By Kasey Cornwell 

The Ballarat Miners had a strong home win over Nunawading, 96 – 88.  MVP Earnest Ross tallied 28 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, with crowd favourite Roy Booker notching 24 points and Ollie Bailey with 17 points 6 rebounds.

From the first quarter the Miners were executing their offences well and taking good open shots, Earnest Ross and Roy Booker were instrumental in the early stages and quickly made 20 points between them. At the first break, the Miners held an 8 point lead over the Spectres, 34 – 26.

Into the second quarter and Ballarat extended their lead, quickly pushing it out to 16 points, and causing Nunawading to call a timeout to re-group. However the Miners defence, lead by Craig Moller was strong, and did not allow Nunawading to score. Mid way through the term Ash Constable hit a long three from the corner to extend the lead to 19 and boost the team’s morale even more. The Miners were determined, and threw themselves at every ball in the 2nd period and were rewarded going into the second half with a solid 24 point lead.

At the start of the third period, the scores were 56 – 34 with Ballarat shooting the ball at 55% compared to Nunawading on 34%.

Ballarat were physical with their defence early and played cohesively together, however midway through the quarter Matt O’Hea made it look easy and scored a big 3, quickly followed by another, to cut the Miners lead to 13, 67 – 54.  Nunawading started making their shots from then on, and decreased Ballarat’s lead to 5 at the final break, 70 – 65.

Communication on the court was evident at the beginning of the final term, and the desperation for a home win was unmistakable. Roy Booker hit the big shots, and Ollie Bailey looked calm under pressure. Despite Nunawading’s Andrew Steel hitting crucial 3 point shots half way through the term to decrease the lead to 3, Earnest Ross was able to respond and pushed the score to 85 – 78 with 3 minutes left on the clock.

After a technical foul on Dyson King-Hawea, Nunawading were able to convert the free throws and cut the lead to 2-points, with only 1:40 left in the game, it was a Ballarat ball and Earnest Ross delighted the crowd with a hard drive and layup he made look easy. A further technical foul called on Ollie Bailey saw Nunawading head to the penalty stripe but were unable to convert the free throws again, which resulted in Roy Booker’s outstanding 3 point shot from miles away with only 58 seconds on the clock.

After a tight last quarter the Ballarat Miners were able to come away with an 8 point win over the Nunawading Spectres, 96 – 88.

The Spectre’s top scorer was Matt O’Hea on 25 points and was supported by big man Simon Conn on 22 points, 7 rebounds.

Coach Eric Hayes, says his guys have been working on their offences, and that every man plays a part and thinks that this was highlighted tonight, his players starting to realize what each other can do and utilise that on the court.

Ballarat outscored Nunawading in the paint, and Hayes knows that when you shoot the ball as well as his side did tonight, it opens the key up and allows players to take the inside shot. Hayes mentioned that Ollie Bailey and Craig Moller were “beasts on the boards” and that their rebounding gave the whole team more opportunities.

Hayes’ side was defensively very strong, and this comes down to the work they have been putting in, he was happy that Ballarat could refocus and play some great defense toward the end of the game when it really mattered.

The Ballarat Miners game looked the most complete it has this season, and Hayes noted that while they did not play 40 minute of great basketball, they came close and thinks the team did a good job. Hayes is really happy with the effort, definitely a step forward for his team this season.

The Ballarat Miners take on Frankston next Sunday May 29 at the Mars Minerdome. Tip off is at 2pm, make sure you come and support our team!