The Southland Sharks have taken another big step towards qualifying for the Final 4 with a 118-74 win over the helpless Taranaki Mountainairs.
It was all go from the tip for the hosts, going on an 8-0 run in the first three minutes. Todd Blanchfield picked up where he left off last weekend and dropped eight points in as many minutes.
The Sharks ended the quarter 36-18 on top and put themselves into a comfortable position for the remainder of the fixture.
A slow start to the first half of the second period saw only eight points scored, but this would change at the turn of the five-minute mark. Alex Pledger was as dominant as ever on the block, taking the right option seemingly every time he touched the ball.
A 28-point lead for the hosts put the writing on the wall for the visiting Airs, who still had to endure a whole other half of basketball. Derone Raukawa and Alonzo Burton were getting theirs on the offensive end, the same just couldn't be said on the other side of the ball.
The Sharks piled on another 25 points in the third quarter, with Jarrad Weeks shooting the lights out from deep and going 3/3 in the period. The Airs inability to close out on open shooters cost them dearly and saw their deficit balloon to 37 going into the fourth.
What was already ugly got worse for the visitors in the final 10. The Sharks second unit put on an impressive display with their rare extended court-time and outscored the Airs 25-18 to see them win the game by a mammoth 44 points.
Southland Sharks 118 defeated Taranaki Mountainairs 74
Sharks - Jarrad Weeks 22pts & 5ast, Todd Blanchfield 19pts & 3rbs, Dominique Kelman-Poto 10pts & 11rbs.
Airs - Derone Raukawa 23pts, Alonzo Burton 17pts & 4rbs.
Stats That Matter - the Sharks scored 45 of their 118 points from behind the three-point line and shot it at an impressive 50% clip. When the Sharks get going from outside, it opens up all the parts of their game and tonight allowed for Pledger and co to bang down low. The Sharks put on a show.
Shooting the ball at over 50% will usually win you the game, but also shooting at that rate from three can blow a lead right out. The Sharks were money from down town and made the Airs pay for their second-slow closeouts and poor defensive reads.
The Airs on the other hand shot the poor drastically worse from outside at 20%. Credit must be given to the Sharks, who played with energy for the full 40 minutes but when you're wide open look after wide open look, it can only spell a loss.
Bench players outside of the 6/7 man rotation don't see a lot of game time and are often thrown in when a game's result is certain. Tonight's game was decided after the first quarter, but the Sharks' second unit were impressive when the came on and outscored what was largely the Airs starting five 25-18 in the fourth.