The Super City Rangers have survived a late flurry from the Southland Sharks to win 103-100.
The Rangers had their biggest lead of 10 in the fourth quarter, but the home side rallied to get within three points with still time to play. The Sharks would have to foul Mike Vukona who would miss both free throw attempts. An offensive rebound by Dillon Boucher who then dished it to Lindsay Tait gave the visitors another opportunity to make it a two possession ball game.
Tait would miss both free throws and the Sharks finally secured an offensive rebound and a chance to force overtime. But it would be an anti-climactic finish as point guard Demtrius Miller opted to go for a two pointer instead of a three and tried to get a foul called on Corey Webster. But that was not meant to be as the Rangers win their second straight and seventh overall, moving to third position at the expense of the Sharks.
It was another high pace and scoring contest which favoured the Rangers. Corey Webster scored a game high 31 points, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Eric Devendorf tallied 25 points and despite battling with foul trouble, Mike Vukona added 12 points in 20 minutes.
Southland trailed by only one at the break thanks to the inside presence of Alex Pledger and outside shooting of Duane Bailey. Pledger scored 16 of his 26 points and Bailey hit three for four threes' in the half. The third quarter would be a track meet with 61 total points scored. Both teams started the quarter trading baskets until the Rangers pulled away to lead by eight going into the fourth.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, they left their run a little late in the fourth quarter as they now drop to fourth with seven wins and six losses.
Hayden Allen scored 17 for the Sharks, and was aggressive against his former team shooting 8/20. Nick Kay worked hard to grab 14 rebounds, but his scoring output was down with 12 points. Everard Bartlett was quiet in the first three quarters, but a couple big shots down the stretch saw him end the game with 12 points.
Tomorrow the Rangers will face the Indigo Hawks (0-11) for the third time in a week.
Southland to hold the 2016 NBL Final Four
The National Basketball League Final Four will be held in Invercargill for the first time this year, with the two semi-finals taking place on Friday 3 June at 6pm and 8pm and the final at 7pm on the following day. Tickets for the whole weekend are $35 for adults and $20 for children and organisers are anticipating they will be in hot demand.
"It's a big step to bring the finals weekend to Southland, but the success of the Sharks and the strength of their support were big factors in our decision," explained NBL Chairman Sam Rossiter-Stead.
"The emergence of the franchise to be crowned NBL Champions twice in the last three years is testament to a great deal of hard work on and off the court and a very supportive Southland community. The Sharks have become a prized scalp as one of the toughest teams to beat, and their competitiveness extends to their administration which is as professional as any to be found around the country. We are confident that together we will put on a highly successful and enjoyable finals series - something that the Southland public thoroughly deserve."