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Stars of the 2019 basketball season are back for Basketball Mid Canterbury's 2020 men's A grade.

Here’s the lowdown from coach Brian Kerr about two excellent games of basketball in the men’s A Grade competition at Oxford Street on Wednesday night:

A young Ashburton College team took on last year’s champions, Team Donkey.
What followed was a highly entertaining and high scoring game of basketball.
The first quarter was tight as both teams were able to get into their rhythms early trading a total of 13 3-pointers in this quarter alone. It was probably easier to count up the misses and there weren’t many. College took a slender 25–24 lead into the second quarter.

In this quarter both defences tightened up to try and restrict the outside shot. This is where Team Donkey were able to force the ball inside more as they found gaps in the College zone defence to take a 49–44 lead into the break.
The third quarter was also tight with both teams trading baskets. College tried to claw back at the lead but when they got on a roll, Team Donkey were always able to counter.

The final quarter started off well for College as Team Donkey began to tire a little bit and started turning the ball over. Unfortunately College weren’t able to take full toll of those opportunities and missed their chance to push Team Donkey close. In the last three minutes Team Donkey took charge and controlled possession to take out a deserved 94–84 win in a highly entertaining game of basketball.

Whilst Team Donkey where short in numbers, they had a quality lineup. As expected they were well led by Pip Johnston who top scored with 38 points including five 3-pointers in a high level display. He was well supported by Fotu Hala with 27 points (four 3-pointers) who was a handful on the drive.
Cam Butler had a good game constantly asking questions of the College defence finishing with 19 points.

Coach Brian Kerr talks tactics with his Ashburton College senior boys’ basketball side.

For College, Riley Sa had an outstanding game. Not only did Riley have a high defensive work rate in the game, he also showed everyone his scoring capabilities. He top scored with 42 points which included 11 3-pointers which helped keep College close for most of the game in a man of the match display. To think he’s only a Year 11.
Kambell Stills took time to get into the game but came back with a strong second half as he found offensive gaps and was able to convert. He finished with 19 points in a good overall display.

Team Donkey showed why they’re still the favourites to take out a third title this year. This was their first hit out and they looked a really compact unit. They’ll be tough to beat.

 

The second game was between Nomads and Newlands.

Initially it seemed that Newlands might be too much to handle as they got off to a good start. However Nomads had other ideas. They were able to settle and restore some sort of order to the proceedings. Newlands ahead by six points at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was on a parity as Nomads intensified their defensive effort making Newlands scrap for everything. Whilst Newlands were ahead 45–39 at the half, they were struggling a bit offensively. Nomads then employed a man-to-man defence and they began to break down the lead.

The third quarter was more of the same. Nomads would edge closer only for Newlands to push the score back out 60-55.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Newlands still held a 5-point lead until a mini Nomads roll drew the scores level at 68 apiece. For the next several minutes both teams battled hard. There were some great plays in the last couple of minutes.

With 15 seconds remaining Newlands were ahead 78–76. Nomads had the ball but were being pressurised by Newlands. With three seconds remaining Jamie Smitheram fired off a 3-pointer from the side. It looked too long but the ball managed to hit the furthest part of the rim, pop up, bobbled onto the backboard and then dropped back through the hoop. Nomads ahead by one, 79 to 78.

Newlands called a timeout and ran a play. The ball was given to Marvin Agacer just outside the 3 point line. Because Nomads were in foul trouble, all Newlands actually required was a foul to get them to the free throw line. But the Nomads double team was effective resulting in the shot dropping short.
It was a tense battle that went right down to the wire. An excellent contest.

For Nomads, it was a real team effort with Daniel Coley finishing with 19 points. He drove strongly to the basket and defended well and really made an impact in the fourth quarter resurgence for a man of the match display. Tony Gilbert finished with 16 points taking the ball to the hoop and rebounding strongly. Jamie Smitheram found his shooting rhythm in the third quarter as well as making the all-important 3-pointer to take the game.

For Newlands, Randy Buenafe played a big game. He was good defensively good and dropped in 27 points with four 3-pointers. Marc Juntilla was his normal busy self and it almost seemed that he would win the game on his own in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. He pulled out some wonderful drives to keep Newlands noses ahead scoring their last 14 points.

Marvin Agacer was continually asking questions of the Nomads defence until he left the court midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury.
He finished with 16 points.

For Newlands it was a game where things changed in a very short space of time. Marvin Agacer leaving the game later in the third quarter (only managing to return with 90 seconds remaining). Bryn Hetrick and Logan Perkins were fouled out fairly early in the fourth quarter leaving Newlands down in numbers on their bench.

Overall it was a good defensive display from Nomads. They didn’t panic at the crucial stage of the game. They stuck to their guns throughout and never fell away. They led the game only once, when it mattered.