Hornets down Redbacks
Horsham Hornets maintained their Wimmera supremacy with a 30-point win against Ararat Redbacks at Horsham Basketball Stadium on Friday night, but coaches of both sides see scope for improvement.
The Hornets got out to an early lead against the Redbacks in their second meeting of the season, maintaining the ascendancy throughout an 86-56 win.
Horsham looked sharp from the opening tip, jumping into passing lanes on defense and pushing the ball quickly off of turnovers.
It generated plenty of easy transition scores for the home team, with Tim Pickert and Matt Lovel helping put the Hornets up 22-4 late in the quarter.
Ararat, missing conference-leading scorer Zac Dunmore through injury, looked as if it might be routed, but dug its heels in and ¿QDOO\ VWDUWHG JHWWLQJ VWRSV DQG VFRUHV
Forwards Logan Spark, Toby Smith and Josh Fiegert gave the Redbacks a boost in WKH ODWH ¿UVW DQG HDUO\ VHFRQG TXDUWHUV DQG helped the visitors turn the game into a scrappy affair.
Although Ararat never truly threatened to UHWDNH WKH OHDG LW ZDV DEOH WR VWRS WKH ÀRZ of Horsham baskets.
Guard Sam Cronin was a clear standout for the Redbacks, scoring a team-high 10 points and doing a superb job defensively on Horsham’s Jeremiah Mckenzie.
Mckenzie was notably subdued, held to just four points after scoring more than 20 in his previous three games. Mckenzie wasn’t the only Hornet to struggle with his shot, as the team failed to nail several open looks IURP WKH SHULPHWHU LQ WKH ¿UVW KDOI
Mitch Martin shook Horsham out of its shooting slump with 12 straight points either side of three-quarter-time, including back-toback three pointers.
0DUWLQ ¿QLVKHG ZLWK SRLQWV ZKLOH /RYHO and Pickert had 20 apiece.
Ararat’s DJ Woods battled through illness WR ¿QLVK ZLWK VHYHQ SRLQWV ZKLOH &URQLQ Spark, Fiegert and Adan Wisby all chipped in on the scoresheet.
Redbacks coach Marcus Jenkins said he was pleased his side – shorthanded with Woods’ illness and injuries to Dunmore and Jayden Wright – had battled all night.
“I was very happy to keep them below 100, and to keep one of their leading scorers in ‘Jezza’ Mckenzie to four points is really good team basketball,” he said.
“Sam Cronin killed it – that was one of our aims this week was to keep Jezza quiet.”
Hornets playing coach Cam Bruce said his team’s fast start had been encouraging, but WKHUH ZHUH VWLOO ÀDZV WR LURQ RXW
“We aim to get 10 fastbreak points a quarWHU DQG ZH JRW ZLWKLQ WKH ¿UVW ¿YH PLQ utes purely because we were playing with really good defensive intensity,” he said.
“Our start is something we’ve been working on, so I’m happy with that but it’s just about putting through four quarters.
“Hopefully we’ll work towards that in the next couple of weeks.”
The Hornets will face their toughest test of the season when they take on fellow undefeated team Mount Gambier for top spot on the south-west conference ladder in a Saturday night road game.
They travel to play Portland Coasters on 6XQGD\ LQ ZKDW FRXOG EH D VHDVRQ GH¿QLQJ road trip.
Ararat will make a trip to Geelong to take on the Supercats on Saturday, before returning home to host Terang Tornadoes on Sunday afternoon.
Jenkins said his side believed it could win both games and keep its season alive.
“Hopefully we can build on this game, and if we play good team basketball we can win both of them,” he said.
“We had a lot of close misses at the basket and our shots weren’t dropping, so if we start converting some of those we know we can be competitive with the best teams.”
Horsham Lady Hornets will emerge rested from a bye at the weekend to take on the Portland Coasters on Sunday.
Portland got the better of Horsham in the ¿UVW PDWFK RI WKH VHDVRQ EXW WKH /DG\ +RU nets have not lost a game since.
The sides occupy the top two spots on the ladder with identical 4-1 records, with Portland narrowly ahead of Horsham on percentage.
,W ZLOO EH WKH ¿QDO PHHWLQJ RI WKH VHDVRQ IRU WKH VLGHV XQOHVV WKH\ PHHW LQ ¿QDOV JLY ing the winner a big boost in the race for the minor premiership.