By Murray McKinnon
The James Blond Supercity Ranges dug themselves out of a hole in the first quarter and went on to score their second win of the season beating the Zerofees Southland Sharks 87-79 at the AUT North Shore on Saturday.
The Sharks opened the scoring with a three from Ana Haku and with further shots from beyond the arc by Everard Bartlett and Derone Raukawa had the Rangers rattled to finish the first quarter ahead 31-18.
With a stern message from coach Jeff Green the Rangers set about rescuing the situation going on an unanswered 11 point run to level the score at 41 each. They went into the second half at 45 all.
Reuben Te Rangi set the stadium alight in the third quarter spurred on by a vocal group of supporters scoring 12 points, which included three threes. Just one point separated the teams the Sharks ahead 69-68 going into the final ten minutes.
The Ranges lifted their defensive intensity in the final quarter giving Eric Devendorf numerous scoring opportunities in transition.
Devendorf led the scorers with 28, Te Rangi collected 23 and Tait 17. Jordair Jett sprained his left knee with minutes remaining in the game, but still was the top scorer for the Sharks with 19, and Alex Pledger had 16 and 11 rebounds with Haku on 14 and 12 rebounds.
Dillon Boucher said that defence in the second half was the key to the Rangers win.
“We gave up 31 points in that first quarter and no one was happy so we wanted to lock down that second quarter and I thought we actually locked down for the next three quarters and to only give up 79 point after 31 in the first quarter is a great defensive effort. We know we’re a potent scoring team and we know if we play a little bit of D we become very tough all of a sudden.”
He added that consistency is still an element that is missing.
“We needed to play well and I thought tonight we played well in patches, we weren’t consistent but we played well when we needed to. Unfortunately Jordair Jett went down injured and that helped our cause and we’re just looking forward to getting Mika Vukona back next week and to bolster our stocks a little and we feel like we need to go down to Taranaki and play a lot better than we did against them up here,” said Boucher.
Coach Green also emphasised the need to work on improving the defence.
“It is where we need to work harder and we got ourselves in a hole in the first quarter, but in the end it was our defence that brings us home because we can score with the best of them, but we’ve got to learn to stop people. From the second to the fourth quarter we did a good job we held them to 14 points in the second quarter and in that last quarter we just knuckled down defensively.”
Sharks coach Judd Flavell lamented the costly turnovers given up by his team.
“They’re a team that thrives on opportunities when we give them possession. We didn’t do a good job of looking after possession we gave up too many offensive rebounds in that second half and in that second quarter we had too many turnovers and we weren’t disciplined enough to keep the ball and look after it.
So hopefully we learn from that. And we need to because that’s definitely a game where I felt our own discipline let us down,” said Flavell.
The Sharks went on to Taradale where they beat the Indigo Hawks 101-87 on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers next play Taranaki in New Plymouth on Sunday April 10.