Un­stop­pable Saints make it 14 in a row


It seems there’s some­thing about New Ply­mouth that brings the best out of Corey Web­ster.

Af­ter scor­ing 31 points in just three quar­ters the last time he was in town, Web­ster was at his dy­namic best again on Sun­day as he posted 28 points to lead the Saints to a 91-63 Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League (NBL) win over the Taranaki Moun­tain Airs.

‘‘I’m just play­ing bas­ket­ball and try­ing to win,’’ the 28-year-old said.

On the back of Web­ster’s out­ing, the Saints moved to 14-0 for the sea­son as they con­tinue their roll to­ward the play­offs.

‘‘It’s just about get­ting bet­ter as a team, hold­ing our­selves ac­count­able and stick­ing to our stan­dards,’’ Web­ster said about their fi­nal run of games be­fore the play­offs.

‘‘We know that no team in this league should beat us and we’ll be re­ally dis­ap­pointed if we do lose a game.’’

Web­ster started the game by post­ing the Saints’ first eight points of the game be­fore miss­ing a shot, while the Taranaki side came slug­gishly out of the gates.

The home side looked out of sorts early as they strug­gled to pen­e­trate the Saints de­fence and couldn’t get their jump shots to drop.

The fact that the Welling­ton side weren’t play­ing as well as they’re ca­pa­ble of but were still com­fort­ably in front didn’t bode well for Taranaki, who trailed 22-13 af­ter one quar­ter.

While the Moun­tain Airs scored more in the sec­ond quar­ter than the first, that was about where the pos­i­tives stopped for them as Welling­ton con­tin­ued to have their way with their hosts on the of­fen­sive end.

Saints point guard Shea Ili was ex­plo­sive on the fast break, us­ing his speed in tran­si­tion while Web­ster had the hot hand, sink­ing seven of his nine first half shot at­tempts.

While Jaylen Ger­rand tried to pro­vide the Airs with a spark off the bench, the team had just a 28 per cent first half suc­cess rate and went into the break 49-27 down.

It was al­most a re­verse of the script in the third quar­ter as, while the Taranaki side con­tin­ued to strug­gle to put the ball in the bas­ket early, the Saints strug­gled more.

So the Moun­tain Airs were able to claw at the deficit, outscor­ing the Saints 21-14 in the third and lift­ing their field goal per­cent­age to 31.

It didn’t take long for the Saints to push the lead back out to 20 points, how­ever, as Web­ster heated up again and, de­spite the Taranaki side get­ting a hand in his face more of­ten than not, sank shot af­ter shot.

Outscor­ing the Moun­tain Airs 17-4 through the open­ing five min­utes of the fi­nal quar­ter, the Saints took the op­por­tu­nity to give their re­serves mean­ing­ful min­utes.

Tem­pers flared in the clos­ing min­utes as Ili took ex­cep­tion to a chal­lenge by Moun­tain Airs cen­tre Daniel Gomis and the two ex­changed shoves. Noth­ing came from the al­ter­ca­tion, but Moun­tain Airs coach Trent Adam sat Gomis for the re­main­ing few min­utes as the Saints cruised to vic­tory.

Welling­ton Saints 91 (Corey Web­ster 28, Shea Ili 14, BJ An­thony 14) Taranaki Moun­tain Airs 63 (Ty­lor Ong­wae 15).


The Saints’ Joshua Duinker shoots past Daniel Gomis in New Ply­mouth on Sun­day. Corey Web­ster

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