Corey Webster made an immediate impact for the James Blond Super City Ranges in his first game for the team since his signing last Tuesday.
Off the bench Webster led all scorers with 29, had five steals and four turnovers, assisting the Rangers to their 99-88 victory and at the same time sending the Indigo Hawks to their ninth straight loss at AUT North Shore on Friday night.
The Hawks led after the first quarter 27-24 as the Rangers ran into foul trouble towards the end of the period allowing the Hawks to capitalise from the charity stripe.
The lead was maintained by the Hawks through most of the second quarter before Webster showed his brilliance from the arc to pull the local team out to a 52-46 advantage at the break.
The fast pace of the game continued into the third period with Eric Devendorf, who ended the game with 24, teaming up well with Terrance Roberts.
Given possession Hawks sole import Kareem Johnson’s low post moves were hard to stop. Johnson scored 23 for the game plus 11 rebounds with Luke Aston and Arthur Trousdell both on 12.
The Rangers were eight ahead into the final ten minutes but this quickly changed with Webster stealing possession at will and converting uncontested. The Hawks through Ashton, Alonzo Burton and Paora Wnitana tried to rescue the situation from the outside but the Rangers held on for victory. Egged on by the spectators the Rangers tried to score a ton but the ball just wouldn’t drop and Johnson and Joseph Blas had the final say scoring the final seven points of the game.
Jeff Green was pleased with the win and the Rangers great defensive effort ahead of a hectic schedule for his team over the next week.
“The way we play we have to play good D because we can score, everyone can score, and add in Corey so that’s a lot easier. So it’s not about whether we can score it’s whether we can stop the other team and that’s the key for us. It always has been right from the word go all season, play some defence and let’s go,” said Green.
He added that Webster was also a perfect fit for the team.
“Corey knows a lot of the guys and we run a lot of the Breakers stuff anyway so it was easy for him. So we just ran the place he knew.”
Webster said that he was using his time with the Rangers to keep in shape for the Tall Blacks.
“I’m here for the rest of the season just using it to stay in shape and we’ve got a tough schedule for Tall Blacks so just get my fitness up and keep playing basketball so I’m happy to be back on the court,” he said.
Webster will be taking part in the Tall Blacks FIBA’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila Philippines in early July.
Captain Dillon Boucher who had six rebounds and four assists was pleased with the teams’ strength right to the end.
“We had the legs in that last quarter we picked up the defensive pressure and felt like we got some good steals and some easy baskets and that blew the lead out which is nice and it gave the starters some chance to rest, ready for tomorrow night’s game,” he said.
Boucher was also pleased with Webster’s performance.
“He’s a real pro and he knows how to score and he made his 29 tonight look effortless and he got his hand on the ball multiple times, and got steals and did a good job. He had a pretty good debut for the team.
“He certainly can put the ball in the hoop that’s one thing he knows how to do. And his defence was good tonight he got after it and created some easy opportunities.”
Kirstin Daly-Taylor coach of the Hawks remained optimistic despite suffering yet another loss this season.
“We played three-quarters really well but just sticking it out with the physicality of the game is just mind blowing when you’ve only got one import, we’re quite small,” she said.
“I’ve been out three years and I have certainly forgotten how physical it is. So I’ve got a bit of work to do with the boys and that understanding part of protect the ball because we certainly gave a lot of ball away,” she added.
Daly-Taylor said there were a number of lessons to take away from the game.
“You want to shoot the ball but sometimes you’ve got to think about shooting, because if we can’t rebound they’re going to get it and go. There were a couple of patches where we didn’t shoot and we attacked and it was just brilliant and that’s how we have to play the Rangers. We’ve got to attack the rim not live or die on the outside shot. It was a really good game for us for us that’s a brilliant score and I’m actually quite happy.”