The Hawke's Bay Hawks have made a winning start to the Sal's National Basketball League, beating the Southland Sharks 92-84 at Pettigrew Green Arena in Napier on Thursday night.
They took a decisive lead in a tightly-contested game at the end of the third quarter, going on a 7-0 run to open up a nine-goal lead, and they were able to keep the margin around that mark throughout the final spell.
Dion Prewster led the way for the Hawks with 20 points and six rebounds, receiving good support from Jarrod Kenny (16 points, six assists) and Ethan Rusbatch (15 points, six rebounds).
Breakers big man Alex Pledger starred for the Sharks, with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while new Breakers signing Jarrad Weeks also made an impact, with 17 points.
The Hawks were up by two, 24-22, after the first quarter, but the Sharks came back strong to win the second quarter, 22-15, and take a five-goal lead into the halftime break.
The third quarter was a slow, low-scoring spell, until the decisive break that capped it off.
It began with Everard Bartlett hitting a three, his third of the period, and that was followed by a pair of two-pointers, from Rusbatch and Kenny, to leave the Hawks up 67-58.
The Sharks stayed in touch throughout the final spell, but were never able to sneak back in front, and a Prewster three with just over a minute to go sealed the win for the home team.
The opening round of the NBL continues on Friday, when the Canterbury Rams host the Supercity Rangers and the Wellington Saints host the Sharks, who will be eager to bounce back quick.
Hawke's Bay Hawks 92 (Dion Prewster 20, Jarrod Kenny 16, Ethan Rusbatch 15) Southland Sharks 84 (Jarrad Weeks 17, Alex Pledger 16).
Q1: 24-22; Q2: 39-44; Q3: 67-58
Photo credit: Photosport NZ