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Luina Geelong Supercats 72 (D. Gatlin 22, M. Hicks 16) lost to Mt Gambier 95 (T. Daly 23, D. Alexander 22, B. Hill 18) @ Geelong Arena, Saturday night

THE three-match winning streak of the Luina Geelong Supercats has been brought to a shuddering halt by East Conference pacesetters Mt Gambier. After a scrappy opening quarter the Pioneers took control of the contest in the second period, opening up an 11-point half-time lead. Daniel Alexander was the key for Mt Gambier, scoring 12 of his game-high 22 points in that quarter, while Daniel Alexander had 10 of his game-high 23. Any hopes the Supercats had of eating into the margin were put to bed by the Pioneers piling on 33 points in the third quarter. Geelong scored 26 points of its own, but Alexander, Daly and Brad Hill, who finished with 18 points, proved hard to contain. Making life harder for the Supercats was its shooting percentage of just 28 per cent. Veteran shooter Nathan Herbert was restricted to just four points on 1-8 of shooting. That was further compounded by the absence of marksman Jamie Medved due to a calf injury. Import DeMarcus Gatlin did all he could to keep Geelong competitive. He finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Ma’alo Hicks was also solid with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Back-up guard Nathan Freind was next best offensively with nine points, which all came from beyond the arc. “We battled hard and I cannot question the effort of every player that hit the court,” coach Leon O’Neill said. “But, with the exception of DeMarcus, we were unable to make any real inroads on the scoreboard. Thankfully, despite losing by 22 on Saturday night, we have another opportunity to play Mt Gambier on Friday.”

Ladder Position: 3rd East Conference 10-5

Next week:  vs. Mt Gambier @ Bert Bruning Stadium, Friday 8:00pm

Pioneers tame Supercats

19 Jun 2017 | Geelong Advertiser |WES CUSWORTH

GEELONG coach Leon O’Neill is refusing to press the panic button despite Saturday night’s heavy, 23-point, loss to East Conference-leader Mount Gambier at the Arena.

Pioneers’ trio Tom Daly (23 points), Daniel Alexander (22) and Brad Hill (18) seized the initiative and took the crowd out of the contest early, laying the foundation to the visitors’ 95-72, win over the thirdplaced Supercats.

“They’re pretty good aren’t they? They were just better than us everywhere. We couldn’t make a shot and they couldn’t miss,” O’Neill said post-game.

“I didn’t think we were that bad, we just couldn’t make baskets when we needed to.

“Full credit to Mount Gambier’s defence. I thought it was excellent and they controlled the paint really well.”

Where Geelong laboured for points, firing at just 28 per cent from the field, the Pioneers’ free-flowing style produced a far more productive 47 per cent success at their offensive end.

Regular prolific scorer Nathan Herbert battled illness to take the court, along with coming in for heavy attention courtesy of Mount Gambier coach Richard Hill’s defensive strategy, which limited the star Supercat to an uncharacteristic four points.

“Richard coached Nathan when he was over in Adelaide and he understands what a special player he is and they generally do well in guarding him,” O’Neill said.

“But we have to be smarter and we can’t just rely on Herby to make threes.”

With Jamie Medved ruled out with a calf injury, Geelong was robbed of firepower from three-point territory before Nathan Friend chimed in with a trio of bombs late in the contest.

“Until Nathan caught fire at the end. I don’t think we made a three all night,” O’Neill said.

“We certainly missed Jamie and with Nick Owusu still sidelined it hurts us, but it is what it is.

“The team is not going to change substantially from what it is now and we just have to get better and learn to cope when teams slow Nathan down.”

Despite the dearth of scoreboard contributors, apart from DeMarcus Gatlin (22 points, eight rebounds) and Ma’alo Hicks (16 points, 10 rebounds), O’Neill was reluctant to let the loss weigh too heavily.

“It’s certainly not panic stations. We knew from the start of the year the championship runs through Mount Gambier,” the Supercats’ off-court leader said, six days out from a return clash with the Pioneers in South Australia on Friday.

“We’ll concentrate on doing the things that we do well.

“I think we can take a few things out of this game and hopefully improve a bit next week and, who knows, a week is a long time in basketball.”

Luina Geelong Lady Supercats 74 (S. Blicavs 23, A. Bunton 16, C. Horvat 13, E. Kett 10) def. Sydney Uni Sparks 51 (T. Tupaea 13, S. Greaves 12) @ Geelong Arena, Saturday night

ANOTHER impressive all-round performance from Sara Blicavs has helped the Luina Geelong Lady Supercats extend its winning streak to eight after seeing off fellow top-two aspirants Sydney Uni by 23 points. Blicavs posted 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished four assists as the Lady Supercats took another step towards to securing a sixth consecutive playoff appearance. Geelong was slow out of the blocks, trailing the Sparks by one point at quarter time. However, they took control of the contest with a 24-10 second quarter, with guard Ellen Kett having an impact with eight of her 10 points for the match during the period. Geelong’s impressive defensive effort continued in the second half, restricting the visitors to just 10 points in the third quarter and 15 in the final term. The Sparks shot the ball at just 24 per cent from the field and made 19 turnovers, with Blicavs and Ebony Rolph both grabbing four steals. WNBA-bound Sydney Uni star Tahlia Tupaea was restricted to just 13 points on 12 per cent shooting, while Shanae Greaves (12 points) was the only other Spark in double figures. For the Lady Supercats, Alex Bunton posted another double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Chantel Horvat scored 13 points and hauled in in 10 rebounds.

Ladder Position: 2nd East Conference 10-3

Next week:  vs. Sydney Uni @ Brydens Stadium, Saturday 6:00pm

Blicavs leads tower power

19 Jun 2017 | Geelong Advertiser |WES CUSWORTH

DOMINANT performances by towers Sara Blicavs, Alex Bunton and Chantel Horvat provided the catalyst to the Geelong Lady Supercats’ 23point defeat of Sydney Sparks, 74-51, despite the visitors starting brightly at the Arena on Saturday night.

Returning to the line-up from a week off, Blicavs wasted no time returning to her rich vein of form in 2017 with a double-double, 23 points and 11 rebounds, to spearhead the home side’s defeat of its New South Wales rival.

Bunton shone for the home side with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Horvat collected a double-double of her own with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Sydney was best served by Shanae Greaves (12 points) and Minnesota Lynx WNBA-draftee Tahlia Tupaea (13 points), the latter bringing a physical brand of basketball to the Arena showcourt.

“We had a slow start we couldn’t make a basket in the first quarter, but our defence held strong,” coach David Herbert said.

“That’s been a characteristic of our season so far, our defence holding together and that’s why we’re doing so well.

“So, I was really pleased with that.”

With Geelong struggling on offence early, Sydney started best to lead 16-15 at the initial break. However, with an MVPwinning performance from Bunton, Geelong took control of the glass and broke the game open with a 24-10 second term, leading 39-26 at the main interval.

With Bunton already clocking 10 points and 10 rebounds, midway through the contest, the Lady Supercats pulled further away in the third term, leading by 20 at the last change, eventually winning by 23.

Geelong won the battle of the glass by nine, along with dominating points in the paint by 20.

The Lady Supercats’ success extends their record to 10 wins and three losses, although the squad’s depth will be tested in the return clash with Sydney next Saturday, along with the gruelling Tasmanian double in the first weekend of July.

Herbert’s roster will be without Blicavs and Bunton who are part of an Australian Opals selection camp in Phoenix, Arizona, from June 25-July 3.