Pioneers split wins at home

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Pioneers split wins at home

The Mount Gambier Pioneers split the wins on Friday night when they took on the Waverley Falcons at the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre.

The OneFortyOne Pioneers women kicked off proceedings with a 16-point win over the Falcons, before the Castec Rural Pioneers men went down by six points in NBL1 South round six action.

The stadium was bathed in pink, with players, officials and fans dressed in the hue as part of the NBL1 Pink Round in support of the Australian Breast Cancer Network.

The women went into the match without injured captain Cassandra Brown and young gun Imogen Rock but were bolstered by the return of sharp shooter Miela Goodchild.

New recruit Zitina Aokuso was also on the bench and is set to take the court for the Mount Gambier side in coming weeks.

OneFortyOne Pioneers head coach Matt Sutton said he was ecstatic to officially welcome Aokuso to Mount Gambier.

“While ‘Z’ is still a little way off hitting the court for the Mount Gambier Pioneers, this is an exciting and highly anticipated addition to the women’s team,” he said.

The women took the court against the undefeated Falcons, aiming to clip their wings.

Haleigh Reinoehl opened proceedings for the Pioneers, with the Mount Gambier side racing out to a 19-8 lead in the first five minutes of play.

Waverley fought to rein in the lead to eight, but Reinoehl stood tall for her side, dominating at both ends of the court and finished the quarter with a three pointer on the buzzer, taking her tally to 14 points for the stanza.

The Falcons regrouped in the break and went on a 10-2 scoring run, cutting the lead to five in the first two minutes of play.

The Pioneers pushed the lead back out to 10, but Waverley got back to within three points with 60 seconds on the clock, before the home side finished the quarter up 53-47.

Local youngster Edie Easterby racked up some solid court time, fighting hard to help the Pioneers hold off the charging Falcons, with the lead a solitary point at three quarter time.

Scores were levelled in the first 15 seconds of the final quarter, but the Pioneers slowly drew away from the visitors, helped by three pointers from Isabella Brancatisano, Easterby, Goodchild and Sherrie Calleia to take the win 97-81.

Goodchild and Reinoehl both recorded double-doubles, with Goodchild scoring 37 points and taking 12 rebounds, with Reinoehl on 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Brancatisano also contributed 16 points for the match.

Ahead of the men’s match, the Castec Rural Pioneers announced that Leonard Harper-Baker had signed with the club as an injury replacement for injured tall Jacob Lampkin, whose return date is uncertain.

Harper-Baker has been playing as an import with Keysborough in the Big V, averaging 14 points, 12 rebounds and two assists per game.

The Pioneers last week released US import Chris Seeley from its playing roster and at this time the club’s board is uncertain whether they will find a replacement for Seeley.

Head coach Richard Hill said he was relieved to have Harper-Baker join the team.

“Being able to find an injury replacement for Jacob at short notice is great for us, Leonard’s agent Chris Warren and Keysborough have been very helpful in facilitating this signing and I look forward to helping Leonard quickly acclimatise to our team,” he said.

In the men’s game, Waverley burst out of the blocks, racing to an 11-2 lead, before the home side called a time out to stop the visitors’ run.

Nick Marshall hit two three pointers within a minute as the Pioneers went on a 9-0 run to draw level at 15-all, finishing the quarter down 17-19.

Dylan Marshall hit a three in the opening seconds of the quarter to give the Pioneers the lead, with a second three pointer three minutes later pushing the home side out to a 27-21 buffer.

The Falcons stepped up a notch to reclaim the lead, although Harper-Baker delighted fans with a dunk to again snatch the lead back.

The Pioneers pushed out to a seven point lead with just over a minute to play thanks to a big three from Julian Pesava.

But the Falcons rallied again to finish the quarter only three points down, 36-39.

Scores were levelled in the opening minute of play, before Pesava hit a three pointer to give his side the advantage.

Waverley continued to push, reclaiming the lead with just over six minutes to play and from there steadily pulled away, finishing the quarter up 61-57.

The Pioneers made a last ditch bid for the match in the final quarter, with Nick Marshall scoring the opening two points, before captain Kane de Wit hit a nice three to give his side a slender lead.

The Falcons again pushed back, levelling the scores and then holding the Pioneers scoreless for the final four minutes of play to take the win 77-71.

The loss sees the Pioneers men now sit fourth on the ladder, after three consecutive losses.

The OneFortyOne Pioneers and the Castec Rural Pioneers will take on the Sandringham Sabres at Wulanda on Friday night.

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