Double delight to kick-start Pioneer’s campaign

Double delight to kick-start Pioneer’s campaign

The Castec Rural Pioneers have begun their NBL1 South 2024 season on a good note winning both games in their Victorian double header.

The Pioneers came away with a convincing 18 point win in their first match up against the Sandringham Sabres on Saturday night, while their second game against the Waverley Falcons was a nail biter as they secured the win by four points.

After putting up two great performances in round one the Pioneers sit fifth on the ladder in the conference on percentage.

The first quarter of the game against Sandringham was a high scoring affair with the Pioneers edging a lead after a 28-25 first term.

In the second quarter the Pioneers began to pull away as they held the Sabres to 11 points, to be up 55-36 at half time.

The Sabres refused to back down in the second half after a slow first half, winning the quarter 22-20 to trail by 17 heading into the final stanza.

The final quarter was another tight battle with Sandringham determined to deny the Pioneers an easy win, however the Mount Gambier side held their ground and cme away with the win 97-79.

On his Pioneers debut, new signing Akech Allir put up a dominant performance, scoring 22 points, grabbing nine rebounds, recording three blocks and draining three three pointers.

Also on debut was Christian Peevy who had a great game with 19 points and two steals.

Vice captain Nick Marshall set the tone for the team all night, finishing with a double double of 20 points and 10 boards as well as leading the game in steals with three.

Head Coach Richard Hill thought his side played better than he expected in its first win and was particularly impressed by the performances of Allir and Marshall.

The Pioneers’ second game of the double header was a much closer game.

The first quarter against the Falcons was close and low scoring with the Pioneers edging a narrow lead of 18-17.

The second quarter followed the same theme, and after an intense 10 minutes scores were tied 34 a piece.

In the new half the Pioneers did an exceptional job at slowing down the Falcons’ offence.

The Pioneers held them to nine points in the quarter and built a small lead after scoring 16 points in returns, heading into the final quarter up 50-43.

Waverley charged back into the game in the last quarter, determined to take it down to the wire.

But after some big plays by Nick Marshall and Titus Robinson late in the quarter the Pioneers came away with a four point victory and a final score of 67-63.

Nick Marshall filled the stat sheet having 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.

Off the bench vice captain Titus Robinson played with some great hustle and energy, finishing the game with a double double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Allir was also great on the boards against the Falcons, leading the game with 13.

Hill said he noticed a change in match styles on the weekend, with the first game very different to the second

“Waverley was a totally opposite game, it was just a really physical dog fight,” he said.

“Both teams struggled to score, defence was the name of the game.

“We played tough but we just did not function that well offensively.”

This week the Castec Rural 

Pioneers play their home opener at Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre on Saturday night against the Frankston Blues before they take on the Ballarat Miners on Sunday afternoon.

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