Backcourt strength key in Lions’ win

It was the table-toppers against the second-bottom team.

And yet, the high-flying Mid City Lions’ win still came as something of an upset.

Perhaps that is indicative of the reputation the St Kilda Saints have forged through the years.

But here we are, the first round of Dunedin men’s club basketball complete, the Saints holding a 2-3 record and currently out of the playoff spots.

That was after a 90-67 loss to the Lions on Saturday, who have equally shown their pedigree in beating the Saints and Mid City Magic in consecutive weeks.

They are tied atop the table with the Magic, on a 4-1 record and having not lost since being toppled by the City Rise Bombers on opening day.

And they were well worth their win on Saturday.

The Lions’ young backcourt had too much for the Saints, who were notably missing Mike Ruske, torching them all round and containing them well at the other end.

Christopher Christof led them with 29 points, his three-dimensional scoring game on show, while Lachie Cameron added 19.

It was inside through Toby Kendon (17 points) that the Lions found their first quarter scoring, though.

The Saints came out in a press, looking to trap in the half-court, which initially slowed down the Lions bringing the ball up.

They stayed in touch 24-22 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lions made their first jump early in the second quarter.

Christof came alive to ignite a 14-2 run, propelling the Lions to a 38-24 lead midway through the quarter.

It proved to be the killer run of the game.

The Saints pulled back closer at various stages. They got back to 47-37 at halftime, and 52-45 early in the third quarter.

But they never closed the gap.

There just was not enough scoring from the St Kilda team. They managed just 28 second-half points, only James Ross (16 points) and Lawson Morris-Whyte (13 points) making it into double-digits for the game.

As the Saints closed to that seven-point gap, Kendon pulled the Lions ahead once more.

A drive to the hoop, a finish from a dump-off and a long mid-range jumper gave him three quick baskets, restoring a double-digit lead.

That was essentially the game won.

The Lions backcourt took over from that point, while the Saints barely fired a shot, as the margin ballooned out past 20 in the fourth quarter.

Jamal Todd led the Mid City Magic with 23 points, as they beat Varsity 99-68, joining the Lions with a 4-1 record at the top of the table.

Varsity finish the first round with a respectable 2-3 effort, leaving them tied with the Saints.

Hamish Robertson had 28 points as he led the City Rose Bombers to an 89-74 win over his former team, the Andy Bay Falcons.

The Bombers move to a 3-2 record, while the Falcons remain winless at the bottom of the table.