Basketball: Wellington Saints hold off Bay Hawks to stay unbeaten in NBL

By Matt Twort

Wellington Saints 102 Bay Hawks 91
Leon Henry of the Wellington Saints shoots over the Bay Hawks duo of Tony Tolovae and Grant Fiorentinos. Photo / Photosport
Leon Henry of the Wellington Saints shoots over the Bay Hawks duo of Tony Tolovae and Grant Fiorentinos. Photo / Photosport

The Wellington Saints held off the Bay Hawks on Saturday night at Pettigrew Green Arena, winning 102-91 to advance to a 4-0 record to begin the 2017 New Zealand National Basketball League.

Corey Webster continued his rampant start to the season, finishing the night with 33 points, four rebounds and three assists as he tortured the Hawks with his outside shooting and drives into the paint. Tai Wesley (19/6/7) and Shea Ili (19/4/7) also chipped in with strong contributions for Wellington.

Despite the scoreline being comfortably in the Saints' favour, it took the visitors until the third quarter to really get away from the Hawks, who found success slowing the Saints' attack down and scoring in the paint, mainly through import Grant Fiorentinos (12 points).

For the first time this season the Saints finished the first quarter trailing on the scoreboard after an Ana Haku and-one with seconds left in the quarter put the Hawks up 18-16.

The Hawks maintained their lead for most of the second period until pace of the match picked up in the last minutes of the second quarter, helping the Saints control the latter stage of the half to earn a 44-42 lead.

A 30-22 third quarter propelled the Saints into a comfortable position heading into the final period. Corey Webster and Tai Wesley ran the ship for the Saints across the third, scoring 12 points and 10 points respectively as the Hawks struggled to contain the interior scoring of Wesley and the drives into the lane by Webster.

Saints coach Kevin Braswell was made to play his key players heavy minutes as the Hawks hung around until midway through the final period thanks to guard Jarrod Kenny, who finished with an impressive 22 points and 15 assists, though his efforts weren't enough to get the Hawks back in contention.

The two sides remain on opposite ends of the NBL ladder with the Saints in first, while the winless Hawks sit alongside the Nelson Giants in bottom position.

The Saints next play the Canterbury Rams on Saturday, while the Hawks will battle the Giants next Sunday.

Tomorrow, the Supercity Rangers host the Taranaki Mountain Airs, with that match live streamed here on nzherald.co.nz from 3pm.

- NZ Herald

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