Ballers set for double header

Ballers set for double header

The OneFortyOne Pioneers women will hit the road again this weekend, travelling to Melbourne for a double header in Round 7 of the NBL1 South conference.

The Pioneers had a solid victory at home last week over the Nunawading Spectres, resulting in Mount Gambier sitting second on the ladder by a tiny percentage, just behind Keilor.

The Pioneers have only suffered the one defeat this season, proving to be a force whether on their home court or on the road.

This week they will take on third placed Knox Raiders on Saturday night, before backing up against the Casey Cavaliers on Sunday.

Knox has also recorded just the one loss, while the Cavaliers sit 17th on the ladder, having only registered two wins.

OneFortyOne Pioneers head coach Matt Sutton said his side’s focus was first and foremost the Knox game, before they turned their attention to the following match.

“We do not prepare past Knox, we just do one game at a time, our whole week’s focus will be on Knox and then we will address anything that we need to after that game,” he said.

“Obviously I will have done the prep work in readiness.

“Knox has got a really good centrepiece, former MVP of the league Alicia Froling, she is having a good season and will be a really important person for us to try to contain.

“I think Zitina will be there for the match up but she is not just a player we can say ‘go out there and stop’, we will have to have a plan.”

Sutton acknowledged the Raiders could be looking to snatch second place on the ladder from the Pioneers, but said that was not a factor in his team’s preparation.

“There’s no motivation for us other than to get the win against a really good team, it will be two high level teams so it should be a really high level game of basketball,” he said.

When it comes to the Cavaliers, Sutton said it would absolutely be a competitive outing, despite the ladder difference.

“Alice Kunek is one of the best players in the competition, she played her first game last week so we expect them to be a good team, maybe different to what their wins and losses suggest,” he said.

Sutton said his side had adjusted to the rigours of double header away games, which always required significant travel time.

“We are okay, we do not consider it to be a tough thing to go on the road, it’s an enjoyable experience to spend more time together and play high level basketball,” he said.

Reflecting on last weekend’s win over Nunawading, Sutton said his side had played well.

“We were very happy, we managed to do some things at both ends of the court that we have been working on,” he said.

“We were happy with the effort across four quarters.

“I thought Haliegh Reinoel had an exceptional game, as well as Isabella Brancatisano.”

When asked about his decision to send some of the local junior players onto the court at game’s end, Sutton said it was something he spent time considering.

Sutton said he was aware the crowd responded enthusiastically when the locals hit the court, with his senior players also on their feet on the bench in support.

“I think some of the energy stems from our senior girls, they give really good support, it’s good reward for a lot of their commitment and hard work they get to see some court time,” he said.

“We try to get them to hit the court as much as possible to help with their development, it is a very high level commitment.

“We have got a pretty strong culture that we work on and when everyone buys in it’s great.”

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