BALLARAT remains in the hunt for South East Australian Basketball League finals.
The Ballarat Holden Miners remain in play-off contention with upset wins over south conference leaders Nunawading (second) and Knox (first) at the weekend.
The sixth-placed Miners are locked in a four-way battle for third and fourth going into the last week of the regular season.
Those spots are held down by Albury-Wodonga and Hobart. Kilsyth is fifth.
If Ballarat, Albury-Wodonga, Hobart and Ballarat all win their remaining games, each will finish on 16 wins.
The Miners have two more games to play, while the other three have just one apiece.
In this case it will then go to how each fared in match-ups with one another and might also go as far as percentage. Ballarat is well placed in the latter.
The Miners face east conference leader Dandenong away and east conference fourth-placed Frankston at home and anything less than two wins will put their push at finals in jeopardy.
It is another massive assignment, but the way they accounted for Nunawading 89-63 on Saturday night and Knox 84-79 yesterday the Miners will have every chance – especially with the incentive of play-offs.
What might be the pivotal moment in Ballarat’s season came five minutes, 26 seconds into the second quarter against Knox at the Minerdome yesterday.
Raiders man mountain Lestor Strong, who for several seasons has been a thorn in the side of the Miners, was called for a foul and then two technical fouls as he remonstrated with referees.
Not only did this cause him to be benched for significant time, it meant when he returned to action he was tentative and unable to play his natural game as tried to avoid a fifth foul.
The fouls saw Shaun Bruce and Tim Coenraad add five points from six consecutive free throws to kick the Miners out to an 11-point lead.
Knox was always going to fight back.
Ballarat led by 18 points early in the last quarter, but tightened up on the end of a Raiders’ three-point barrage.
Ultimately it took a cool Ryan Barnes with eight clutch points to seal the deal.
Coenraad almost certainly sealed the SEABL player of the week award with 37 points against Nunawading backed up by another 20 yesterday as the Miners put together two of their best team performances of the season.