Five on the trot for Pioneers

DESPERATION: Sherrie Calleia puts her body on the line as she launches through enemy defences. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

James Murphy

A DOMINANT 31-13 opening quarter set a up a 16-point victory for the Mount Gambier Pioneers women over Launceston on Saturday night at Wulanda.

Samantha Fatkin hit the first points of the game for the Pioneers and from there it was a solid effort across the board, finished with a three-point basket from Haliegh Reinoehl to stun the Tornadoes.

“We had some really good defensive possessions that led to some easy scores for us,” Pioneers coach Matt Sutton said.

“Getting a lead like that early was probably the difference in the game.”

Launceston hit back in the second term, outscoring the Pioneers by five points, but it was not enough to close the margin sufficiently.

The tables were turned again the third term, with the Pioneers up 23-11 for a 25-point advantage at the final break.

It left plenty of work for the visitors and while they closed the margin by nine points, the Pioneers were able to relax and get some valuable court time into some of the younger members.

The final minute of play had Keryl Ousey, Cara Nulty, Tenielle Human, Ava Collins and Poppy Venn take the floor in a special moment for the local stars.

The youngsters worked hard to hold the Tornadoes, with Venn sinking a layup with just five seconds on the game clock to seal the 79-63 point victory.

“It is nice to get the opportunity to get some time into them,” Sutton said.

“I think it was the first time Poppy Venn had scored, which was an important moment in her basketball career.

“We are really happy that she could do that.”

Isabella Brancatisano was on fire throughout the night, with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.

She narrowly missed a triple-double performance, with eight assists complementing another huge performance from the captain.

“She has been doing a great job with her leadership and she continues to be an outstanding defender as well as really important for us at the offensive end,” Sutton said.

Sutton also singled out Sherrie Calleia, who he thought played an influential role on the night, while Zitina Aukuso was another highlight as she contributed 16 points.

Reinoehl shot 14 and Fatkin finished on 13 in another well-rounded team performance.

Reinoehl also managed a double-double, with 10 rebounds.

After five matches the Pioneers women are undefeated and sit in fourth position on the NBL1 South leaderboard.

With the standard of the competition so high this season, such a strong start has put the team in a good place moving forward.

Despite some new faces, the side looks good on court and should only improve as the year progresses.

“We like our team balance,” Sutton said.

“The chemistry is still evolving but we like how everyone fits together.”

The Pioneers next hit the floor when hosting ladder leader Keilor Thunder this Friday night at Wulanda.