Wagga Heat pulled off a gutsy 93-79 upset win over St George on the back of a second half offensive explosion at Hurstville Aquatic Leisure Centre on Saturday.
The Heat recovered from an early shooting drought - following instructions from coach Colin Reed to “take the grad wrap off the ring” - to submit an offensive masterclass against a side positioned five spots ahead of them on the ladder.
Wagga led by just five points shortly before half-time before a Josh McPherson triple extended the lead.
From there, Wagga settled into an offensive rhythm to rattle off 59 second-half points.
Towering centre Scott Hare celebrated his birthday with a team high 26 points, throwing his weight around in the post to score down low.
Captain Zac Maloney (25 points) and import Matt Pebole (23 points) were also clicking on the offensive end, assisting Hare with carrying the offensive load.
Coach Reed said Maloney was particularly impressive, providing his side with the perfect mixture of on-court production and fearless leadership.
“Zac really stepped up, it was the best game I’d seen from him this year” Reed said.
“My captains need to go out there and lead by example and he did exactly that.
“The game he played on Saturday was a real feather in his cap.”
On the defensive end, the Heat had no answer for St George's catch-and-shoot specialist Mahesh Padmanbhan, who nailed eight three-pointers.
But Padmanbhan proved to be the extend of the Heat’s problems, with the rest of the Saints playing stretches of disjointed, individual basketball. Despite the heartening win, the Heat remains in 10th spot with a 7-5 record.
Reed said his side needed to win all five of its remaining games if it was serious about making finals.
The local side now faces Dubbo on the road on Saturday, before facing them again at home on Sunday.