North-West Thunder defeat Mount Gambier in SEABL clash

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   If ever Mason Bragg wanted the ideal audition tape to take with him to Monday’s NBL Next Gen Camp, Saturday night’s performance to lead the North-West Tall Timbers Thunder to victory should be the first thing he packs.

The point guard’s impressive haul of 35 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals helped set up the Thunder’s 87-77 win over reigning SEABL champions Mount Gambier in Devonport.

Bragg will head to Melbourne along with 82 other players for the two-day camp, looking to catch the eye of NBL recruiters again after his two-year stint at Perth came to an end.

Thunder coach Sam Armstrong believes the 24-year-old deserves another crack at the big time after directing his team to its fourth win in five games.

“I definitely feel he deserves another shot because as far as his work ethic goes, I don’t think there is anyone parallel to him,” Armstrong said.

I definitely feel he (Mason) deserves another shot because as far as his work ethic goes, I don’t think there is anyone parallel to him.

NW Thunder coach Sam Armstrong

“He’s not doing himself any harm in coming back to this league and doing well.

“He’s been playing really consistent basketball for us, and when he is up and about it tends to lift the rest of the group.”

Facing a depleted Pioneers team that lost a high-scoring game with Hobart the night before, the Thunder used manic defence in the first quarter to establish a 12-point lead at quarter-time.

The visitors lifted in the second term, but the hosts continued to hold a double-digit lead thanks to 10 points from Bragg.

The margin extended out to 19 points by the end of the third quarter and grew to 23 points in the early stages of the fourth quarter.  But as the home crowd started to feel at ease, Mount Gambier came roaring back into the contest with a 15-0 run that revived memories of the Thunder’s last-quarter collapse against Dandenong the week before.  The game was still up for grabs at 81-77 and 44 seconds left, but the Thunder pulled out a quickfire 6-0 run thanks to Paul Campbell, a Jeremiah Ingram alley-oop dunk and a lay-up from Bragg off a steal to triumph.  “Mount Gambier threw caution to the wind in the last quarter and we couldn’t stem the flow there for a little bit,” Armstrong said.  “We would have lost this game last week, so it’s a testament to the group that they steadied in the last minute.  “But I thought our first three quarters, where we kept them to 50 points, was easily our best defensive effort for the season.”  Ingram finished with 19 points, while Tim Coenraad and Lewis Thomas led the Pioneers with 21 and 20 points respectively.

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