FRUSTRATION seeped into Ballarat Miners’ game and they lost their way.
An 18-point loss to North-West Tasmania will not hurt their top-four status in South East Australian Basketball League’s east conference.
But it did not bolster their finals prospects either.
Thunder is ranked second in the league’s south pool and had come off a five-point loss to in-form powerhouse Dandenong a night before arriving at the MARS Minerdome.
Calls against the GMHBA Miners made it hard to muster momentum and maintain focus.
Thunder broke away and quickly became clear in control of the match.
The Miners matched Thunder through an exciting opening half and were seemingly set to claw back from an eight-point deficit at the main break.
By half-way through the third quarter, the margin had boomed out to 17 points.
Ken Horton, a three-time player of the week, continued his starring role for the Miners with 37 points, 17 rebounds and four assists - Horton put up 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds under Thunder’s control in the second half.
He was instrumental in reeling Thunder back from a 26-point lead in the fourth quarter but, by this stage, a Thunder victory was never close to being in doubt.
Thunder’s Nathan Wilson (23 points, 12 rebounds) and import Tyrone Lee (17 points, 14 rebounds) were all-round dangerous.
The entire Thunder starting five, led by Robert Jenkins’ 28 points, notched up double figure scores.
Dyricus Edwards (16 points) and Anthony Fisher (14 points) were Horton’s only key scoring support.
It was a disappointing finish for the Miners, who opened the match in a series of highlight reel-worthy plays, including a flying dunk from Anthony Fisher and emphatic Nathan Sobey block that had the crowd roaring.
Miners’ legends were courtside, following a gala reunion dinner for the Miners’ 1989 team, reminiscing quarter-by-quarter on their unlikely Victorian Basketball Association title win against national powerhouse Melbourne Tigers.