Wildcats claw out tough win

The Castec Rural Supplies Mount Gambier Pioneers men’s team played host to the travelling Eltham Wildcats at the Icehouse on Saturday night.

The Pioneers were on the back foot early being without Michael Harris due to an ankle injury the week before.

In front of a large crowd play got under way and it was the Wildcats that made the first basket by Joshua Sykes.

Sykes was the playmaker along with Owen Foxwell and Mitchell Dance for the Eltham side in the first quarter.

Nick Marshall got Mount Gambier under way and made another shot to narrow the lead with the support of Kane de Wit and Tom Kubank.

But the Wildcats stunned the home team and the crowd to take a seven-point lead into the first change.

In to the second quarter Foxwell was assisted by Deng Kuany, Aleksander Bandilovski, Ovie Magbegor, Dance and Christian Yammouni to keep their lead intact.

But the Pioneers dug deep thanks to Kubank, Marshall, Eric Burdon, Tom Daly, Jordan Rawls and De Wit who all turned up the dial and tried to narrow the gap.

Their work was enough to cut the deficit down to four points, but the hosts still entered the main break on the back foot.

But something must have been said by Mount Gambier coach Richard Hill at the break with Kubank striking early to take over the lead.

Despite a brief fightback by Eltham’s Magbegor, captain Daly lifted the Castec Rural Supplies Pioneers with some big plays to gain a seven point lead early in the third term.

Dance and Magbegor for the Wildcats combined to narrow the gap along with the playmaker Foxwell and Sam Whelan.

It became a back and forth game of basketball with the lead changing hands multiple times until Foxwell, Whelan and Magbegor stepped up for Eltham and put the pedal to the medal to go to the last change with a nine-point lead.

In the last term the Pioneers needed a lift and it was Rawls who found the basket early.

But the Wildcats had their tails up and Noah Todd extended the lead not only once but twice in a matter of 40 seconds.

The five of Daly, Kubank, Marshall, De Wit and Burdon strived to lift the Pioneers during the last quarter but Dance, Whelan, Foxwell all stood up for Eltham to take out the win by five points.

It was a big scalp for the Wildcats after they lost their previous five games and for coach Craig Stratford, who got one over his old club.

The Castec Rural Supplies Pioneers will be on the road travelling to Melbourne to take on Sandringham and Diamond Valley.

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