You’d forgive our NBL1 Men & Women for looking like they just played four quarters of AFL action on the weekend after two tough outings against NW Tasmania and Launceston, falling to both in what was a rough night for Rangers fans.
The night started off in chaotic fashion with the Men’s clash swapped to first-up at the last minute as the Launceston Tornadoes managed flight issues across Bass Strait. Despite this interruption the NW Tasmania Thunder didn’t miss a beat against our Ranger Men, piling on the points in the first half and making this game look like an early blowout.
They locked our shooters down on defense and played physical ball at both ends which made things difficult for our Rangers, especially Dyson King-Hawea and Jacob Davison who were both managing injuries coming into this game. Jacob Davison in particular looked proppy in the first half which eventually forced him to the bench for the rest of the contest.
But to Dyson and the rest of the Ranger Men’s credit they continued to push on and grind down the Thunder’s lead, turning up the heat on defense and utilizing their length at both ends. After a spotty first half we saw a big rise out of Puoch Puoch in the 2nd as well, filling in on offense as Dyson battled injury and using his length while staying out of foul trouble.
The Rangers managed to pull the lead back all the way to 1 point thanks to a Mason Perry three early in the fourth quarter, a superb effort after being down 17 at the main break. Unfortunately the Rangers used up all their gas getting back into the contest, unable to find that final gear to overcome the Thunder in the dying minutes. NW Tasmania managed to take back control of the game and keep our Dandenong Men at arm’s length for the rest of the contest, winning 70-59.
Going forward the Rangers will need to stop their habit of trying to dig themselves out of big holes by playing high-energy defense when they have their backs against the wall. Puoch Puoch is so often the barometer for this team and if he can make smart plays around the rim and defend without fouling he can put the Rangers in position to grab more Ws this season.
The Tornadoes might’ve had a whirlwhind trip to Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night but they came out with poise and purpose against our Ranger Women, handing our girls an authoratitive 92-65 loss at home.
It was in a sense to be expected with Launceston sporting a Keely Froling & Kelsey Griffin combo in 2022, two impressive WNBL veterans that know how to play and win together. Without Sherry Glennie to help battle these two it was going to be a tough night for the Rangers, leaving Emilee Harmon the sole true big to battle these stars.
To Emilee’s credit she did a superb job of doing exactly that all night, trying her hardest at both ends to keep the Rangers in the game and taking on the offensive burden whenever her teammates needer her to. Picking up 29 points and 10 rebounds, Emilee did all she could against the dynamic Tornado duo and should be commended for her amazing efforts in leading our young Ranger team.
But that duo was too much for the collective Rangers defense to handle on the night as Froling and Griffin combined for 68 points and 28 rebounds, punishing our Dandenong Women inside the paint. While we battled hard on each possession to keep them off the glass and out of the lane their athleticism and savvy on the night was overwhelming and led to a 92-65 Launceston win.
Next up our NBL1 Rangers Men & Women will hit the road, taking on the Keiltor Thunder and Kilsyth Cobras in a big double-header Round 5. While things didn’t go our way this weekend there’s still plenty of time to rebound strong and grab some Ws in this early part of the season….GO RANGERS!
NEXT NBL1 RANGERS HOME GAME
Dandenong Rangers vs. Sandringham Sabres
Saturday May 28th – Dandenong Stadium
Women 6PM | Men 8PM
GAME TICKETS: tinyurl.com/roundsix