VJBL action returned to the MARS® MINERDOME on Friday night after a few weeks’ hiatus for Easter. The first game of the night saw the Under-14 Ballarat Rush taking on the visiting Diamond Valley Eagles.
The first period saw a myriad of turnovers in an unusually scrappy start to the contest. Ballarat’s Sophie Molan scored the game’s first points, while Georgia Amoore also opened her account for the home squad with some impressive ball skills.
Stern words from their coach in a late timeout steadied the ship for the Eagles and gave them a slim first quarter advantage in a low scoring affair.
The Rush began the second quarter executing well out of the half-court – sharing the ball, making extra passes and taking the right shots.
The game continued to be a low scoring affair throughout the remainder of the opening half, with both sides playing suffocating defense.
While continuing to force turnovers on defense, Ballarat struggled to secure rebounds, and allowed the visitors numerous chances to grab offensive boards and put up second shot attempts.
Both sides started to relax and settle into the game as the third quarter began. Shots started dropping more consistently as the game picked up a notch.
Despite initially having difficulty dealing with the half-court trap of the Eagles, the Rush clung to a slim lead throughout the majority of the third term.
Strong scoring output form Ballarat’s Hayley Saunders helped the home squad open up an eight-point buffer headed into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter was a lot more physical. Sophie Molan nailed a triple on one of the first possessions of the period to open up a double-digit lead for the Rush, and they looked to be in a commanding position to close the game out.
An epic run saw Diamond Valley snatch the lead on the back of a three-point play with around a minute left.
The ball back and down 1, the Rush had a chance to win it. Un-phased by the pressure, the ball spilled to Charlotte Todd and she nailed a critical layup to seal the victory for Ballarat in one of the most thrilling finishes of the year.
Hayley Saunders led Ballarat’s scoring with 15 points, while Sophie Molan put up 12.