How do you best wrap up a 93-73 win by the Sharks over the Huskies?
At one end of the floor we saw the Southland Sharks put in their best defensive effort of the Sal’s NBL season, while at the other we witnessed a banged-up Southern Huskies unit looking tired and slow.
With their season on the line the Huskies came without captain Craig Moller, they had an injured Tre Nichols who had a chipped bone in his foot from the previous night’s game in Christchurch, and a benched Bryan Michaels who was hobbled and didn’t play a minute of this contest.
Though they battled back from an early 4-18 deficit, when the floodgates opened after half-time it proved a task too big as the Sharks ran deep and delivered blow after blow.
Todd Blanchfield (35pts, 8 treys) was in a menacing mood and took no prisoners in his best game of the season, which came just a week after dropping 7 triples in a 27pt outing.
The final rebound count was a staggering 59-29 in favour of the Sharks, which included a superb 22 boards at the offensive end.
The Sharks simply looked fresher, ran harder, had depth and wanted the ball more. As the game wore on, the Tasmanian visitors ran out of gas and looked like they knew their chances of making the top four had evaporated.
Despite some resilience from Marcel Jones, this game belonged to the home team and it felt like this might be the clash the reigning champs look back on as the one that got their title defence ramped up and on track.
Southern Huskies 93 defeated Southern Huskies 73
Sharks - Todd Blanchfield 35pts & 8 treys, Alex Pledger 14pts, Dom Kelman-Poto 14pts, Tom Vodanovich 11pts & 12rbs.
Huskies - Marcel Jones 25pts & 10rbs, Jalen Billups 16pts.
Stats That Matter - the Huskies never led the game and it showed, especially off the glass where the Sharks held a convincing 59-29 lead, including 22 offensive rebounds.
TAB MVP Votes - Todd Blanchfield (Sharks) 10, Hyrum Harris (Sharks) 6, Marcel Jones (Huskies) 5, Jarrad Weeks (Sharks) 4, Tom Vodanovich (Sharks) 3, Jalen Billups (Huskies) 1, Tad Dufelmeier (Huskies) 1.
1. Are we done? Is the Final 4 now settled? The Sharks certainly have moved to the front of the race and it appears neither the Huskies or Giants will overtake them. In fact some may even argue the Sharks find themselves in the best form of the season. Maybe an ominous sign ahead of a likely title defence in July.
2. It looks like we are starting to see a defensive edge from the Sharks that has been missing for most of the season. If the Sharks can maintain their new-found defensive pressure it stands them in a far better position to defend their title. The 73pts scored by the Huskies was the lowest total against the Sharks in 2019.
3. If Todd Blanchfield gets going - look out. Not only did the Aussie sharpshooter dominate this game, he also landed another 8 triples, taking his total over the last games to 15 treys. He's got a hot hand right now.