By Kasey Cornwell

The Ballarat Miners just get the home win over Dandenong 94 – 92. Star Roy Booker had 29 points with 6 assists. Earnest Ross had a stellar game with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists while Ollie Bailey was pivotal with a total of 22 points and 13 boards.

Earnest Ross opened the scoring quickly for the Miners with a 3-point jump shot. The Miners looked fluid early on, their passing was seamless and intensity was up. However Captain and Vice-Captain made it into foul trouble early with Ash Constable getting 2 personal fouls mid-way through the quarter, and Roy Booker making it to 3 personal fouls late in the first term. Sam Short ended the term with a jump shot from the behind the arc to take the Miners to a handy 8 point lead, 27 – 19 for the first break.

Heading in the second term, shooting 55% from the floor and the scoring evenly shared between 5 players, Earnest Ross took the ball right out of Lucas Walker’s hands and opened the scoring for the Miners again, in the second term. The second quarter saw both side’s physicality step up, the Miners with plenty of fouls, and turnovers a plenty. Lucas Walker was not so warmly welcomed back to the Minerdome, getting the ball stuck on the side of the ring in an attempted open reverse dunk and ending up being called for a travel, drawing plenty of jeers from the crowd. Walker then failed to give the ball back quick enough and was hit with a technical foul. At this point in the game the Miners had an 8-point lead and they were able to extend it to 11 at the end of the second quarter, 45 – 34.

Statistically the teams were very even at the main break, with both sides having 12 turnovers. Dandenong were shooting the ball at 36% and had 11 team fouls, while Miners slightly in front shot the ball at 45% and with 9 team fouls. The difference between the sides seemed to be the 3 point shooting percentage, with Ballarat on 46% and Dandenong on 30%.

Roy Booker quickly extended his side’s lead to 13, in the third period, 47 – 34. The Miners took the biggest lead of the game so far, 3 minutes into the term courtesy of Booker, to a 17 point lead over Dandenong.  The third period saw plenty of fast breaks, and Moller and Bailey were strong under the basket.

Going into the last term, with a 9 point lead, 75 – 66. Roy Booker and Earnest Ross both over 20 points a piece (25pts and 20pts).

Early in the last quarter the Miners were loosing momentum and after 4 minutes of basketball Dandenong had cut the lead to 5 points. The Miners’ offenses and Earnest Ross’ shooting from outside pushed the lead up to 10 points with 4 minutes left on the clock.

The Miners lead was cut further to 2 points, with a measly 28 seconds left, and while the ball was deep in Ballarat’s defence Craig Moller committed a foul on Rangers star Daequon Montreal while attempting a game winning 3-pointer. Daequon Montreal stepped up for 3 free throws, and with 1 second to go, the home crowd’s support was amazing, Montreal missed all three of his foul shots in a deafening roar from the Ballarat crowd, the Miners took the win, 2 points over Dandenong 94 – 92.

Head Coach Eric Hayes was very pleased with his side’s first half structures and composure. He felt that the second half, the Miners went away from that and that is what allowed Dandenong to sneak back in to the game. Hayes thought it was important that his side stayed together as a team at Saturday night’s game, and felt that his side lacked a bit of composure later in the game.

Getting into foul trouble early, and having to change match-ups was an issue for Hayes, but ultimately he was happy that it happened. He switched his side to run a zone, due to height issues but toward the end of the game he was pleased he was able to switch back to man on man defence, and make it a little tougher on Dandenong, and restrict their ability to get the open shots.

Discussing Booker, Ross and Bailey’s ability to put up big numbers offensively, Hayes was happy with their scoring and shot selection, but does not want to be dependent on three players. Hayes noted how important it is to have other guys involved, he felt that Ballarat did this earlier in the game and his side moved around offensively really well. He felt that Dandenong struggled to guard his side in that instance. Eric Hayes thought that once his three top scorers were dominant, Dandenong focused on these players and it became 5 on 3, so he was pleased that despite the extra attention Booker, Ross and Bailey were able to score so well.

Early on Hayes felt his side’s defence was able to keep some of Dandenong’s dominant players quiet, the Miners defence was really solid in the first half. In the last half, Hayes felt his team’s defence lacked a bit, and this gave Dandenong the ability to create a bit momentum and impact the score board.

Ballarat did not handle the press set by Dandenong very well according to Hayes and this caused the Miners to waste opportunities, ending the game with 27 team turnovers. Hayes feels fortunate to win a game, with such a high amount of turnovers. But Hayes is of course happy with a win, and a home win at that!

Your Ballarat GMHBA Miners take on Nundawading at the MARS Minerdome on Saturday 21 May. Tipoff at 8pm!