NEWCASTLE Hunters stretched their winning streak to seven games with a comfortable 100-80 victory over Hornsby Spiders at The Brickpit on Saturday to stay on top of the Waratah Basketball League championship men’s table.
League leading scorer Austin Thornton poured in a game-high 30 points and added 13 assists, seven rebounds and five steals as the Hunters improved their win-loss record to 12-2 with six games left in the regular season.
Newcastle made a flawless start to lead 36-17 at quarter-time and were always in control from that point, allowing coach Darren Nichols to rotate his 10-man squad and share the minutes around.
Four other Newcastle players scored in double figures and every player scored.
Sharif Watson had a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double to go with three assists and two steals, Jacob Foy contributed 19 points and three rebounds, Ryan Beisty compiled 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks, and Lachlan Jackson chipped in with 10 points, five boards and three assists off the bench.
In a boost for Newcastle in the countdown to the play-offs, centre Steve Davis played his first game in two months and scored six points in eight minutes. Davis has been sidelined with a neck injury.
“It was another good team win, everyone got to play and everyone scored,” Nichols said.
“It’s always tough to win at Hornsby and it will be another step up when we play Norths at Norths next Saturday.”
In the women’s game earlier on Saturday, Hornsby ended Newcastle’s seven-game winning streak with an 84-61 victory.
The result meant the Hunters (8-4) remained in fourth position behind leaders Norths (9-1), who they play on the road next Saturday, Hornsby (10-2) and Sutherland (9-3).
There were some promising signs when Newcastle jumped to a 12-4 lead midway through the first quarter but the Spiders crept back into the contest to lead 24-22 by the end of the term.
Hornsby turned the defensive screws in the second quarter to lead 45-36 by half-time and extended that to 65-50 heading into the final period.
Jasmin Howe (24 points) and Hannah Young (11 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals) were the only Newcastle players to reach double-figure scoring, and Alison Ebzery and Cherub Lum added nine points each.
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