As we hit the halfway point of the season, Mt. Gambier are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and an era that has seen them win three of the past four Championships could be coming to an end.
While it would not make up for last year’s Grand Final loss to the Pioneers, Dandenong did get the better of the home side on Friday night, succeeding 80-64.
Mt. Gambier have struggled with injuries all year and the news came before tip-off that Brad Hill would miss the rest of 2018 with a bad ankle but the Rangers were also missing their best player in Anthony Drmic and stifled the Pioneers by holding them to 34% shooting.
The Rangers also dominated the glass, out-rebounding the reigning Champs 62-33 while finishing with a 15-0 advantage in second chance points.
Rhys Vague starred with 20 points, 16 boards, two assists and a block while Tim Lang (15 points, six rebounds), Keli Leaupepe (ten points, nine rebounds) and Josh Oswald (eight points, seven rebounds) provided great support.
Mt. Gambier jumped out to an early lead with the first five points and Sam McDaniel (26 points, eight rebounds, four assists) and Luke Jamieson (14 points, nine boards) tried hard all night but once the Rangers pulled in front, they never looked back and were able to extend their margin at every break.
In the point guard battle, Lucas Barker easily prevailed as he collected 17 points, five rebounds and six assists while Tom Daly had a night to forget at the offensive end, combining with Erik Burdon to score four points on 1-18 shooting.
Following their Friday night victory, Dandenong prevailed on Sunday at home against Diamond Valley and with five wins from their past six games, the Rangers now hit the mid-season break in fifth place on the ladder.
Mt. Gambier will be aiming to regroup over the Queen’s Birthday holiday, now sitting at 4-6 and three wins outside of the top eight.
ROUND 9 RESULTS:
Aside from Dandenong, Ballarat were the big movers in Round 9 as they took care of some strong competition in Melbourne and Nunawading to race into equal-first place alongside Kilsyth who were too good for Bendigo. They needed overtime to get past the Tigers and beat the Spectres with a 30-14 final term while four starters scored 12+ in both contests, led by Josh Fox. Nunawading have lost all momentum heading into the mid-season break as they lost more games this weekend than they had in the previous eight rounds. Frankston and Sandringham will both take confidence into the second half of the season after big wins in Round 9 but Canberra are still winless at 0-10.
BA CoE forfeited to N/W Tasmania 0-20
Mt. Gambier def. by Dandenong 64-80
Hobart def. Nunawading 86-82
Canberra def. by N/W Tasmania 66-67
Melbourne def. by Ballarat 89-94
Albury/Wodonga def. by Sandringham 93-120
Kilsyth def. Bendigo 89-66
Frankston def. Geelong 96-87
Dandenong def. Diamond Valley 83-70
Nunawading def. by Ballarat 93-100
Chris Young of the Border Mail recapped Albury/Wodonga’s capitulation against Sandringham: https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/5444633/lacklustre-defence-bites-albury-wodonga-bandits/
Prior to the game, Young also reminisced on Allen McCowan with Jack Duck ahead of the legend’s memorial game: https://www.bordermail.com.au/sport/local-sport/5443734/jack-duck-turns-to-allen-mccowans-inspiration-in-200th-seabl-match/
Siobhan Calafiore covered the Miner’s movement up the ladder after sweeping Round 9 for the Courier: https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/5445210/ballarat-miners-take-second-spot-after-impressive-weekend-results/
The Supercats were not switched on against Frankston on Saturday night, reports Will Hogan for the Geelong Advertiser: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/seabl-men-geelong-supercats-not-switched-on-in-loss-to-frankston/news-story/9fba40076ce048a99d7ee9c5c8773e92
James Bresnehan analysed Hobart’s come from behind performance to beat the Spectres for the Mercury: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/basketball/chargers-ride-lastquarter-rollercoaster-to-edge-out-nunawading/news-story/1e7e40a4c2635e6203d88350183bfad2
For all the latest news, interviews and recaps from the 2018 season, tune in to 88.3 Southern FM with Bruce Mitchell from 9am every Sunday morning: www.southernfm.com.au