The Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks earned themselves a shot at redemption for the 2019 Sal’s NBL Grand Final loss after taking down the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks 98-91 in their semi-final tonight at Te Rauparaha Arena.
They’ll play the same team that got the better of them in Christchurch, Wellington Saints, off the back of a heroic fourth-quarter performance from Devondrick Walker.
The forward produced 14 points when it mattered most, which included two triples to get things rolling. Scores from notable Sharks, Dom Kelman-Poto and Brayden Inger, cancelled out the burst, but Walker tacked on another run to keep things steep and eventually insurmountable.
Little separated the two sides in the first half, as each blow inflicted was met with a reply. Hyrum Harris and Dom Kelman-Poto were the catalysts for their outfits as both scored better than a point a minute in the opening period.
Their teammates weren’t too far being though, as six other Sharks added something to the box score while the Hawks had six in total.
The way in which they got on the board was also similar, with both sides scoring just under half their points from downtown. A few extra trips to the line had the Sharks up 53-49 at the interval.
The arm wrestle continued out of the break as buckets from Devondrick Walker and Rhys Vague levelled the totals not long into the third.
Josh Cunningham made his presence felt down low on consecutive possessions and looked to have swung momentum leading into the decisive fourth quarter, but just as you’d assume, the Hawks clawed things back to make it 74 apiece.
Hawke’s Bay Hawks 98 defeated Southland Sharks 91 - BOXSCORE
Hawks: Devondrick Walker (33pts & 5rbs), Hyrum Harris (19pts & 10rbs), Ethan Rusbatch (14pts & 5rbs).
Sharks: Dom Kelman-Poto (25pts & 11rbs), Brayden Inger (18pts & 4rbs), Josh Cunningham (13pts & 10rbs).