The Maryborough Supa IGA Blazers claimed another victory in the North East Conference of the Country Basketball League after defeating the Wangaratta Warriors last Friday night.
The Blazers made the trip to Wangaratta slightly undermanned with big man Jason Stewart unavailable, however the inclusion of Shane O’Connor for his second game of the season gave the Blazers some height.
The long trip had an affect on the Blazers as the Warriors jumped out to a 9-0 lead early in the first quarter and the larger Warriors outfit was looking ominous.
Maryborough quickly answered cutting the home team’s lead to one point, 17-16, by quarter time.
Strong perimeter shooting in the second quarter by Matt and Sam Johnston was rewarded as the Blazers took the lead. The defensive pressure applied by Trav Cornwill and Trent Piera, intensified, allowing easy baskets and Maryborough opened up a nine point lead, 43-34, by half time.
A lack in concentration at the start of the second half let the Warriors back in when the Blazers’ lead was cut to three points, 45-42.
This sparked the Blazers into action as strong team defence and an up-tempo running game meant Maryborough ended the quarter on a 13-2 scoring run to lead by 14 points at three-quarter time, 58-44.
Youngsters’ Sam Flynn, Riley Herd and Ty Stewart all gained valuable court time and all made it onto the score sheet.
Pete Egan and O’Connor played on taller opponents and shut down their respective opponents, curbing their influence on the game as Wangaratta’s big men Todd Dalton and Rob Conway were held to just eight and seven points respectively.
The Blazers closed the game out with an emphatic 27-8 last quarter as Maryborough’s strong defence proved too much for the Warriors in the 85-52 victory.
Blazer’s coach, Matt Johnston, followed up his previous 43 point game with a dominant shooting display to lead all scorers with 40 points including eight three pointers and was well backed up by Sam Johnston 15 points and Trent Piera, 11.
The defensive pressure applied by Blazers contained the Warriors’ scoring which did not have a single player score double digits.
Johnston was thrilled with the result. “It was a really good win and the third victory on the road which is great reward for hard work.
“The strong team defence set the win up and the effort by Pete Egan and Shane O’Connor against much taller opponents was outstanding.
“It was also great to close out the game with the three development players on the floor at the end,” he said.
The Blazers next game is at home against the Albury Cougars on Sunday, December 20.
Blazers will be without coach Matt Johnston for this match who is having a three week stint in America coaching a Ballarat school basketball team.
This game’s result will be vital towards the end of the year as a good result for the Blazers will further enhance its finals chance.