By David Nagel
The Dandenong Rangers men’s team has come agonisingly close to pulling off one of the upsets of the season with a heart-stopping 72-70 loss to Ballarat Miners at the Dandenong Basketball Stadium.
The Rangers trailed by seven points with just two minutes left on the clock, but a lay-up and subsequent free-throw from Lawson Eales, and some clutch shooting from Dyson King-Hawea saw the Rangers draw level – 70-70 – inside 60 seconds of play.
Both teams had their chances to break the Sunday NBL-1 South deadlock, and it took a special put-back dunk from Preston Bungei – with just one second left of play – to see the second-placed Miners emerge with a very hard-fought victory.
Bungei was the star for the Miners, with 20 points and eight rebounds, including the game-defining basket, while a double-double to King-Hawea (22 points, 12 rebounds) almost pulled the 16th placed Rangers across the line.
Ellis Biggar (10 points) and Deng Puoch (10 rebounds) were other Rangers to show great fight against one of the competition front-runners this season.
The Rangers men were disappointing on their Saturday travels to Bendigo, with the Braves proving far too strong in a 104-61 scoreline.
The Rangers were never in it from the start with the home-court Braves leading 29-14 at quarter time and blowing that out to 57-26 at half time.
Eales, with 19 points, and Calvin Enge with 10 were the only Rangers to apply an offensive threat to the Braves.
The Rangers are back on the road this week, making the short trip to Knox to take on the sixth-placed Raiders at 8pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Rangers women’s team also suffered back-to-back losses on the weekend.
The Rangers were competitive against top-of-the-table Bendigo on Saturday, eventually going down 99-73 in Bendigo.
There were several shining lights for the Rangers, with Emilee Harmon producing a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Tenaya Sooalo (17 points) and Gemma Potter (10 points) proving creative with ball in hand.
But any positive vibes from Saturday were quickly washed away on Sunday, with the Rangers being handed a 93-48 basketball lesson by the Ballarat Miners.
Harmon was once again outstanding, with a 20-point, 11 rebound double-double, while Clare Camec also dug deep to limit the damage.
The Rangers women, who like their men counterparts also sit 16th on the ladder, take on Knox in the early game this Saturday at 6pm.