The MARS® MINERDOME was officially sold out before tip-off, with 1,262 Ballarat Basketball fans (including NBL players and former Miners Shaun Bruce and Lucas Walker, and AFL player Orren Stephenson) braving the cold weather to watch the GMHBA Ballarat Miners take on their arch-rival Bendigo Braves.
Captain Liam Gibcus and Americans Roy Booker and Ken Horton got moving early for Ballarat, combining for 16 of the Miners’ 22 points in the opening term. Bendigo import Dustin Salisbery proved a handful with eight points of his own, and the Braves led 27-22 at quarter time.
Salisbery showed no signs of slowing down in the second quarter, adding another 10 points. Miners vice-captain Anthony Fisher stepped up in the second quarter, combining with Booker and Gibcus for 16, however Ballarat trailed 42-50 at half time.
Both teams’ defences tightened the screws after half time and neither team was able to make a dint in the third quarter, and the Braves took a 10-point lead into the final term, 66-56. Ballarat did not allow Salisbery a single point in the third quarter.
Bendigo’s lead stretched out to 14 points halfway through the fourth quarter, but the home side would not give up in front of their 1,262 fans. The Miners went on a 14-4 run led by Roy Booker, but with just 23 seconds left on the clock, Ballarat was forced to foul.
The Braves’ free throws would fall, and Bendigo would take an eight-point win, 81-73.
Booker led Ballarat’s scoring with 22 points, followed by Fisher’s 16 and seven rebounds. Horton finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Gibcus had 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Miners have a two week break before returning to the Minerdome to take on Frankston on Saturday April 26.
Photos from the game can be found at www.facebook.com/BallaratMiners