Basketball: Wellington Saints win NBL title

By Niall Anderson

Dion Prewster of the Wellington Saints. Photo / Photosport
Dion Prewster of the Wellington Saints. Photo / Photosport

The Wellington Saints have clinched their ninth National Basketball League title, sweeping aside the Supercity Rangers 94-82 in the NBL finale tonight.

It is the fourth title in the last seven years for the team from the capital, and makes amends for their four point loss to the Southland Sharks in last year's decider.

Their triumph was forecasted within minutes, as the favoured Saints shot out to an 18-2 lead. Using their size advantage adeptly, the Saints forced the ball inside, with Leon Henry leading a swarm of productivity in the post.

Without the league's leading scorer in Eric Devendorf due to injury, the Rangers only managed one bucket in the first six minutes of the contest, and their woes intensified when Corey Webster picked up three early fouls.

The game threatened to get away from the Rangers as Webster spent a stint on the bench, but they stayed in touch, swinging the ball around the perimeter to create offence.

When Webster returned, the Rangers stayed small, utilising Mika Vukona and Dillon Boucher as their big men and reducing the deficit to three.

The Saints responded after halftime though, with Henry (26 points and 13 rebounds) and Tai Wesley (19 points and seven rebounds) standout contributors, while Torrey Craig did a sterling job defending Webster to 12 points on 4/18 shooting.

Fouls were mounting up on the Rangers also, and the fourth quarter saw Vukona and import centre Terrence Roberts foul out, and their slim hopes diminish further.

For the Rangers, a title would have meant a historical tenth championship for Dillon Boucher, and eighth for Lindsay Tait, and a record-tying fifth for coach Jeff Green.

However, the only history being made was another chapter in the chronicles of the Saints.

- NZ Herald

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