Article by ROBERT VAN ROYEN
There’s the McKenzie Moore Canterbury Rams fans know and love.
After a few quiet game since joining the team earlier this month, the reigning league MVP showed his class in the Rams’ 91-83 win against the Bay Hawks in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Moore poured in a game-high 27 points and recorded a triple-double in the win, which improved the fourth-placed Rams to 7-7 with four games left to play in the regular season.
The 25-year-old import guard, who led the Rams to the regular-season title a year ago, shot 9/17 from the field, and also hauled in 11 rebounds and dished out 11 assists.
Rams coach Mark Dickel told Stuff he wanted his star point guard to be more aggressive during the week, and boy did he respond.
He drove to the basket with authority, pulled the trigger on open jump shots and ran the team from the point in style.
It was the kind of performance Rams fans had been waiting for since he re-joined the team earlier this month, having finished up with the Promitheas Patras in the Greek pro league.
Moore’s class rubbed off on his team mates, with five others – Jeremy Kendle (14), Marcel Jones (13), Ethan Rusbatch (11), Marcus Alipate (10) and Mike Karena (10) – also scoring in double-figures.
Kendle recorded 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double, while the Rams out-rebounded their opponents 51-42.
The Rams led for all but a couple minutes of the match, and threatened to blow the 3-9 Hawks off the court when they cleared out by 16 points early in the third quarter.
However, a day after losing to the Nelson Giants, the Hawks showed some ticker to claw their way back and keep the Rams honest.
Everard Bartlett led the way for the Hawks with 21 points, as all five of their starting line-up scored in double-figures.
But the Hawks’ bench didn’t pull their weight, finishing with a measly five points.
On the other side of the ledger, the Rams’ bench scored 37 points.
Known for their up-tempo offence and ability to hurt teams in transition, the Rams also scored 31 points on the fast-break at Cowles Stadium.
Desperate for momentum ahead of the playoffs, Dickel’s side will need to be even better when they host the 9-5 Southland Sharks next Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the third-placed Supercity Rangers moved within a win of the second-placed Sharks, after thumping them 112-82 in Te Awamutu.
The Sharks led by one at the end of the first quarter, but the Rangers came back in the second quarter to lead by five at halftime, then blew the game open in the third, winning the period 23-15.
The icing on the cake came in the fourth, where they romped home 33-16 to complete the 30-point win.
Four Rangers passed the 20-point mark – Nnanna Egwu (26), Earnest Ross Jr, Mitch McCarron (both 23), and Lindsay Tait (22) – while the highest-scoring Shark was Nick Kay, with 18.
The win also keeps the Rangers ahead of the Rams in the battle to avoid fourth place, and a potential semifinal against the unbeaten Wellington Saints.
* The Canterbury Wildcats had their seven-match winning streak to start the Women’s Basketball Championship snapped by the previously winless Harbour Breeze on Saturday.
Planted firmly at the bottom of the standings heading into the match, the 1-4 Breeze pulled off a remarkable 67-55 upset at Christchurch’s Cowles Stadium.
Guard Georgia Agnew scored a game-high 20 points in the win, while Tiama Clarke added 19 of her own.
The defending champion Wildcats shot a woeful 15/63 (23 per cent) from the field.
AT A GLANCE
Canterbury Rams 91 (McKenzie Moore 27, Jeremy Kendle 14, Marcel Jones 13) Bay Hawks 83 (Everard Bartlett 21, Joshua Fox 18, Amir Williams 17) 1Q: 23-14, HT: 46-34, 3Q: 68-55