The Bay Hawks have snapped a 24 game National Basketball League losing streak, defeating the Nelson Giants 81-63 this afternoon.
After a dire winless season in 2016, the Hawks revamped their roster this year, with extra money in the coffers drawing some brighter talents back to the region.
However, it took them a while to find cohesiveness and put a full-strength roster on the floor, with point guard Jarrod Kenny and swingman Josh Fox coming in late, and import Amir Williams playing his first game for the franchise today.
Those incremental gains finally paid off against a Nelson team destined for the wooden spoon.
The Hawks put out a starting lineup which would match most of the sides in the league. Kenny and Everard Bartlett manned the perimeter, the exciting Tony Tolovae started at the small forward spot, and Fox and Williams provided a quality combination up front.
That lineup gave them flexibility, and a touch more shooting than in prior weeks, while Williams profiles as an elite defensive anchor.
While Williams (seven points and six rebounds) didn't have a major impact on debut, the new starting lineup worked a treat as they jumped out to an early lead on the Giants and continued to build.
Tolovae (13 points, five rebounds, four assists) was proving adept at dicing into the lane, and although he missed a few layups, the Hawks dominated the glass all game (39-24), and earned nine extra opportunities through offensive rebounds.
Import Grant Fiorentinos (15 points, seven rebounds) and Fox (13 points, six rebounds) gave excellent production up front, with Fox throwing down one of the dunks of the season.
Add in a good outing from Ana Haku (eight points, seven boards) and the Hawks received far more production from their bench than the Giants, who could muster just seven points from their lack of depth on the bench.
The Hawks lead ballooned out to 21, and although 25 points from Dion Prewster kept the Giants in touch, he received no support.
Finn Delany shot 4/16 from the field, Curtis Washington was in foul trouble all game, while Kyle Adnam and Sam Dempster were kept largely in check by a Hawks defence that should be an above-average unit the rest of the season.
As presently constructed, the Hawks roster could contend for the playoffs, but their 0-4 start might have dug them too deep a hole to recover from.
A tough test at home against the Southland Sharks next week will be a good gauge, but for now, the losing run is over and brighter times beckon for the Hawks.