Breakers clip Hawks wings
The win was their ninth on the bounce, an all time club record.
A close match was expected after the Hawks pushed the Breakers all the way at the North Shore Events Centre before succumbing by a solitary point just over 10 days ago, but it was the home team that looked flat tonight.
After starting slowly and trailing 6-1 early, the Breakers showed some of the confidence on show when they dispatched the Sydney Kings 95-76 at the NSEC on Thursday.
First quarter highlights included big centre Alex Pledger forcing a held ball on Adris Deleaon at the top of the D, and a brace of threes from veteran CJ Bruton.
The Hawks extended their lead to 12-5 after 4:35 of the quarter, before Bruton showed his experience to sink two big threes to put the Breakers 17-15 ahead after seven minutes.
At the first break the Kiwi team were 22-19 ahead.
Bruton drained his third triple early in the second quarter to extend the Breakers lead to 27-19, before Leon Henry landed his own from long distance land … 30-19.
The Hawks clawed their way back to 32-29 midway through the second quarter, 37-36 with three minutes left in the half and 41-all with just under two to play.
A scrappy period followed … both team trading baskets, a Cedric Jackson triple making it 49-41 before a cheap foul by Pledger sent the Hawks to the charity stripe … for a zero result.
A Jackson foul at the attacking end gave the Hawks the chance to close the gap, Adris Deleon scoring both to make it 49-43 at the break.
Steals, fouls, turnovers … the third quarter had it all but the Breakers managed to answer everything the Hawks threw at them … sometimes with interest.
The Breakers stretched their lead to 11 with 4:30 to play in the third quarter on the back of some supreme orchestration by Jackson, who conducted his players with consummate control.
That lead hovered around the eight point mark for most of the remainder of the quarter but the Breakers, with most of their bench on the floor, could not dominate at either end of the court and the Hawks had hope going into the final quarter trailing 68-66.
The Breakers scored the opening five points of the fourth quarter, with Pledger and Vukona making their presence felt under the basket.
With five to play, momentum had swung … Jackson scoring an easy finger roll and Leon Henry given plenty of time to set for, and sink, a three from the corner – Breakers 79-66.
The Hawks seemed to have an aversion to guarding Jackson in the final 10 minutes and he was free to either score or add to his impressive assists record for the season, his efforts taking the Breakers to 84-67 with 3:32 to play.
In the end, the Hawks could not match the Breakers through the closing stages and the Breakers cruised, in the end, to a 91-74 victory.
While it was a record making/breaking win, Lemais will be more than happy with the performance of his roster. Every player contributed to what was, in the end, a comprehensive win over a team that has troubled the Breakers in recent years.
Last Thursday’s win over the Kings showed what the Breakers are capable of … tonight’s victory conformed that they are a force to be reckoned with.
While Jackson ran the show, retiring power forward Dillon Boucher proved that experience can match youthful speed and enthusiasm throughout, especially after Mika Vukona – who was outstanding as always – picked up three early fouls.
Add the Breakers’ towers of terror – centres Pledger and Will Hudson – creating plenty of mayhem under the basket at both ends of the court … by the end of the game the Hawks had no real answers to their size or strength.
The victory now puts extra emphasis on the Breakers’ home match against the Perth Wildcats at Vector Arena next Friday.
Perth are the only team with a 100% record against the Breakers this season, in fact they have humbled them twice, and sit just one loss behind the Kiwis.
A win for the Breakers is vital as the season moves ever closer to the business end.
There was talk of a three-peat at the start of the season … fans can start to believe.
Breakers 91 (Jackson 18, Henry 14, Daryl Corletto, Tom Abercrombie 11, Vukona 10, Bruton 9, Hudson, Pledger 8) Hawks 74.
– By Dave McPherson