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Jets withstand Sharks fightback for road win

The Manawatu Jets have withstood a second-half Southland Sharks comeback to clinch a tough National Basketball League (NBL) road win.

The Sharks trailed by 16 points at half-time before mounting a stunning third-quarter comeback to briefly snatch the lead, eventually falling 83-70 at Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland on Wednesday night.

The commanding presence of Tyrell Harrison (17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks), the offensive output of Mustapha Heron (19 points) and the calming influence of Campbell Scott (13 points and eight assists), who played every minute of the game, ensured the Jets controlled the closing period to ease to victory.

Former Canterbury Rams forward Troy Baxter Jr added 12 points for the Jets, with Liam Judd making an impactful 10 points. 

The Sharks were led by a 20-point haul from Marcale Lotts, with Scott Telfer (16 points), LaGerald Vick (14 points) and Matariki Kapea (10 points) also in double-figures.

Callum McRae, in his intriguing matchup with fellow seven-footer Harrison, was close to a double-double as he added eight points and nine rebounds to go with five assists.

Early on, Heron’s coast-to-coast dunk established an 11-5 lead for the Jets and also prompted a timeout from Sharks coach Guy Molloy, who was concerned with the ease in which the visitors were racking up points.

Those concerns increased as the Jets, aided by a brace of threes from Judd, carved out a 26-16 first-quarter lead.

Tyrell Harrison Manawatu Jets NBL basketball
Tyrell Harrison posted 17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks for the Jets. PHOTO: NBL

A transition dunk from Judd demonstrated the offensive weaponry possessed by the former Rangitoto College wing and, with Heron into double-figures, the Jets lead approached 20 points.

Vick made back-to-back baskets for the hosts but the Sharks' 'Orange Army' were decidedly quiet with their team trailing 47-31 at the half.

The Sharks started the second half in more promising fashion, with triples from Kapea and Telfer, and when Vick scored in transition, the Jets lead had been cut to single digits and it was Natu Taufale that required a timeout.

It became a single possession game after a Kapea 'and-1' play. Then remarkably, to the delight of the home fans, a three from Telfer gave the Sharks a 59-58 lead.

Jets guard Scott restored the lead (61-59) for the visitors but the quarter had favoured the Sharks 28-14.

Triples from Lachie Crate and Scott, plus inside work from Harrison, re-established a 10-point cushion for the Jets early in the fourth quarter. They proceeded to control the final minutes to claim a first victory of the season ahead of a match-up with the Otago Nuggets in Dunedin on Friday night (tip-off 7.30pm).

In addition to the loss the Sharks will be sweating on the fitness of Alonzo Burton ahead of their trip to Hawke's Bay on Sunday (tip-off 7.30pm). The Sharks captain played just three minutes before retiring to the bench with a leg injury.

Manawatu Jets 83 (Mustapha Heron 19, Tyrell Harrison 17, Campbell Scott 13, Troy Baxter Jr 12, Liam Judd 10) Southland Sharks 70 (Marcale Lotts 20, Scott Telfer 16, LeGerald Vick 14, Matariki Kapea 10). 1Q: 26-16, HT: 47-31, 3Q: 61-59


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