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NBL News

Saints make history

Saints make history

The Wellington Saints have created history becoming the first team since the NBL began in 1982 to finish the regular season unbeaten.

Corey Webster led all scorers with 25 points, Tai Wesley added 17, and Leon Henry scored 13 for Wellington who have now won 22 straight games, dating back to the end of last season when they won four straight.

In what was a sloppy first quarter which saw the scores tied at 14, Wellington gained ascendancy in the middle periods, pushing their lead to 20 heading into the fourth.

Nelson had key starters, Kyle Adnam and Dion Prewster back into the line-up, but the side showed signs of fatigue from the Thursday night loss in Christchurch, shooting 38% from the field and committing more turnovers (18) than assists (14).

Sam Dempster played his heart out tonight with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Finn Delany added 18, but was more subdued than his 40 point effort on Thursday, taking only 10 field goal attempts.

Nelson end the regular season finish the season with a 4-14 record, and will finish the season sixth, because the Taylor Hawks hold the head to head tiebreak.

Wellington will now face the Canterbury Rams in the first semi-final after the James Blond Supercity Rangers defeated them 102-82 earlier this afternoon.

Lindsay Tait dished out 15 assists to go with his 14 points, Earnest Ross scored a game-high 25 points, and both Nnanna Egwu and Mitch McCarron had 21 points for the Rangers who finish the regular season 11-7.

It was a collective effort from the home side who shot 52% from the field, 12-27 (44%) from three, and dished out 31 assists.

The Rams were coming into the contest on a four game winning streak, but after a close win on Thursday night to the Giants and still without last year’s MVP, McKenzie Moore, it was going to be a tough ask to get the win.

After trailing early by 10 points, the visitors did close to within one at halftime. But it would be all Rangers in the second half, outscoring Canterbury 54-35.

Mike Karena led all Rams scorers with 16, Jeremy Kendle and Marcel Jones each added 15.

The Rams finish the regular season with a 10-8 record, but now come playoff time the win/loss record is of little importance. Since the Final Four format began in 2012  the fourth seed has upset the regular season champion three times.

The Rangers will play the SIT Zerofees Sharks in the second semi-final, the Sharks have beaten the Rangers two out of three games this year. The two teams have met in the semi-finals before, the Sharks winning 95-80 in 2015.

Tomorrow, the regular season concludes when the Sharks host the Hawks.

Saturday, June 10

At Trusts Arena, Waitakere

James Blond Supercity Rangers 102 (Earnest Ross Jr 25, Nnanna Egwu 21, Mitch McCarron 21)

Canterbury Rams 82 (Michael Karena 16, Jeremy Kendle 15, Marcel Jones 15)

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