By Kasey Cornwell
The Ballarat Miners took the win over South Conference top team the Hobart Chargers, 81 – 76. Craig Moller was the game MVP with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Davon Usher with 15 points and Pete Hooley impressed with 13 points, 6 assists and 4 steals.
The Chargers, Robert Heyer top scored with 22 points and Mathiang Muo made 15 points.
An intense first term saw the lead change hands numerous times, both teams warned for flopping and a technical foul committed by Davon Usher.
The Miners coaching team called for poise, in what looked like a game that could get carried away with emotion.
At the first break, the Miners trailed 19 – 20. Eric Hayes was impressed with his side at quarter time, saying how great it is to play at their tempo, with good ball control. He wanted the Miners to control their breakdowns in offenses and improve on the defensive transition.
Both sides shot the ball well in the first half, with Ballarat shooting the ball at 46.2%, Ash Constable contributing personally at 75% and Hobart at 48.6%. Midway through the second, Hobart called a timeout, where Anthony Stewart asked his side, “Do you even want to win!?” and he asked his bigs to work harder as well.
Mathiang Muo responded as soon as back on the court, with a deep three to tie the game at 37 a piece.
Hayes took his opportunity to reassess, with 2.56 left in the quarter and discussed the importance of setting the correct screens. He told his team that he wants them to use Cam McCallum more and the chemistry between Sam Short and Pete Hooley is working well and to keep using this combination.
Ballarat ended the second, 3 points ahead, 44 – 41. Hayes noted at the main break that his side needed to improve their shot selection and get to the free throw line, with only one free throw shot in the first half. He noted the disparities between Ballarat and Hobart, on the assists (8 – 12) but was happy with the Miners up on the rebounding efforts (23-15).
Into the third, the Ballarat coaching staff were concerned about running the ball and the lack of offensive movement. The team was evidently attacking the basket, but the finishes were off, with a number of missed shots in the third.
Headed in to the last term, the Miners narrowly held the lead, 58 – 56.
Hobart’s third quarter break saw Anthony Stewart encourage his team, offensively he thought they’d been great, with great ball movement and he asked them just to spread it round a bit more and use more of the court offensively.
Hobart’s Chris Whitehead leveled the scores very early in the fourth. Turnovers were costly at the beginning of the last term, but Pete Hooley still managed to get the Miners to their biggest lead, 9, with plenty of time remaining (6:20).
Eric told his side, with 3 minutes remaining that the work off the ball, the movement of the guys was excellent and his mind just as good as an assist. He asked his side to double team the player with the ball, and put a lot of pressure on the ball defensively.
Hayes discussed the importance of staying connected to each other, and not letting Hobart take an easy shot, in the crucial last seconds, at the final timeout. He said if Hobart do get a shot up, do not let them get the rebound. Boxing out was of huge importance to Ballarat.
Ballarat Miners run away with the 5-point win over top of the ladder Hobart, 81 – 76.
Davon Usher post game, said it felt good to get the home court win. “We wanted to redeem ourselves, we’ve been working hard to come up against this high power offensive team again” Davon said the key to the win today was that the team, “grinded it out, played hard and stayed together”.
Head Coach Eric Hayes post game, said that they simply set the same things as the last clash against Hobart, he and the team just executed better. Hayes noted that the win is so important, considering the ladder and the game following against Sandringham is a massive task.
Game MVP Craig Moller, praised the home crowd “Ballarat is best crowd in the SEABL, so glad we could get you the win.”