By Kasey Cornwell
The Ballarat Rush pulled off an impressive 18 point win over Canberra in the final game of their season, 83 – 65. Despite coming so close the Rush had their finals opportunity taken from them in the last round. Coming into the final round the Rush needed to win both their games, whilst relying on results from other matches in order to qualify for finals. Despite beating Geelong in Geelong on Saturday night, the other matches did not go their way. The Rush however did not look defeated, but determined to get one more win on the board.
Kerryn Harrington starred with 15 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds. The ever-consistent Ashleigh Spencer made 22 points and effected 4 assists, 7 rebounds. Joy Burke was impressive with a double double of 19 points and15 rebounds.
Adding to the score line was Kristy Rinaldi with 6 points, 5 assists and Kasey Burton on 6 points 7 assists.
Isabelle Bourne for Canberra added 15 points 9 rebounds and was supported by Callie Bourne on 14 points 7 boards and Rosemary Schweizer with 12 points.
Opening the game, Harrington was quick to the basket, contributing the first score for the game in only 3 seconds. Ballarat hit the first 9 points, before Canberra were able to get on the board. Spencer was deadly on the scoring end in the first term, with her 8 points contributing to the 6 point lead at the first break, 23 – 17.
In the second term, Spencer was a headache for Canberra, proving hard to stop offensively and shooting the ball at 77% from the field. Between Spencer and Harrington they combined to score 27 points in the first half. Joy Burke was dominant inside, taking 13 boards by the end of the second term. The Rush side looked unified on the court, and stretched their advantage to 12 points at the main break, 47 – 35.
In the third, the game picked up a notch and was fast paced and free flowing. Canberra got in to a bit of foul trouble, and with only 2 on the bench this proved concerning to the Coach Greg Evens. The Rush were able to get Lydia Brooks some good shots, and she finished the third with 6 points. With assistance from her teammates Burke got to the basket with ease in the third term and increased her points to 15 at the final break. The Rush went into the final term, 16 points ahead on 66 – 50.
For the last 10 minutes of Ballarat’s season Molly Matthews hit the floor and looked dangerous on the catch and shoot, getting her first points for the game. The Rush increased their defensive pressure and forced Canberra into turnovers, it was evident in Ballarat’s intensity that they wanted to finish the season off with a bang, and that they did, beating Canberra by 18 points.
Coach Dave Flint, reflected on the season after the final game for the season. He was happy to end up with 12 wins, 8 of those at home, 10 losses and noted that many of those were close games. He noted that the number of wins in the 2016 season surpasses that of 2015 (6 wins) and 2014 (5 wins) combined. He recalled beating two of the league’s powerhouse teams Geelong and Dandenong this year and thinks this is testament to how strong the 2016 Rush team is.
While Flint was definitely disappointed in not making finals because he noted that the side is certainly good enough and should be playing finals this year. He can see the side’s improvement over the season, but it still hurts him to know they can’t play finals in 2016.
As Head Coach Flint is definitely impressed with his side’s effort against Canberra, and was proud with how well the team works together. He knew that the final game was a tough game for his side to play, because after coming off a great win against Geelong and realising due to other results, they could not play finals, they had to mentally prepare themselves to come out and bring their best game to Canberra.
Flint did note that he has had a great commitment from the team in 2016, and knows they can deal with the highs and lows over a long season. “Its great to coach this group” said Flint and he paid testament to Joy, Kerryn and Kristy for their great leadership on and off the court and their ability to be great role models for the younger players coming in and to assist him in building a solid base for the Ballarat Rush in the years to come.
The Dawn Jose Rush Coach’s Award was won by Kerryn Harrington at the Basketball Ballarat Presentation Night, on Sunday 14 August for all her hard work on and off the court during 2016. Kerryn paid testament to her Coach, and thanked her teammates for an exciting year.
Joy Burke was awarded the Robyn Maher Rush MVP award for 2016, Joy accepted her award and thanked the coaching staff, her team and the administration staff at Ballarat Basketball, Joy called Ballarat her home and was grateful for the opportunity to come and play in Ballarat.