The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks are set for the Sal's NBL Final after completing the regular season with a 96-68 win over the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets.
The visitors came in with a small makeshift starting unit courtesy of Shane Temara (illness) and DeAndre Daniels (injury) missing, and early in the contest it looked like the home team was going to steamroll their opponents.
Up by 15 points at the end of the opening period, the Hawks were full of run, looked hungry in transition, smothering at the defensive end and far too versalite for the Jets.
However, with nothing to lose and filled with youngsters looking to stake their claim as bonafide League players, the Jets tightened up defensively and made a fist of the job at hand, winning the second quarter 21-14.
The third quarter was a bit of an arm-wrestle as neither team capitalised on teh scoreboard, despite the best efforts of Devondrick Walker at one end and Daishon Knight at the other.
Though they stayed in touch, you always felt the Hawks were on the verge of landing some big blows, and they started coming thick and fast early in the last term.
With the Jets looking spent, the Hawks swooped and quickly built a solid lead as Walker, Hyrun Harris, Rhys Vague and Jono Janssen all got on top.
A 32-17 last quarter was enough to shut the contest down and send the Hawks on their way to next week's Final 4 with one final win at home, much to the delight of another big crowd at Pettigrew Green Arena.
Walker was the star for a team that was still minus Derone Raukawa, though the fiesty point guard is expected to be fit and firing next week for his team's tilt at championship glory.
For the Jets, it was a tough night at the office with mix of both good and bad. They now return home for one last game when they host the Giants on Sunday to see out a season that simply hasn't delivered on what it potentially could have.
Hawks (96) defeated Jets (68) - BOXSCORE
Hawks: Devondrick Walker (35pts), Rhys Vague (15pts), Ethan Rusbatch (14pts).
Jets: Daishon Knight (20pts, 12rbs), Jayden Bezzant (15pts), Nikau McCullough (14pts).
Stuff MVP Votes
Devondrick Walker (Hawks) 10
Rhys Vague (Hawks) 7
Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) 4
Daishon Knight (Jets) 3
Nikau McCullough (Jets) 3
Jono Janssen (Hawks) 2
Finn Lally (Jets) 1
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)