The Wellington Saints have gained revenge on the Southland Sharks, beating the NBL's defending champions 94-76 at TSB Bank Arena tonight.
The Saints had entered last year's semifinals as red-hot title favourites, only to be stunned by the Paul Henare-coached Sharks.
That shock loss cost Pero Cameron his job as Saints coach, but under new mentor Shane Heal they ran out comfortable winners tonight, moving to a perfect 4-0 record.
Southland are 1-2 and while Henare won't be panicking, the Sharks are clearly missing their injured import, star forward Brian Conklin.
The Saints shaded the opening quarter 28-24, before a dominant second stanza - won 25-8 - took the hosts to an almost unassailable 53-32 halftime lead.
Saints shooting guard Corey Webster was virtually unstoppable, leading all scorers with an efficient 31 points.
Webster hit 10 of his 17 shots, including three of six from deep, and was a perfect 8/8 from the free throw line.
Webster's backcourt running mate Lindsay Tait was his usual influential self, racking up 19 points to go with eight assists.
And Saints' import centre Elijah Obade continued his knack for double doubles, contributing 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Heal wants the Saints to set out their stall as a defence first team and they answered the call - holding Southland to 37 per cent shooting and an anaemic 3/20 from downtown.
The Sharks got contributions from Kevin Braswell (16 points), Reuben Te Rangi (15) and Luke Martin (13) but no-one got hot enough to seriously close the gap.
Conklin's replacement Dave Gruber was held to just five points and six rebounds.
Next up for the Saints is a visit from the Otago Nuggets on Easter Monday.
- Fairfax Media
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