Smith in top form as Bombers beat Lions

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
The game was in the balance when Olly Smith gave a reminder of his enduring class.

The former Otago Nuggets guard had 17 of his 26 points in a brutally dominant fourth quarter.

That helped his City Rise Bombers pull away to a 79-65 win over the Mid City Lions in the Dunedin men’s club game on Saturday.

It snapped a four-match win streak for the Lions, leaving both teams tied in second place on a 4-2 record.

Potentially crucially too, it clinched the head-to-head series for the Bombers between the two teams, the team having dealt the Lions their only other loss on opening day.

That will come a factor if they end up tied on wins come season’s end.

However, for three quarters there was little between these two.

Smith was classy throughout, while the trio of Hamish Robertson, Caleb Smiler and Patrick Tipene added 15, 12 and 11 points respectively.

The Lions got plenty of production out of Callum Chirnside and Christopher Christof, who had 23 points each.

But the Bombers did well to shut down their other key threats, which was notable in the end.

It was the Bombers that started brighter, too.

They jumped out to a 14-3 lead, the Lions struggling to generate quality shots, while Robertson and Smiler helped build an early lead.

The Lions hit back with a run on either side of the quarter-break, though.

Both Chirnside and Christof were key in giving the Lions some spark.

They shot into the lead at 18-16, as Christof rattled off eight straight points, on three shots.

Smith hit back-to-back triples to propel the Bombers back in front, at which point the game became a tight contest.

Chirnside, who has been arguably the league’s best big man this season, kept the score ticking over for the Lions.

But every time the Bombers responded, mostly through the twin threat of Robertson and Smiler.

They took a 35-30 lead to halftime, which closed to 43-43 midway through the third quarter.

The Bombers took the lead back at 55-52 at the final break, at which point Smith took over.

He hit a three-pointer from the right wing, a pull-up at the high post and finally a triple from the other wing, dominating a 10-2 run which gave the Bombers a 65-54 lead.

It was a gap the Lions could not haul in, as Smith continued to torch the defence from deep, ensuring the Bombers pulled away.

Meanwhile, the St Kilda Saints avenged their first-round loss to Varsity, taking a 86-76 win over the students.

Lawson Morris-Whyte led the Saints with 32 points, while Jack Hollingworth and William Fredrick had 21 and 20 respectively for Varsity.

The win takes the St Kilda Saints to fourth-place, with a 3-3 record.

The Mid City Magic leapt back to outright first with a 132-74 thrashing of the Andy Bay Falcons.