The Ballarat Miners have lost its third game of the NBL1 men's season, falling to the Waverley Falcons at home on Saturday night.
The Miners came into the game short-handed, missing captain Josh Fox, import guard Marqueze Coleman and bench shooter Ross Weightman.
Fox's absence was felt from the get-go as the Falcons forced the ball inside to Deondre McWhorter, whose size was causing issues for the Ballarat defence.
The 115 kilogram McWhorter was dominant inside, shaking off defenders to finish the contest with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Miners centre Deng Acuoth did his best to match McWhorter's output, showcasing some nice finishes around the rim and from the mid-range. Acuoth ended the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes of action.
Trailing going into the second quarter, Ballarat just couldn't seem to get its nose in front as each time the Miners looked poised to take the lead, the Falcons were there with a momentum stopping possession.
This was the case in the third quarter as well as the second, at the both sides played to a 44-44 stalemate.
Searching for energy off his bench, Miners coach Brendan Joyce tasked seldom seen youth league player Blake Allison with providing a spark, which he delivered on.
In his first real minutes of the season, Allison played solid defence, garbed rebounds and hit shots to help the Miners cut the lead to as little as three points down the stretch of the game.
Speaking to The Courier after the game, Allison said he was simply playing within his role.
"My role was just to be a tough presence on the floor, getting rebounds and playing hard defence," he said.
"I know I'm not going to score 30 or 40 points off the bench, I'm just there to try and lift the team as much as I can."
Finishing the game having played 16 minutes including some key fourth quarter stretches, Allison said it was an honour to have Joyce show so much faith in his ability.
"I come into these games with the mindset "I'll take what I'm given,"
"I'm going to play hard no matter whether if it's for 18 seconds like my first game or whatever I ended up playing in this game. Regardless of my stat-line, I'm just trying to help us get the win."
It unfortunately would not be enough for Ballarat, as some terrific shot-making by Waverley helped the side secure a 90-77 win in its pursuit of a finals spot.
The Miners next game will be its last before the NBL1 finals begin.
WAVERLEY FALCONS: 90 d BALLARAT MINERS: 77
SCORERS: Miners - Acouth 21, Short 15 (3 three-pointers), Allison 11 (1), Evans Jr 9, Fisher 9 (1), Kuany 7 (2), Dunmore 3 (1), Lingard 2. Flancons - McWhorter 29, Travis 21 (3), Arkell 11 (3), Lewis 9 (1), Harper 7 (1), Liesting 6 (2), Neville 4, Fredrickson 3 (1)
REBOUNDS - Miners 40, Falcons 44
ASSISTS - Miners 20, Falcons 22
STEALS - Miners 8, Falcons 6
BLOCKS - Miners 5, Falcons 3
T-OVERS - Miners 13, Falcons 11
FOULS - Miners 15, Falcons 11
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