Mixed weekend for Pioneers men

It was a big double header for the Castec Rural Supplies Mount Gambier Pioneers men’s side last weekend.

The 11th round of the NBL1 South Conference season also coincided with NAIDOC Week with the Pioneers sporting a special Indigenous jersey in their back-to-back battles.

The first contest was against the Diamond Valley Eagles and the home side jumped out of the blocks early thanks to Ngor Manyang and Dane Pineau.

But the Pioneers’ knuckled in with Nick Marshall, Tom Daly and Tom Kubank helping the side take back the lead.

Eagle Benjamin Allen closed the gap, but Mount Gambier responded through Marshall to extend the lead to eight points at the first change.

Players were on song for the Castec Rural Supplies Pioneers with Michael Harris, Marshall, Kubank and Brown all finding the basket to protect the lead going into half time.

After the main break it was neck-and-neck, with both teams trading baskets on every available opportunity and exciting the crowd with whirlwind play.

Diamond Valley’s Manyang, Joel Capetola and Mark Scherf rallied together to reduce the Pioneers’ lead to just one point ahead of the final term.

It was a nerve-racking start to the last quarter where both sides did not find the basket until Clevon Brown completed a tip in.

This inspired the Pioneers to embark on a match-winning final term where Kubank, Daly, Harris and Marshall pulled up their socks to secure a 86-79 win.

Less than 24 hours later Mount Gambier suffered a 13-point loss to Sandringham Sabres.

The Pioneers got away with an early lead thanks to Marshall who was supported by Kubank and Daly.

But the Sabres’ defence fought back thanks to the efforts of Shea lli, Dion Prewster, Tom Koppens, Nicholas Gabsch and Tom Wright.

They gave the home fans something to cheer about as their team took a lead of five points into the first change.

Sandringham then put the foot down accelerating to a 17-point lead after lli ‘lit up’ around the key.

Erik Burdon, Kane de Wit, Harris, Kubank, Marshall all tried to narrow the half time margin, but the home side put a stop to that.

A rally was needed by the Mount Gambier side and it started with Marshall, Harris and Rawls.

They managed to cut the deficit down by five points to ensure they stayed in touch heading the last quarter.

But a powerhouse performance from lli put a win out of reach for the Pioneers, shooting 30 points to ensure the Sabres held on for the win.

The last quarter was an even affair as Marshall, Brown, Daly, Harris and de Wit worked hard, but Mount Gambier could not do enough as Sandringham won by 13 points.

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