Last-second basket secures finals berth for Magic

Josh Aitcheson
Josh Aitcheson
A go-ahead basket with two seconds left has sent the Mid City Magic to the Dunedin club basketball final.

Josh Aitcheson capped a thrilling comeback with a mid-range shot to beat the St Kilda Saints 90-89 in the 1v2 quarterfinal at the Edgar Centre on Saturday.

The Saints now play the City Rise Bombers — who beat the Andy Bay Falcons 84-65 in the 3v4 quarterfinal — in next week’s semifinal to play for the championship.

Aitcheson was the key man, dropping 47 points for the Magic.

He used his spin moves and explosiveness to get to the hoop.

The Saints had the better start though.

The Magic led 15-10, before both James Ross (30 points) and Liam Aston (24 points) caught fire.

Aston had 14 first-quarter points — including four three-pointers — while Ross had 11, both seemingly hitting anything they put up.

That helped them  to a 35-23 lead at the first break and continued into the second quarter.

When they did miss, they were active on the offensive boards and got several second-chance opportunities.

St Kilda led 54-40 at halftime and while the Magic began to eat into the lead, the Saints seemed to be holding it off.

However, as it has done so often this season, the Magic finished stronger.

Aitcheson began getting to the hoop and the side started coming up with offensive rebounds.

The gap closed to 78-72 with six minutes left and with two minutes to play it was at one.

Aitcheson scored with 55 seconds to play to put the Magic up by one, before hitting two free throws to make it 88-85.

The Saints closed that back to one through a Tukohirangi Pini layup.

From there they were able to force an eight-second count in the back court against the Magic with 18 seconds remaining.

James Ross hit a jump shot with six seconds to play, but the Magic were able to close it out through Aitcheson.

Meanwhile the Bombers’ big three of Olly Smith (23 points), Matt Bardsley (20 points) and Steve Robinson (20 points) did the bulk of the damage as they proved too good for the Falcons.

They jumped out to an early lead and while the Falcons came back, the Bombers weathered the storm before Smith took control through the second quarter.

He hit a series of tough shots and the Bombers led 43-31 at halftime, before they held the Falcons to 10 third-quarter points.

That opened the score up to 66-41 and while the Falcons brought that back slightly, it was too much to overcome.

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