Boys ‘AA’ Premierships
The four ‘AA’ Schick Premierships concluded on Saturday - the competitions that determine which 48 schools will be attending the 2019 Schick Championships in October.
Seven of the 24 spots available for the ‘AA’ Boys National Championship were on the line in Schick Premiership Zone 1.
St Kentigern College made up for the disappointment of losing the Auckland Premier League Grand Final a couple of weeks ago by claiming the Zone 1 Premiership crown with an 88-79 win against defending National champions Rosmini College.
As expected, the top six teams from the Auckland Premier Competition progressed safely, although 2019 Auckland Premier Champions Rangitoto College had to settle for fifth after beating Mount Albert Grammar in the 5th/6th encounter.
Auckland Grammar edged Westlake Boys 68-66 in the play-off for third with Whangarei Boys outlasting Liston College to claim a treasured seventh spot and break the Auckland schools’ monopoly. Whangarei, to the delight of their travelling supporters, won 89-74.
There were just five spots up for grabs in Rotorua in the Zone 2 Tournament with the all-Hamilton final won 97-69 by St John’s College over Hamilton Boys’ High.
Rotorua Boys High were too good for Gisborne Boys High in the 3rd/4th play-off contest, but both head to Palmerston North next month with high expectations.
Fraser High, Mt Maunganui College and St Peter’s, Cambridge won’t be joining them. All three made the top eight but it was Tauranga Boys’ College that finished in fifth place.
Held at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington, the AA Zone 3 held 6 spots for competing teams. Scots College and St Pat’s Silverstream contested the Zone 3 Grand Final – Scots College prevailing 112-86.
Napier Boys High edged Tawa College 94-88 in the 3rd/4th play-off game, with St Pat’s College Kilbirnie beating Rongotai College 82-67 in the 5th/6th game.
Palmerston North Boys High (PNBH), regular top eight finishers at the Schick Nationals, failed to qualify for this year’s event from Zone 3.
In Zone 4, Christ’s College was a major casualty, failing to progress from a ‘Pool of Death’ that included Waitaki Boys High, eventual finalists St Andrew’s College and Middleton Grange.
Thomson Trophy winners Middleton Grange added the Zone 4 Premiership to their trophy cabinet going on to beat St Andrew’s 95-74 in the Final.
They will be joined at Nationals by Cashmere High (3rd) and Shirley Boys’ High (4th) with Otago Boys’ High and Nayland College claiming the fifth and sixth places – Otago’s ten-hour drive back to Dunedin made a little easier with a place at the Nationals secured.
Girls ‘AA’ Premierships
The Girls ‘AA’ Schick Premierships also determined the 24 teams that will head to Palmerston North next month. All zones carrying 6 spots making up the 24.
In Zone 1, the surprise qualifiers were One Tree Hill College who played their regular season in Open Grade, the third tier of Auckland Secondary Schools basketball. They claimed their spot after defeating Senior A champions Baradene College in a crucial play-off game. They will be joined by the top five Auckland Premier League teams; Westlake Girls’ High, St Mary’s College, Rangitoto College, Carmel College and Massey High School.
St Mary’s completed the double of Auckland Premier League and Premiership title with a 78-70 win against Westlake Girls’ High. Carmel College claimed third place, as they had in Junior Premierships earlier in the week, with a 92-60 win against Rangitoto College, while One Tree Hill edged Massey High 69-63 in the 5th/6th placing game.
2018 Schick ‘AA’ National Champions St Peter’s School, Cambridge, winners of the title in three of the last four years, took top honours at Zone 2 Qualifiers. They beat Hamilton Girls’ High in the final.
Melville High shocked Rotorua Girls in the 3rd/4th play-off game, winning 73-54. In another upset result, Hauraki Plains College shocked Mt Maunganui College in one of the 5-8 placing semi-finals. Hauraki were defeated by Tauranga College in the 5th/6th placed play-off game but both teams are headed to Palmy North next month.
Defending Champions Sacred Heart Girls, New Plymouth, as expected, won the Zone 3 title by beating Queen Margaret College 77-64.
Earlier, Queen Margaret had avenged their Wellington Schools Sharp Cup Final defeat by beating Hutt Valley High in the semi-final.
There was misery for Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt who missed out on qualifying for the quarter-finals to Manukura and Hutt Valley High in a very tough Pool A. Manukura, the 2018 Schick Secondary Schools ‘A’ champions, and Hutt Valley High ended up contesting the 3rd/4th play-off game and will make the trip up State Highway One in October.
Napier Girls’ High and Wellington East Girls’ College claimed spots five and six, with Wellington East winning their play-off game 79-72.
Christchurch Girls’ High claimed the Zone 4 Premiership title with a 77-45 win over Otago Girls’ High.
Rangi Ruru Girls’ College recently won the Whelan Trophy, the pinnacle of Canterbury basketball, but had to settle for third place.
James Hargest College and Kaiapoi High were the two top eight teams to miss out, with Rangiora High and St Andrew’s College claiming the final two South Island places.
Boys ‘A’ Premierships
Twelve Boys teams and twelve Girls teams will gather in Palmerston North in October to contest the 2019 Schick ‘A’ Secondary Schools National Championships.
With just 7 of the 23 competing Boys teams able to qualify, it was Opunake High that claimed top spot after beating a young Mana College team in the final. Also through are Manukura, who beat Te Aroha College, runners-up to Stratford in last year’s ‘A’ Schick Championships.
Stratford High School had won back-to-back ‘A’ Boys National titles, but surprisingly they will be absent from 2019 Nationals after failing to qualify at the North Island Tournament held at the Central Trust Arena in Palmerston North. Stratford lost the do-or-die 7th/8th play-off spot to Waihi College 99-78.
Nga Taiatea Wharekura and Melville High School are the other qualifiers.
Fourteen teams contested the South Island Boys Tournament in Greymouth, with St Kevin’s College, Oamaru going one better than last year to claim the title with an 85-61 win against Catholic Cathedral School from Christchurch.
Last year’s winners Hillmorton High were too good for Hornby High in their bout for third place. Hosts Greymouth High missed out on a place at Nationals, going down 83-55 to Kavanagh College in the play-off for the fifth spot.
Girls ‘A’ Premierships
Otago Secondary Schools Finalists Kavanagh College lived up to their favouritism tag by claiming the South Island Girls Premiership with a 57-42 Grand-Final win against Buller High.
Greymouth High, to the delight of the local supporters, beat Hornby High in the 3rd/4th game and Ellesmere College beat fellow Cantabrians Rangiora New Life School to claim the remaining spot.
Mercury Bay Area School had an outstanding run to claim the North Island Girls’ Premiership title with victory against Te Aroha College.
Tararua College beat Te Kura Kōkiri Wahine 70-57 in the 3rd/4th play-off and Whangamata Area School defeated Te Wharekura o Mauao 72-49 in the 5th/6th encounter.
Ngā Taiātea Wharekura will head down to Palmerston North from Hamilton for the ‘Big Dance’ after defeating Reporoa College to claim the seventh and final North Island spot.
Schools who qualified for the Schick Championships;
Despite coaching girls at St Mary’s College for several years, many Tawa College boys were familiar with Nixon Penese.
Penese runs the Porirua Heat Basketball Club from the Tawa College gym. The Heat is an incorporated society encouraging the development of basketball players in Wellington.
Tawa College student Malachi Collins has been a regular attendee and invited mates to both the Heat program and those run by Kenny McFadden at the ASB Arena in Kilbirnie.
“I only started taking basketball seriously a couple of years ago,” Collins admitted.
“I have been a Wellington Under 17’s and 19’s rep and went to Las Vegas with New Zealand basketball. Nixon and Kenny have really motivated me to become better.”
Under the assistance of Rob Gold, Tawa won Bill Eldred Division I championship two years in a row. However promotion to the Pohlen Trophy remained elusive until a rumour started by Gould brought Penese, Collins and Tawa College together.
“Rob stepped aside and the boys at the Heat kept saying I was going to coach them,” Penese laughed.
“When I explained it wasn’t happening, the boys complained and suggested I was going to Wellington College or another school out of the region. I didn’t plan on coaching at Tawa, but gauging the boys disappointment at losing Rob, and the fact Tawa is close to home, it made sense to step up.”
On Friday night Tawa thrashed Scots College 96-79 in the final of the Pohlen Trophy. The Tawa crowd was rabid, significantly outnumbering Scots after hordes of free buses were laid on by the school.
Tawa was never seriously threatened. Joshua Johnson top scored with 25 points, Collins contributed 19 and Ben Gold chimed in with 18 in the stirring win. Scots had beaten Tawa 96-87 in their previous meeting.
“The support of the school was massive,” Collins acclaimed.
“They realized it was a big achievement for us just to make the finals. Both teams played really well, but we ran our plays and made out shots which was awesome.”
Scots are stacked with representative talent, but Penese identified the togetherness of Tawa as a reason for success.
“Scots are a very formidable team, but our ability to work together as a unit was crucial. There are no stars on our team. Michael Jordan is the only guy who could win on his own. We’ve worked hard to build a culture of courage, confidence, caring and respect,” Penese stressed.
Collins is at the forefront of driving the culture which emphasis excellence on and off the court.
“Malachi is a very focused kid who likes to win,” Penese observed.
“In fact I had to teach Malachi how to handle losing better. Failure is success in the sense you learn to improve.”
Collins credits “greater experience,” the addition of Johnson from Australia, and a close camaraderie for Tawa’s triumph.
“Were a band of brothers. If one brothers makes a mistake, the other brothers step up,” he said.
Tawa went through the regular season with an 8-2 record. In the semifinals they thrashed defending champions Rongotai College 94-76 with Johnson scoring 31 points and the versatile 6 ft 3 Collins 22.
Tawa will strive to qualify for the Nationals this week when they contest the Zone III Regionals in Wellington. The top six teams in the regionals will contest the Nationals in Palmerston North in October. Tawa is grouped in Pool B where their stiffest opposition is likely to be St Pats Town who were fifth in the Pohlen Trophy this year, but runners up at Nationals in 2018.
Penese won the National girls title with St Mary's in 2017.
The FIBA Under 17 Oceania Championships tip-off next Monday in Noumea, New Caledonia, with both our boys and girls looking to go one better than their predecessors.
The tournament will feature eight different nations in a men’s women’s divisions, with all of them set to stake their claim as the best in the region.
The last Under 17 Oceania Championship saw both National teams finish runner’s up to Australia, each side was well beaten in the big dance.
Under 17 Men's Head Coach Aaron Ferne said whenever you’re playing international basketball the opposition can never be taken lightly.
“It’s an honour to play for your country and anyone in any singlet will tell you that.
“Getting intel and scouting some of the Pacific nations is pretty difficult, so we’re going in a bit blind and with that, we’ll have to play what’s in front of us and adapt.
“We want to qualify for FIBA Asia and that means playing well in Oceania. If we play with belief and effort we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
The men will be without FIBA World Cup bolter Taine Murray as he continues to press his claims for a boarding pass to China. He has been replaced by Harbour representative Harrison Payne.
Payne will join the team in Noumea after taking part in the Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp in Tokyo, Japan, which kicked off yesterday and runs until Sunday.
The women’s squad has also made one change, with Chynelle Marama coming in for the injured Waiata Jennings. Jennings alike Murray is a big blow, but the team is still spearheaded by three members of the 2019 Aon Under 19 National Championships tournament team; Rochelle Fourie, Jess Moors and Caitlin O’Connell.
Under 17 Women’s Head Coach Hernando Planells said the Oceania Championships are a great opportunity for players to develop, but also to gain life experience.
“Being able to travel anywhere for basketball is a privilege, and so our time in New Caledonia is sure to be a great cultural experience.
“In saying that though, we have to remember that this is a business trip and we have some goals to achieve while we’re there.
“We want to play to our strengths and so over the next few days we’ll be relearning a lot of things, which will put us in a good position for next week.”
Earlier this year, Basketball New Zealand hosted the New Caledonian Under 17 National teams, as they took part in Basketball New Zealand age-group selection camps.
Both teams will tackle Australia, Guam and Samoa in the group stages, with a high placing setting them up for a playoff contest against a lower placed side in the other pool.
The top two teams from each division will advance to the FIBA U18 Asian Championship in 2020, which is the official qualifier to the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup.
All matches streaming live at https://www.youtube.com/user/FIBAWorld/
“We love it. It’s a great feeling to play in front of a big crowd. It’s about bragging rights in Takapuna. If we lose, the whole school suffers,” Jayden Boucher responds when asked about the increasing hype surrounding the Rosmini College basketball fixture against Westlake Boys’ High School.
This Friday, the two North Harbour powerhouses will clash in front of a crowd of more than a thousand at Eventfinda Stadium.
With only three rounds remaining in the Auckland Premiership, both schools are in desperate need of a win to remain in the semi-final hunt.
Westlake have a 7-5 record and Rosmini are 7-4. The leaders in the competition are Saint Kentigern College (10-1), Rangitoto College (9-2) and Auckland Grammar School (6-6).
“It’s been a tough season,” Boucher admits.
“We’ve been National champs the last two years so we’ve definitely got a target on our backs. We’ve had a lot of boys away with rep camps and national duties.”
On Monday, Rosmini beat Rangitoto 85-74 to strengthen their position in Auckland.
Boucher is no stranger to big games having recently returned from a US trip with a Under-19 North Harbour representative team.
Competing in two tournaments in Phoenix and Dallas, Harbour won the second event featuring 175 teams.
“We only won a game in Phoenix, but were competitive in each one. We were hopeful of doing well in Dallas. Our team approach is quite different to the individual way the American’s play.” Boucher revealed.
In Texas, North Harbour dropped just one game in pool play. The tournament was unique in the fact that there was no shot clock.
“You’d have teams holding the ball for over a minute trying to end the game,” Boucher explains.
“Managing a different clock put a greater emphasis on teamwork. The American’s were more athletic than us, but our lack of ego was important.”
Alongside Rosmini teammates Taine Murray (recently selected for the Tall Blacks) and Marvan Williams-Dunn, Harbour eventually toppled Texas Elite One in a final that stretched to triple overtime.
“The final was an amazing adrenaline rush. All the other teams finished their games so they came to watch us. The Americas loved to trash talk, but their attempts to get inside our heads only strengthened our resolve,” Boucher said.
Rosmini showed resolve in their previous meeting with Westlake, winning 86-80. Down in the fourth quarter, Williams-Dunn top scored with 22 points and a brace of buckets from both Boucher and Thomas Morgan, in addition to a long Terence Abdon three put Rosmini in the ascendancy.
Westlake’s Sam Mennenga presents a serious threat for Rosmini. Mennenga recently returned from a global NBA camp in Atlanta. Mennega finished second highest scorer overall, and top rebounder in the final for the World Select team.
Rosmini against Westlake tips off at Eventfinda Stadium at 7:30pm.
Basketball New Zealand has named the men’s and women’s Under 17 National teams competing in the FIBA-Oceania Championships.
The competition takes place in Noumea, New Caledonia from the 19 - 24 August, where a top-two finish secures a place in the FIBA-Asia Under 18 Championships in 2020.
Earlier this year, Basketball New Zealand hosted the New Caledonian Under 17 National teams, as they took part in Basketball New Zealand age-group selection camps.
Both teams will come together in August to prepare the tournament, before travelling to the Pacific Island in the hope qualifying for Asia next year.
U17 FIBA-Oceania Championship 2019 (Women)
Waiata Jennings - Rotorua
Jessica Moors - Harbour
Caitlin O'Connell - Taranaki Country
Olivia Williams - New Zealand
Arielle Williams - New Zealand
Ashlee Strawbridge - Canterbury
Emilee Bree Tahata - New Zealand
Hannah Louise Matehaere - Otago
Ella Paleaae-Cook - New Zealand
Parris Mason - New Plymouth
Rochelle Fourie - Manawatu
Sophie Rose Adams - Mid Canterbury
Hernando Planells - Head Coach
Melissa Downer - Assistant Coach
Bronwen Davidson - Assistant Coach
Shay Haira - Assistant Coach
Shannon Spicer - Team Physio
Kat Wills - Team Manager
U17 FIBA-Oceania Championship 2019 (Men)
Ezrah Vaigafa - Wellington
Alexander McNaught - Auckland
Connor Ngan - Auckland
Taine Murray - Harbour
Sean Murphy - Harbour
Reihana Maxwell-Topia - Harbour
Ezekiel Stallworth - Wellington
Finn Lally - Waikato
Robert Coman - Auckland
Mac Stodart - Canterbury
Campbell Atkinson - Harbour
Rishon Royce - Auckland
Aaron Fearne - Head coach
Matt Lacey - Assistant Coach
Lindsay Tait - Assistant Coach
Aaron Young - Assistant Coach
Lidia Belles Escrig - Team Physio
Mike Cockburn - Team manager
Basketball New Zealand has named the Junior Tall Black team travelling to Greece for the FIBA Under 19 World Cup.
Sixteen teams will battle it out in Heraklion, Greece, from 29 June to 7 July, for their chance to be crowned world champions.
The Junior Tall Blacks have been grouped with competition heavyweights The United States, as well as 2017 World Cup quarter-finalists Lithuania, and Senegal. A top-two finish is needed to progress to the knockout stages.
Their first contest is with the US on 29 June. Head Coach Gavin Briggs said he can’t wait to face-off against the “basketball powerhouse”.
“People would think that the biggest game for us would be against the Australians, but honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a game than for our first game in the World Cup.
“That game can’t come soon enough.”
The team leaves for Paris on 19 June, where they will play Canada, France and Puerto-Rico in an International tournament in preparation for the World Cup.
2019 Junior Tall Blacks (New Zealand Under 19) - FIBA Under 19 World Cup
Flynn Cameron, New Zealand
Kruz Perrott-Hunt, North Harbour
Isaac Faamausili, Manawatu
Jaga Mete-Smith, Waitakere
Max de Geest, Canterbury
Oscar Oswald, Manawatu
Samuel Mennenga, North Harbour
Maxim Stephens, Waikato
Tomas Higgins, Canterbury
Maxwell Darling, Nelson/Canterbury
Rawiri Poppe, Waikato
James Moors, North Harbour
Gavin Briggs - Head Coach
Miles Pearce - Assistant Coach
Leyton Haddleton - Assistant Coach
Glenda Kaan - Manager
Todd Wolfe - Physio
Food poisoning cut short 16-year-old point guard Jordan Rangitawa’s New Zealand Under 19 basketball camp last weekend but she has plenty more to look forward to this year.
The year 13 student, who is entering her fifth and final year in the Hutt Valley High School Senior A basketball team, has big aspirations.
Among those are getting selected to the New Zealand Under 19 team to play in the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia in August this year, as well as trying to earn a scholarship to play in the United States next year.
Part of competing for a spot in the New Zealand Under 19 team was the New Zealand basketball age group selection camp held in Auckland this past weekend.
Unfortunately, Rangitawa came down with food poisoning and said she was “absolutely gutted” that she had to return home early from the camp.
If she is successful in making the New Zealand Under 19 team it will add to her growing list of representative honours. In the past few years, Rangitawa has been selected for Wellington Under 17, New Zealand U16, and the New Zealand Basketball Academy Varsity team.
In addition to making the New Zealand U19 team, she also had goals of claiming the Wellington Female Basketball Player of the Year and performing well individually and as a team at this years national secondary school tournament.
These lofty goals are backed up by Rangitawa’s exceptional work ethic; she has basketball specific training seven times a week and also goes to the gym twice a day. “I always take a day off to rest and recover though,” she said.
Rangitawa has also played representative level netball, as well as touch and volleyball but has recently focused solely on basketball in the hope of gaining a United States college basketball scholarship. An opportunity she said some of her friends are already relishing.
“I have a few friends overseas at the moment experiencing this,” she said. “They love it over there.”
When it comes to role models Rangitawa doesn’t have to look further than her own household. She said her parents were her biggest role models and they have helped in so many different ways, from fundraising for her basketball trips to putting things into perspective for her.
“Not only do I wanna continue with basketball because this is what I want, but also I want to succeed because of them,” she said.
The Auckland secondary school Premier Boys Basketball competition starts early next term and runs through the winter months, leading up to the Championship final this year on 22 August.
Some of the best secondary sport in the country occurs on Friday nights around Auckland’s school basketball courts – such as when Westlake Boys’ High School plays keen rivals Rosmini College, who are the defending Auckland Premier and NZSS AA champions and who are currently in Crete contesting the Basketball World Schools Championship.
“That is a big game, with 500-1000 people watching. We will play one home and one away game against them, and then if we meet for a third time it will be in a quarter-final, semi-final or final, whatever that may be,” says Westlake’s Sam Mennenga.
Last year it was the quarter-final, and Rosmini won, consigning Westlake to an eventual fifth placed finish. Sam wasn’t playing that night, but he had good reason to be elsewhere. “I was away in Thailand with the Junior Tall Blacks at the time and once I got back the season was over,” Sam laments.
A fortnight ago the tables were turned. Sam helped Westlake win the NZSS 3 x 3 Senior Championships in Tauranga – beating Rosmini 18-14 in the final and winning all 11 games at the tournament.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. They are quite a small but aggressive team, so we used our height against them and we came out on top,” he enthuses.
Other members of the winning Westlake 3 x 3 team were fellow year 13s Dylan Wilkie and Campbell Atkinson and year 12 Josh Kooiman.
How does 3 x 3 basketball compare to playing full court five-a-side basketball? “It is more one-on-one and a quick-paced game. It is played on a half court, if you get the rebound you go outside the 3-point line and you come back in and go at the same hoop.”
Sam hopes that win can be a springboard to success in both Auckland and nationally, where Westlake haven’t won since 2015.
First there are some trips overseas with the Junior Tall Blacks – starting this week.
The team is playing an invitation pre-World Cup tournament in China. “We are playing some European national teams and the Chinese national team. It is a practice run before the World Champs in Greece.
At the World Champs starting at the end of June, the Junior Tall Blacks meet the best first up. “We have got the top dogs the USA in our pool - I am really excited to go at them and see what they have got.”
Following the USA, NZ plays Senegal and Lithuania in pool play.
Sam and the Junior Tall Blacks qualified for the World Championships at the aforementioned trip to Thailand last year. The team finished second at the Asia Championships and qualified for the FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece this coming July.
In February, Sam, along with St Peter’s School’s Charlisse Leger-Walker, attended the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in North Carolina in the United States.
“It was a camp with the top 60 males and females our age from throughout the world. We trained for three days and we got put into a team and played against other, with NBA scouts and the big GMs, as well as some professional players.”
No Steve Adams though. “I was hoping he would be there, but I think it was a Nike thing and he is an Adidas athlete.”
Sam was grateful for the experience. “I was pretty nervous at the start, but once I got on the court I just played.”
The BWB camp serves as a stage to win college scholarships.
“I have got a couple of offers, but I am not going to choose my college until the end of this year,” says Sam.
Sam started playing basketball when he was 12. “I followed on from my older brother, who was playing. I played in the same team for Westlake with him together.”
He used to played rugby and football, but now the focus is on basketball.
Sam Mennenga attended the Steven Adams' basketball camps featured on Maori Television's new show Holding Court on Maori Television on Wednesday, April 17, 8.30pm.
St Peter’s, Cambridge won their second successive 3x3 national Girls title after beating Hamilton Girls 15 - 7. St Peter’s put on a defensive masterclass, snuffing out any opportunity Hamilton had to score. They would lead from the outset, with Dominique Stephens and Charlisse Leger-Walker scoring the majority of their points and negating all of Hamilton’s attempts to keep the game close.
Earlier in the day, Hamilton Boys took out the junior boys open grade after they toppled St Peter’s, Cambridge. Hamilton led by 5 with fewer than 2 minutes to go but a couple of quick scores brought the game close. However, the boys in red managed to grind out the win with one last score to finish 13-11.
Westlake Girls won the junior girls open grade when they beat Mount Maunganui College Parauri 16-9. Westlake was always in control of their final and kicked off the winning run for the North Shore schools. Westlake Boys would then make it two from two for Harbour when they defeated Te Kura Kokiri Tane in the senior boys open final. Kura put up a tough fight but couldn’t match Westlake’s shooting and would go down 19-13.
Westlake Girls made it three out of a possible four open grade final wins following their win over Tauranga Girls in the senior girls open final. Tauranga was leading the game right up until the last minute before a light shower inside the Trustpower arena saw Westlake make it rain and tie the game up with only seconds to spare. Westlake would then make them pay for letting it go the extra period, sinking another two to keep the North Shore’s unbeaten finals streak alive in a 12-10 win.
The junior girls elite final was played out between Westlake Girls and Tai Wananga, the lowest scoring final of the afternoon. The bulk of the game’s points came from beyond the arc as both teams found it difficult to have the ball fall through the hoop when coming within 10 feet of it. A handful of defensive stops for Westlake would be the difference in the end, as a Tai Wananga long range two would rattle off the rim and give Westlake an 11-9 victory.
Hastings boys beat St Thomas of Canterbury in a tight affair that had to be settled in overtime. The game was dominated by points inside the paint but come the last minute it was all long-range jump shots. St Thomas relied heavily on big man Hunter Adam who scored all but one of his team’s points. The back and forth bout saw Adam, who was at this point running on fumes, sink a 2 pointer with only 10 seconds left and send the game the extra distance. His efforts would cruelly prove to be not enough, as the first possession in overtime saw Hastings rattle home their own deuce and take the crown.
The senior boys elite grade was played out between Westlake and Rosmini, a contest which would give the rivals bragging rights up until Schick Champs (AA Nationals) later this year. The final would live up to the pregame hype, with both teams bringing their A-game and starting fast out of the blocks. Rosmini would lead during the early stages thanks to their two-point shooting, but Westlake would battle back from inside and keep Rosmini’s interior defence honest with a pair of And-1s. With the game in the balance and the championship on the line, Westlake would convert on a long-range jumper and then turn a Rosmini miss into a momentum-shifting dunk. They would then follow this up with a defensive stop, gifting Sam Mennenga a clear run to the hoop which he thankfully accepted and flushed home with a roof-raising two-handed jam. Rosmini was deflated at this point but to their credit pushed right through to the final buzzer and finished gracious runners-up in an 18-14 loss.
Thomas Kepa from Rotorua Boys took home the 3 point shootout after sinking 5 triples in 26 seconds.
At just 16 years of age, Tuhua Taikato-Litz from St Peter's, Cambridge is the youngest player in the New Zealand Deaf Basketball team. Not only that, he is also the team’s new vice-captain.
Tuhua’s selection was announced last week after trials for the open men's team.
“I was so happy, I just wanted to tell my family because I knew they’d be so proud of me,” he said
Tuhua has played for the St Peter’s senior premier boys’ team for the past two years.
The new team will present a bit of a challenge for Tuhua because not only will he have to work with new players, he also needs to become fluent in sign language. He started learning sign language when he was five, but stopped three years later because his hearing aids allow him to hear well.
“Communicating with people will be a bit hard, but I’m going to learn. My coach doesn’t speak sign, so he can talk to me, but there’s also a translator who can translate for other people in the team,” he said.
“Off the court, it will be okay, but in the game, I’ll have to really focus and learn people’s expressions and what they mean.”
Over the next few weeks, Tuhua will meet his other team members. They will then begin training for the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in November in Hong Kong.
Tuhua is big on teamwork and wants to help the Black Thunders win every game possible. Even if they lose some, he will make sure the players keep their heads up and stay focused.
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