Southland Sharks go down to Bay Hawks in OT
The Southland Sharks have plenty to play for in the final home game of 2014 on Friday night after a dramatic overtime loss to Hawke's Bay in Napier last night.
The Sharks still need two more wins from their final three round-robin games to confirm a playoffs spot, otherwise they will have to hope other results go their way.
The game against Canterbury in Invercargill on Friday night now looms as a much-needed win.
The Sharks will have to quickly shake off the disappointment of two losses on the road during the weekend, with the most painful being the overtime 94-89 loss last night against Hawke's Bay.
It was a dramatic final quarter, when at one stage Southland pushed out to a 13-point lead and looked to be the team finishing the best.
However, the home team fought back and, at three points up with time almost done, Southland needed something special.
That something special came with three seconds to play from the in-form Luke Martin, who delivered a three-pointer to lock the scores at 80-all and send the game into overtime.
However, the pumped-up Southland team could not deliver again in the five-minute overtime period as Hawke's Bay took it out 94-89.
Again the shooting radar from outside was a little off target - although Martin's strong game did dull those struggles a little.
Martin was his team's best, with a 25-point haul.
Southland also had a prime opportunity to pick up another win on Saturday night in Auckland against the Super City Rangers.
Southland had been guilty of giving opposition teams head-starts in games this season, only to come home strongly. On Saturday night, the trend was reversed.
The Sharks got out to a 29-15 first-quarter lead before slumping in the second quarter to go into the halftime break with just a one-point lead.
By the third quarter, the Rangers held the lead but Southland closed to within one point with 46 seconds to play after Kevin Braswell and Martin hit back-to-back threes.
Jason Cadee knocked down two free-throws in the next possession but the Sharks got a score off Brian Conklin and forced a Rangers turnover, setting up the nail-biting finish.
Southland were unable to score and were forced to foul Cadee, who made two more free-throws.
Braswell had a chance to put the game into an extra period but it was no good.
Tai Wesley reached double digits with 10 points but fouled out on the game in just 13 minutes.
Cadee scored 26, Duane Bailey had 17, and Tohi Smith-Milner continued his hot form with 22 points, including 10 in the final quarter. Dillon Boucher was extremely close to a triple double, tallying 10 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Rangers.
Following the Sharks' game against Canterbury in Invercargill on Friday night, they will have away games against Nelson and Canterbury to finish the round robin.
- The Southland Times