The Horsham Hornets escaped from the clutches of defeat and propelled themselves to the top of the Country Basketball League south west conference on Saturday night.
The Hornets trailed for most of the match against the previously undefeated Mount Gambier Lakers, before a rousing effort from star player Tim Pickert dragged them over the line.
Coach Cam Bruce was happy with the result but said his side might have been fortunate to come away with the win.
“It was a great win,” he said. “It was one of those games we probably didn’t deserve to win, but in the end it’s the scoreboard that counts and we ended up in front.”
The Hornets got off to a slow start, allowing Mount Gambier to take a 25-13 point lead at quarter-time. Jeremiah McKenzie hit a three-pointer just before half-time to cut the margin to three, but the Lakers played well in the third term and their lead was back to nine points at three-quarter-time.
With just three minutes left in the game the Hornets trailed by seven points, before a late surge brought them back into the contest. Mitch Martin scored on consecutive possessions before McKenzie chipped in to tie the game at 68-all with two minutes to play.
The Hornets called a timeout with 27 seconds left and the scores at 72-all. Pickert was fouled looking for the game-winning shot and sent to the free throw line. He calmly made both shots, putting the Hornets up by two. Another two points in the dying seconds ensured the win.
Pickert top-scored for the Hornets with 21 points – including six of their last eight – but it was his defensive work that Bruce found most pleasing.
Pickert was matched up against Mount Gambier’s coach and key player Kane De Wit, and was able to keep him to 15 points – the first time he has been held to less than 20 this season.
“Timmy Pickert was exceptional – he played his best game of the year for sure,” Bruce said. “He was amazing in that last quarter. He hit some pretty tough shots and defended their best player, keeping him quiet.
"He was amazing for us and probably why we got the win.”
The victory means the Hornets are now the only undefeated side in the competition. Bruce said he was already looking forward to their rematch in Horsham in two weeks time.
The Hornets also scored a comfortable 11-point victory over the Portland Coasters on Sunday to solidify their newfound position at the top of the ladder.
Mitch Martin top-scored for the Horsham outfit with 17 points, including three three-pointers.