Sharks win fourth straight, top Waikato Pistons
The Southland Sharks have made it four wins in a row and look more like title-winning prospects as each game passes in the National Basketball League competition.
Six days after beating the Waikato Pistons in Invercargill, the Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks made the trip to the Pistons' home court in Hamilton last night and grabbed another win.
The Pero Cameron-coached Pistons started best to lead 23-20 after the first quarter before a second-quarter blitz from the Sharks put them in command.
The Sharks remarkably outscored Waikato 30-9 in the second quarter to grab a 50-32 halftime lead. From there the damage was ultimately done as the visitors went on to win 82-66.
Waikato did win a low-scoring third quarter 17-13 before the Sharks wrapped up the final quarter 19-17 to cap off the victory.
Reuben Te Rangi was the lead act for Southland with his 28-point haul. He was well supported by Brian Conklin, who contributed 20 points.
Conklin also had a good night on the rebounding front with eight boards, while Leon Henry's 10 points and 10 rebound doubles was superb.
Kevin Braswell had a quiet night, with just five points, which was compounded by the fact he had foul trouble and coach Paul Henare had to be careful with how he used him late in the game.
Braswell shot at just 22 per cent from the field and 20 per cent from the three-point line, although it should be pointed out he did provide five assists.
For the Sharks to limit Waikato to just 62 points is a job well done defensively.
Gareth Dawson was yet again missing from the Sharks lineup for "personal reasons" but his absence was offset by the fact Waikato were also without one of their big men in young Breakers player Jack Salt, who is overseas.
There is speculation that Dawson's season with the Sharks could be done and the organisation may have already put the feelers out for a replacement for the remainder of the season.
But Henare and the rest of the Sharks management will have little time to contemplate that as they make the drive from Hamilton to New Plymouth today to get ready to take on the Taranaki Mountain Airs tomorrow night. It is another mini-series for the Sharks, with Southland and Taranaki also set to go head to head in Invercargill on Sunday, June 1, at 7pm.
Southland Sharks 82 (Reuben Te Rangi 28, Brian Conklin 20, Leon Henry 10) Waikato Pistons 66 (Corin Henry 24, Akeem Wright 11). 1Q: 20-23, HT: 50-32, 3Q: 63-49
The Southland Times