The OneFortyOne Mount Gambier Pioneers women’s side was forced to toil hard during a daunting resumption in its maiden NBL1 South campaign last weekend.
After a month away from the court, the side was thrown into the deep end with a doubleheader on the road against Kilsyth and Nunawading.
The hosts both overcame the Pioneers comfortably, but coach Matt Sutton said there were pleasing aspects from the Victorian road trip.
“There were some positives to take away and we were very happy to be back on the court competing in real games,” he said.
“The second half of both third quarters were really pleasing to get within range before it blew out again.
“We lacked a bit of polish and mental focus against teams that were ready to go, while we were still trying to find our groove.
“We rotated the players through towards the end of the games and I think they will feel better for the run.” Despite a promising opening minute, Mount Gambier’s lack of court time was noticeable in the first game against the Cobras when the hosts doubled the visitors score before quarter time.
Kilsyth was strong in defence and only allowed the Pioneers to compile 24 points in the first half, while Briahna Whatman and Lauren Scherf did the damage at the other end of the court scoring 41 collectively.
The Cobras game will live long in the memory of Sophie Miles, who made her Pioneers debut following a switch from Adelaide side Forestville to the Ice House.
Sutton said the Naracoorte youngster earnt the maiden jumper after impressing at training during the COVID break.
“We are really happy to have Sophie involved with the group,” he said.
“She shoots the ball well and gets to the hoop and we have been very pleased with what she has been able to do at training and definitely deserved the opportunity.” A rising Nunawading team handed Mount Gambier its third consecutive defeat.
However, the visitors enjoyed a fast start with a couple of long shots gaining an early lead before the home side snatched the momentum and controlled the remainder of the contest.
Spectres defender Rachel Brewster consistently troubled the Pioneers offense, while Rachel Antoniadou and Izzy Wright both broke the 20-point barrier.
Mount Gambier’s effort was once again led by Sherrie Calleia, who continued her brilliant form by scoring 24 points during 25 hot minutes on the court.
The burst pushed the Pioneers back into the contest, but a poor final term consigned them to defeat.
Geelong and Sandringham sit 10th and 11th on the ladder respectively and loom as tough prospects for Mount Gambier this weekend.
Sutton said tomorrow night’s visit to Geelong will be a challenge, while he cant wait to see the home fans at the Ice House again.
“Geelong is a really deep team with Australian and WNBA talent, so we will have our work cut out,” he said.
“We are looking forward to getting back in front of our home fans and we only went down by two points to Sandringham last time, so I think we match up well.
“But based on the fact we have two games under our belt, we will be more hardened and ready.”