The old gym at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream is so cold it’s known as Siberia.
It’s not uncommon to see condensation emerging from boys’ mouths on warm afternoons.
In 2014 the Father Peter Blake Memorial Gym opened. It was described by Tall Blacks legend Thomas Abercrombie as “the best gym in New Zealand.”
Unsurprisingly such a plush facility, in addition to seriously hard work and a shift in culture, has seen basketball explode at Silverstream.
In 2008 there were two teams. Today there are over a dozen competitive teams and a number of social teams.
On Friday night at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie, the Senior A’s won the Pohlen Trophy for the first time with a thrilling 78-75 victory over perennial contenders, Wellington College.
An estimated 3,000 spectators attended the game with a boisterous atmosphere surely unrivalled by any code.
Bronson Schmidt-Uili arrived at Silverstream from Cronulla in Year 10. He now stands 6 ft 8. In 2019 he was a part of the first Junior A Silverstream team to win the Wellington title.
Continuity and maturity was crucial in the crazy climax to the season. Silverstream’s Senior A roster was settled and prepared for most challenges.
“The final was really scrappy, but that’s pretty much what we expected,” Schmidt-Uili said.
“We knew the referees would be a bit more lenient with foul calls because it was the final.
“It was a massive atmosphere and the environment was pretty new, but having all the Stream boys there to push us was huge. When we were on edge, they helped us with their encouragement.”
The lead changed multiple times throughout. With a couple of minutes left, Silverstream appeared in control when leading 76-67.
Inexplicably Silverstream then missed four consecutive free-throws and Wellington College cut the deficit to a point with a dozen seconds to spare.
“Free throws have been killing us all season so it wasn’t the biggest surprise to see those misses,” Schmidt-Uili laughed.
“We just had to make a big basket or not foul them or let them shoot three. We went into a zone, played good defence, and got a board before Hassan (Munir) made a huge play.
“They had a couple of shooters, Fleix (Tulloch) and Murphy (Rogers) who got hot.”
Rogers was imperious with 32 points, Harry Zangoropolos had a strong match with 18 points, but Tulloch was reduced to just three points.
Silverstream’s scoring was more evenly distributed. Hassan Munir topped the charts with 18 points, captain Tomasi Pavihi chimed in with 15 points and Schmidt-Uli contributed 13.
Silverstream beat Wellington College three times in 2022 with a Schmidt-Uli buzzer beater the difference in the previous clash.
“We had four players out with sickness and were down by 20 in the third quarter. They had a massive support crew and we had the Senior B’s after they finished their game.
“I got the inbound with a second left after we ran our usual play at the top of the key. I just backed up and let it go and in-she went. It was unreal.”
The Silverstream Senior B and C teams also won their respective finals on Friday night, following in the footsteps of the Junior A’s who claimed championship honours for the third time in four years.
Queen Margaret College (QMC) successfully defended the Sharp Cup Basketball Premiership with an 83-76 triumph over St Mary’s College at the ASB Centre on Friday night.
Tia Pavihi and Holly Morgan finished first and third respectively in the season points scoring charts, and both girls delivered big shifts in the decider. Pavihi scored a game-high 30 points while Morgan added 24 points to help arrest a halftime deficit.
Four of the QMC girls were involved in the Premier Netball final on Monday night where St Mary’s College beat QMC.
Between other sporting commitments, representative basketball duty, and of course education that leaves QMC little time to practice.
“Before games we literally don’t know who’s going to turn up,” Tia laughed.
“It’s been a bit dysfunctional off the court this year but when we are on court we have a really good vibe and lots of basketball experience. We’ve had a number of younger players step up.”
One of those players is Charlotte Horner who hit a massive corner triple late in the fourth quarter when QMC was only marginally ahead.
“It’s only her first year playing the sport. She’s not a natural but honestly she’s the reason we turn up every Friday. She’s got a great attitude, works hard, and really inspires the girls,” Tia said.
It is worth noting QMC accounted for half of the Wellington Under-17 representative team in 2021, and Wellington Saints legend Troy McLean does support the team in a coaching capacity on match days.
It doesn’t take much to fire QMC up for a match against St Mary’s. Pavihi dropped 36 points on St Mary’s when QMC beat them 84-61 on July 1. The final proved to be a much tougher affair.
“St Mary’s go crazy whenever any of their teams are in finals,” Tia said.
“I wasn’t surprised it was close but we noticed they didn’t sub a lot of their players, and we’re a very fit team. We backed ourselves to last.”
“They were really physical in the netball on Monday night,” Holly added.
“Their crowd was really loud and I think the pressure got to us. We were motivated to put things right.”
Holy and Tia have a strong chemistry, complementing each other on court. Holly described Tia as a “slashing point guard who’s really good at getting to the rim, shooting free-throws and three’s. Tia praised Holly for her “screen setting” and “great outside shooting.”
Against Kapiti College earlier this year the pair went berserk. Holly scored 45 points and Tia 43 in a crushing win. In fact QMC won all nine games in the round-robin, outscoring opponents, 866-383.
There is no respite for Holly or Tia. Both girls are involved with the QMC netball team at the Lower North Island tournament in Napier this week.
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