Even with the inconsistent season the Integra Ballarat Rush have been having, they still remain only one spot out of being in finals contention. They look to move towards solidifying a finals position in their upcoming doubleheader weekend, taking on the Nunawading Lady Spectres this Saturday evening from 5:45pm at Nunawading Stadium, and then returning home to the MARS® MINERDOME where they will play the Knox Raiders from 12pm.
Neither game will be an easy contest for the Rush, as the Lady Spectres have been having an outstanding season insofar, only having lost three games on the season—one of those losses being at the hands of the Rush—and the Knox Raiders starting to make a splash in the competition with Kelly Wilson and Gabe Richards becoming more consistently a part of the Knox roster (Wilson and Richards have missed a few games due to Opals commitments).
The Lady Spectres roster boasts the overwhelming trio of Bec Allen, Hanna Zavecz, and Bec Cole. With Allen’s athleticism and ability to play any position on the court, Zavecz’s proficient shooting from behind the arc, and Cole’s skill for distributing the ball to the right players in the right spots, they are difficult to contain. Allen leads the way between the three, averaging 15.7 points and six rebounds a game, Cole is not far behind with 12.5 points and three assists per game, and Zavecz is averaging 11.5 points, six rebounds a game, while also shooting the three at an impressive 40% a game. The Spectres will be coming into the match-up very confident after a big win against the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits, beating them by 46 in what was an impressive effort from starters and bench players combined.
Impressive stat lines within the starting line-up, and considerable depth coming from the Nunawading bench means the Rush will certainly have their work cut out for them. However, it is important to note that the Rush were victorious against the Spectres early on in the season, which will add a sense of confidence as they head into this match-up. In the previous meeting, the Rush jumped off to a roaring start, with an opening term where they shot 65% from the field, and were able to secure a 15-point lead heading into halftime. Despite shooting 16% from the field in the final quarter, it was the hard work displayed in the first three quarters of the game that allowed them to hold the Spectres off and win by three.
A more sustained effort will be crucial to Ballarat obtaining a win against Nunawading. Not only will the Rush need to come out of the opening tip with a collective sense of urgency and emphasis on upholding their defensive principles, but a return to the form displayed earlier in the season will also prove beneficial.
The Rush have a quick turnaround the next day as they will return home to take on the Knox Raiders for the first time this season. While the Raiders have also been having an up-and-down season due to the inconsistent availability of star players Richards and Wilson, they are, nonetheless, a good side and should not be taken lightly.
Wilson and Richards have singlehandedly kept the Raiders’ season alive. In only having played eight games on the season, Wilson is averaging 22 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists a game, while Richards, in just five games, is averaging 26 points and 15 rebounds a game, while shooting the ball at an impressive 61% from the field. Containment of these two is an extremely big ask, but will be the only way for the Rush to be able to secure a win in the contest.
The Rush had a horror shooting night last weekend against the Geelong Supercats, as well as a lapse in defensive pressure to start the second half of the game. Determined to make finals, the Rush will need to put their performance from the weekend before behind them, and all five of their starters will need to step up a significant amount in these upcoming two games. Two big wins could be what helps the Rush return to their status as a team to look out for, and could be what propels them in their push for a playoff spot.
Get around the Rush midday this Sunday at the MARS® MINERDOME and help them onto a victory against the tough Knox Raiders. Tip-off begins at 12pm, followed by the GMHBA Ballarat Miners who take on the Knox Raiders from 2pm.