Written by Mike Lacey
The fifth season of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam began on Saturday at the Breakers training facility in Mairangi Bay.
In the opening round of the Men’s competition there were wins for The Birdmen and Railsplitters and on the Women’s side it was Storm and Team Sky that prevailed.
Railsplitters had twenty point contributions from Jaylen Gerrand, Hyrum Harris and Breakers and Tall Blacks forward James Hunter.
Railsplitters actually trailed at quarter time with triples from Liam Thornton, Counties guard Luke Kelemete and Manny Matambanadzo propelling 68A Nelson Street to a 27-24 lead.
Nelson Street young guns Jayden Boucher and Kelemete dropped a couple of baskets apiece but Railsplitters were well served by the ‘H-Attack’, Harris and Hunter – 11 points and 7 points respectively in the second stanza as the Splitters led 61-51 at half-time.
Thornton, Derone Raukawa and Dillon Boucher kept chipping away but four triples from the hot hand of Gerrand at the back end of the third extended the Railsplitters lead to 96-78 at three-quarter time and they had little problem maintaining their advantage through the fourth.
Railsplitters 128 – Hunter 23, Gerrand 22, Harris 21, Green 12, Samson Aruwa 12, BJ Anthony 11
68A Nelson Street 109 – Thornton19, Raukawa 19, Kelemete 15, Matambanadzo 13, Fesolai 12, Haku 9
In the second game a disappointing Breakers Development were overrun 117-77 by the Birdmen despite 22 points from forward Will Heather.
The early signs were promising for Breakers as Mitchell Dance, Tom Higgins and Kruz Perrott-Hunt helped forge a 21-20 lead although a Kevin Braswell special – best described as a running fade away Jump shot off the left foot – found the basket to give the Birdmen a 29-26 lead at the end of the first period.
Braswell and Mexican guard Juan Cruz Colla were fizzing in the second quarter and when Clinton landed a buzzer-beater from well inside his own half the Birdmen had flown out to a commanding 62-41 half-time lead.
Higgins and Heather converted triples for the Breakers in the third but Quinn Clinton, Matt Lacey, Nick Barrow and Anthony Jones ripped shreds in the Breakers defence as the Birdmen took flight to lead 92-59 with ten minutes to play.
The final period was not quit so one sided as the third but it was still very comfortable for the Birdmen.
The Birdmen 117 – Clinton 27 Barrow 22, Braswell 17, Lacey 12, Gardner 10, Jones 10
Breakers Development 77 – Heather 22, Higgins 15, Dance 11, Perrott-Hunt 8
The Women’s competition provided the comeback of the day – well almost!
Sparks found themselves well adrift as Storm did literally that – stormed into a 22-4 lead as Shauna Povey, Emme Shearer and Olivia Berry cut loose.
Some of the lead was trimmed at the tail end of the first quarter and with a much better showing in the second – threes from Mikayla Blair and Alyesha Schuster helped – Sparks were back in the hunt at half-time trailing 46-39.
Povey and Millie Nathan shared all the Storm points in the third quarter; a quarter split 13 points apiece – 59-52 at the last break.
Sparks drew within a point with a 6-0 run as Blair, Sophie Dil and Rikki Fiatau found some offensive fluency.
Alanna Hughes countered but a Blair three; her third of the game, kept Sparks in touch, trailing 73-65.
Fiatau reeled off three baskets and Mareta Davidson a brace but Storm weathered the late charge with Povey, Shearer and Berry sharing the last dozen points for Sparks.
Storm 77 – Povey 23, Shearer 17, Berry 10, Nathan 10, Theyers 7
Sparks 72 – Blair 18, Fiatau 16, Davidson 15, Schuster 8
Sky were too good for Suns in the second game with guard Riana Rangi-Brown accumulating 35 points, the largest points haul of the day. Thirteen of those came in the first period to help Sky to a 27-17 lead in the first frame.
Luye Murphy heated up for the Suns with 13 second quarter points that included three triples but Sky still held a 47-35 lead at half-time.
That lead exploded in the third with Breana Jones unleashing some triples of her own and Ashleigh Kelman-Poto dominating inside. Add in a couple of nice scores from Summer-Jean Motufoua and Sky were over the horizon at the last break leading 76-51.
Murphy and the Jenkins sisters, Annabelle and Tabitha, kept the scoreboard ticking over for Suns but it was Sky that took the hounours.
Sky 110 – Rangi-Brown 35, Kelman-Poto 23, Jones 18, Motufoua 13
Suns 82 – Murray 28, A Jenkins 25, T Jenkins 9