Sharks Win Home Game Season Opener

Apr 15, 2019
609 Views

The SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks have shown why they’re Sal’s NBL heavyweights by earning a 95-92 comeback victory over the visiting Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams.

The visitors got off to a hot start in the first quarter and punished the Sharks for sub-par perimeter defence by nailing all but one of their threes. This would continue into the second quarter, with stand-in import Adam Gibson going 5-6 from. The Sharks struggled to match Rams outside shooting and saw themselves down 52-59 at the half.

The game tightened up in the third period and both teams struggled to assert themselves for the full 12 minutes. The Sharks were the more aggressive team out of the blocks to start the half, thanks in large part to the individual brilliance and team-work of Australian trio Jarrad Weeks, Mitch McCarron and Todd Blanchfield. All three used their offensive skill sets to put their team back in front midway through the third quarter and finished it in double digits for points. However, the Rams would not let their lead slip away for long and managed to finish the period with the same lead the took into the half despite only shooting one three.

The Sharks needed their big names to stand up when it mattered most and for the first half of the forth, it seemed like a stand up was on the cards. Back-to-back offensive fouls saw the Rams hold a 9-point lead with just over six minutes to go and appeared to be well in control. However, this all changed at the drop of trey, with the Sharks going on an 8-2 run to close the game to within one with three to go. The teams exchanged buckets over the next minute but Mitch McCarron took the game by the horns and went to the charity stripe three times in the closing stages and gave his team a one-point lead with 8 seconds 30 seconds remaining. Adam Gibson would miss his jumper on the ensuing possession and force his team to foul to keep their hopes alive. The Rams would fail to foul quickly on the inbound pass and gave up eight seconds before stopping the clock. Blanchfield would ice his two free throws and set up a nail-biting last possession for the Rams, needing a three to send it to OT. Aston received the final pass and his effort would fall short, giving the Sharks a 95-92 win.

The Rams will be disappointed with their second-half shooting display, but Head Coach Mick Downer should be proud of the way his team performed the majority of the game. It was never going to be easy getting a win in the Shark Tank, but his men came close and will take a lot of confidence out of the narrow loss. The Sharks showed great resilience to come from behind at such a late stage in the game and will count themselves lucky with the decision making of the Rams in key moments. Their Chief, Alex Pledger, and Australian trio stepped up when they were needed most, but they were also let down by only having four points contributed by their bench. Fatigue may be an issue for Head Coach Judd Flavell if his second string continuously fails to deliver.

FULL GAME STATS HERE

Southland Sharks

Points

Todd Blanchfield 24

Tom Vodanovich 17

Jarrad Weeks 17

Alex Pledger 17

Rebounds

Alex Pledger 8

Jarrad Weeks 7

Assists

Mitch McCarron 7

Jarrad Weeks 5

Tom Vodanovich 3

Steals

Todd Blanchfield 3

Hyrum Harris 1

Dominique Kelman-Poto 1

Blocks

Alex Pledger 1

Jarrad Weeks 1

Canterbury Rams

Points

Adam Gibson 21

Luke Aston 13

Brent Fisher 10

Rebounds

Isaiah Wilkins 6

Sam Smith 4

Brent Fisher 3

Assists

Emmett Naar 6

Adam Gibson 5

Michael Karena 4

Steals

Adam Gibson 2

Blocks

Isaiah Wilkins 2

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