Henshall shines as Nuggets grab much-needed win

Nuggets forward Kimani Lawrence powers through Hawks defenders Jackson Ball (left) and Luke...
Nuggets forward Kimani Lawrence powers through Hawks defenders Jackson Ball (left) and Luke Sutherland at the Edgar Centre on Saturday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Bombs away.

Otago Nuggets shooting guard Ben Henshall drained seven three-pointers to help his side post a much-needed 108-86 win over the Hawke’s Bay Hawks in Dunedin on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Australian netted a game-high 31 points and got tremendous support from king of the paint Kimani Lawrence.

The American power forward crunched his way to the rim for 26 points.

Actually, there might have been one jump shot in that total which quite possibly was his first all season.

The two Nuggets stars could not be any more different. But when they are both on, the Nuggets look like a team capable of reaching the playoffs.

The Nuggets’ third import, Zaccheus Darko-Kelly, had a strong night as well with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, along with five assists and two steals.

The win keeps Otago’s playoffs prospects alive.

There is still plenty of hard work ahead, but coach Brent Matehaere is hopeful his side can build on the win.

"There is six games to go and we play a couple of teams — the Giants and the Whai — who basically have around the same amount of wins", he said.

"We’ve got some tough competition coming up with the Airs next week and that is really what we need to focus on.

"But if we continue to put on a good performance at home then I think we have a good chance."

The Nuggets found some room in the paint early. There were a couple of nice passes to get the ball to the likes of Jack Andrew (16 points) and Lawrence.

Henshall landed an early three in a good sign for the home team.

Isaiah Moore nailed a lovely floater to help keep the Hawks ahead, and Lucas Sutherland made a nice drive into the paint and banked in a shot.

But Lawrence countered with his trademark charge at the hoop and rolled in another. He had swept from one side of the key to the other and looped it in.

The Nuggets strung together a series of stops to snatch the lead and Henshall consolidated it with a couple more triples.

The home team led 31-24 at the break and Lawrence and Andrew continued to combine well on the inside in the second period.

Andrew slammed down a dunk to increase his tally, and the Hawks were struggling to find a solution.

Darko-Kelly ripped the ball away from an opponent and Lawrence finished with a lay-up to extend the lead to 15.

The American drilled a three shortly after to punish the visitors some more.

Henshall hit some more jumpers on his way to a 21-point haul at halftime. The Nuggets enjoyed a chunky 61-43 advantage at the long break.

The Nuggets had done the hard work and established some distance on the scoresheet.

Now the job was to lock in on defence, and Andrew set up a road block under the lid.

Moore is not an easy player to keep out and he improved his tally.

But Henshall kept knocking down timely three-pointers to help the Nuggets take a 83-68 lead into the final 10 minutes.

The Nuggets outscored the Hawks 10-5 early in the final period to essentially ice the victory.

Darcy Knox made some nice touches in the final quarter and starred during the Rapid League game. He scored 13 points to help the Nuggets beat the Hawks 36-30.

In New Plymouth, Tohi Smith-Milner had 28 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Saints to a 96-85 win over the Airs.

Yesterday, the Canterbury Rams downed the Auckland Tuatara 86-83 in Auckland.



The scores

Otago Nuggets                     108

Ben Henshall 31, Kimani Lawrence 26

Hawke’s Bay Hawks             86

Isaiah Moore 23, Joshua Roberts 21

Quarter scores:  31-24, 61-43, 83-68.