The James Blond Supercity Rangers have defeated the regular season champion Canterbury Rams 104-85 and the Wellington Saints have held off the SIT Zerofees Sharks 79-75 in the second semi-final.
Corey Webster led the Rangers with 28 points, carrying his side in the second half after they lost league leading scorer Eric Devendorf to a foot injury. Webster was helped by 2014 Finals MVP Lindsay Tait, who nearly tallied a triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and also got valuable production from centre Terrence Roberts, who gave his side get energy with some highlight reel put back dunks, ending the game with 25 points.
It was a night to forget for the Rams who were playing in their first playoff game since 2002. The 13-5 side struggled early, trailing 8-0 to start the game, and then down by as many as 20 in the second quarter. McKenzie Moore carried his side with a game high 35 points, but overall the Rams shot 38% from the field, and converted on only 5/26 from beyond the arc.
After dropping their last four and needing Wellington to beat the Giants last week to clinch a semi-final, the Rangers will now face the Saints after they held off the Sharks in a gruelling affair.
In a rematch of last year’s Grand Final, the game did not disappoint with neither side leading by more than single digits. Wellington looked like they might run away with the game, pushing their lead 69-60. But Southland managed to fight their way back into the game with a fantastic crowd behind them. Everard Bartlett knocked down a three with 35 seconds to play, closing the gap to within two points. But the defending champions could not get a stop on the next play after Bryan Davis dunk which made it a two possession ball game. Southland would have multiple three point attempts, but were unable to convert as time expired.
Tai Wesley had a big game against his former side with 20 points and Torrey Craig added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Saints who return to the Grand Final for the third straight season.
Alex Pledger led all Sharks with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and forwards Nick Kay and Duane Bailey added 16 and 15 respectively.
The Rangers and Saints will meet tomorrow night, 7pm tip off
Friday, June 3
At ILT Stadium, Invercargill
Canterbury Rams 85 (McKenzie Moore 35, Marcel Jones 17, Michael Karena 13)
James Blond Supercity Rangers 104 (Corey Webster 28, Terrence Roberts 25, Lindsay Tait 18)
Wellington Saints 79 (Torrey Craig 21, Tai Wesley 20, Shea Ili 13, Bryan Davis 13)
SIT Zerofees Sharks 75 (Alex Pledger 17, Nick Kay 16, Duane Bailey 15)