The Southland Sharks finished their first road double-header weekend with a win and a loss after a withering second half comeback saw the southerners claim a 97-89 victory over the Hawke's Bay Hawks on Sunday afternoon.
After being soundly beaten on Friday night at Cowles Stadium in Christchurch by the Canterbury Rams (86-102), the Sharks found themselves down by nine at halftime. A 10-0 Hawks run out of the main break saw the deficit blow out to 19 with just over 5 and a half minutes to play in the third and the writing appeared to be on the wall.
But then crucially, the Sharks kick-started their own run, powered by Grant Anticevich (27 points/12 rebounds) and Ben Hall (12 points/7 rebounds), cutting the margin to eight at three quarter time.
The Sharks opened the fourth with a Hall triple (his third from beyond the arc) and a Burton two and in the blink of an eye, it was a one possession game.
Then Jeremy Kendle happened.
The American point guard hit back-to-back threes to give the Sharks the lead three minutes into the quarter for the first time since the first quarter but he was just getting started.
Kendle scored 25 fourth quarter points, including 16 of the Sharks' last 17 and assisted on another nine to turn in another MVP-calibre performance and earn a vital road victory for his team. He finished with 30 points on 9/14 shooting, including 6/10 from three-point range to go with 5 rebounds and 11 assists.
Kendle scooped another maximum 10-vote haul in the Sky Broadband MVP race (adding to the eight votes in Friday's loss to the Rams) with Anticevich earning seven and Ben Hall one.
The Sharks return home to take on the Wellington Saints on Sunday evening at ILT Stadium Southland. Tip-off is just after 6:00pm.
Image by Roshy Sportfolio