Magic classy in winning fifth consecutive title

Mid City Magic celebrate after winning its fifth consecutive Dunedin men’s club basketball title...
Mid City Magic celebrate after winning its fifth consecutive Dunedin men’s club basketball title on Saturday night. PHOTO: BASKETBALL OTAGO
You do not have to win them all — just the one that matters.

At this point there is no doubting the Mid City Magic’s ability to do that.

As underwhelming as the defending champion has been at times this season, it showed its class on Saturday.

It beat the top-seeded St Kilda Saints 101-78 in the final to claim its fifth consecutive Dunedin men’s club basketball title.

The result followed an overtime win by the Saints over the Mid City Magic prior to the lockdown break.

That win secured the Saints, who won 13 of their 15 regular season matches, a direct route to the final.

The Magic earned a rematch three days later with a sudden-death win over the Andy Bay Falcons.

But this time a 10-1 run to start set the tone for the Magic. It came out far more aggressively, rebounding strongly and looking to push the ball up the court.

Guards Joe Ahie (21 points) and Mitch Hughan (26 points) both hit from deep in that early run.

The Saints finally made a field goal via a Lawson Morris-Whyte three-pointer, before two Richie Rodger (20 points) finishes at the hoop forced the Saints into a timeout at 14-4.

If rust had been evident from St Kilda after the lockdown break, that became a factor for the Magic after the timeout.

Uncharacteristic misses and turnovers dogged both teams in patches early on.

But the Saints found some rhythm late in the first half and Jamie Macdonald (12 points) came alive to help reduce the deficit to 22-20.

But the Magic never gave up its lead.

Jack Andrew scored twice down low and Michael Ruske hit a pair of a mid-range pull-ups to keep in touch throughout the second quarter.

But at 37-31 the Magic bench stepped up as Matt Dukes and Andy Armstrong both hit three-pointers.

That restored the double-digit lead and proved the decisive moment in the game.

The Saints called another timeout.

But this time the Magic did not let them back.

It led 49-35 at halftime, a margin which became 20 midway through the third quarter.

Rodger and Hughan were classy throughout the second half and while Ruske tried to create for the Saints, he lacked support — particularly without injured guard James Ross.

The margin never closed and the Magic cruised to another title.

Hughan was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

He was joined in the All Star Five by Ruske, Nathan Hanna (Lions), Josh Aitcheson (Magic) and Dallas Hartmann (Lions).

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