Playoff bound Taylor Hawks and SIT Zerofees Sharks have both secured wins to gain further momentum heading towards the playoffs.
Taylor Hawks guard, Ethan Rusbatch, came to back to haunt his former team with 23 points to help guide his side to a 85-76 win.
After trailing 5-0 to start the game the Hawks would quickly find their groove, outscoring the home side 26-8 to end the quarter up 13. The Hawks would extend their lead to as many as 22 points and held an 18 point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Canterbury would increase their defensive pressure in the final period and were able to force the Hawks to make turnovers which subsequently led to transition baskets. The Rams managed to close the deficit to nine, but the Hawks would compose themselves to hold on to a relatively comfortable win.
Centre Angus Brandt had 14 points and 17 rebounds, the Hawks centre had a battle with Mike Karena who scored a team high 20 points for the Rams. Winston Shepard had 17 points and nine rebounds, but the joint league leader in assists only had four, so that means in his final NBL game Lindsay Tait will need five assists to claim the assist title when his Rangers play the Go Media Jets on Sunday.
Jarrod Kenny would tally 10 points and eight assists, and off the bench Hyrum Harris would add 11 points for the Hawks who are on a five game winning streak and will finish their regular season at home to the Augusta Airs tomorrow night.
After such a promising start to season which saw them at 5-1 and top of the table, the Rams would win only three of their final 12 games. Canterbury were not helped during that period when they missed point guard, Xavier Thames for three games.
Thames could not find the form he had earlier in the season. Coach Mark Dickel moved him to the bench for the last few games and tonight he struggled scoring only two points on 1-7 from the field.
In New Plymouth, the SIT Zerofees Sharks have blown out the struggling Airs 118-78. After a couple of quiet scoring games, Jarrad Weeks, had 25 points for the Sharks who after only leading by two at halftime would put on 69 points in the second half to the Airs 31.
Orlando Coleman continued his impressive season with 23 points and 12 rebounds, Canadian international, Conor Morgan scored 18, and Tom Vodanovich would add 16 points and seven rebounds for the Sharks who move to 13-4.
Alonzo Burton scored 25, Roger Woods had 13 and Xavier Shaw scored 12 for the Airs who drop to 3-14 and lose their sixth straight. Taranaki did welcome back their point guard, Houston O’Riley, but were again without their leading scorer Javonte Douglas.
Southland will head back home where they host the Mike Pero Nelson Giants on Sunday. The winner of the game will seal the second spot, but both will end up facing each other again in the semi-final the following Saturday.
Taranaki can avoid the wooden spoon if they can repeat their last performance in the Hawkes Bay when they won in overtime 90-84 back in Round Nine.
Week 14: Friday, 27th July
At Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
The Wheeler Motor Canterbury Rams 76 (Michael Karena 20, Winston Shepard III 17, Tony Tolovae 15)
Taylor Hawks 85 (Ethan Rusbtach 23, Angus Brandt 14, Hyrum Harris 11)
At TSB Stadium, New Plymouth
Augusta Mountainairs 78 (Alonzo Burton 25, Roger Woods 13, Xavier Shaw 12)
SIT Zerofees Sharks 118 (Jarrad Weeks 25, Orlando Coleman 23, Conor Morgan 18)