The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks have capped a successful trip north with an exciting 100-88 win over the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets, taking them to a 6-3 record on the back of a four-game winning streak.
Playing less than 24 hours after punishing the Steelformers Taranaki Airs by 42 points, the Sharks were made to work hard from the outset in a contest that was played at break-neck speed at times.
The Sharks won the first quarter 26-24 and the second period 32-25, taking a handy advantage into the half. At one stage the lead in the third quarter hit 17 points, before a barnstorming run by the Jets got them back to within 4 points down the stretch.
Played in front of another large vocal crowd, the atmosphere lifted a level as the Jets started to take flight.
However, as he had done throughout the game, Burton came up with big shots. The shooting guard was playing in front of his dad, Willie Burton, a former star of the competition, who was seen dancing in the stands and enjoying the entertainment being dished up by his talented son.
Though Daishon Knight and Jayden Bezzant tried to mount a late challenge with a flurry of big plays, the Sharks held firm and withstood the heat to cap an impressive weekend.
The Jets next head south to take on the Mike Pero Nelson Giants this Thursday, before heading home to host the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls on Sunday.
The Sharks have another huge weekend ahead of them, starting with a home clash against arch-rivals the Wellington Saints on Friday night, before driving north for a massive showdown with the Go Media Otago Nuggets, a local clash expected to attract a huge crowd at the Edgar Centre.
Manawatu Jets (88) lost to Southland Sharks (100) - BOXSCORE
Jets: Daishon Knight (22pts), Shane Temara (20pts), DeAndre Daniels (19pts, 12rbs), Jayden Bezzant (18pts, 5ast)
Sharks: Alonzo Burton (27pts, 6 treys), Brayden Inger (19pts), Courtney Belger (15pts, 5ast), Dom Kelman-Poto (14pts, 9rbs)
• Alonzo Burton helped himself to 27 points in a starring role for the Sharks, which included six triples. Between the likes of Brayden Inger, Toby Gillooly and Courtney Belger, the Sharks have quickly become one of the hottest long-range shooting teams.
• Courtney Belger is such a key player for the Sharks, and he is starting to rise to the occasion as the team's undisputed court leader. His ability to keep everyone balanced, in the moment and focused on the job is a credit to him.
• DeAndre Daniels delivered a strong performance in a quality battle with Dom Kelman-Poto. Totalling 19 points at 67%, to go with 12 rebounds and a couple of blocks was a sign that he is on the rise.
Stuff MVP Votes
Alonzo Burton (Sharks) 9
Brayden Inger (Sharks) 6
Shane Temara (Jets) 6
Courtney Belger (Sharks) 5
DeAndre Daniels (Jets) 2
Daishon Knight (Jets) 1
Jayden Bezzant (Jets) 1