The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks started a seven-week home stretch with a thumping win over the Manawatu Jets last night at ILT Stadium Southland.
After two tough road double-headers to start the season, the Sharks relished the familiar surroundings in front of a boisterous home crowd to hand the youthful Jets a 30-point defeat 109-79.
The result was never in doubt. The Jets struggling to contain the size and experience of the Sharks, being out-rebounded 50-37, while the Sharks were able to sit regular starter Orlando Coleman who was recovering from a knock to the leg in Nelson last weekend and captain Reuben Te Rangi who is nursing a knee complaint.
No Sharks player played more than 23 minutes, with Lydon Aoake, Andrew Wheeler and Connor Coll all getting significant playing time for the first time this season.
Sharks Head Coach Judd Flavell was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“I think we came out of the blocks and the first half really set the tone. We had targets to hit defensively and despite the lead blowing out early we were still able to keep our focus which was good” Flavell said.
For the Sharks, the scoring load was evenly shared with six players scoring 14 or more, led again by Jarrad Weeks who finished with 18 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
Luke Aston got hot from three-point range, draining four from beyond the arc to finish with 16 points to go with 7 rebounds, ably assisted by Alex Pledger (15 points, 8 rebounds), James Hunter (15 points, 7 rebounds), Derone Raukawa (14 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists) and Tom Vodanovich (14 points, 4 rebounds).
The Sharks now get nine days to prepare for a rematch with the Hawke’s Bay Hawks, who handed the Southland side a week one loss in the Bay three weeks ago. The game will be played at ILT Stadium Southland on Saturday 19 May from 7:00pm.