date_range Published 24 Apr 2018

Story by Jeff Cheshire, Otago Daily Times

An overtime thriller in a rematch of last year’s final opened the Dunedin club basketball season on Saturday.

The Mid City Magic prevailed 95-88, although the St Kilda Saints pushed it much closer than it did eight months ago.

The Magic was able to execute when it mattered most, though.

With the scores locked at 85-85 at the end of regulation, the defending champion  remained calm and made use of its range of threats.

Five different Magic  players scored, racking up 10 points in that period, while missed free throws limited the Saints to three.

Until then there had been little between the sides.The Saints got to the line early, but were unable to convert their chances.

Indeed the side missed 13 free throws throughout the match to the Magic’s seven, a telling statistic in a tight game.

Meanwhile, the Magic crashed the boards well, coming up with 18 offensive rebounds, turning many of those into points.

It scored the majority of its points inside the arc, often looking to get post touches and spacing the floor well to open driving lanes.

The side’s went to the the first break locked at 21-21, swingman Brent Cheshire putting in 10 points early on.

Point guard Darcy Knox showed his class in the second quarter, getting to the hoop several times to help the Magic lead by five.

However, the Saints stuck around and two Jamie MacDonald three-pointers late in the quarter saw them trail by just 45-44 at halftime.

MacDonald continued his run to open the third.

He scored the Saints’ first seven points of the quarter, helping it back to 66-66 at the final break.

The Magic jumped out to a six point lead at one point in the fourth, but some poor shot selection down the stretch meant it was unable to close out the game.

MacDonald led all scorers with 27 points, while Saints’ guard James Ross chipped in with 18. Isaac Smiler had 24 for the Magic, while Knox finished with 20 and Cheshire 17.

In the late game the Andy Bay Falcons made hard work of a 75-71 win over the Magic Lions.

They led by 20 in the second quarter, but the Lions roared back in the second half to nearly steal it.

Matt Stevenson had 17 points in his first game for the Falcons, while Tyler Lapham also had 17 in his first game back after a year away.

Nathan Hanna and Joe McAuley had 16 points each for the Lions.

In the early game, a depleted Varsity side was thrashed 101-61 by the City Rise Bombers.

Anton Hughes top-scored for the Bombers with 28 points, while Olly Smith, Matt Bardsley and Steve Robinson had 24, 20 and 18 respectively.