The Waikato Pistons, defeated the James Blond Super City Rangers, 85-75 in the opening game of their 2014 Bartercard NBL season.
The Rangers, without the services of star recruits Dillon Boucher (injured) and Daryl Corletto (overseas), made a strong start to the game keeping pace with the Pistons to trail 18-17 at quarter time.
The Pistons went on an 8-0 run early in the second period, the pace of import point guard Corin Henry troubling the home defence. Duane Bailey scored from deep, but back-to-back baskets from Alex Talma had the Pistons in the ascendancy 42-30. The visitors protected their double-digit advantage to lead 45-35 at half time. Henry (15pts) led all scorers at the interval – Eric Devendorf (9pts) the leading Rangers contributor.
The Pistons powered further ahead early in the third quarter, the lead almost twenty points on the back of scores from Nick Barrow and Karl Noyer. The Rangers then mounted a spirited comeback scoring 10 unanswered points as Devendorf (twice) and Chris Fahrensohn (three times) converted transition baskets. 2:58 left in the period and the Pistons advantage was reduced to 56-50.
A long delay due to a 24 second clock malfunction came at a perfect time for the Pistons. The break allowed them to re-group and scores from Noyer and Jack Salt, in addition to a long triple from Henry on the three-quarter time buzzer took the visitors to a 68-54 lead.
The reliable Casey Frank scored four points early in the final period and when Patrich Bolstad (7pts/7 rebounds) fouled out the Pistons were ahead 72-54 and appeared to be cruising.
However, Bolstad’s exit made way for extended court time for Tai Wynyard, the 16 year old demonstrating why he is such an exciting prospect as he scored 10 points in the period and executed an exciting block on Pistons import Akeem Wright.
Wynyard’s efforts were eye catching but eventually in vein as the experienced Frank and Henry eased the Pistons through the closing minutes to record their first win of the season.
James Blond Super City Rangers 75 (Bailey 18pts/15 rebounds, Devendorf 17, Wynyard 14, Fahrensohn10) Waikato Pistons 85 (Henry 20, Wright 17, Frank 12, Carter 12)