U23 Men join Storm in Quarter Finals
The Southland Under-23 men joined their Southland Storm women counterparts in their respective National Tournament quarterfinals this morning with an 94-86 victory over Counties-Manukau.
After an opening round loss to Taranaki, Southland bounced back to defeat Kapiti yesterday afternoon and courtesy of this morning's win have qualified for the top eight.
Southland led by five at quarter time and stretched that margin out to 60-42 by halftime. Southland went off the boil defensively in the second half and the game closed up to an eight-point margin before Southland hit some big shots to close the game out.
Southland's shot-making again proved the difference with Ethan Mitchell draining eight three-pointers on his way to 30 for the game. Tom Cowie was again at the centre of everything Southland did, finishing with 24 while Campbell Scott added 20.'
Coach Connor Coll said the team again started on fire.
"We jumped out of the blocks again and shot the ball really well early. Ethan (Mitchell) and TC (Tom Cowie) got us started and to have 60 by halftime was outstanding. We probably weren't quite there mentally in the second half and we dropped off defensively which is something we will need to do better this afternoon," Coll said.
"I can't remember being part of a Southland team as a player or coach that has had this sort of success. We've normally been middle of the pack and have never made it through so as long as the last game goes the way it should it is a helluva achievement to make the top eight and the boys should be very proud but our job is nowhere near done," Coll said.
Subject to the result in the final pool game between Taranaki and Kapiti, Southland will face off against the top qualifier from Pool B (Hawke's Bay, Otago or Manawatu) at 4:00pm this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Southland Storm will take on Canterbury in the Women's D-League quarters at 2:00pm this afternoon after the mainland side beat Manawatu in this morning's Preliminary Quarter final.