Hawks down Sharks in Sal’s NBL season opener

The Bay Hawks have defeated the Southland Sharks 92-84 in the Sal’s NBL 2018 season opener on Thursday night.

The Sharks had control for much of the first half, but a 28-14 third quarter in favour of the Hawks propelled them to a big opening night victory at home.

Veteran Everard Bartlett played a big hand in the Hawks’ 15-3 run to close the third, knocking down three straight 3-pointers. He finished the game with 11 points and four assists.

Dion Prewster scorched his former team in front of a packed Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale, dropping 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting (3-of-3 from three) in 30 minutes of action.

Jarrod Kenney was a steady source of production throughout the game for Hawke’s Bay, posting 16 points, six assists and four steals on 4-of-13 shooting, while Ethan Rusbatch added 15 points and five rebounds with three 3-pointers.

A monster double-double from Tall Blacks centre Alex Pledger wasn’t enough to get his team across the line. He finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes.

The Hawks were able to somewhat contain the Sharks’ two imports tonight, holding Jarrad Weeks (17 points) and Orlando Coleman (13 points) to just 9-of-23 shooting overall. Both Weeks and Coleman look to be major parts of the Sharks’ offense this season, but they certainly showed signs of rust in their first hit-out with their new team.

A few big names for both sides struggled tonight. Hawks import Oscar Forman scored just three points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field, while Tall Blacks guard Reuben Te Rangi finished 2-for-12.

Forman, for what it’s worth, arrived in Hawke’s Bay last night and was a late inclusion into the team, so that might explain his struggles.

The Hawks’ 3-point shooting proved to be the difference tonight, as they shot 13-of-31 (41 per cent) to the Sharks’ 4-for-14 effort (28 per cent).

It was an impressive start for the Hawks under new coach Zico Coronel, as they look to bounce back from a 4-14 record last season.

Sal’s NBL action continues tomorrow night as the Wellington Saints host the Sharks, and the Canterbury Rams square off against the Super City Rangers.

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