Junior Tall Black and SKYCITY Breakers development player Sam Waardenburg has officially committed his future to the University of Miami, signing on the dotted line on a full scholarship that will allow him to continue to develop his basketball career, and work on his studies for life beyond basketball.
It has been a busy year for the Rangitoto College student, with many trips overseas with a variety of Basketball New Zealand teams, private camp invites and most recently his trip to the States when he visited a number of Universities before deciding on Miami.
The paperwork was signed at home in recent days, with the support of his parents Eric and Norny. 17 year old Waardenburg is delighted that another step has been completed, one that was not without a level of stress for him and his family.
“It is a great feeling to finally have it all done, it was a lot of paperwork to go over with the family but that stage is complete now, it is all done and it feels great.
“Without my family I wouldn’t be able to do this, dad especially. He is always on the computer checking out all the options and the paperwork and the hoops that we have to jump through and the communication with Miami. Mum has been a big support as well, they have just been awesome.”
Waardenburg has had no second thoughts about his choice of University either, saying Miami is the place for him to continue his career and his studies.
“When I turned up in Miami it felt like family, like a home away from home. The climate is nice and it is a great campus, everything about it and the basketball programme was great. My focus is just to get better every day, I will get in the gym, learn off the coaches and do all I can to help the programme and get better myself.”
Waardenburg will leave for Miami on December 28, after he enjoys a final festive season with family and friends.
“I wanted to finish with a Christmas with my family, there are a few cousins coming over from London so it will be a great final few days in New Zealand before I go for what promises to be a great adventure, I can’t wait.”
Before then, Waardenburg will be focused on finishing his studies at Rangitoto College, working out as a development player with the SKYCITY Breakers and earning selection for the Junior Tall Blacks for the Oceania Championships in Fiji in December.
Of immediate focus to Waardenburg though is his continued development with the SKYCITY Breakers, and that includes being a part of game night with the team at home this Saturday night at Vector Arena, hosting the Adelaide 36ers, tip off at 7.30pm.
“I soak up as much as I can every game night, it is all a great learning experience to see how the players prepare and take on each challenge. Often we (he and the other development players) get the chance to work out on the main court before the game, but then our role is to do whatever we can from the bench to keep the boys motivated and on track for a win, as well as watch and learn from every play.”
“I have never played a better quarter. I don’t know what happened. I knew we could play better, but I just went to work and the energy in the building was unreal,” Callum McRae recalls of his third quarter performance in the National Secondary Schools basketball final recently.
At halftime McRae’s Palmerston North Boys’ High School side was down by 25 points to reining national champions Rangitoto College. What happened next was truly extraordinary. McRae scored 11 points in a row and in a Herculean display of character Palmerston North erased the deficit.
“We decided at halftime to stop hesitating and leave it all out there. The energy of the home crowd really spurred us on. It was an incredible thing to be apart of,” McRae reflects.
In the fourth quarter, Palmerston North nudged ahead 80-79 in an intense defensive struggle. With six seconds remaining Rangitoto secured a rebound from a missed free-throw. With no time-outs left Rangittoto had to hurry to tie or win the game.
“I thought they would give it to Sam Waardenburg as they only needed a two and he was their best scoring chance inside. When Cam Stone hit the long three I was stunned. My heart sunk, but I thought there was still time so I protested with the referee. When he said it was over I was gutted,” McRae says.
What did McRae, who finished with 35 points, say to Stone afterwards?
“Good shot, I couldn’t say anything else. It was a pretty quiet dressing room to be honest.”
McRae’s time at Palmerston North BHS isn’t over. The seven-footer is returning to school next year determined to take the next step and capture National glory.
“We were really proud of our comeback. We were getting smashed. I am adamant though we could have won that game and that’s why I am returning next year. I could have left this year, but I want to work on my game more and we have four of our five starters back in 2017,” McRae enthuses.
Palmerston North last won the National title in 1995. Their run to this year’s final included a triumph over the Auckland Champions Rosmini College (McRae scored 23 points) and a thrilling semi-final victory over New Plymouth Boys’ High School.
New Plymouth Boys High School senior basketball coach David Bublitz has been the same group of players since they were in year nine and he credits that bond which helped them come third at the recent national secondary school championships in Palmerston North recently.
The third placing is New Plymouth’s best effort at the national tournament after coming fourth in 1989 and 2011.
New Plymouth were unbeaten in pool play with comfortable wins over Christs College, St Patricks Town, Auckland Grammar twice, once in pool play and again in the third verse fourth play-off match, Kelston Boys High in their quarter final but lost to Palmerston North Boys High School in the semi-finals.
Palmerston North ended up going down to Rongitoto College in a dramatic final which went down to the last second.
Speaking on Access Radio Taranaki’s Get Onside sports programme on Saturday morning, Bublitz said he had been with the majority of his players for the last five years after a stint coaching the Taranaki MountainAirs side.
“I believe the culture we had was really strong. They all trusted each other and they all understood what their roles were in terms of how to get the best for the team. We were defensively minded right at the beginning of the year when we sat down and wrote down some targets and goals”.
The first goal that the team came up with is that they wanting to be the best defensive team in the country, which you could say they proved that at the nationals.
“We had three teams that didn’t score over 60, we only had two teams who scored in the 70s and no teams scored over 75 against us. In terms of our defensive effort that where our foundation lies” Bublitz said.
Throughout the tournament senior players including Corbin Giddy, Max Anderson and Thane O’Leary played their part throughout the week.
O’Leary then went onto be selected in the tournament team, with Bublitz admitting he played a pivotal role in the tournament.
“He’s in the New Zealand U19 set up. He’s been sniffing around higher honours for a couple of years now.
“His strengths are really his defensive play, he’s really smart, knows where to be and knows how to get the best out of others in the team too. His role was a pivotal one for us”.
Offensively, Bublitz credited O’Leary’s vision to put people into space too.
Those other players including Giddy was vital on attack scoring an average of 20 points per game during the tournament being a threat with Anderson being the ‘glue guy’ who worked very hard on both attack and defensively.
Bublitz said the side was off in the semi-final against the hosts with Palmerston North doing a good job by taking away New Plymouth’s attacking options.
“Palmy did a good job by shutting us down, we had to try and find other ways to score but unfortunately it wasn’t to be”.
“Offensively we were off, we didn’t shoot the ball very well at all and that cost us I think” he said.
But defensively the side played well only letting Palmerston North score 50-odd points but it was at the other end which let the side down.
Bublitz was impressive by the coverage with games streamed on the Maori Television’s website after only playing highlights in previous years.
“To live stream it and to also go live was excellent. It’s great for basketball.
Bublitz believes basketball is growing in New Zealand which has been helped by making the sport more accessible and popular.
“Hopefully it continues [the coverage] because it can only be good for sponsorship and people getting on board and supporting basketball a little bit more”.
And from the coverage four players were snapped up by Division 1 schools in the United States last year with big opportunities for young players with American scouts at the recent nationals.
“There’s opportunities now and it’s not even professional it’s for kids to go to the States to get free education and play basketball. If they can pick up free education for four gets and get to play basketball, it’s very valuable” Bublitz said.
But moving forward Bublitz is assisting with the New Zealand U17 for their next campaign but he will probably coach a junior group with a good rotation policy with other coaches.
“I have got some good young coaches at Boys High now who want to step up and help. So it’s making sure they get opportunities as well” he said.
NPBHS 2016 national tournament results
Beat Christs College (Christchurch) 73-55
Beat St Patrick’s Town (Wellington) 68-60
Beat Nelson College 74-69
Beat Auckland Grammar School 82-74
Beat Mount Albert Grammar School (Auckland) 81-53
Beat Kelston Boys High School (Auckland) 84-75
Lost Palmerston North Boys High School 59-53
Third v Fourth play-off:
Beat Auckland Grammar School 63-56
Points for: 515
Points against: 445
Click here to listen to the full interview
Boys Final Teams Placing
1st Rangitoto College
2nd Palmerston North Boys High School
3rd New Plymouth Boys High School
4th Auckland Grammar School
5th Rosmini College
6th Westlake Boys High School
7th Christchurch Boys High School
8th Kelston Boys High School
9th Mt Albert Grammar School
10th St Patricks College, Kilbirnie
11th Hastings Boys High School
12th Hillcrest High School
13th St Johns College, Hamilton
14th Te Awamutu College
15th Scots College
16th Melville High School
17th Hamilton Boys High School
18th Fraser High School
19th Kings High School
20th Cashmere High School
21st Nelson College
22nd Christs College
23rd Otago Boys High School
24th Selwyn College
Boys MVP: Samuel Waardenburg (Rangitoto College)
Boys Tournament Team
1. Quinn Clinton (Christchurch Boys High School)
2. Daniel Fotu (Rangitoto College)
3. Thane O’Leary (New Plymouth Boys High School)
4. Isaac Letoa (Westlake Boys High School)
5. Takiula Fahrensohn (Auckland Grammar School)
6. Samuel Waardenburg (Rangitoto College)
7. Oscar Oswald (Palmerston North Boys High School)
8. Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Rosmini College)
9. Callum McRae (Palmerston North Boys High School)
10. Braden Inger – (Rangitoto College)
Girls Final Teams Placing
1st St Peters School, Cambridge
2nd Mt Albert Grammar School
3rd Auckland Girls Grammar School
4th Westlake Girls High School
5th Hamilton Girls High School
6th New Plymouth Girls High School
7th Melville High School
8th Waimea College
9th St Marys College, Wellington
10th Rangitoto College
11th Rotorua Girls High School
12th Napier Girls High School
13th Hutt Valley High School
14th Wellington Girls College
15th Rangi Ruru Girls School
16th Hastings Girls High School
17th Fraser High School
18th Christchurch Girls High School
19th Middleton Grange School
20th Tauranga Girls College
21st Massey High School
22nd Rangiora High School
23rd Epsom Girls Grammar
24th Marlborough Girls College
Girls MVP: Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peters School, Cambridge)
Girls Tournament Team
1. Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peters School, Cambridge)
2. Alyssa Hirawani (Hamilton Girls High School)
3. Kendell Heremaia (St Peters School, Cambridge)
4. Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Mt Albert Grammar School)
5. Rhyannon Poto (Mt Albert Grammar School)
6. Zara Jillings (Westlake Girls High School)
7. Eliana Tuaiti (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
8. Mele Latu (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
9. Tiarna Clarke (Westlake Girls High School)
10. Ella Bradley (St Peters School, Cambridge)
Rangitoto College and St. Peter's College, Cambridge have retained their National basketball titles. St. Peter's gradually pulled away from Mount Albert Grammar School while Rangitoto College withstood an almighty scare to prevail in one of the greatest boys' finals ever played.
Cameron Stone, son of Rangitoto College head coach Kenny Stone, may have the run of the house for a while. With the last play of the season he ensured his team retained their National title with a 30ft three-pointer on the buzzer.
With seven seconds left and scores tied 79-79, Palmerston North BHS won a pair of free throws. Haize Walker converted the first, but missed the second resulting in a mad scramble for the rebound. Rangitoto prized possession and Stone hurried down the right wing. Despite the presence of a nearby defender Stone's heave and hope hit nothing but net and silenced a rabid local crowd.
Earlier you could hear a pin drop as Rangitoto surged to a 60-35 halftime lead. Rangitoto nailed 10/14 three-pointers, including four of their first five scoring shots. Dan Fotu (29 points) was devastatingly accurate, Sam Waardenburg (21 points) was typically efficient and Stone issued a warning by nailing an early three.
Callum McRae (36 points) was the catalyst for the Palmerston North comeback. Like a wild bear he bullied Rangitoto in the interior and pulled off 11 straight points to half the deficit. Defensively he was a beast as well snatching 17 rebounds as Palmerston North livened up. Oscar Oswald (20 points) hit consecutive three's and Palmerston North was level by the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was dominated by intense defense as both teams struggled to score. Waardenburg waded through three defenders to nudge Rangitoto ahead 73-72. Onyekachi Anibueze hit a jumper from the free-throw strip to make it 75-72, but Palmerston North restored parity with a Oswald gliding the length of the floor.
With 72 seconds left it was 77-77. Palmerston North was called for travel and Fotu hit a left-hand leaning shot off the backboard. Fotu won a steal moments later, but was called for charging on Oswald. Palmerston North scrapped ahead, but Stone had the last laugh.
New Plymouth BHS finished third defeating Auckland Grammar School 63-56. Auckland Champions Rosmini College beat Westlake BHS (88-79) for the third time in 2016 to finish fifth and Christchurch BHS was the best of the South Island schools finishing eighth. They lost to Kelston BHS in the playoff for seventh 108-99.
St. Peter's Cambridge led from start to finish and retained their title 68-53 against Mount Albert Grammar School. The match was close at halftime with St. Peter's only leading 32-27. However St. Peter's extended that advantage to 12 points in the third quarter which proved to be a decisive edge.
Once again Year 10 Charlisse Leger-Walker was a standout player. She scored 35 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in an outstanding individual display. Leger-Walker scored 30 points in the semi-final last night despite early foul trouble.
MAGS had three players in double digits with Trinity Paeu the leader scoring 14 points. In the playoff for third Auckland Girls Grammar edged Westlake GHS 69-67 and Hamilton Girls' High School rounded out the top five beating New Plymouth GHS 73-64.
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