A fourth quarter blitz gave the Southland Sharks a dramatic 86-81 come-from-behind National Basketball League victory over the Bay Hawks at Stadium Southland on Thursday night.
The Sharks overturned a 19-point deficit to win a physical encounter against the Hawks combination.
"Obviously we got ourselves in a big hole there. We made some changes defensively, that was a bit of a gamble, but we had to try something different," Sharks coach Judd Flavell said.
"The Hawks they did a good job feeding their big man and Everard [Bartlett] got going in the first half, but just that change up with the zone was probably good enough to just change up that rhythm."
"It got us going the other way in transition, which we were able to capitalise on from being in the defensive zone so overall very pleased with coming back down from that big hole of 19 points.
"We can take a lot of confidence from that."
It took nearly a minute for the first points of the game as both teams turned over possession before the Hawks opened the scoring through Joshua Fox.
The Hawks opened up a 4-0 lead before Mitch Norton brought the home team into the game, helping them to a 7-4 lead.
But the Hawks hit back with an Everard Bartlett three-pointer and held a 16-12 lead before finishing the first quarter ahead 21-19.
The Sharks started the second quarter strongly through guards Derone Raukawa and Hayden Allen as the lead changed hands again, with the Sharks getting out to a 26-23 lead.
Captain Duane Bailey scored a three-pointer, but the Hawks bounced back when some excellent long range shooting by Ana Haku and Bartlett swung the game around, helped by a technical foul from Alex Pledger.
They brought the Hawks into the lead late in the second quarter with a 15 point run to give them a 50-38 lead at halftime.
Amir Williams claimed nine first half rebounds for the visitors, while the Hawks had 6/10 from three-point range, compared with the Sharks' 2/13.
The visitors continued to hit more than 50 per cent from the field, while the Sharks were having a tough night at the office as the Hawks stretched their lead to 68-49.
A late third-quarter surge reduced the deficit to ten points heading into the final quarter.
The Sharks started the final quarter strongly, hitting their shots accurately to bring the score to 75-72.
They levelled with three minutes left in the game.
Both teams started feeling the pressure in the final stages with the scores locked at 80-80.
Free throws by Australian imports Nick Kay and Mitch Norton in the final two minutes gave the Sharks an exciting victory to the delight of the home fans.
Both teams face a short turnaround, with the Hawks returning home to face the Supercity Rangers on Saturday night, while the Sharks travel to Christchurch to play the Rams on Sunday afternoon.
At a glance
Southland Sharks 86 (Nick Kay 16, Derone Raukawa 14, Mitch Norton 13) Bay Hawks 81 (Everard Bartlett 18, Amir Williams 16, Joshua Fox 12) 1Q: 19-21, HT: 38-50. 3Q: 62-72
Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times