Saints to march into final after close win

It took an extra period to decide a winner.

The St Kilda Saints held off four-time defending champion Mid City Magic on Saturday to book a spot in this weekend’s Dunedin men’s club basketball final.

Point guard Michael Ruske had 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, as the Saints claimed a 105-102 win.

The Magic will now play the Andy Bay Falcons, which beat the Magic Lions 88-75, tomorrow for the second spot in the final.

Little separated the teams in the playoff between the top two seeds.

The Saints took an early lead as Liam Aston (19 points) found his range early from deep.

However, the Magic hit back and took the lead back midway through the second quarter.

While the Saints got to the line to keep their score ticking over, the Magic hit from deep before a Joe Ahie (38 points) half-court shot on halftime made it 46-40.

However, the Magic offence dried up at that point.

Ahie continued to hit from beyond the arc — he finished with 11 three-pointers — to keep the score close.

But Ruske and centre Jack Andrew (29 points) began to exert themselves in the second half.

They helped the Saints take the lead back and they went into the final break with a 68-63 buffer.

The Magic again clawed in that deficit, but Ruske put the Saints on his back, scoring their final 13 points in regulation to make it 91-91.

Ahie and Aston traded three-pointers to begin overtime, but neither team could gain separation before a late corner three-pointer to Ruske.

That gave the Saints the buffer they needed and they closed the game out from the line.

Meanwhile, the Falcons had to come from behind to beat the Lions in the 3 v 4 playoff.

The Lions led 22-11 early as Ben Robertson (14 points) and Dallas Hartmann (17 points) generated early scoring.

However, the Falcons began to get to the hoop through Hamish Robertson (20 points), while Ihaia Kendrew (22 points) started hitting shots.

That helped reduced the deficit to 43-38 at halftime, before tying the score at 59-59 at the end of the third quarter.

From there, Kendrew hit several big shots, while Matt Pyper (17 points) got to the hoop to pull away in the fourth quarter.

In the fifth-sixth playoff, Varsity beat the City Rise Bombers 86-78.


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