Written By Mike Lacey www.laceylowdown.com
The opening game of round three of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Men’s competition on Saturday featured The Birdmen and Breakers Development.
The Breakers were bolstered by the inclusion of Shea Ili – the point guard working his way back to full fitness as he recovers from a stress fracture in the lower back.
Some sloppy Breakers ball retention was seized on by Justin Bailey for the Birdmen before Ethan Rusbatch landed a couple of long threes and Thomas Whyte a reverse lay-up to take the Breakers to a 20-16 lead at quarter time.
The Breakers soon took their advantage into double figures and beyond as SKYCITY Breakers Number 91, Derone Raukawa racked up nine straight points – Raukawa debuted for the senior team the night before.Ili and Jaylen Gerrand exchanged threes but the Breakers lead was 53-36 by the half.
Only six players made up the Birdman flock in this one and those depleted numbers began to tell in the second half. Bailey, Tipene Friday and Brandon Lucas, the former East Central University Tiger guard soldiered on, but the youthful Breakers wave led by Dan Fotu and Kruz Perrott-Hunt prevailed.
Breakers Development 112 – Rusbatch 23, Raukawa 21, Fotu 18, Perrott-Hunt 14, Ili 10, Whyte 7.
Birdmen 78 – Lucas 23, Bailey 18, Gerrand 17, Friday 9, Sampson Aruwa 8
In the second game Hayden Allen, making his first appearance of the season, was inserted into 68a Nelson Street’s starting lineup. He joined two other former Tall Blacks Dillon Boucher and Lindsay Tait in a potent squad.
Mai FM 88 Sixers also boasted a couple of former TB’s with Brook Ruscoe and Josh Bloxham bossing their backcourt. Both were prominent in a first quarter edged by Nelson St 26-25.
Nick Barrow and Johnny Fesolai were prominent in the Sixers front court and with Chris McIntosh knocking down a couple of threes in the shadows of half-time they trailed by just a half dozen, 56-50 at half-time.
A triple from Liam Thornton and regular forays into the key by Tait, Allen and Marco Alexander kept Nelson St ahead but a fine shooting display from Ruscoe (6 from 11 threes) kept the Sixers in contention – 83-74 down at half-time.
More threes from Bloxham and Ruscoe threatened an upset but Boucher set up Linus Jakzst and Hyrum Harris for inside opportunities to help inflict the first defeat of the season on the Sixers.
68a Nelson St 119 – Tait 31, Allen 24, Harris 20, Alexander 17, Jakszt 8
Mai FM 88 Sixers 109 – Ruscoe 27, Haku 16, Bloxham 15, Fesolai 13, Barrow 12, Will Heather 12
Ashleigh Kelman-Poto was the star of the second round of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Women’s competition on Saturday.
The former Mount Albert Grammar standout was in an unstoppable mood scoring 36 points to lead the Sparks to a 63-51 victory against Team Sky.
Renee Johnston scored an early three for Team Sky but a couple of baskets each from Kaitlin Burgess and Kazia Kelly opened an early lead for Sparks that stretched to 31-21 at half-time
Sharne Pupuke-Robati and Rhyannon Poto, both current MAGS students, did their best to keep Sky in the hunt but Kelman-Poto was in irresistible form scoring 13 straight points in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
36 points was a career high for the 24 year old forward who graduated from East Central University, Oklahoma earlier this year.
Sparks 63 – Kelman-Poto 36, Burgess 9, Tangiariki 6
Sky 51 – Pupuke-Robati 11, Poto 10, Manase 8, S Herewini 6
In game two Team Storm won for the second time coming from behind to beat The Suns in a close one 62-59.
The scores were locked 31 apiece at half- time with Safena TeNana-Williams nabbing 10 points for Storm, Anna Lacey and Mikayla Blair leading the way for The Suns.
Both teams were deprived of players early in the second half. Suns guard Shauna Povey was forced out with an ankle injury and Storm forward Keeley Tini followed her to the sideline soon after.
The Suns shone in the third producing a dominating 17-8 surge as Kat Leslie, and the Jenkins duo Annabelle and Tabitha Jenkins cut loose.
The Suns still led by double figures with six minutes to play but were run down by Zara Jillings and Georgie Henare in the closing minutes, the pair scoring a collective 19 points in the fourth.
In an exciting finish Annabelle Jenkins had kept the Suns ahead with a minute to play but a Jillings drive leveled proceedings. A strong inside move from Jazz Kailahi gave the advantage to The Storm only for Blair once again to tie the scores with 30 seconds to play.
Following a timeout Henare nailed a sideline triple – The Suns unable to find an open shot to force overtime in the remaining 11 seconds.
Storm 79 – Jillings 19, TeNana-Williams 11, Henare 7, Tini 6
Suns 59 – A Jenkins 11, T Jenkins 9, Lacey 8, Blair 7