Hawks down Airs, swoop on second spot

THE Hawkes Bay Hawks have taken down the Taranaki Airs in Saturday night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) action, claiming an 11-point triumph at Pettigrew Green Arena.

The win sees the Hawks climb up to second spot on the ladder, after convincingly dealing with with the Airs. With a current record of seven wins and three losses, Hawkes Bay looks set for a crack at the title, and Saturday night showed the side deserves to be in the conversation for championship favourite.

Hyrum Harris had one of his best games of the season for the Hawks, pouring in a team-high 22 points and dominating inside the arc. 10 of his 14 field goal attempts found the bottom of the net, all of them coming from inside the three point line. Teammate Tajuan Agee was also damaging, pouring in a double-double to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds, with four of those coming on the offensive end as he generated more scoring opportunities for his side.

For the Airs, Anthony Hilliard was the star of the show, producing an equal game-high 22 points and delivering buckets from both inside and outside the arc. He was a shining light on a tough day for Taranaki, and fought to keep his side in the contest.

The Hawks jumped out to a fast seven-point lead, and stamping their authority on the contest early on. Taranaki was suddenly on the back foot, and needed to conjure an answer in rapid fashion. They could not do so, and headed into the first break with an six-point deficit on the scoreboard.

The margin ended up ballooning out to double-digits in the second term, as Hawkes Bay looked to keep its momentum rolling. The home side led by as many as 13 points, with the Airs producing no answer for the blistering pace of the opposition. With the margin sitting at 11 points at the main break, the visitors had plenty of work ahead.

Quarter number three saw a terrific fightback from the Airs, as they completely erased the deficit to start the second half. Suddenly, it was game on and the Hawks had lost the momentum that provided a double-digit lead. Despite the strong charge from Taranaki, Hawkes Bay got its inside game going in the final few minutes of the term, with the margin unaffected at the final change.

The Airs could not recapture their terrific third quarter form, and ended up being completely outperformed by a hungry and skilled Hawks team. When the buzzer sounded to end the game, the home side ended up claiming a convincing 11-point triumph, their seventh of season 2022.

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