Sharks devour understrength Saints

A FULL-STRENGTH Southland Sharks smelt blood and attacked a weakened Wellington Saints outfit to run away with the 36-point victory at ILT Stadium last night. The Sharks came in with all players available, whilst the Saints were missing their three best players in Tom Vodanovich, Jordan Ngatai and Taane Samuel. Though both sides are predicted to be contenders, it was the Sharks who did what they had to do with a considerably better lineup on paper, winning each of the first three quarters to storm to a massive, high-scoring 117-81 victory.

The Sharks started strong with 33 points to 15 in the opening term with their full starting five going to work early. In what would become a trend for the first half, the Sharks kept building the lead and never surrendered it, adding 29-20 in the second term to break through the Saints’ defence with ease. An even better third term of 34 points to 25 ultimately handed the Sharks the big win, with a far more competitive final term of 21 point apiece saving the Saints from it going beyond 40 points, a target the Sharks actually hit as early as midway through the third quarter.

The Sharks were getting open looks and making them count, producing an elite 67 per cent from the field, including a mind-boggling 17 three-pointers from 23 attempts. It looked as though everything they touched turned to goal. They dominated not only the looks, and the makes, but also the rebounds (45-29) and the assists (31-14), whilst piling up the points in the paint (56-32) as well. Though they had so much of the ball, there was still plenty for the Sharks to build on, producing 15 turnovers to the Saints’ 11, and therefore only earning 17 points to 25 off turnovers.

Other than that though, the Sharks had the Saints measure in every single way, as Alonzo Burton hit 26 points – including a whopping eight triples at 100 per cent efficiency – six assists and two steals, sharing the top vote-getter in thee match with teammate Dom Kelman-Poto (18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists). Australian NBL recruit Mojave King made a promising start to his NZNBL career with 23 points – including four of five from beyond the arc – as well as eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Romaro Gill (10 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks) recorded a double-double for his new side, and Brayden Inger (!4 points, six rebounds and two assists) also contributed strongly.

For Wellington, Ken Tuffin – who came into the game as an uncertain starter – put up the most points of anyone on his six with 21, including three of six from beyond the arc. Also totalling three assists and two rebounds, Tuffin tried hard all game with Rangimarie Dougall-Mita (19 points, two rebounds and three steals) and Johnny Helu (11 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals) were also among the better players on the night.

Southland Sharks and Wellington Saints both have upcoming matches on Saturday, May 7, with the Sharks taking on Franklin Bulls and the Saints locking horns with Otago Nuggets.

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