By Kasey Cornwell
The GMHBA Miners and Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush both had hard fought losses against the powerhouse Dandenong. Despite Rush Co-captain Kristy Rinaldi reaching the games played record of 223 games, the team was unable to catch the Rangers who lead all game and ended with a 25 point win, 54 – 79.
Centre Shenae Greaves played strong game with 12 points and 7 boards and Olivia Thompson soldiered on to a 12 point, 9 rebound game despite injuring her ankle early on in the game. The Rush looked competitive and played well against the top team in the women’s league.
Rinaldi was happy with her personal performance v Dandenong, 17 points, 7 boards and 2 assists. She “would have preferred the win” but will take something out of her improved form from the game.
The team played a great first half of basketball, Rinaldi and the team had that self-belief that they could win the game. Unfortunately, the Rush could not match Dandenong’s height, and they showed the Rush why they are on the top of the ladder.
The Rush were competitive in the first half, making better shot selection and playing harder on defence than in recent weeks. With key players, Abbey Wehrung and Shenae Greaves getting into foul trouble early in the game, the team lost some potency on the offensive end.
With Cunningham unable to use the rotations as freely as he would have liked, the Rush found it difficult to keep putting scoreboard pressure on the Rangers. Dandenong were then able to extend their 8 point half time lead to 19 by the end of the third period. From there on the Rush were unable to reign in the ladder leaders whose height and ball movement proved too much for the young Rush side
The co-captain was impressed with the younger girls on the side stepping it up and said she is really proud of Eliza Roughhead, taking her shots confidently and getting in and getting boards. “Something we can all be really excited for”.
Kristy is hopeful to continue playing for a few more years yet and thinks she still has it in her, but wont make any decisions until the end of the season.
Peter Cunningham, head coach of the Rush was impressed with the change in the team’s spirit, their togetherness and their body language. His team competed on court, unfortunately just not for long enough to snag the win.
Dandenong finished the game with 48 points in the paint and Cunningham noted the side was a much taller side to the Rush. He was happy in how the Rush managed to keep players such as Jacinta Hamilton and Aimie Clydesdale to lower points than their averages.
When asked about Kristy Rinaldi’s milestone game, Peter mentioned how lucky he is to coach her. He recalls coaching Rinaldi in under 18s and how she wasn’t going to continue playing, until he confirmed he would play her as a guard. Cunningham wanted to be coaching Rinaldi when she notched this milestone and is incredibly proud of his co-captain.
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners went down by 11 points to the Dandenong Rangers, 90 – 101. Co-captain Roy Booker contributed 21 points and 8 assists and was supported by Kodi Augustus who notched up 17 points and 12 boards at 87% from the field. Everard Bartlett played a great team game with 10 points, 6 assists and 7 boards.
The GMHBA Miners played behind the Rangers for most of the game, tasting the lead for a short time in the middle of the game.
Guard Anthony Fisher, who finished the game on 14 points, 6 boards and 3 assists, conceded they did not get off to a very good start allowing Dandenong to get out to an 11 point lead. The team was not ready for Dandenong and Fisher thought the team didn’t get enough stops on defence. The Miners eventually found their rhythm and came together as a team.
Fisher thought the team did not move the ball well during the game feeling that the team did not run the offences as well as they would like and became a bit individualized in the second half, preventing them from getting the good shots they were able to create in the first half.
Defensively, the Miners were undersized and emphasized that they needed to box out a lot better, “even if we do have a higher number of rebounds than them” noted Fisher.
Fisher was happy with his better night tonight, but really would like the team get through some of the offences, the more plays you know, the more shots you can obtain from them.
Miners Head Coach Eric Hayes thought the team played well when they were able to move the ball around and create opportunities for each other and noted that they struggled when they were stagnant and moving slowly. Hayes took some personal blame for the second half slump, and noted that he made some substitutions that were out of rhythm and the guys found it difficult to adjust to this.
Statistically Hayes noted the team played well, but lost by 11 so there has to be more to it. He noted that for a side to get 100 plus points against you, that’s a pretty poor job on defence and no matter what the stats say “the reality is that we didn’t do a solid job, hard to defend 100 points”
Match-up wise Eric said it was difficult for the Miners, but they still had patches were they did a great job and played smart. He was impressed that his guys managed to contain some of the threats on the Dandenong side.
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners and the Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush hit the road next week, traveling to Tasmania to play Hobart on Friday 29 May 2015, and then to Bendigo on June 13 2015. The GMHBA Ballarat Miners and the Harvey Norman Ballarat Rush will return to the Mars Minerdome on June 21 2015.