Sabres Sunday at the MARS® MINERDOME. With Steph Cumming leading the charge of a determined Rush outfit, they were able to gut out a hard-fought victory, beating the Sabres, 71-62.
It was a slow start for the Rush, as the Sabres were able to jump out to a quick 10-2 lead. With the Rush on their heels, they would have to fight hard to only trail by one point going into the first break, and eventually would take the lead halfway through the second quarter. A three-pointer at the buzzer by Sandringham’s Micaela Cocks would see all scores tied at 38 going into the main break, which poised the crowd for what would be an exciting second half.
The Sabres would get two quick scores to start the second half, once again putting the Rush on the defensive to start. A lay-up by Nya Mason, followed by a Sandringham turnover, and a subsequent field goal by Abbey Wehrung would ignite the Rush offence, getting the lead up to 11 as they went into the final quarter. The Rush also showed a tremendous focus towards defence, only allowing for 11 Sabres’ points in the third period.
Although the Sabres would go on a slight run to try and take hold of the game, the Rush remained poised on offence and tough on defence to never lose hold of the game. Clutch free-throw shooting in the final stages of the game by Cumming, Wehrung and captain Kristy Rinaldi would help the Rush see victory, winning the game by nine, and getting them one step closer to securing a place in finals.
Hope Walker was best on court for Sandringham, shooting 11-17 from the field for 24 points, and grabbing nine rebounds. Georgia Stott was also a force on the boards, grabbing 18 total (seven offensive), which kept the Sandringham offence alive, and also caused a lot of problems for the Rush defence.
The combined effort on both ends of the court was what helped the Rush to get over the line, as four players were able to score in double figures. Cumming was top-scorer with 19 points, while Rinaldi pitched in for 13, Wehrung for 12, and Mason for 10. Cumming and Rinaldi also grabbed seven rebounds apiece, while Wehrung and Mason pulled in eight rebounds each. Key contributions from local players Sophie Alexander, Bronte Clark, Kasey Burton and Ash Stonehouse also played a vital role in the Rush victory, as they were all able to come in and score and make a defensive contribution that was of benefit to the final outcome.
Although Sunday was a big win for the Rush, they have not lost sight of their goal to make finals and will use this coming week to prepare for their next opponent. They return to the MARS® MINERDOME this Saturday where they will take on the Geelong Lady Supercats from 6pm, followed the GMHBA Ballarat Miners, who will take on the Geelong Supercats from 8pm.