By Trevor Jackson
IT was a heart-wrenching result for the Castec Rural Pioneers men on Saturday night, going down to the Ballarat Miners by two points after two overtime periods were played.
The result came despite a huge 40-point game from Titus Robinson, who was eventually fouled out in the second overtime period.
As it panned out, the lead changed several times in the second overtime period, with Nick Marshall successful with a two-point jumper with just nine seconds on the clock.
With four seconds remaining Jock Perry drained a three for Ballarat for the lead, which left little time for Tom Daly to transition far enough down the floor for a long three-point bomb.
Unfortunately for the Pioneers it was not successful and Ballarat celebrated like they had won a final, such was the importance of the victory over Mount Gambier and a win for the visitors in what is panning out as a tough season all round.
Double-figure scorers were rare for the Pioneers, with Marshall finishing with 21 and 13 rebounds, while Duom Dawam contributed 16 to join Robinson.
Coach Richard Hill said it was a disappointing result, but a tough game which simply came down to one shot.
“I expected Ballarat to be pretty strong and they were,” he said.
“I wasn’t overly disappointed – we got a number of things wrong and they did too – we had a chance to win it in the first overtime, then in the second overtime.
“It is disappointing but a guy makes a shot – if he misses we look pretty good.
“I couldn’t fault the effort of the guys.
“They were easily the toughest team we have played so far.”
As for Ballarat’s reaction to the win, Hill said it was understandable.
“A double overtime game is pretty good to win,” he said.
“We lost one on the last shot here at the Icehouse about nine years ago.
“It was almost identical.”
As for Robinson’s game, Hill said it came out of the blue.
“We didn’t really expect that,” he said.
“He just had a night out, but we were talking about it this week and he said it doesn’t count for much because we didn’t get the win.”
Despite the loss, Robinson’s game helps set the wheels in motion into the future, after spending time in quarantine and joining the side late.
He certainly appears to have settled in well, which should continue to improve as the season rolls on.
It will be put to the test this weekend when the Pioneers face one of the toughest road trips in the competition, with two games over two nights in Tasmania.
They face the Hobart Chargers first up, who have five wins from eight games and sit in sixth position.
Saturday night they take on NW Tasmania, a team which has dropped just one of eight games to sit top of the ladder.
Hill said he is confident of at least splitting the weekend, but is obviously aiming for two victories.
“I am pretty confident,” he said.
“If we can learn and continue to get a bit better, I would be disappointed if we don’t split it.”