Back in the groove

The NBL1 South season returned after a week off and the Castec Rural Mount Gambier Pioneers got straight back into the groove on Saturday night by knocking off Kilsyth at the Icehouse.

The Pioneers were well presented wearing special white kits supporting Lifeline and the competition’s Mental Health Round.

Fortunately for the home fans the one-off jerseys will always be remembered fondly as Mount Gambier continued its winning momentum convincingly.

The Pioneers and Cobras have enjoyed a good rivalry over the years, but this time the former was determined to showcase why it sits on top of the ladder.

The hosts started with a bang when a Michael Harris pass found the fast-moving Clevon Brown, who performed the first of his signature dunks of the night.

This set Mount Gambier on its way with the likes of Nick Marshall, Tom Daly and Harris joining Brown in their attack to the key.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the court Tom Kubank was racking up defensive rebounds and these factors ensured the Pioneers enjoyed a comfortable 12-point lead at the first break.

Although Mount Gambier continued its momentum by going on a nine-point scoring run sparked by an Erik Burdon jump shot from downtown to open the second term, the Cobras also showed some bite.

Inside the last three minutes of the second term, the visitors were able to cut a 21-point Pioneers’ advantage down to 10.

Deng Deng had a spring in his step with a couple of nice plays, while Adrian Tomada and Ben Ursich were finding their accuracy from long range.

After the players returned from the half time break, Kilsyth continued to threaten and a Deng layup even brought the deficit into single figures.

But the Pioneers always had a response to ensure they remained safe on the scoreboard with the most emphatic statement made by Brown, when he pulled off a stunning Alley-Oop with the help of Daly.

Another high-scoring quarter was polished off in style by Harris, who performed another impressive move by nailing a shot from the tightest of angles under pressure from defender Corey Jeffs on the buzzer.

Despite Mount Gambier controlling most of the contest, it had to remain watchful of a late Cobras’ charge.

Burdon silenced the early hopes by slotting a three-pointer inside the first 10 seconds of the final term, but that did not stop the visitors from finding a response in the back-and-forth play.

Deng made his presence felt with a couple of blocks to shutdown the home side, but a couple of Nick Marshall free throws eventually released the tension and helped the Pioneers enjoy the finalities.

After leading for all-but 14 seconds of the game, Mount Gambier held the edge until the end to run out 97-79 winners in the competitive tussle.

Marshall and Harris were the leading scorers with 26 points each, while Brown and Kubank also had big games with lots of points and rebounds.

Mount Gambier looks to keep the good times rolling in another home game against Hobart this Saturday.

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