IT was a testing weekend for the Mount Gambier Pioneers women when they battled the Adelaide heat during their double-header debut in the Basketball SA Premier League.
The first game on Saturday night saw a close 75-66 loss to North Adelaide Rockets, while cooler conditions greeted the side on Sunday against the Sturt Sabres.
However, Sunday’s game saw the team drained from the night before and a 95-54 point loss was the result.
Despite the results, coach Matt Sutton was pleased with the first round of competition, but said the side was disappointed with Saturday’s loss.
“We had real good pace in the first game and we were close,” he said.
“We felt really disappointed to lose that game because we had a real good shot at it.”
In a game of cat and mouse the Pioneers had the lead at several stages, but the Rockets were able to come out on top.
“The girls started really strong and the effort through the first three quarters was really good,” Sutton said.
“Amanda Frost and Emily Winter were really good at keeping the scoreboard ticking over for us.
“Then Olivia Wormald, Mel Russell, Keryl Ousey and Maddy Wormald did a great job of battling bigger people inside.”
It was a solid team effort and the Pioneers were unlucky to go down by nine points in the end.
With 40 degree heat to contend with on Saturday, the conditions took their toll in Sunday’s game, as the team struggled to sustain the energy and focus needed to defeat a strong opposition.
“It was really hot the night before and we had some girls play some big minutes,” Sutton said.
“We just had some issues maintaining the energy and the focus on Sunday.
“We stuck with them and had a good lead at quarter time, but over the next three we just fell away.”
Frost led the way again in that game with 16 points, while Maddy Wormald managed 11.
Accuracy was a downfall for the side, shooting at just 13pc from outside the three-point arc and only 31pc from inside.
Youngsters Winter and Ousey managed six rebounds each and Sutton said they “worked really hard inside and held their own” against more experienced opposition.
Sutton was also impressed with Frost and said she has had her first taste of the target which will be on her back throughout the year.
“She is our most prolific scorer and a lot of our stuff goes through her,” Sutton said.
“She found out on the weekend what sort of attention she is going to get, with holding and scratching – she had scratches all over her arms.
“Her ability to fight through that and stick to what she is doing was really good.”
Despite returning home without a win, Sutton said it was a good learning experience for the new team and the side will now turn its attention to its first home game in two week’s time.
“We can’t wait for our first home game,” Sutton said.
“We have a couple of weeks now to prepare for that.
“We are really excited to be at home and show the fans what we can do.”