Buffer for top four teams as Saints rally late against Bombers

A potentially telling day in the Dunedin men’s club competition has created a buffer for the top four.

A win to the St Kilda Saints, coupled with a loss to Varsity, has created a three-win gap between the fourth and fifth-placed teams.

With six games of the regular season remaining, it is a gap that will likely prove difficult for the students to haul in.

The competition for seedings, though, remains very much alive.

The Saints’ 95-86 win over the City Rise Bombers has left the teams on five wins each, in a tie for third place.

Crucially, it was the Saints’ second win over the Bombers, meaning if they end the season tied, St Kilda wins the tie-break to take the higher place.

Meanwhile, Varsity were dealt a killer blow with an 87-81 loss to the Andy Bay Falcons, who claimed their first win of the season.

Adding to the logjam in the fight for playoff seeds, the Mid City Magic avenged their only loss of the season with a 102-85 win over the Magic Lions.

That leaves the Lions one win ahead of the Bombers-Saints tie, while the Magic have cleared out to 8-1 at the top.

Both the Saints and Bombers were heavily impacted by the Otago Nuggets game on Saturday, each missing several key players.

The Saints adapted better though.

Ethan Martin led the team with 18 points, while James Ross, Jamie MacDonald and Dan van der Kerkhof all had 16 points, in a balanced scoring effort.

The Bombers were led by Ben Hoskin, who poured in 29 points.

They led through the middle of the game, before the Saints rallied late.

Martin was key down the stretch. He finished three times in a row inside the paint, allowing the Saints to turn their small lead into breathing space.

But it was Ross that dictated terms down the stretch.

The Saints point guard took control, making the right decisions and executing to get the ball in the right places for quality looks.

The Falcons also rallied through the fourth quarter to win a tight one over Varsity, who were without key player Jack Hollingworth.

Varsity star William Fredrick had 33 points, doing everything he could to keep his team in touch with the playoffs.

But a balanced scoring effort from the Falcons proved too much for him to overcome.

Liam Boomer finished with 15 points for the Falcons, and Toby Lewis and Toby Hunt had 14 and 13 respectively.

Each came up with key baskets down the stretch to give the Falcons their first win in what has been a tough season.

Jamal Todd had 23 points as the Mid City Magic affirmed themselves as favourites heading into the business end of the season.

They held a handy lead over the Lions most of the way.

Oak Chisholm had 28 points for the Lions, in another classy display from the schoolboy.