Power forward Brandon Bowman was battling a bad bout of yo-yo-itis — jumping up and down from as early as the first quarter and carrying on about the referees' rulings.

Man-of-the-match centre Daniel Kickert, who claimed a match-high 32 points, was venting his spleen and small forward EJ Singler was in the face of the whistle blowers.

But the Taylor Corporation Hawks import trio knew only too well that's how the cookie crumbles when teams hit the highways or board a flight in the National Basketball League (NBL).

Tonight was no different as the Southland Sharks tried to revive their flagging fortunes in round seven at ILT Stadium Southland but the going currency from the visitors was three and the hosts could only manage two, at best, as they crashed to a don't-argue 105-119 defeat.

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That Southland got into three figures was actually flattering and more owing to the 21-point gulf the Hawks had opened in the final quarter than any suggestions of a revival from the hapless Sharks.

The frustration from the Sharks was blatantly obvious as, in the mould of former Wellington Saints dump truck Damien Eknasio, they rolled out the likes of forward Dominique Kelman-Poto and guard Hyrum Harris to ruffle a few Hawks feathers but it was to no avail.

Singler took one for the collective well off the ball from former Hawks player Harris within two minutes of the third quarter resuming although fellow Hawks American import Bowman was fouled out almost two minutes before the midway mark of the final quarter and Singler followed him not long after.

Akin to all the hoopla surrounding the Game of Thrones spoilers, it was point-less hiding anything in this seventh episode of the NBL season because Southland's script didn't look like it was going to up to any block-busting sequels that have yielded the franchise two NBL crowns.

That was evident as early as the second quarter when a crop of Southland players had suggestions on what needed to be done as coach Judd Flavell, already threading his worry beads, went to the drawing board to urge his troops to play half court.

Sharks forward Dominique Kelman-Poto keeps his eye on the hoop as Hawks centre Daniel Kickert (left) and fellow import small forward EJ Singler try to put him off his mission. Photo/Photosport
Sharks forward Dominique Kelman-Poto keeps his eye on the hoop as Hawks centre Daniel Kickert (left) and fellow import small forward EJ Singler try to put him off his mission. Photo/Photosport

If anything, the Sharks were increasingly drawn into playing the quick and the dead despite a rip-snorting start that saw them open a 20-12 lead, with a shade more than four minutes to go in the first spell, before closing their account at 32-29.

It didn't help that Southland centre Alex Pledger had picked up a gash above his right eye.

However, within three minutes of play resuming in the second quarter the visitors had levelled 34-34 before Hawks swingman Ethan Rusbatch nudged the Jarrod Kenny-captained side ahead 37-34.

The signs were ominous as the Hawks won that spell 34-25 despite gifting sloppy possession from feeble attempts at rebounding. In some cases, the Sharks were able to make three to four offensive collections, at a time, from the offensive boards to score a basket.

At halftime, Kenny echoed his concerns on how his men were offering the hosts too many second-chance points (Sharks claiming 25-17 off the boards).

"We knew it's going to be a battle tonight because we know they've had a tough time here so they were going to come out at us," he said in the TV interview.

The Sharks were in sixes and sevens in the third quarter, going down 27-17, but their 31-29 win in the final spell was owing more to coach Zico Coronel, akin to accountants, cooking the books to milk better income tax returns for his clients.

Frankly, with so many Hawks dropping bombs from downtown — including shooting guard Dion Prewster from the bench — the Southlanders didn't know who to keep a leash on as the visitors claimed that facet of play 51 per cent to 44.

Coronel agreed Southland had dominance on the interior rebounding but reinforced the Hawks' belief in their three-point mantra.

"It's a bit like two teams playing a game of chicken so we believe we played the right way and if we stick with it it'll tilt our way."

He also felt the Hawks should be more clinical in pulling rebounds and it could have been pivotal against the defending champions.

"Our goals aren't relative to the other teams but how well we can play basketball so to be a good rebounding team we can strive to be better."

Commendably the Hawks were not sucked into playing ugly once the Sharks pulled out their knuckle dusters well before the Jaws soundtrack had subsided at the stadium housing 950 loyalists.

"Their natural game is to crash the boards and be physical and they did that well, to their credit, but three is more than two [points]," he said, emphasising the hosts have invested on bigger No 3s and No 4s this season to make it abundantly clear what their approach to the season is.

The 7-2 Hawks are now firmly perched on the second rung of the NBL ladder on 14 points, two table-topping favourites Wellington who, with the Canterbury Rams, are their only slayers this winter although Coronel was more preoccupied with travelling the length of the country to tip off at 7pm against the Supercity Rangers in Auckland on Saturday.

"We're not worried about the Saints or Rams because we're not playing them but the Rangers next so our focus right now on Supercity and ourselves," he said before jetting to the Big Smoke tomorrow morning and indebted to his assistants, Rob Hartley and Morgan Maskel, for their hard yakka.

Hawks US import Brandon Bowman (left) and Australian import centre Daniel Kickert make life difficult for Sharks guard Hyrum Harris in Invercargill, tonight. Photo/Photosport
Hawks US import Brandon Bowman (left) and Australian import centre Daniel Kickert make life difficult for Sharks guard Hyrum Harris in Invercargill, tonight. Photo/Photosport

Having mutated now as a definitive collective after more stability in the squad since when they first beat the Rangers in Napier, Coronel said it would be a good time to his men's incremental growth against the second side they would be reloading against, after beating lowly Taranaki Mountainairs away and home.

After some heavy minutes tonight, he said a good sleep and recovery would be the trick of back-to-back rounds of two games each in the space three to four days.

While Bowman and Singler were off the court on fouls he reconciled the pair's time in Europe and the United States with the geographical demands of coming to grips with the interpretation of the game here.

He lauded the control of referees Sean Cronin, Martin Davison and rookie Hamish Dale, who showed promise, but felt the biggest challenge was to focus on what the Hawks were doing.

"That's a learning for us and it is what it is so fouling out isn't the end of the world but it just means you can't play until the end of the game."

Nevertheless, Coronel stressed it was never easy to eke out victories in Invercargill with the racket the hometown faithful tended to create and a wonderful reputation they had developed with their parochialism and passion.

Result: Southland Sharks 105 (Alex Pledger 24pts, 8 reb; Todd Blanchfield 23pts; Jarrad Weeks 19pts; Thomas Vodanovich 14 reb; Hyrum Harris 12pts; Roberto Nelson 12pts) Hawks 119 (Daniel Kickert 32pts, 7 reb; EJ Singler 24pts, 8 reb; Dion Prewster 22pts, 7 reb; Jarrod Kenny 13pts, 9 reb; Ethan Rusbatch 13pts, 5 reb; Brandon Bowman 13pts, 5 reb).

1st quarter (Sharks first): 32-29. 2nd: 57-63 (25-34). 3rd: 90-74 (17-27). 4th: 105-119 (31-29).

Dion Prewster came off the bench to post double figures for the Hawks in their victory over the Sharks at the ILT Stadium Southland, in Invercargill, tonight. Photo/Photosport
Dion Prewster came off the bench to post double figures for the Hawks in their victory over the Sharks at the ILT Stadium Southland, in Invercargill, tonight. Photo/Photosport