“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.
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