BALLARAT Miners have secured the double chance in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition, moving four and a half games ahead of fifth placed Kilsyth Cobras with just four games remaining. The Cobras do have a game in hand meaning they could theoretically move past the Miners should they win all their games and Ballarat lose all their games, but they face fourth placed Frankston Blues on the run home meaning there is no way the Miners can drop out of the top four. Ballarat made it possible thanks to a narrow six-point win over Diamond Valley Eagles at home. The Miners never had it their own way, trailing by as much as seven points at the final break, before piling on 18 points to five in the final term to run out 79-73 victors. Kuany Kuany topscored with 19 points as well as six assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Josh Fox (12 points and 15 rebounds) and Deng Acuoth (11 points, 11 rebounds) picked up double-doubles and Jerry Evans Jr (14 points, nine rebounds and three assists) was not far off one either. Anthony Odunsi was the standout for the Eagles with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Ben Allen (17 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was also solid for the losing side.
Diamond Valley Eagles had a second loss in a tough fixturing round – playing the top two sides – going down to second placed Nunawading Spectres, 97-109. The Spectres won every quarter, but by no more than five points in a tight contest that saw one of the title contenders prevail well. Tom Wright sank 27 points as well as eight rebounds and three assists for the winners, while Lucas Walker (15 points, nine rebounds), Simon Conn (15 points, eight rebounds) and Dain Swetalla (19 points, six rebounds) were all strong off the boards. Shane McDonald was the playmaker for the side with nine assists to accompany his 10 points and three rebounds in the win. Logan Hovey was a standout for the Eagles, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Matt Reynolds (15 points, four rebounds) and Odunsi (11 points, seven rebounds and five assists) were also productive in defeat. In the Spectres’ other game, they triumphed by three points over Ringwood Hawks in a thriller. Like the Miners, the Spectres were forced to come from behind, trailing by five points at the final break having lost the first three quarters. But as every great side does, Nunawading found a way and broke through for a home victory. Swetalla (19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Conn (18 points, 10 rebounds) picked up double-doubles while Wright had another big game, posting 20 points, three rebounds and four assists in the win. Matthew Fennell (22 points, seven rebounds) and Adrien Sturt (19 points, six rebounds and two blocks) were the best for the losers.
After the narrow loss, Ringwood had to back up against Knox Raiders the next day, but were overwhelmed as the Raiders kept their finals hopes alive in the 114-97 win. Despite a dominant second term by the Hawks which saw them take a five-point lead into the main break, the Raiders had their measure, slamming home 65 points to 43 in a dominant second half performance on their way to a 17-point success. Damon Heuir led the way with 25 points, one of six Raiders to reach double figures as Cadarian Raines (18 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) picked up a double double and Mike Rose (18 points, six rebounds and nine assists) was not far behind. Sturt again impressed for the Hawks in defeat with 24 points and two rebounds, while Fennell picked up a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Jacob Gibson worked hard for 16 points, two rebounds and three assists.
Knox’s finals hopes remained alive thanks to losses to the teams just inside the eight such as Waverley Falcons (now ninth) and Melbourne Tigers (sixth but just half a game in front). The Falcons went down to cellar dwellers Southern Sabres in the final match of the round, losing 77-91. In a dominant last term, the Sabres came from three points down to post 27-10 and run away 91-77 winners. Sam McDaniel (15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, while Rhys Carter (21 points, five rebounds and three assists), Jaden Weldon (14 points) and Callan McDonald (10 points, eight rebounds) were all busy. For the Falcons, Deondre McWhorter‘s double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) caused headaches for the visitors, while Tim Liesting (21 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Dylan Travis (17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) came close to a double-double himself.
The Tigers’ trip down south was not a pleasant one, dropping both games to North West Thunder (eight points) and Hobart Huskies (21 points) to now sit a game off fourth and only half a game inside the top eight. In the Thunder’s loss, the Tigers started strongly to lead by seven points at the first break, but the Thunder pulled back over the next three quarters to draw level by the final buzzer, then finish stronger in overtime scoring 15-7 to win 90-82. Nick Banyard posted 24 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in a massive game, while Jordan Bowling (16 points, 12 rebounds) also picked up a double-double. Kai Woodfall (21 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Reyne Smith (11 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals) were also productive. Mike Wells (23 points, six rebounds and four assists) was impressive for the Tigers, but it was Nic Pozoglou back to his best, posting a double-double of 20 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three steals to tighten the screws on the Thunder. Young star William Hickey helped himself to 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in one of his best games for the year. The Tigers were no match for the Huskies in their clash, as Hobart’s Jalen Adams produced a huge 28-point game, well aided by partner-in-crime Tad Dufelmeier (12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Jacob Richards (13 points, nine rebounds and two assists) off the boards. Pozoglou again looked impressive with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Hickey had 18 points and nine rebounds in defeat.
In one of the most crucial games of the round heading into the weekend, Dandenong Rangers were able to breathe a sigh of relief, defeating Kilsyth Cobras by 11 points at home. The Rangers trailed by a point at half-time but went on with it in the second half courtesy of a 45-33 performance. Lucas Barker (24 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists) was just one rebound off a triple-double, while Dexter Kernich-Drew (21 points, two rebounds) and Matt Kenyon (17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also solid. It was an even performance across the board for the Cobras despite the defeat, with Michael Wearne (17 points, four rebounds), Felix Van Hofe (17 points, five rebounds) and Tohi Smith-Milner (14 points, seven rebounds) all balancing between scoring and rebounding work. The Cobras loss opened the door for the resurgent Frankston who took the opportunity with both hands as they dismissed Albury Wodonga Bandits, 120-105 in a high-scoring contest on the road. In a remarkable final term, the Blues scored a competition-high 41 points in a quarter to race away with the victory. Damon Bozeman recorded an equal game-high 26 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Daniel Trist (15 points, 13 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Igor Hadziomerovic (19 points, five rebounds) and Majok Majok (14 points, eight rebounds and three assists) were also terrific. Torren Jones (26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) was the standout for the Bandits in the loss, while Deba George (24 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals) and Cirkook Riak (19 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) also tried hard throughout.
In the other two games, Geelong Supercats proved too good for Southern Sabres, winning 89-78 thanks to Lewis Thomas (22 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals), Anthony Williams (20 points, two rebounds and five assists), Demarcus Gatlin (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Ma’alo Hicks (14 points, 11 rebounds and two assists). The Sabres’ David Barlow (18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came agonisingly close to a triple-double, while McDaniel was busy again with 17 points and nine rebounds – almost a double-double. Meanwhile Bendigo Braves came from 14 points down at half-time to run out four-point victors on the road against Eltham Wildcats thanks to a 59-41 second half to remain in the eight by half a game. Ray Turner was the difference with 36 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in a huge game for the Braves, well assisted by Mathiang Muo (16 points) and Daniel Hansen (13 points, four rebounds and six assists). Adam Doyle was the top scorer for the Wildcats, finishing with 22 points, seven assists and three rebounds, while Josh Sykes (19 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks) and Geremy McKay (17 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) were their usual impressive selves.
Round 12 results:
North West Thunder 90 defeated Melbourne Tigers 82
Dandenong Rangers 95 defeated Kilsyth Cobras 84
Southern Sabres 78 defeated by Geelong Supercats 89
Nunawading Spectres 99 defeated Ringwood Hawks 96
Albury Wodonga Bandits 105 defeated by Frankston Blues 120
Hobart Huskies 102 defeated Melbourne Tigers 81
Ballarat Miners 79 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 73
Eltham Wildcats 88 defeated by Bendigo Braves 92
Diamond Valley Eagles 97 defeated by Nunawading Spectres 109
Knox Raiders 114 defeated Ringwood Hawks 97
Waverley Falcons 77 defeated by Southern Sabres 91