SCOTT Balsar and his Illawarra Hawks have improved to 2-0 after grinding out a tough 83-70 win against the Bankstown Bruins.
In round two of the modified Basketball NSW youth men's competition, the Hawks jumped out to an early 22-19 lead at quarter-time.
That advantage evaporated in the second quarter at the Snakepit, as the visitors outscored the Hawks, featuring Shoalhaven duo Gavin Costain and Ziad El Tobgy, by eight - to go into the main break up 38-33.
Balsar's half-time address obviously worked, as the red and whites responded, to regain the lead by four going into the final term.
The hosts scored the fourth quarter's first six points, seeing their lead blow out to 10 points early in the term.
Staying true to the see-sawing affair, the Bruins fought back to reduce the deficit to just four, with 5.44 on the clock.
But the Hawks finished the encounter on an 11-2 run, to secure the 13-point win.
"We started well and went to our strengths but had some mental lapses which caused defensive breakdowns midway through the second quarter," Balsar said.
"The pleasing thing was we managed to claw our way back into the game at the start of the third, after being down by as many as 14 points at one stage, to take a slender lead into the fourth.
"I was extremely happy that we could finish it off and get our second win of the resumed season.
"This win was extremely important to us - as I stated if we can win all five home games and steal a couple on the road, we will make the playoffs.
"Every win is important to achieve our ultimate goal."
Leading the way for Balsar's Hawks was Harry Morris, who finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, six steals and four assists.
Other to reach double figures in the win were Zac Ottosson (16 points), Philip Dopud (11) and Aaron Puljic (11) - highlighting the unselfishness of the Hawks side.
"We made adjustments to our defence and we were unselfish with the ball," Balsar said.
"We shifted it through our offensive sets to find the open player.
"Our fastbreak was also textbook at times during the last term - it was good to watch at times.
The Hawks will look to make it 3-0 on Saturday when they host Blacktown from 4pm at the Snakepit.
"Winning the possession game is a must against the Storm - we can't allow them to dictate and control the rebounding.
"This is a battle we need to win if we are to get another win at home.
"We will fine-tune our offensive sets as execution needs to be at 90 plus per cent.
"I'd like to say 100 per cent but that's not realistic - we were around the low 80s on Saturday, so we need to increase this come Saturday afternoon."