Basketball: Hawks still chasing first victory
By Anendra Singh
A remarkable third-quarter fightback wasn’t enough as the Hawks went down to the Nelson Giants in Napier today.
The Indigo-sponsored Hawke’s Bay franchise sluggish start in the scoring department and lack of intensity on defence against the Mike Pero Giants in the first half of their Bartercard National Basketball League (NBL) match made the difference in the 91-80 loss.
The Hawks are win-less after two matches but Nelson were delighted to claim two from two on the road.
Nelson’s US import, Ray Cowells III, had his radar switched on, scoring a game-high 27 points with Ben Strong adding 19 points and four assists and veteran Phill Jones 18 points and five assists.
Giants skipper Sam Dempster claimed 12 rebounds and six assists while Finn Delany chimed in with 15 points and five rebounds to reflect the side’s versatility.
For the Hawks, US import Kareem Johnson scored a team-high 16 points while veteran forward Arthur Trousdell added 15 points and colleceted seven rebounds.
Guards Luke Aston, Matt Te Huna and William Stinnett contributed 12 points each while US import and co-skipper Chris Porter scored seven points and collected six rebounds.
Te Huna also led the assists department for the hosts with six.
At the half way mark of the first 10 minutes, the visitors were up 13-5 at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, as the hosts again found the rim spurning their advances.
On the other hand, the Giants, fresh from a 102-98 victory over the James Blond Supercity Rangers in Auckland on Saturday, were dropping bombs regularly through Delany, Jones and Cowells III.
The Kirstin Daly-Taylor coached-Hawks seemed to find some fluidity when Guam pair Stinnett and Joe Blas came on as guards off the bench.
About five minutes into the next quarter Nelson increased the pressure on the Hawks, widening the gulf to 40-24 as their bench were on their feet applauding the effort of their teammates on the floor.
Daly-Taylor rolled on her bench players, including Wilfred Dickson for a 3:19 stint.
The spell ended 54-32 (31-16) in favour of the Tim Fanning-coached Giants.
Cowells III and Jones spearheaded the attack for the Giants with 14 points each while Delany chimed in with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Import Strong added eight and Ali Granger six.
Dempster led the rebound department with seven, four defensively.
For the Hawks, Johnson came off the bench to score 10 points while Porter contributed six points and three off the board.
Stinnett added five and so did guard Te Huna.
Whatever Daly-Taylor said in the locker room at halftime must have worked as the Hawks led 17-15 in the third spell.
Hawks guard Aston dropped one early from downtown to spur on the boys as well as the half-full arena who were making the most of the gold-coin entry for the entire season on home games.
That quarter went to the hosts, 29-22 (76-61), with Stinnett leading the charge on 12 points after 11 minutes of floor time and a three-pointer to boot.
Te Huna came to the party with 10 points and four assists while Blas had two assists.
Johnson scored 10 points but made his presence felt with some solid screens for others to have a good look at the rims.
Aston joined Porter on seven points each although the import forward doubled his rebounding to six.
For the Giants, Cowells III cantered to 23 points with Jones adding 18.
Delany was on 13 and five rebounds while Dempster had nine rebounds and four assists.
Strong added 13 to the collective.
Down 89-75, the Hawks kept the pressure on Nelson, who fell foul of the shot clock twice in the final quarter.
Aston was fouled out with 25 seconds remaining on the clock to epitomise the body-on-the-line attitude to defence as the Hawks still lagged 91-80.
The score stood when Cowells III counted down the last three seconds as lethargic players froze to watch the electronic clock.
The Hawks won that spell 19-15 but lost the game.