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Olympians break Pumas hearts in overtime thriller as Trades overcome Valley challenge

Jake Santa MariaMidwest Times
Emily Gee and Gemma Dix tip-off what was an enthralling contest.
Camera IconEmily Gee and Gemma Dix tip-off what was an enthralling contest. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

Olympians and Pumas played out a thrilling game late Tuesday night as the league leaders were pushed all the way and then some in the first overtime thriller this season.

With the clock ticking past 10pm it was the Olympians who came out on top 64-62, avoiding what would of been a huge upset by the young Pumas side.

The opening minutes of the game suggested nothing of the madness that was to come as Olympians jumped to a double-digit lead inside the first 10 minutes.

It was built once again on the back of Gemma Dix who was a powerful presence on the court able to drive the Pumas’ defence while the Olympians were stifling without the ball as Pumas couldn’t get through their structures.

Pumas, as they often are, were undersized and it was hurting them here, they could crowd a player three-on-one and still get scored on as it was all one-way traffic at the start.

But Pumas managed to work their way back into the contest and finally get some rewards for their effort as they cut the lead back to 10 points with three minutes to go in the first half.

At the other end, Olympians had stalled in the offence as their shots stopped dropping and they looked a little flat, with some lackadaisical passing resulting in plenty of turnovers for the Pumas to grab onto.

A huge moment came with two minutes to go as Dix, who had 18 points to her name, fouled out as the Olympians and league’s most damaging player would miss the entire second half as Pumas trailed 30-26.

They got off to a fast start in the second half as Jaimee Rich had three looks from beyond the arc but all three shots rimmed out.

The teams traded baskets but the Pumas were edging closer and with 12 minutes to go they tied the scores at 36-all.

It was tense as occasionally Olympians would show a burst of physicality and class to breakthrough but they couldn’t sustain it to open up a meaningful gap.

Sienna Forsyth was becoming the main Pumas’ threat, able to drive her way through Olympians’ defence but the Pumas found themselves in team foul trouble.

This allowed the Olympians to build a six-point gap from the line thanks to Sharnee Williamson’s accuracy with four minutes left.

But the Pumas came back once again and with a minute to go it was anyone’s game with Emily Gee sent to the line with 50 seconds on the clock.

The pressure showed as she missed all three shots before Mikenna Schultz tied the game for the Pumas with 32 seconds left.

With just 5.7 seconds to go, Millie Gerreyn was sent to the line making one of two shots to give the Pumas the lead for the first time.

But a lack of composure saw them give away a foul on Williamson. She missed both her throws but a foul on the rebounds sent Sophie Maines to the line with a chance to win it.

She sank one of two to tie the game again.

Pumas went on a fast break and thought they stole it with a lay-up but the shot dropped just after the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

As overtime began both teams were full of fouls as Zoe Allnutt hit a big three for the Olympians allowing them a buffer.

Pumas hung in there, trailing by two points with less than 10 seconds to go.

Forsyth, Schultz and Holly Davey had already fouled out for the Pumas while Olympians lost Maines and Prudence Harrison.

With 6.2 seconds to go, Pumas grabbed a defensive rebound and worked the ball to Rich.

She launched a long-range attempt that was on target but with too much power as it rebounded off the backboard as Olympians held on to win by two.

Olympians coach Scott Rubery described it as an ugly win.

“You got to give a lot of credit to the young Pumas team, we started the game 22-4 but took our foot off the accelerator and once we let them back in the game we didn’t execute our shots well,” he said.

“It was good to get a challenge and we were perhaps lucky to get the win and I think we and the girls still need to do a fair bit of work.”

“The loss of Dix definitely hurt us but it forced others to step up and work hard, which was a positive.”

In the earlier game, Trades overcame Chapman Valley to post a 52-42 victory.

Valley had taken a two-point lead into half-time thanks to Lilli Worth’s 10 points but they would score just 12 points in the second half as a series of turnovers allowed Trades to get on a run led by Mikala Van Niftrik’s 12 points.

Valley couldn’t recover despite Natalie Caruana’s 13 points as they remained winless this season.

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