In a thrilling afternoon of NBL1 Basketball our Rangers were able to complete the home sweep against Frankston, defeating the Blues in two tight and fiery contests at Dandenong Stadium.
Both teams secured much needed wins in games that came down to the wire with our Women winning 72-70 and our Men defeating Frankston in overtime 105-101.
The day started off with the 2PM Women’s clash, a back-and-forth contest throughout with each team trading leads early. We were once again led by Emilee Harmon on offense who provided a steadying presense early when our outside shooters struggled in the first half. It took a while for Gemma Potter, Luisa Fakalata and Clare Camac to find their rhythm in the contest which made Emilee’s performance all the more important, especially with Frankston shooting hot early.
With Tessa Lavey, Kate Gaze and Ella Batish all suiting up yesterday the Blues had plenty of firepower, despite missing Darcee Garbin with Opals duties, and it showed early as they matched the Rangers shot-for-shot and eventually led going into the main break. Tessa Lavey was able to fling the ball around both inside and outside the paint and find open shooters, finshing the first half up 37-36 and looking dangerous heading into the third quarter.
However our Ranger Women were able to find some answers on defense and find their shot on offense in that third period, tightening up their perimeter defense and working hard to find more consistent looks. Gemma Potter in particular came to life in the third quarter, giving the Rangers a strong second option to go as she slashed through the Blues defense and worked hard to follow up shots on the glass.
With Gemma and Emilee hiring the Rangers were able to take control of the game, building up solid buffer going into the third quarter. But the Blues weren’t about to lie down and take the loss as they kept fighting to make the margin smaller and smaller. They whittled down a seven point lead to five, then three and then took the lead midway through the quarter with some sharp shooting from deep, up 67-66 with four minutes to play. From there the game turned into a rock fight with only 9 points total scored for the rest of the quarter as both teams battled hard to close out shooters and crash the glass for extra offensive possessions.
Luckily for Rangers fans we were able to battle that little bit harder late with our bigger Dandenong bodies giving us an advantage in the paint. We worked to re-take the lead and were up 2 with just one Blues possession late, with Frankston calling a timeout with 9 seconds to go. Thankfully their final possession was too clunky to work, leaving an action until too late in the shot clock and handing the Rangers a 72-70 victory.
Our Men’s contest was similarly tight and entertaining throughout, coming not only down to the dying minutes but a few more as the teams finished tied up after the fourth quarter.
The NBL1 South world was left a bit stunned in the first half as our Rangers matched the Blues shot-for-shot on offense and eventually surpassed them in the second quarter, with offensive flow usually something thas has taken our Dandenong Men a while to develop in each contest this season. Instead of that slow start our Rangers came out firing from the tip and worked hard for every point, rebound and stop, clearly wanting this revenge win after dropping the season opener in Frankston.
Finishing the first half up by five was a terrific result for our Men but you knew the Blues would be firing back in the second half as the game got chippier with former teammates talking non-stop to each other on the court. Former Rangers captain Lucas Barker, in his usual floor general role, led the Blues brilliantly on offense but just as noticeable was his banter with his ex-teammates, constantly challenging Ranger shooters including Puoch Puoch and Max Richards. Daring them to shoot, calling out their free throws and trading barbs, Barker challenged the Rangers on offense and luckily for Rangers fans they met that challenge.
While Blues import Dillon Stith struggled on offense the rest of his teammates stepped up in the second half, with Lucas and Lachlan Barker gunning strong from the perimeter and their bench able to find some solid open looks to tie things up in the dying minutes. From there both teams traded leads until the fourth quarter’s final seconds, with some big shots looking likely to break the game open but ultimately missing, forcing the game into an exciting overtime period.
Our Rangers would’ve been disappointed to let their lead get cut down in that second half but you wouldn’t have known it in the OT period. They worked hard at both ends and simply had more energy than the Blues, challenging every shot and working hard on the glass to box out some big Frankston bodies. Particularly impressive was the play of Lawson Eales who has stepped up bigtime with the absence of Dyson King-Hawea. Lawson led the Rangers all night with his steadying presense on offense and hard work on the glass, finishing the contest with 21 points and 9 rebounds. He worked in tandem with young Ranger big man Ellis Biggar who excelled in his second game as a starter, picking up 16 points of his own and keeping the Blues out of the paint.
They were able to do exactly that in the overtime period with their young legs keeping them fresher than the Blues. After one strong defense possession Jacob Davison was able to hit a back-breaking three against the Blues late, giving the Rangers enough breathing room to play for time late, secure (and hit) some free throws and grab an important W against their south-east rival.
The league will now take a break over the Queen’s Birthday weekend, giving our Rangers time to reflect on a strong weekend and the chance to plan for a bigger & better second half of the season. We’ll be back in action at home on Sunday June 19th as welcome in the Ballarat Miners, see you then #RangerNation!
NEXT NBL1 RANGERS HOME GAME
Dandenong Rangers vs. Ballarat Miners
Sunday June 19th – Dandenong Stadium
Women 2PM | Men 4PM
GAME TICKETS: www.tinyurl.com/roundeight