Aclose game of NBL1 South basketball was played at the Icehouse on Saturday between the Castec Rural Supplies Mount Gambier Pioneers and North-West Tasmania in round 13 of the season.
The encounter could not have started any better for the home team with Nick Marshall sinking the first basket just 60 seconds into play.
Michael Harris also inked his name into the scorebook early with a nice three-point jump shot, while Clevon Brown, Jordan Rawls and Tom Kubank also helped the Pioneers gain a lead during the first term.
However, Sean Macdonald, Fabijan Krslovic, Matt Kenyon and Jacob Furphy were in fine form for North-West as they found the basket on multiple occasions, but it was the visiting team taking a three-point lead into first break.
In the second quarter the visitors continued their momentum to get an early jump with Cameron Brown, Macdonald, Furphy, Kye Savage and Kenyon upping the ante.
The Castec Rural Supplies Pioneers men’s team then had some work to do being 14 points down at the halfway mark of the second term.
Harris, Brown, Kubank and Rawls showed fighting spirit and chipped away at the deficit, but North-West Tasmania held its nerve to go into the main break with a 10-point lead.
Something was needed from the Mount Gambier side after the main break and the Pioneer’s defence brought the home team back into play.
Kubank was hot on the rebounds, while Harris was prolific shooting from all angles and suddenly the scoreboard was levelled during the dying seconds of the term.
But Kye Savage made the most of a couple of free throws to give his team an exceedingly small two point lead at the last change to set up a thrilling finish.
In the final term both teams pushed themselves to the maximum, keeping scoring even as neither side could break away.
Rawls put the Pioneers on the board first, but North-West Tasmania responded through Furphy and Macdonald to open a small bit of breathing space.
Furphy and Macdonald were the main stays of the Thunder’s run to the finish line alongside Krslovic and Kenyon.
Despite Mount Gambier’s best efforts, North-West Tasmania always managed to hold a small lead to keep the hosts at arm’s length.
But a Harris three-point jump shot broke the game open before Kenyon immediately responded with a layup to re-establish the lead ahead of a time out which allowed players to reset with a minute to go.
The Pioneers had one last gasp at taking the lead with a Rawls double play bringing the difference to just two points with 12 seconds left.
It was a nail bitter as a turnover gave de Wit a chance to even the scores, but the ball bounced out of the ring and North-West Tasmania held on by three points.