Important home clash awaits at Icehouse

Just a week after one of the biggest weekend’s in the club’s history, the Mount Gambier Pioneers men and women will need to get themselves up for another important home contest against Melbourne Tigers this Saturday night.

But getting the OneFortyOne Pioneers off cloud nine after a famous win over Geelong last Friday night could be a challenge.

The fight with the Supercats was the must-watch encounter of the fifth NBL1 South round with both teams going for the ladder lead.

Neither was in the mood to give it up with Matthew Paton – a former assistant to Castec Rural Pioneers head coach Richard Hill – leading a well-drilled Geelong team, which pushed the unforgettable contest into overtime.

At one stage Mount Gambier looked to be dead and buried trailing by six points with two minutes left before Shakera Reilly brought the Icehouse down with a clutch three-point jump shot to steal the win and maintain the ladder lead.

Riding every moment was OneFortyOne Pioneers head coach Matt Sutton, who said it was one of the best wins he has been a part of.

“It was a really nice moment for the group,” he said.

“Sometimes you need a bit of luck, but I think we made our own luck on the night, so it was a great reward for everyone.

“I am not sure what I did with my body (during the winning moment) but I am sure it was some sort of convulsion, but it was just a really good play.

“I thought Sherrie Calleia made a really good decision, Hannah Young was going to set a screen, but she made the choice not to which was important for our spacing and all those things led to Shakera being open.

“When you feel under-prepared heading into the game, go six points down in overtime with foul trouble and girls with some massive minutes was going to be a big challenge.

“But the girls always had belief, kept their cool and won with some really good basketball.”

After having played three massive games within six days, the OneFortyOne Pioneers will take on the Tigers this Saturday with the luxuries of an eight-day break and being on top of the ladder.

Mount Gambier will be without the services of Madeline Wormald, who hurt her hip last week and was ruled out moments before tip off which made the Geelong win even more miraculous.

Although the Pioneers and Tigers sit first and 18th respectively on the ladder, Sutton’s team cannot afford to be complacent after Melbourne won the previous clash 106-64 last year.

The Castec Rural Pioneers’ winning streak might be over, but only by the barest of margins which is why Hill is not too disappointed by the result.

It took an almighty four-quarter effort by the Supercats to break Mount Gambier’s streak and the coach said a small drop off in the second term proved costly.

“They were a very good team so you could look at it two ways thinking we did great to give ourselves a chance of winning or we let it slip, which is sport,” he said.

“I was really pleased because we thought very hard against a team that had a physical advantage all over the floor.

“We had a horrible second quarter and last four minutes, so we did a good job to get 10 points up in the last, but just could not close it out and did not defend too well.”

The Supercats game was the Pioneers’ first chance to play close to their best line up with captain Tom Daly returning from sickness and import Clevon Brown making an entertaining debut.

Hill said both would take some time to settle in and find their best as another important home game against Melbourne looms where Mount Gambier hopes to maintain its perfect head-to-head record.

“Tom is a long way off from being in decent game shape and he just relieved Kane de Wit a little bit against Geelong,” he said.

“We can probably handle him just playing a little bit this weekend, but will need him back to his best soon.

“Clevon was good and would have liked to play him more, but he got into a little bit of foul trouble and in the last quarter his contact lens got stuck in his eye lid and he could not see.

“So he was not able to play after that which hurt us, but his first game was pretty good.

“I still feel reasonably confident going into this game, but Melbourne is a good shooting team and this is a must-win game for us.”

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