Jets lift spirits as campaign ends on a high
A few tinkerings by new Manawatu Jets coach Darron Larsen saw their season end on a high with a 99-84 win over the Super City Rangers in Auckland on Saturday.
Out of playoff contention, the Jets were only playing for pride and had some fun with Larsen, who replaced Mike Kalavros, changing the game plan a bit.
"Everybody had good minutes and seemed to play well," Larsen said. "We made a few adjustments. I had a few of my own offensive plays. I felt more comfortable coaching with them than Mike's ones.
"There's nothing wrong with Mike's ones, but when you go wrong with your own ones, it's easier to fix than someone else's."
He also used his bench a lot more than Kalavros this year, with guys like Miles Pearce, Kaine Hokianga, Zane and Zeke Meehl getting more minutes.
"We gave everybody a bit of a run, a lot of guys during the season got tired and we let leads slip, things like that," Larsen said.
Spreading the load seemed to work as the Jets had three players in double-doubles - Marcel Jones scored 32 points and 13 rebounds, Nick Horvath had 17 points and 17 rebounds, and Chris Hagan 15 points and 11 assists. The Jets had 27 assists as well.
The Rangers trailed the whole game and despite making a run at the end of the second and third quarters, the Jets maintained their lead.
Former Jet Duane Bailey top-scored for the Rangers with 17, while import Carl Buck had 15.
The Jets were happy to finish with a win after throwing away the game against the Southland Sharks last week.
"With that loss there were definitely some issues within the team not trusting each other," Larsen said. "I don't think we played very well over the season.
"So during the week I tried to make it more fun, push things through, get these guys enjoying basketball again."
The Rangers' loss gives them the wooden spoon for their two-win, 14-loss season, having been out of the league since 1995.
The Jets gave out their season awards on Friday night and the most valuable player was a joint award between big man Horvath and point guard Hagan.
The best sixth man award went to shooting guard Matt Te Huna and the most improved award went to Dier Manyang Makoi.
Even though he hadn't been able to play because of rules on overseas players, he had turned up to every training and worked hard.
Manawatu Jets 99 (Marcel Jones 32, Nick Horvath 17, Chris Hagan 15) Super City Rangers 84 (Duane Bailey 17, Carl Buck 15) 1Q 27-21 HT 47-37 3Q 79-61 FT 99-84.
Round 12 results: Wellington Saints 104 Southland Sharks 93, Otago Nuggets 144 Taranaki Mountain Airs 137, Nelson Giants 119 Southland Sharks 100, Bay Hawks 93 Waikato Pistons 83.