A strong start and composed finish from the Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks saw them sink the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams 104-90 at Pettigrew Green Arena this afternoon.
The final game of the opening round in the Sal’s NBL was headlined by the host’s prolific offence and efficiency from the free throw line (21/22), with all five of their starters reaching double figures.
American import Devondrick ‘Sky’ Walker was a walking highlight reel in his 39-minute-long debut, finishing with 26 points (6 triples), 5 assists and 5 rebounds. Tall Black Derone Raukawa was equally as impressive with 25 points and 5 boards.
The Hawks began to stamp their authority halfway through the opening quarter, outscoring the visitors 16-8 with contributions from all those who started at centre court.
Things weren’t as pretty for the hosts in the second spell with their first seven attempts unable to fall through the hoop. The Rams capitalised on the cold shooting stretch by going on 13-1 run, and closed the deficit to one.
Walker answered the crowd’s call for someone to spark something for the Hawks and closed the period with 11 points. The Rams trailed 53-44 going into the big break.
The import’s purple patch wasn’t slowed down with the halt in play as he cashed in on three good looks, two from deep, and kept his side ahead as the Rams continued to nip at their heels.
Quintin Bailey (21 points and 5 rebounds) and EJ Singler (15 points, 9 rebounds and six assists) was asked to lead the line for the red and blacks whilst in their opposition’s half, as Head Coach Mick Downer looked to exploit the Hawks down low.
The tactic looked effective for spurts, but their inability to keep the likes of Hyrum Harris (18 points and 7 rebounds) and Raukawa off the charity stripe meant the Hawks kept the points ticking over when their shooting went wayward.
The Rams were only behind by nine at the start of the final period, but a 17-7 run from the home team put any hope of the visitors leaving the North Island with a win to bed.
Hawke’s Bay Hawks (104) defeated Canterbury Rams (90) - BOXSCORE
Hawks: Devondrick Walker (26pts, 5ast & 5rbs), Derone Raukawa (25pts & 5rbs), Hyrum Harris (18pts & 7rbs).
Rams: Quintin Bailey (21pts & 5rbs), EJ Singler (15pts, 9rbs & 6ast).
Stuff MVP Votes
Devondrick Walker (Hawks) – 9
Derone Raukawa (Hawks) – 9
Hyrum Harris (Hawks) – 4
Quintin Bailey (Rams) – 3
EJ Singler (Rams) – 3
Ben Constable (Rams) – 1
Derek Albertsen (Rams) – 1