Wellington vs. Auckland: Saints Demolish Tuatara

The Mills Albert Wellington Saints quest for a thirteenth Sal’s NBL championship, in their 40th season in the league, began in style as they crushed Auckland Tuatara 110-80 at TSB Arena on Sunday afternoon on the Wellington waterfront.

Zico Coronel and his charges dominated from the outset getting outstanding contributions across the board but in particular from Tall Blacks Hyrum Harris and Tohi Smith-Milner, with 28 and 22 points respectively, while Australian imports Ben Ayre (20 points and 12 assists) and Lat Mayen (19 points) were equally impressive. There was also a nice cameo performance off the bench from New Zealand U16 representative Troy Plumtree who added 5 rebounds to go with 9 points.

Corey Webster led the Tuatara reply with 18 points and there were double figure efforts from Rob Loe, Cam Gliddon and Reuben Te-Rangi but it wasn’t a game that will linger long in the memory for last season’s grand-finalist’s.

Mayen, the former University of Nebraska forward, piled on 15 first quarter points and when 17 year-old Plumtree converted a break-away layup the home side were 28-17 ahead at the first break.

Smith-Milner landed a triple and Loe replied in kind but the Saints lead had grown to 35-21 early in the second period. That margin was even greater when guard Rangimarie Dougall-Mita landed from deep and over twenty when Harris took his personal tally into double figures.

Loe and Webster briefly provided the Tuatara with some momentum but it was a half dominated by the Saints who, in front of a big home crowd, took a 58-36 lead into the locker room.

The Tuatara kept the margin in the low twenties in the third period but any thoughts of a comeback from the visitors were quickly extinguished as the Saints, courtesy of Plumtree, Ayre and Harris, scored the first 10 points of the final spell. From there the Saints cruised to the finish line.

The only sour note on an afternoon of delight for Saints supporters was the sight of Mayen retiring to the locker room with a shoulder injury midway through the third quarter.

RESULT: Mills Albert Wellington Saints (110) defeated Auckland Tuatara (80)

Leading Players:

Saints: Hyrum Harris (28pts and 11rebs), Tohi Smith-Milner (22pts), Ben Ayre (20pts and 12 assists), Lat Mayen (19pts), Troy Plumtree (9pts), Rangimarie Dougall-Mita (9pts)

Tuatara: Corey Webster (18pts and 7 assists), Rueben Te Rangi (17pts), Rob Loe (14pts), Cam (13pts), Reuben Fitzgerald (8pts)

MVP Votes: Ben Ayre (Saints) - 9 votes, Hyrum Harris (Saints) - 8 votes, Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 4 votes, Corey Webster (Tuatara) - 4 votes, Tohi Smith-Milner (Saints) - 3 votes, Reuben Te Rangi (Tuatara) - 2 votes

Earlier in the Sky Broadband Rapid League game:

In the earlier Sky Broadband Rapid League encounter Auckland Tuatara defeated Mills Albert Wellington Saints 42-33 with the experienced forward duo of Nick Barrow (6 points) and Josh Ledger (7 points) causing the home side all sorts of problems with their rebounding prowess and inside presence.

Arthur Pilcher had the distinction of scoring the first Rapid League points for the Saints although it was the Tuatara that had the lead at quarter time, ahead 11-7.

Hunter Te Ratana pushed the Tuatara lead to six points and that was the margin at half-time with the visitors 21-15 ahead.

Twelve points in the third frame from the Tuatara, including four points from Jameer Reed, extended the advantage to 33-19 at the three-quarter mark.

Kazlo Evans Jr and Josh Tutagalevao, the game’s leading scorer with 10 points, ensured the Saints had the better of the fourth but the Tuatara had little trouble in closing out the win on the back of that forward domination and 9 points from Reuben Fitzgerald.

Result: Wellington Saints were defeated 42-33 by Auckland Tuatara.

Leading Players:

Saints: Tutagalevao (10pts), Kawharu Hippolite (6pts and 4rebs)), Tyson Thata (6pts), Evans Jr (4pts and 4 steals)

Tuatara: Fitzgerald (9pts), J Leger (7pts), Barrow (6pts and 4rebs), Reed (6pts), Will Leger (6pts)

MVP Votes: Kazlo Evans Jr. (Saints) - 7 votes, Nick Barrow (Tuatara) - 7 votes, Josh Tutagalevao (Saints) - 5 votes, Reuben Fitzgerald (Tuatara) - 5 votes, Arthur Pilcher (Saints) - 2 votes, Jameer Reed (Tuatara) - 2 votes, Troy Plumtree (Saints) - 1 vote, Hunter Te Ratana (Tuatara) - 1 vote



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