By Trevor Jackson
MOUNT Gambier claimed its first win of the 2021 NBL1 South women’s competition, with a 60-48 victory over Ballarat Rush on Saturday night at the Icehouse.
The win came despite a determined Rush pushing hard down the stretch to close the margin.
However, a game-high 28-point game from Pioneers’ Jasmin Howe contributed to the victory, along with some tough defence and big rebounding efforts from Howe, Shakera Reilly, Hannah Young and Sherrie Calleia.
Calleia also finished in double digits, with 14 points.
The Pioneers built a nine-point first-quarter lead before outscoring the Rush by six in the second term.
From there the visitors began to apply more defensive pressure, with a low-scoring third term.
By then the home side had built a handy lead and was able to hold on to claim an emphatic victory.
“It was a good reward for a team that has been sticking to it each week,” coach Matt Sutton said.
Sutton was pleased with the output of Howe, who he said had worked hard at training leading up to the clash.
“She had a good game,” he said.
“Her team mates found her in open spots … she is an elite shooter and found the bottom of the net.”
Sutton said one area which had improved was the team’s ability to look after the ball and apply defensive pressure, even with plenty of pressure as the game clock ticked down.
“They followed the defensive plan really well,” he said.
“They kept a really good team to 50 points, which was good.
“They were always going to make a run but I think the work we did early, we kept them away from a lot of their strengths and managed keep them to a low score, which meant their run was probably a bit late and we did enough to hold on.”
Round 7 sees the Pioneers head off on a tough road double-header, with a trip to the Apple Isle.
Friday night they face Hobart Chargers, before backing up against the Launceston Tornadoes on Saturday night.
While both games will be tough, the Chargers provides the best chance for another victory, with the side only recording one victory this season, down in 15th place on the ladder.
In contrast, the Tornadoes have lost just two of eight games and sit in second place.
Sutton said he expects a tough weekend, but looks forward to the challenge.
“I am looking forward to the Hobart and Launceston double – it was always a good trip for me as a player, so it will good to experience it as a coach,” he said.
“It is a quality league and everyone is dangerous.
“Both teams are high scoring and play at a really good tempo, so we will have our work cut out to compete and to maintain a high level of effort over two games.”