THIS was always going to be a formidable test in Ballarat Miners’ post-Booker era this season.
Dandenong arrived at the MARS Minerdome with momentum of a six-game winning streak and shook off the GMHBA Miners to claim number seven by 14 points on Saturday night.
Miners’ recruit Dyricus Edwards is adapting well to the team’s game – but this was just his third South East Australian Basketball League appearance.
Pressure has intensified for the Miners’ road trip to Bendigo on Friday night.
Falling to their in-form conference rival has split the Miners’ season record at nine wins and nine losses.
Just like Bendigo’s record in the competition’s south ranks.
The Miners still remain clear in their conference top four but cannot afford to slip.
Just like Bendigo.
Then the Miners have to back up a night later to host Brisbane – the team aiming to steal its spot in the east four.
They looked strong against the Rangers in the opening half on Saturday night.
The Rangers stepped up their game after the break and the Miners’ struggled to find strong answers.
Scores had been locked 45 points apiece at half-time.
Ken Horton, SEABL player of the week last round, was solid with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
He alone was no match for Rangers’ duo Daequon Montreal (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Tony Lewis (23 points, 13 rebounds), particularly on the boards.
The Rangers support roles, like nine assists from captain Andrew Harms, and dominant scoring in the paint gave the Miners big headaches.
Miners’ guard Anthony Fisher had a strong game with 17 points (field goals at 60 per cent accuracy), seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Nathan Sobey’s big plays thrilled the crowd as he topped Miners’ scoring with 20 points.
Once the Rangers had powered ahead in an 18-point to nine third quarter, there was little stopping them.
*Fan favourite Roy Booker made his first match appearance since surgery on his lower leg a fortnight ago.
Booker, sporting crutches, was busy signing autographs with young fans and, importantly, supporting his team on the bench.