Home court heartbreak

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Home court heartbreak

The Castec Rural Pioneers returned to Wulanda on Friday night only to have their hearts broken by a buzzer beater at the hands of the Eltham Wildcats.

Both teams came out firing in the first term of the NBL1 South conference clash, as they both consistently put points on the board with neither side being able to come away with a strong lead in the opening quarter.

Eltham held a one point lead at the first break, 27-26.

Neither team slowed down in the second term as they both kept their pace from the previous quarter.

Nick Marshall had a big quarter for the Pioneers, scoring nine points while only missing one shot from the field.

To end the half Marshall electrified the crowd with a “Hail Mary” three point shot to bring the Pioneers back into the one score game, trailing by a point at the break.

The Pioneers began the new half strong as they jumped to an eight point lead early in the period.

However, Mount Gambier’s lead was not safe as the Wildcats worked hard to get themselves back into the game with some aggressive play and big time shots.

Mount Gambier struggled shooting the ball in the third quarter, only draining one three and scoring a majority of their points in the paint and at the line.

Heading into the final term the score was all tied up at 69 apiece.

Once again the scoring went back and forth in the last quarter as neither side could build a lead and with just under three minutes of play, Mount Gambier found themselves with a six point lead.

The Pioneers struggled to maintain the buffer as Eltham made some big shots in the back end of the quarter.

On three consecutive offensive trips Eltham drained back to back to back threes which the Pioneers fought hard to deny, finding themselves up by a point with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.

The Wildcats rallied and had a chance to win the game with less than 10 seconds left as Mount Gambier fouled Eltham’s Owen Foxwell who went to the line to shoot two free throws.

Foxwell sunk the first to tie the game but missed the second, before Nick Marshall came up with the crucial rebound but stepped out of bounds, resulting in a turnover.

With seven seconds left Eltham had a second chance at winning the game.

Again Foxwell had the ball in his hands and came up clutch, making the contested floater to put the Wildcats up by two points with four seconds left.

After a time out from head coach Richard Hill the Pioneers had a shot at taking the game to overtime or going for glory.

With Akech Aliir inbounding he found Titus Robinson in the corner, who put up the three ball but it sailed to the right of the ring.

Christan Peevy under the basket came up with the rebound and put up a last chance shot with very little time on the clock.

Unfortunately Peevy could not make the game winning shot with the ball bouncing off the rim as time expired, with Eltham defeating Mount Gambier – 91-89.

Nick Marshall once again put together a solid performance with 30 points and eight rebounds.
Austin Shelley and Akech Aliir were also solid contributors in the game with Shelley scoring 16 and Aliir scoring 15.

After the game Nick Marshall spoke to The SE Voice about the factors resulting in him playing well over the past couple of weeks.

“It’s just getting everyone involved, I think my teammates making shots helps me a lot to be able to get open and play one on one,” he said.

“Really that’s what I have been working on, getting everyone involved, getting everyone making shots and everyone playing well together and then I will be able to take it over from there.”

With Eltham’s roster having some strong players such as Ralph Bissainthe who scored 33 points and Owen Foxwell who scored 27, Marshall reflected on what it’s like to face tough competition like that.

“It’s awesome, it’s great to go up against talent like that every week, it’s a tough league NBL1 South so we have got to be ready for it,” Marshall said.

With the Pioneers facing Geelong United again this Friday night at home Marshall focussed on what the side needs to do to prepare for another tough game.

“We have just got to reset, get back to training, focus on what we need to get better at and keep getting better as a group,” he said.

The two point loss had the Pioneers fall to 9-3 and drop to second on the ladder in the NBL1 South Conference.

The Pioneers will be back at Wulanda this Friday night to take on Geelong United.

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