THE Albury-Wodonga Bandist weren't able to ride the momentum from their thrilling Eastern Conference win, falling to Mt Gambier 87-76 on Saturday night.
The Pioneers were a brick wall in the all-conference final, with the Bandits unable to generate reliable offence for sustained periods of time.
No one player truly dominated the game, though Donte Nicholas (24 points, 16 rebounds) and Mount Gambier's Damien Johnson (21 points, 17 rebounds) both put their hands up.
It was a game that ebbed and flowed, but it was the Pioneers who were able to break away first, taking a seven-point lead into the second quarter.
The Bandits had to work hard in the second quarter, but were able to cut it down to just three points at the main break.
Though they were creating plenty of chances for themselves, poor conversion was keeping them from taking the lead.
The third quarter got off to a wobbly start, with a couple of threes from Erik Burdon helping the Pioneers extend the margin to as much as 12 points.
Alex Bogart-King game on at the five minute mark and quickly found a rhythm, exploiting a mismatch with Lukass Blicavs to full effect.
The offence was starting to click into gear, with Bogart-King even putting the Bandits two points in front at one stage.
We didn't have our best game, but nonetheless I'm proud of these guys. We've had a good season.- Brad Chalmers
Free throws to Tom Daly and Johnson put the Pioneers back in front, before Daly landed a half-court heave on the buzzer to silence the then deafening Bandits fans.
Bogart-King again levelled the scores early in last stanza, but the Pioneers pulled away with a 12-point run shortly after.
There were signs of life for the Bandits when Deba George hit a three-pointer with four minutes on the clock, but when both Cory Dixon and Bogart-King fouled out, things looked grim.
The Pioneers were in the bonus and there was no stopping the reigning SEABL champions, who ran out with an 11-point win.
While disappointed with the loss, coach Brad Chalmers was optimistic about the Bandits prospects in 2016.
“We had our opportunities but we didn't take them,” Chalmers said.
“You can't win shooting four from 22 from the thee-point line.
“But that'll be a lesson learnt, we've had a good season and I'm proud of the team.
“Hopefully this group will stick together, if they wanted to stick around for team success I'm very confident that it'll come.”
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