Close on-court encounters

The OneFortyOne Mount Gambier Pioneers women were out of the blocks early in their big NBL1 South game against the ladder-leading Bendigo Braves team.

Cassandra Brown opened the account for the travellers to hold an early lead until the Braves got stuck into their work.

Abigail Wehrung and Megan McKay clawed the lead back, but the Pioneers’ Brown equalled seconds later.

It was a tight game of basketball deep into the first quarter with both sides trading blows and not being able to score, but McKay stepped up and got the home side rolling again.

Cassidy McLean and Wehrung also pushed the home side along, but Shakera Reilly, Hannah Young, Sherrie Calleia and Brown pushed the limits to give the visitors a handy 10-point lead at the first change.

After a short quarter-time break both sides were back on court with Bendigo started the strongest and McLean making an impact.

But Young was ‘on song’ for the Pioneers and made a key basket to extend the lead to seven points early in the second term.

The hosts needed a lift and found it through McKay, Madeline Sexton and Caitlin Richardson.

The trio got their skates on and pegged back the lead to go into the half-time break with a one-point deficit.

The game remained tight in the third quarter with Haliegh Reinoehl and Reilly giving it their all, but the Braves were equal to it.

Wehrung, McKay and Sexton were the backbone of Bendigo’s fightback to bring the game to a level playing field.

However, the OneFortyOne Pioneers dug deep to hold onto a one-point lead at the final change.

The action was hot in the last term with both sides trading baskets and trying to take the ascendancy.

Jasmin Howe, Young and Calleia all banded together to give the Pioneers a strong shot at taking the win, but it was the home side that had its skates on.

McLean, Wehrung and McKay scored numerous times to take a lead of four points with just 23 seconds left on the clock.

Pioneers coach Matt Sutton called a time out and it proved to be a masterstroke after a big three from Calleia was sunk to narrow the gap to one point.

But a Calleia foul gave the home team a chance at the key and McLean made two free throws count to give her team a nail-biting three-point win.

The second leg of the double header road trip took the OneFortyOne women’s Pioneers to the home of the Geelong Supercats.

This game was another tough one for the visitors and it did not disappoint, going down to the wire and after Saturday’s narrow loss Mount Gambier had to pull out all the stops.

Play was pretty even across the first term with the visitors jumping early, but the hosts immediately responded to level the scores.

After the neck and neck play it was the Geelong Supercats who took a one-point lead into the first change thanks to the efforts of Eve Braslis, Sarah Elsworthy and Sarah O’Neil.

The likes of Young, Howe and Reinoehl put the Pioneers on the board early in the second, but it was not enough to counter the Supercats who dug their claws in to open a nine-point advantage at the main break.

Braslis, Elsworthy, Alex Duck and Aimie Rocci were sinking baskets to keep the Pioneers at bay until the last change where Sutton had to share some magical words.

With Geelong leading by five points at the last change Mount Gambier had to pull something out of the hat to rein in the lead.

Brown was up and about and made some big plays along with Calleia, Reinoehl and Reilly to make things interesting.

Elsworthy, Braslis, Duck and Rebecca O’Donnell were solid on court for the home team, but it was sharp play from the Pioneers that made the difference.

A pair of three pointers from Brown and Reilly opened a six-point lead, only for Duck and Elsworthy to make it a one-shot game again.

Nerves crept in as no shot was made in the final minute and the likes of Young, Calleia and Reinoehl delivered to help Mount Gambier claim the nail-biting win by one point.

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