The Wellington Saints are one game away from their twelfth championship after knocking off the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies 99-73 at Te Rauparaha Arena this evening.
A 30-piece from Tohi Smith-Milner along with 24 points from Kerwin Roach Jnr and a triple-double from Dion Prewster would prove to be the difference between the semi-finalists, but they were made to work for all they came up with by a tireless Huskies side who were minus starter, Justin Bibbs, after a late withdrawal (hamstring).
The home side were actually trailing going into the second half, but in typical Saints’ fashion, they turned it on in the third quarter (30-8) and did what was required in the fourth to book their place in tomorrow’s final.
Both teams came out with full-court pressure, not allowing their opposites to settle into their offence early. The Saints were hot from the tip from deep though, knocking down five of their seven attempts to take a 27-19 advantage after one spell.
The Huskies bit back on the first possession to start the second quarter via a Vodanovich triple, and the forward would be the leading light as his side got back into the contest.
The lead changed hands five times before the interval, but a 14-point period from Vodanovich nudged the Aucklanders ahead the scoreboard, 50-44.
It took roughly two minutes for the Saints to wrestle proceedings back in their favour. An eight-point run capped off by a Kerwin Roach Jr dunk bringing the locals to their feet.
The American import’s run didn’t stop there though. The guard went on to drill a pair of threes and in tandem with Tohi Smith-Milner kept the Saints offence burning.
Sixteen points was the deficit for the Huskies to start the final 10 minutes and they were in with a sniff following another pair of triples from Vodanovich. However, those hopes were soon dashed by scores from Leon Henry, Taane Samuel and Roach Jnr, as the buffer got back to ballooning out.
The Saints will now have to wait for the winner of the other semi-final between the Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks and SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks to see who they’ll be meeting in tomorrow’s grand finale.
Wellington Saints 99 defeated Auckland Huskies 73 - BOXSCORE
Saints: Tohi Smith-Milner (30pts & 9rbs), Kerwin Roach Jnr (24pts, 5rbs & 7ast), Dion Prewster (12pts, 10rbs & 10ast).
Huskies: Tom Vodanovich (33pts & 7rbs), Zach Riley (17pts & 5rbs), Dontae Russo-Nance (10pts).