The James Blond Super City Rangers entered their Easter weekend double header on the back of a 0-3 start to the 2014 Bartercard NBL season. The weekend’s games were not quite make or break for the Rangers in terms of making the end of season play-offs but two further losses would seriously dent their chances.
Their first assignment was on Good Friday against IMS Payroll Hawks in Napier. Unfortunately the Rangers had considerable problems containing the Hawks offence and slipped to a 99-81 defeat. Only American Eric Devendorf (27 points) and Duane Bailey who had a career high 34 points made significant contributions for the Rangers.
Fourty eight hours later the Rangers were on court again this time at home against last season’s beaten finalists the Nelson Giants. The Giants boast some serious rebounding talent given the known qualities of Mika Vukona and Josh Pace, the addition of import Jamal Boykin and the youthful back up of Gus Riley and Finn Delaney.
The Rangers were forced to enter the game with only two recognised forwards, Duane Bailey and Patrich Bolstad. Bailey and Bolstad collected 25 rebounds between them (the rest of the team just 11) but with the likes of Cam Stuart and Chris Fahrensohn having to spend minutes in the post they were always going to struggle for equality on the boards and were eventually out rebounded 45-36. That’s not an alarming discrepancy but with both Bailey and Bolstad undersized and having to play big minutes the toll on their energy levels couldn’t help but take a hit.
The absentees, Johnny Fesolai (church commitments) and Tai Wynyard (attending the Jordan Brand Classic) should return for the trip to the Waikato next Saturday.
Bolstad was prominent early in the game for the Rangers who trailed Nelson by just a single point at quarter time and 44-39 at the main break.
The highlight of the half was a Duane Bailey dunk on the stroke of half time, his athletic move exciting the modest crowd.
The Giants embarked on an 11-2 run at the start of the second half, opening up a 55-41 lead, an advantage they were able to maintain deep into the final quarter.
A Daryl Corletto triple followed by a pair of threes from the in form Duane Bailey hinted at a Rangers comeback midway through the final term. Brook Ruscoe immediately extinguished the threat of a revival. He landed a couple of treys of his own, Josh Bloxham added another and the Rangers were consigned to a fifth successive loss.
Final Score: James Blond Super City Rangers 79 – Corletto 17, O’Riley 16, Bailey 16, Devendorf 14, Bolstad 12. Nelson Giants 91 – Ruscoe 24, Boykin 21, Pace 14, Vukona 13.
Some good news for the Rangers is that Dillon Boucher is now out of his moon boot. The former Tall Black had foot surgery a month ago but it will be another 4-6 weeks before he can consider joining the playing roster.