date_range Published 15 May 2018

Story by Jeff Cheshire ODT

A depleted City Rise Bombers put in a strong second half to notch a comeback win in club basketball on Saturday.

The side hauled in a 17-point margin to run out a 79-76 winner over the St Kilda Saints.

Without Steve Robinson and Anton Hughes, it leant on Matt Bardsley and Olly Smith, who combined for 54 points.

Bardsley led the way with 32, using his aggression and footwork to score at the rim and get to the line.

Smith was classy in his 22, shooting well and helping the Bombers’ score tick over while the Saints went on a second-quarter run.

After the Bombers took a 14-13 lead to the first break, the Saints came out firing.

Southland Sharks guard Tinashe Matambanadzo, in his first game for the Saints, proved key in that.

He hit three three-pointers and added 11 of the Saints’ 33 points, as they shot out to a 46-29 halftime lead.At that point, the Saints seemed to be doing it comfortably.

However, the points were to dry up.

Normally so dangerous from the outside, the Saints struggled to hit from deep.

They finished seven from 32 from beyond the arc, managing just one triple in the entire second half.

Bardsley had 12 points in each of the third and fourth quarters to help the Bombers on their comeback.

Two three-pointers from Taine Pakai and some continued scoring from Smith allowed the Bombers to get back to 64-59 at the final break.

The Saints maintained their lead through most of the fourth, before Bardsley took over late.

He scored all but five of the Bombers’ points in that quarter, proving adept at getting to the line late to close it out.

Matambanadzo finished with 17 points for the Saints, while fellow Southland Sharks player Connor Coll led their scoring with 20.

In the late game, the Andy Bay Falcons put on a tenacious defensive display to topple Varsity 72-54.

Despite struggling to score at times, the Falcons’ on-ball defensive pressure proved key.

That enabled it to force turnovers and create transition opportunities where it got to the hoop and did its damage.

Tom Davison was crucial in that respect, showing terrific foot speed to stay in front of his man and slow down the Varsity offence.

He led the way on offence too, with 14 points, the equal-leading scorer alongside Tyler Lapham.

It was Varsity that got off to the better start, but a rally late in the first allowed the Falcons go into quarter-time at 17-17.

They then opened up a six-point gap to take the score to 37-31 at halftime.

The Falcons held Varsity to just seven third-quarter points, while going on a run to open up a 58-38 lead and effectively seal the game.

In the other game, the Mid City Magic A beat its second-team, Magic Lions, 130-70.

Three rounds in, the Magic A remain unbeaten, while the Bombers, Saints and Falcons have two wins each.