Tag: auckland huskies

Huskies fight back to post narrow win over Rams

AUCKLAND Huskies have fought back from an early deficit to post a five-point win over Canterbury Rams and keep in touch with the top few sides in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night. The Huskies trailed by eight points at quarter time, but won the final three quarters to swing the momentum in their favour, and led by teenage talent Dontae Nance, were able to come away with the 83-78 victory.

Canterbury Rams threatened to spoil the Huskies’ homecoming early with a 23-15 first term to lead by eight points at quarter time. The Huskies immediately responded in the second term to take control with a 23-18 quarter and cut the deficit to three points by the main break. They built on that momentum in the third quarter with a 22-18 term and grabbed the narrowest of leads with 10 minutes to play despite the Rams leading for the majority of the third term. Early in the fourth the visitors stole back the lead, and then did so again late, with Canterbury up by a point with 2:06 on the clock. The Huskies scored 10 of the last 12 points to run over the top of the Rams and secure the memorable win.

Both teams were fairly even with their shooting accuracy, as they looked to get inside for their source of scoreboard pressure, and the Huskies lead marginally in the rebounds (40-39) and assists (15-11), as well as the blocks (6-1), second chance points (14-5) and bench points (18-10). With less turnovers (18-20), they also capitalised with more points from turnovers (20-12), whilst the Rams had more steals (11-8) and additional points in the paint (40-34).

Nance won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night, putting up a team-high 18 points – including three of eight from long-range – four rebounds, four steals and three assists, not missing a second of action. Justin Bibbs (17 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) was also busy, whilst Zach Riley (16 points, four rebounds and two assists) was the top pick off the bench. Chris Johnson racked up another double-double of 14 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, while Thomas Vodanovich hit double-figure points with 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

For the Rams, Deshon Taylor was the clear standout, picking up a match-high 24 points – three of six from three-point range – six rebounds, four steals and three assists, whilst EJ Singler helped himself to 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Alex Talma had the 13 points and four rebounds, while Sam Smith (seven points, four rebounds and two assists) and Quintin Bailey (six points, seven rebounds) were also lively despite the loss.

Canterbury Rams front up again on Sunday to host the Taranaki Mountainairs, with Auckland Huskies having a break until the following Sunday when they travel to face the top of the table Southland Sharks.

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Jets destroy Bulls as Hawks grab narrow Huskies win

TWO very different New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) games played out last night, with the Hawkes Bay Hawks winning in a tight one against a fast-finishing Auckland Huskies outfit, while Manawatu Jets pounced on a wounded Franklin Bulls team to win big. Just five points separated the Hawks and Huskies, whilst the Jets won all four quarters on their way to a massive 32-point victory in a high-scoring encounter.

In the tight encounters, Hawkes Bay Hawks started off strongly to win the first three quarters. The home team scored 18 points to 15 in the first term, and 14 points to 12 in the second to lead by five points at the main break. They extended the advantage into double-digits by the last change, before Auckland made its move. Despite the Huskies chipping away at a lead that got out to as much as 20 points during the third term, they could not draw closer than four, eventually going down by five, 80-75.

There were positives from both sides as the Hawks shot at a higher clip of 43 to 41 per cent from the field. They won the points in the paint battle well (34-26), as well as the points from turnovers (21-12) given both sides committed the 15 turnovers apiece. Across the board all the stats were either even or separated by a narrow margin, including the rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, with only the Huskies’ bench points (26-18) creating some separation on the Hawks.

Devondrick Walker was the standout shooter on the night, recording 25 points – five of nine from long-range – eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Ethan Rusbatch (14 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) also reached double-figure points, while Derone Raukawa (eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) Hyrum Harris (eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Rhys Vague (seven points, seven rebounds) all contributed to the starting side. Off the bench, Jonathan Janssen (six points, seven rebounds) and Jordan Hunt (six points, six rebounds) were influential.

For the Huskies, Chris Johnson (20 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Zach Riley (15 points, eight rebounds and four steals) teamed up well from the starting side. Teenager Dontae Nance came on court to drop 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in an all-round effort, while Takiula Fahrensohn had a solid performance with seven points and five rebounds.

The other match was not nearly as competitive, with an understrength Franklin Bulls outfit feeling the wrath of a red-hot Manawatu Jets side. The Jets were on from the opening tip-off, racing out to an eight-point quarter time lead, before making it 14 by half-time. Not willing to let it slip, Manawatu won the third term by another five, then completely put the foot down and piled on 31 points to 18 to run away with a massive 118-86 win. The 118-point tally was the largest any team has scored this season.

The Jets unsurprisingly won every key stat from field goal percentage (48 to 36 per cent) to rebounds (57-49) and assists (28-18). The game was dictated by long-range shooting as the Jets nailed a massive 19, while the Bulls still had a huge 17, contributing the majority of their points. Manawatu also controlled the paint with 42 points to 24, had more second chance points (27-9) and more points off the bench (28-14).

Unfortunately without Josh Selby, Zane Waterman and Matt Freeman, the Bulls have been struggling in recent times and will need to find an answer if they are to turn around their season. In the loss, it was up to Denhym Brooke (23 points, five rebounds) and Kyrin Galloway (22 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) who both shot four triples, while Nicolas Fee (13 points, eight assists and four rebounds) and Jaylen Gerrand (11 points) had the three triples apiece.

The Jets had no shortage of stars, as Shane Temara racked up a massive double-double of 34 points – five of six from long-range – 13 rebounds and three assists. Daishon Knight came within a whisker of a triple-double, pulling out a 16-point, 10-assist and nine-rebound performance. Deandre Daniels hit four of eight from long-range for 22 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists, while Nikau McCulloch came off the bench for 17 points – four of seven from three-point range – in 21 minutes. Jayden Bezzant (13 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Jake McKinlay (seven points, 13 rebounds and two assists) were others who shone on the night.

Manawatu Jets are the first side to front up of these four sides, taking on Southland Sharks next Friday, as the Hawkes Bay Hawks host Otago Nuggets, and Franklin Bulls travel to Auckland Huskies on Saturday night.

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Sharks hand Saints first loss as Hawks and Huskies claim wins

IT was a triple treat of action in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night, as Southland Sharks became the first side to reach seven wins, downing the previously undefeated Wellington Saints to temporarily take top spot, while Hawkes Bay Hawks and Auckland Huskies both collected wins to remain in the top five. While the Sharks knocked off the Saints by 14 points, Hawkes Bay Hawks smashed Franklin Bulls by 37, and Auckland Huskies easily accounted for Taranaki Mountainairs by 22.

The Sharks came to play at ILT Stadium in front of home fans, proving themselves a title contender by racing out to a four-point lead at quarter time, which grew to 11 points by the main break. Wellington hit back in the third term to cut the deficit back to six with a quarter to play, before a dominant final term in favour of the Sharks (20-12) saw them run away with the 14-point victory, 84-70.

Dom Kelman-Poto racked up a massive double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, as well as six assists on the night. Courtney Belger top-scored with 19 points, and had the seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in an all-round effort. Fellow starters, Alonzo Burton (15 points, five assists and five steals), Josh Cunningham (13 points, nine rebounds) and Brayden Inger (14 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals) all clocked in some serious minutes in the Sharks’ win.

Kerwin Roach Jr had a team-high 17 points for the visitors, also notching up seven rebounds and six assists, while Dion Prewster (11 points, eight rebounds and four assists) also came close to a double-double. Taane Samuel (13 points, three assists and two rebounds) was the other player to record double-digit points, while Tohi Smith-Milner (seven points, nine rebounds) and Ken Tuffin (eight points, four rebounds) were also solid despite the defeat.

In the biggest win of the night, Hawkes Bay Hawks easily accounted for Franklin Bulls, winning by 37 points on the road, 110-73. The Hawks put the foot down early with a dominant 33-10 first quarter, and whilst the Bulls managed to win the second term by four, were no match for the dominant Hawks, who went on to score 56 points to 38 in the second half, and consolidate a top three spot with a big win.

Ethan Rusbatch was sensational with a whopping eight of 13 from long-range to help him accumulate 27 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks in the victory. Derone Raukawa finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, and Jonathan Janssen came off the bench for 18 points and eight rebounds. Others who had no trouble scoring were Rhys Vague (15 points, five rebounds) and Jordan Hunt (15 points, six rebounds), while Devondrick Walker came agonisingly close to a triple-double of nine points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

In a disappointing night for the Bulls, Denhym Brooke still stood up with 17 points – five of 17 from three-point range – eight rebounds and three assists. Jett Thompson (12 points) and Dylan Wilkie (11) had their fair share of points, whilst Joseph Nunag (nine points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Zachary Easthope (nine points, five rebounds) were both solid in the loss.

In the third game of the night, Auckland Huskies posted a 22-point triumph over Taranaki Mountainairs. The Huskies won the first half by 11 points, to head into the main break with a 53-42 lead. The third term was even, but the visitors stepped it up a gear in the last quarter, pouring on 28 points to 17 to double their lead and win, 106-84.

Chris Johnson had a night out with 26 points – nailing all four three-point attempts – 11 rebounds – nine defensive – and five assists in a double-double effort. He was far from alone however, with two more players recording 19 points, and two more reaching 18. Coming off the bench, teenager Dontae Nance helped himself to 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, levelling with Takiula Fahrensohn (19 points, three rebounds). Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa (18 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals) and Zach Riley (18 points, five assists and three steals) also notched up big numbers.

For the Airs, Marcel Jones did his usual thing with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in a workman-like effort. Carlin Davison had 16 points, four rebounds and two assists in the loss, while Haize Walker (14 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Francis Mulvihill (12 points, four assists and two rebounds) also had busy nights on the stats sheet.

The quickest turnarounds belong to the Southland Sharks and Wellington Saints who both hit the road to face Otago Nuggets and Canterbury Rams respectively tonight. The Auckland Huskies travel to lock horns with Hawkes Bay Hawks tomorrow, whilst the Franklin Bulls tackle the Manawatu Jets, and the Taranaki Mountainairs face the Nelson Giants on Monday.

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Giants and Nuggets secure nail-biting wins as Sharks deflate Airs

TWO absolutely thrilling contests and one blowout were the summation of last night’s triple treat of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contests. Both the Nelson Giants and Otago Nuggets claimed victories in tight battles over Hawkes Bay Hawks and Auckland Huskies respectively, whilst the Southland Sharks showed no mercy in a 42-point hiding of Taranaki Mountainairs.

In a tight see-sawing contest, Nelson Giants came up trumps despite a third term fightback from Hawkes Bay Hawks to win by three points, 112-109. After the teams were level at quarter time, Nelson piled on 32 points to 26 to take a six-point half-time lead, before the Hawks hit back with a 29-25 third stanza to cut the final break difference to two points. A tight final term saw the lead change nine times, before the Giants sunk 11 of the last 17 points to grab the win.

Hunter Hale made it rain with another ridiculous performance of 41 points – four of nine from long-range – as well as seven assists and three steals. Sam Dempster (19 points, five rebounds and three assists), Thomas Ingham (17 points, five rebounds and two assists), Donte Ingram (11 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Nic Trathen (12 points, five rebounds) were the other key scorers for the winners.

The Hawks’ starting five had plenty of say in the contest, lead once again by Hyrum Harris who had 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, sharing the load of scoring with long-range shooter Devondrick Walker (25 points, five assists and two rebounds). Ethan Rusbatch (23 points, six rebounds), Derone Raukawa (16 points, two rebounds) and Jonathan Janssen (13 points, six rebounds and five assists) were also busy.

The other thriller saw Otago Nuggets come from behind to defeat Auckland Huskies and hand their opponents a second consecutive loss for the round. The Nuggets trailed by two points at quarter time, hit the front by four points at the main break, then lead by six heading into the last quarter. Whilst the Huskies returned serve with 21 points to 17 in the final term, they fell two points short as the visitors saluted, 73-71.

Sam Timmins was again a difficult man to stop in the paint, knocking down 21 points and eight rebounds, whilst Gerasimos McKay (12 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up a double-double. Isaiah Moss (14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Josh Aitcheson (12 points, six rebounds) also stood tall in the victory.

For the Huskies, Chris Johnson top-scored on court with 22 points and 11 rebounds in a sensational double-double. Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa (11 points, three rebounds and three steals) and Chris McIntosh (10 points, three rebounds and three steals) both reached double-digit points, while Zach Riley (nine points, seven assists) tried hard all night.

The sole blowout of the night was Southland Sharks’ massive 42-point shellacking of Taranaki Mountainairs. The Sharks never looked like losing, winning every quarter by at least seven points, racing out to a 16-point advantage after one quarter. From there, the lead increased to 25, 35 and 42 at each break before the final buzzer proved a salvation for the disappointing Airs who were not match for the outstanding Sharks.

Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) lead the way, sharing the scoring load with Toby Gillooly (22 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Brayden Inger (21 points, six rebounds and two steals). Courtney Belger (14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals) did a bit of everything on the night, while Josh Cunningham (eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals) was ultra-impressive.

Marcel Jones was again the standout talent for the Airs, notching up 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks, as he and Tai Wynyard (13 points, four rebounds and two assists) took the load for the majority of the scoring. Baxter Fenwick and Carlin Davison both finished with nine points, as Davison also notched up six rebounds, two assists and two steals having an impact off the bench in a losing team.

Hawkes Bay Hawks and Southland Sharks are the first teams to have the quick turnaround, playing tonight against Canterbury Rams and Manawatu Jets in away clashes. The Nelson Giants host the Jets on June 3, with the Taranaki Mountainairs and Auckland Huskies facing off on June 4. The Otago Nuggets have the longest break of the six sides, hosting the Sharks on June 5.

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Saints go into overdrive in second half to claim huge Huskies win

WELLINGTON Saints have once again shown why they are the team to beat, answering a second quarter challenge from the Auckland Huskies, only to put the foot down and storm to a massive 31-point victory in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). The Saints headed into the home clash at TSB Bank Arena as favourites having not dropped any of their first five encounters, and left with another win in the bank, as all five starters picked up double-figure points, lead sensationally by captain Dion Prewster in the 107-76 triumph.

The Saints were ready to go from the opening tip-off racing out to a nine-point lead thanks to a 32-23 first term. In the second quarter the Huskies hit back with a 28-21 term to cut the deficit back to two and leave the margin between the teams at just two points. As like in most of the previous encounters a hungry Saints outfit came out after the half-time break, and completely dominated proceedings, restricting the visitors to just 25 points in the second half, whilst amassing an almost-identical first half on their scoring front.

Winning the third term 28-13, the Saints increased their two-point half-time lead to 17 by the final break, before doubling down on that dose with a 26-12 fourth quarter to secure the huge 31-point triumph, 107-76. Aside from a half of the first term when the Huskies held the lead trading baskets, once the Saints took the lead with a few minutes left in the opening stanza, they never gave it up. Just before half-time the Huskies had levelled the scores, but there was no stopping the Saints who ended up winning by the equal largest margin from the game in 31 points.

The Saints controlled the boards with a one-sided rebound count (50-23), and their ridiculous shooting from inside the arc (73 to 44 per cent) was remarkable, whilst dropping 12 triples on their opponents. The home team lead the assists (18-15) and blocks (3-1), whilst dominating the key stats both points in the paint (54-34) and second chance points (25-2). Auckland had some positives too, having six less turnovers (11-17), and therefore winning the points from turnovers (22-14), as well as their bench chipping in more (34-19), but the weight of numbers was easily in the Saints’ favour.

Prewster recorded 34 points, six rebounds and six assists, scoring five of eight from long-range in the dominant display to lead the Saints to a big win. Kerwin Roach Jr was hard to stop in the paint with some impressive dunks leading to 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Tohi Smith-Milner also secured most of his points inside the arc with 13 points and seven rebounds. Taane Samuel (16 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Ken Tuffin (10 points, four rebounds and three steals) were also busy on the night.

For the Huskies, Chris Johnson led the way with 16 points and six rebounds, shooting an equal team-high two triples in the game. Takiula Fahrensohn was the other double-digit scorer coming off the bench for 14 points and three steals in 22 minutes, while Zach Riley (nine points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Sean Murphy (nine points three assists and two rebounds) tried hard throughout the contest.

Auckland Huskies will have to lick their wounds quickly to rebound in tonight’s home clash against Otago Nuggets at Eventfinda Stadium, while the Wellington Saints have a bit of time up their sleep before travelling to TSB Stadium on Friday to lock horns with the Taranaki Mountainairs.

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Huskies clip wounded Hawks’ wings

AUCKLAND Huskies have ended the unbeaten run of the Hawkes Bay Hawks, defeating their injury-stricken opponents by 21 points in the standalone New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) clash last night. The Huskies bounced back from consecutive losses to rise above Hawkes Bay and win their third game at home from four matches to keep in touch with top of the table Wellington Saints.

The home team took control early, scoring 22 points to 15 in the opening term to open up a seven-point advantage at the first break. The Hawks hit back with a 22-19 second term, and the deficit was just four points heading into half-time. The second half was a different story however, as Auckland slammed home 30 points to 13 in a match-winning third stanza.

With both sides level in the final term for points, it was the third term that proved the difference in the end. In that third term the Huskies scored the first seven points, but it was the 18-3 run from the 6:42 minute mark of the quarter until the 2:18 mark, where the score changed from 48-44 to 66-47 and effectively ended the contest.

Looking at the team stats, it was fairly even across the board except for the shooting stats, with the Huskies dropping 49 per cent of their attempts to the Hawks’ 39 per cent, largely due to a poor seven of 30 from long range for the visitors. The Hawks also had plenty of chances at the charity stripe but only managed 16 of 25 compared to the Huskies’ 15 of 18. Likewise, the Huskies made the most of their points in the paint (44-32), and with five less turnovers (8-13), punished the Hawks thanks to 21-3 on the turnovers. Their bench also scored 37-11, whilst the Hawks won the rebound count by three (40-37).

It was definitely a tough night for the Hawks who were without Ethan Rusbatch, Devondrick Walker, and after three and a half minutes, Derone Raukawa, taking away three of their five key starters. Hyrum Harris was left to shoulder the load, picking up a double-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, while Rhys Vague had the 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Everard Bartlett (nine points, six assists and two rebounds) and Jonathan Janssen (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) tried hard, whilst Tre Mauriohooho had the six points, five rebounds and two steals off the bench.

There were many more rotations available for the Huskies, with Chris Johnson winning the Player of the Match honours with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Not far behind him, Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa had 19 points, six rebounds and two steals, while the amount of points off the bench was impressive. Sean Murphy (12 points, six rebounds), Takiula Fahrensohn (10 points, three steals and two assists) and Dontae Nance (nine points, four assists and three rebounds) all contributed strongly to the cause, with Zach Riley (seven points) the other player with more than five points for the Huskies.

Auckland Huskies will continue their campaign against Wellington Saints on May 28, with the Hawks hoping to get some players back for a clash with the Nelson Giants a day later.

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Rams end Huskies run as Bulls hand Sharks third consecutive loss

TWO sides with early wins on the board in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) felt the pinch last night with the evenness of the 2021 competition. The Auckland Huskies suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Canterbury Rams, whilst the Southland Sharks sunk to their third consecutive loss after back-to-back wins to open the season, as Franklin Bulls grabbed another victory.

For the Rams, it was a case of striking gold with back-to-back wins, even though it took them a little while to get going. Trailing by six points at the first break, the Rams managed to cut it back to four, before the Huskies steadied in the third to lead by five at the final break. Then the final quarter happened. A stampede of scoring for the home team resulted in the Rams piling on 28 points to 13 to run away with the contest on the back of the three-point shooting of Deshon Taylor, and the paint work of Jack Salt to combine for 53 points and 22 rebounds in an outstanding dual effort.

The Rams had two less three-pointers for the night, but shot at a marginally higher field clip (45 to 44 per cent), and topped the rebounds (47-35) and steals (9-6), whilst the Huskies won the blocks (5-3) and broke even in the assists (21-21). Canterbury was cleaner with the ball however, having four less turnovers (12-16) and capitalising three times over on those turnovers (21 points to seven). The Rams also had more points in the paint (42-30) and second chance points (15-8) in an all-round impressive effort.

Taylor finished with 31 points – including five of nine from long-range and 61 per cent efficiency from the field – eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a dominant shooting effort. Salt crushed 14 rebounds – eight offensive – with 22 points, three assists and two steals in providing the big body close to the basket. Similarly, EJ Singler aided the cause with six rebounds, eight assists and two steals alongside six points. Coming off the bench, Alex Talma was the only score with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals. Quintin Bailey was the other double-figure scorer, finishing with 14 points.

For the Huskies, Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa lead the way with 26 points, five assists and four rebounds, teaming up well with Chris Johnson (19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals) in a complete performance from the American. Off the bench, teenage start Dontae Nance racked up 19 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Takiula Fahrensohn had six rebounds to go with three points.

In the other match, Franklin Bulls finished the stronger of the sides to pile on more pain to the Southland Sharks, dominating the final quarter. The Bulls trailed by six points at quarter time, but had balanced the ledger at 43 points apiece by half-time. The Sharks gained the minor advantage heading into the final quarter with a three-point lead, before the Bulls slammed home 29 points to 17 to win 82-73.

The Bulls were far more accurate from the field, having 16 less shots from the field, but shooting at 43 to 37 per cent, including 34 to 17 per cent from three-point range. They also lead the assists (16-10), and had less turnovers (16-17) and personal fouls (12-20) in the win. The Sharks held their own throughout the contest, particularly with plus-18 in rebounds (53-35), more steals (8-6) and blocks (5-2), whilst also having more points in the paint (46-30), second chance points (21-7) and points from turnovers (23-21).

Zane Waterman was the key man on the night for the Bulls, shooting a deadly 10 of 13 from the field to finish with 31 points, as well as nine rebounds. Waterman’s partner-in-crime Josh Selby was not as accurate as in his first handful of games, only making one of eight from the field for seven points, but still managed the six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Joseph Nunag (17 points, three assists and two steals) and Jaylen Gerrand (12 points, three rebounds) were both clinical off the bench, while Denhym Brooke had his fair share of influence with six points and seven rebounds.

Dom Kelman-Poto knocked down 25 points and 15 rebounds in a losing side, teaming up well with Josh Cunningham (15 points, 12 rebounds) off the boards once again. Courtney Belger (12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Toby Gillooly (11 points, five rebounds) also hit double-figure points in the loss, while Alonzo Burton could not manage to find his range with just six points (two of 14 from the field) but had the three rebounds and three steals for his troubles.

Auckland Huskies and Southland Sharks face off in a battle of last night’s losers tomorrow night, whilst the Canterbury Bulls take on the Nelson Giants next Thursday night, and the Franklin Bulls travel to TSB Bank Arena on the same night to face the Wellington Saints.

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Kendle match-winner keeps Huskies undefeated in overtime

JEREMY Kendle had a night to remember during Auckland Huskies’ thrilling three-point win over Nelson Giants last night, needing to go all the way, and then some before posting a 90-87 victory at Eventfinda Stadium. The Huskies prevailed in a tough contest that saw them win three of the four quarters, but still only be level at the final buzzer, before getting up in a low-scoring nail-bitting first overtime period by three points.

The home team got the upper hand in the match early, leading 18-15 at the first break to take the advantage. Nelson Giants produced one of the biggest turnarounds of the season in the second period, piling on 35 points to 20 to head into half-time with a huge 12-point lead. The momentum swung back into the Huskies’ favour in the third quarter thanks to a 26-7 term, before the frantic final term. In the last 30 seconds, Chris Johnson nailed two free throws to put the Huskies in front, before Nelson’s Donte Ingram levelled the scores with 18 seconds on the clock.

Johnson had a look from long-range with six seconds on the clock only to miss, before an offensive rebound to Sean Murphy handed off to Kendle from three-point range on the buzzer missed. The last five minutes of action was frantic, with only 13 points scored in total for the match. Ingram hit the first three-point of the period 1:05 into the time to help the Giants to lead by that exact margin. Dontae Nance responded not long after with a neat layup, but both Bronson Beri and Johnson missed jump shots, then Ingram missed both free throw attempts after being sent to the line.

When Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa finally troubled the scorers after the drought in the overtime, his one free throw levelled the scores. Ingram was again the man the Giants turned to with a pull up jumper after collecting the defensive rebound up the other end, and the visitors were up by two with 1:04 on the clock. Johnson tied the game with a layup with 37 seconds remaining, and then another Ingram miss saw Zach Riley grab the board, and the Huskies use the lock to the last second and Kendle nailed the match-winner from long-range. Hunter Hale went for the three-point jumper on the buzzer, but a block from Kendle sealed the game.

The Huskies dominated the stats sheet, leading in their field goal percentage (46 to 44 per cent) largely due to a more efficient effort from long-range (44 to 37 per cent), but really took control in the free throws (81 to 61 per cent). They won the rebounds (41-37), assists (19-16), blocks (4-2) and second chance points (10-9), and also had four less personal fouls (13-17). The Giants to their credit had less turnovers (12-18), and double the steals (10-5). They also doubled their opponents in points from turnovers (26-13) and secured more points in the paint (32-30).

Kendle won Player of the Match for his terrific work late in the contest, also finishing with 23 points, seven assists and three rebounds, though also eight turnovers. Johnson was the standout shooter on the court with 30 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while Ruscoe-Taiaroa (13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals) and Murphy (10 points, five rebounds) also hit double-figure points for the winners.

Hale finished with a match-high 32 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Ingram had 23 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Both Giants shooters hit four triples out of nine and eight attempts respectively. Thomas Ingram and Alexander McNaught had the next most points with seven, while Beri had six rebounds, three assists and two steals to go with five points. Sam Dempster did not score in the match, but picked up nine rebounds – four offensive – as well as three assists.

Auckland Huskies play the next match in the NZNBL which is on Friday night when they travel to face Canterbury Rams, while the Nelson Giants will take on Wellington Saints and Hawke’s Bay Hawks back-to-back making it three consecutive undefeated sides for their fixtures.

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Huskies hold nerve in tense finish against Bulls

AUCKLAND Huskies have saluted in the tightest of matches to secure a win in the ‘Battle of the North’ clash, defeating Franklin Bulls by three points thanks to a late Jeremy Kendle dagger. The Huskies got up 99-96 at the Bulls’ home court last night, trailing by six points at the final break, but then scoring 30-21 in the last term to grab the victory. It was far from a simple run home though, with the Bulls in front in the dying 30 seconds, before the Huskies held their nerve and regained the lead by the final buzzer.

The first term saw the Bulls start off strongly, scoring 24-17 to take and early seven-point lead into the break. The home team was making it count from beyond the arc, with Denhym Brooke and then Jaylen Gerrand (twice) grabbing their side an early lead. Kendle was getting on the Bulls’ minds though and was already beginning to have an impact in the paint. The Bulls were hitting the scoreboard in a big way though, with another Brooke triple with five minutes on the clock, and the lead had ballooned out to 17-6. The Huskies hit back to score nine of the next 13 points to cut the deficit to six, as Nicholas Barrow was starting to add to his total. Brooke was still a problem though, securing an and-one chance, and then Bulls took the first break with a strong advantage.

The early going in the second term went all the way of the Huskies as Zach Riley, Theo Johnson and Kendle piled on eight consecutive points for the visitors to hit the front within 90 seconds. Josh Selby steadied the ship for the Bulls, but he Huskies were beginning to hit their straps. They got out to an eight-point lead when Dontae Nance nailed a triple, but the Bulls kept the Huskies within arms-length to head into the break only four points down, but it was a dominant last 15 minutes from the Huskies who were on a 46-31 roll since being 17-6 down.

A Nicholas Fee triple in the opening 10 seconds of the second half show that the Bulls were up for the fight, but Barrow responded a minute later for the Huskies. After leading by six points with seven minutes on the clock in the third term, the Huskies watched their lead evaporate as it was the Bulls’ turn to take control. Fee hit a triple and then Selby nailed back-to-back layups and the Bulls were back in the lead. The Huskies regained it back with a few minutes remaining, but Selby and Dane Brooks proved to be a problem and the Bulls held a handy six-point buffer at the final break.

The intensity was high early in the final term as neither team could strike in the first 90 seconds, but it was Gerrand who hit the two-point jumper for a seven-point Bulls lead. It was never going to be enough the way the game was going, and the Huskies kept getting it back to within a single basket with every chance they got. Each challenge was answered, and with six minutes left, the teams traded baskets – and the lead – multiple times.

Once Brook Rosuco-Taiaroa put his Huskies in front 86-85, then nailed a triple moments later, the lead was beginning to grow. Shot after shot missed, with Adam Dunstan eventually breaking the drought for the Bulls, and Nance responding almost immediately for the Huskies. Joseph Nunag handed the Bulls the lead with two minutes on the clock as the sides prepared their final substitutions for the run home. When Brooks scored a two-pointer, the lead was three and the Bulls were in a better position. He would miss the next two-point jumper though, and Barrow made a free throw, and Kiana Saxon produced a successful jump shot and scores were level with 38 seconds on the clock.

Selby held his nerve with two successful free throws in the last 30 seconds, and the Huskies made the decision two points down they would take out the clock until an opening, which they found through Kendle who made no mistake. With nine seconds remaining, the Huskies were 97-96 up. The Bulls hoped Selby would be the man to win the game a second later, but the shot missed, and a deliberate foul on Nance after collecting the rebound sent him to the line where he hit the winning free throws for a 99-96 victory.

Kendle racked up a massive 32 points, shooting seven triples from 13 attempts, and also collecting six rebounds, there assists and two steals. Nance (18 points, four rebounds and three assists), Barrow (17 points, nine rebounds and four assists) and Ruscoe-Taiaroa (17 points, eight rebounds and two assists) also worried the opposition across the court. For the Bulls, Selby knocked down 26 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Gerrand (18 points, three rebounds), Brooke (16 points, six rebounds) and Nunag (14 points, three assists) were all lively.

Auckland Huskies next face Manawatu Jets on Friday, while the Franklin Bulls take on the Jets the day after in a quick turnaround for their opponents.

Picture credit: NZNBL

2020 Sal’s NBL Top 20 Players: #6 – Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa (Auckland Huskies)

IN our newest countdown series wrapping up the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown, we look at our top 20 players that took to the court this year. While it was an incredibly difficult list to create, we have had a mix of pure domination, defensive efforts and eye-catchers to form this list.

#6 IZAYAH MAURIOHOOHO LE’AFA

When you start to hit the award winners, you know you are in the real pointy end of the countdown. Mauriohooho Le’afa is the top ranked Auckland Huskies talent of four players to make our Top 20 countdown. He shared in the Defensive Player of the Year with Jarrod Kenny, and was named in the All-Star Five at season’s end. While he ended up missing a few games due to injury, it was clear that when he got on the court, the Huskies were a supremely better outfit and Mauriohooho Le’afa was a key reason why the Huskies started to get on a roll leading into the 2020 Sal’s NBL finals series.

In the 2020 season, Mauriohooho Le’afa was ranked second in steals with 2.5 per game behind only Hyrum Harris. His offensive output on the other hand was higher, ranking inside the top five for points with 20.7 per game and as he showed at the pointy end of the season, was capable of putting up big numbers. He was absolutely sensational in the elimination final and almost single-handedly dragged his team across the line and into a semi-final. His shooting accuracy throughout the season was an area of improvement with just 39.4 per cent accuracy from the field, but a lot of that came from his prevalence of shooting the outside ball where he ranked equal second in three-pointers made with three per game.

Throughout the regular season, his best game came against Nelson Giants on July 5 when he put up 32 points at 50 per cent from the field, draining a whopping eight of 14 from outside the arc. He also collected four rebounds, two assists and two steals on the night. His best defensive effort came a few days later when he racked up a season-high nine steals, pickpocketing the Canterbury Rams on his way to 21 points, three rebounds and three assists. But his best game would be saved for last.

Mauriohooho Le’afa stepped up on the big stage in the do-or-die elimination final, sinking 39 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal in a remarkable 38-minute effort to never die wondering. It was one of the performances of the season and while the Huskies ultimately fell short in that game, Mauriohooho Le’afa went the full four quarters.

STATS:

Points: 20.7
Rebounds: 4.5
Assists: 5.4
Steals: 2.5
FG%: 39.4
2P%: 41.9
3P%: 36.4
FT%: 81.5
Minutes: 32.5