Pioneers cruise to victory

GIANT EFFORT: Miela Goodchild shoots for three on her way to an Anzac Medal-winning performance with 30 points and eight rebounds. Pictures: LACHLAN ONIONS.

By Lachlan Onions

THE Mount Gambier Pioneers women’s team continued to shine on Saturday night as they put on a masterclass and defeated the Keilor Thunder by 31 points at the Wulanda centre.

Pioneers coach Matt Sutton spoke to The Border Watch and was happy with the result after a strong performance from his team.

“We did a few things really well in the first half which meant we got the chance to get everyone on the court which was pleasing,” he said.

Mount Gambier sent a statement to its opposition early as the hosts stormed out to a 17-4 lead after just four minutes.

From there, the Pioneers did not look back as they took a 14-point lead at the end of the first stanza.

“We were happy with our start,” Sutton said.

“We had a few things which we wanted to execute .. we shot well and we played defensive to a point which was good enough to get our fast-break game going so we were flying at the start.”

Mount Gambier then added another 28 points in the second term and went into half time with a 60-36 advantage.

The hosts shot the lights out from three-point range to begin the game and made 60 per cent of their three-pointers in the first half.

The scoring dried up a touch in the second half for the Pioneers but they put the Thunder to the sword and restricted them to just 23 second-half points and round out 90-59 victors.

It was a resilient effort on the defensive end by Mount Gambier as Keilor managed just the nine two-pointers for the entire game.

“We had a focus of protecting the key-way and the free-throw line, which we did a good job of,” Sutton said.

“It opened up some three-point opportunities for them but you can not take everything away so protecting the key was crucial for us.”

With the absence of captain Cassandra Brown – who is expected to be out injured for around a month – Miela Goodchild stood tall and took home the Anzac Medal for best player after she scored 30 points with two steals, five assists and eight rebounds in a comprehensive display.

“The girls followed the plan really well,” Sutton said.

“Everything is a bit easier when you have a player like Cass (Cassandra Brown) on the court, so it was a shame we did not have her but the girls really stepped up in her absence.”

Goodchild has hit the ground running in her first season in the Blue Lake City and has scored 25 points per game.

“We are very fortunate to have Miela (Goodchild),” Sutton said.

“She is a fantastic person on the court but off the court she is even better so she has been really good for our group.

“She is a very high-level player so we are very lucky.”

Goodchild was not without support as all five starters scored at least 10 points.

“We always play a style which does not rely on any one particular player and everyone can have their night,” Sutton said.

“Having a lot of contributors makes us hard to guard and the girls showed that on the weekend.”

The Pioneers remain undefeated and are currently second on the NBL1 South ladder with five wins from five and will return to the court on Saturday when they host the Ringwood Hawks at Wulanda on Saturday night.