It was all one-way traffic at ILT Stadium Southland this evening, as the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks walloped the 2Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers 115-83.
Todd Blanchfield started the game off on fire and dropped 11 in the first 8 minutes. The strong start from the hosts was largely due to some sub-par defensive reads from the Rangers, who looked drained playing their second game in 24 hours.
The Sharks finished the quarter up 15 at 34-19 and built on a strong opening 10 by going on a 20-4 run at the tail end of the second period. This took their advantage out to 36 going into the half, with Blanchfield jumping to 23 points and Jarrad Weeks contributing with 20.
Tim Quarterman struggled to get anything going for the visitors, as his teammates for the second time this week had trouble converting on open looks. Combined with another lackadaisical defensive showing, the score read 73-37.
Scoring for the Sharks didn't slow down at the start of the second spell, with the hosts hitting triple-digits with two minutes to spare in the period. Tom Vodanovich, Hyrum Harris and Dominique Kelman-Poto all found ways to the basket and kept the points ticking over at a startling rate.
Quarterman managed nine points for his team, with Nnanna Egwu also chiming in by putting back a few loose boards. They did, however, see their deficit go to 45 at the end of the quarter. If the game wasn't over at the half, it was dead and buried before the fourth.
The hosts only managed 15 points in the final 1o minutes, but this can be put down to Head Coach Judd Flavell rolling his bench. Quarterman and co commendably didn't roll over and won the period by 13.
Southland Sharks 115 def Supercity Rangers 83
Sharks - Todd Blanchfield 27pts & 9rbs, Jarred Weeks 24pts & 3ast, Dominique Kelman-Poto 20 pts, 14rbs, 2ast.
Rangers - Tim Quarterman 32pts, 7rbs, 4ast, 6stl, Lesae Coe 15pts, Nnanna Egwu 8pts, 8rbs.
TAB MVP Votes - Todd Blanchfield (Sharks) 10, Jarrad Weeks (Sharks) 6, Tim Quarterman (Rangers) 6, Hyrum Harris (Sharks) 3, Dom Kelman-Poto (Sharks) 3, Lesae Coe (Rangers) 2.
The Sharks took care of business at home, but they dominated every facet of the game. Blanchfield and Weeks looked liked their old selves, scoring at will and causing havoc on the defensive end. These two will need to continue to be at their best if the Southerners are any chance at defending their title.
What a showing from sixth man, Kelman-Poto! The big man was the perfect glue guy for the Sharks, lending a hand in whatever area his team needed and doing so sublimely. The Sharks have a strong starting-five, but a championship team runs deeper than those who are on the court for the tip-off.
It was another tough day at the office for the Rangers, who've shown for the second straight night how influential the loss of your skipper (Venky Jois) can be. They're well and truly out of the Final Four race, but they can still play dictator for the last few rounds. Although, there is a huge difference between "can" and "will".