The Sky Tower Auckland Huskies have dealt the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks their first home loss of the season and halted the Sharks 8 game winning streak. More importantly to the Sled Pullers, they've given their final four chances a massive boost.
A big Stadium Southland crowd was stunned into silence when the Huskies ran out to an 8-0 lead, but came to life as the Sharks worked their back into the game through the sharp shooting of the impressive Brayden Inger. Every time the Sharks did threaten to close a gap through, the Huskies would pull away, either through Justin Bibbs, or player of the game Tom Vodanovich.
Vodanovich had 19 first half points as he landed blows from inside and out to a Sharks team that looked flat offensively and disorganised defensively. This continued into the third quarter where the Huskies extended their lead to 10, while the Sharks saw Courtney Belger limp off the court with an ankle sprain.
The fourth quarter brought the drama. Vodanovich, Bibbs, and Chris Johnson kept the scoring ticking over for the 'Skies, while Josh Cunningham stepped up the for the Sharks. A curios incident, where Alonzo Burton made a free throw, only for it to be wiped off by the officials as it should have been Toby Gillooly shooting, saw the ball go back to the Huskies with a slender lead down the stretch.
Trailing by 2 into the dying moments, Tom Cowie, who played the fourth quarter in the absence of Belger, saw the land open up and he tied the game with a layup, before drawing an offensive foul down the other end on Vodanovich. Zach Riley returned the favour for the Huskies though, given them a 1.8 seconds to fashion a winning shot. Johnson had a good look, but the shot fell short, and into overtime we went.
Vodanovich was huge in overtime, pulling in 4 offensive rebounds, and guiding his team to the win. The Sharks having possession with the clock running down and trailing by one, but failing to get a shot off in time. A huge win for the Huskies with the their playoff hopes on the line, while the Sharks may relinquish top spot if other results go against them this weekend.
Southland Sharks (92) lost to Auckland Huskies (93) after overtime - BOXSCORE
SHARKS: Josh Cunningham 28pts 10rbs, Brayden Inger 19pts 5rbs, Alonzo Burton 19pts 5rbs
HUSKIES: Tom Vodanovich 33pts 13rbs, Justin Bibbs 27pts 5ast
STUFF MVP Votes
Tom Vodanovich (Huskies) 10pts
Justin Bibbs (Huskies) 7pts
Brayden Inger (Sharks) 5pts
Josh Cunningham (Sharks) 5pts
Chris Johnson (Huskies) 2pts
Alonzo Burton (Sharks) 1pt
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)