While it was a round of mixed results the NBL1 South’s Opening Round was certainly an exciting one, with our Ranger Women battling hard but coming up short and our Ranger Men splitting their games with a win at home and a loss against Frankston.
It all tipped off with our Ranger Men’s clash against that Frankston Blues team, a tough, physical game that was tight right up until the final minutes. Falling behind early, our Dandenong stars fought tooth & nail to get back in this contest, using their withering defense to claw back the lead and draw even with six minutes to play. Momentum looked to be in our favour but the Blues just managed to keep their noses in front with their veterans making smart plays at both ends. While we turned the ball over too many times on the night (16 turnovers) our Men shot the ball well, a sign of things to come the following night.
They’d take on the Casey Cavaliers in that contest as part of our NBL1 Home Opener event at Dandenong Stadium, the #RangerNation’s first taste of NBL1 action in nearly a year! Casey came in confident and full of fire after winning their NBL1 debut against Melbourne and we expected a strong challenge from them on Saturday night. The Cavaliers delivered exactly that but our Ranger Men met them head on, taking on their early heat and topping it to lead at the first break 25-19. From there our Rangers held the Cavs at arm’s length for the rest of the game, using superb defense and a scorching hot performance by Dyson King-Hawea to take the victory and protect home court.
Dyson’s 35 point, 11 rebound and 6 assist performance will surely rank among the best in the NBL1 South’s opening round, no doubt putting him into the running for Player Of The Week. Every time the Rangers needed a big basket we saw Dyson deliver, something Coach Samantha Woosnam will be sure to look to in the season ahead.
For our Ranger Women it was a round of strong effort but little reward, falling to Frankston and Casey in two defensive struggles. Both the Rangers and their opponents looked to be finding their feet in Round One and Rangers coach Mason Rogers will be looking to build team chemistry quickly as the season progresses.
Getting WNBL star Emilee Harmon back in the fold start in Round Two will definitely help the Rangers, who missed her paint precense in each outing on the weekend. Both contests featured a very perimeter heavy offense which was reflected on the stat sheet as our Ranger Women shot just 31% across Round One. Getting inside looks and access to driving lines proved difficult in each game, which forced the Rangers to claw leads back using strong effort on defense.
That effort was definitely there as our Women did a great job of challenging each shot and interrupting the rhythm of the Blues and Cavs on offense. The only thing that really hurt them was giving up extra possessions on the offensive glass with Frankston and Casey grabbing 16+ extra possessions. That extra scoreboard pressure ended up weighing down our Ranger Women with the team unable to slow their opponents down enough after giving up early leads.
As mentioned, getting Emilee back next week will definitely help our Rangers Women as we solidify our rotation and positions going forward, giving our young stars the structure in place to thrive. Look forward to a big rebound performance this Saturday in Nunawading against our old rivals the Spectres!
NEXT WEEK’S NBL1 ACTION
Dandenong Rangers @ Nunawading Spectres
Saturday April 30 | Women 5:30PM | Men 7:30PM
Nunawading Basketball Stadium
Catch all the action LIVE at nbl1.com.au/watch