Basketball produced two dominant winners of the National Secondary School Championships with Rosmini College defending their 2017 boys crown and St Peter’s Cambridge cleaning up the girls competition for the third time in four years.
There was a Tall Fern and Tall Black among our high school elitte and huge interest in a sport that’s rapidly becoming the most popular code for New Zealand’s youth.
Our contenders are below for our fourth annual Champion of Champions series – vote in the poll - scroll down below.
Mitchell Dance (Rosmini College) - The prolific scoring New Zealand Under-17 forward was named National Secondary Schools MVP for a second year in a row after guiding Rosmini to repeat National titles. Dance scored 20 points in the final against St Pats Town. At the FIBA Under-17 World championships in Argentina, Dance helped New Zealand to an inaugural victory at the event (62-57 over China) and was the Kiwis leading scorer averaging 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge) - At 16 years of age, Ledger Walker became the youngest ever selection for the Tall Ferns and wasn’t merely in the squad to make up the numbers. At the Commonwealth Games in April, Ledger-Walker top scored with 18 points as New Zealand beat Canada 74-58 to win the bronze medal game. Ledger-Walker’s other international assignment was at the FIBA Under-17 World Championships where Leger-Walker headed the Kiwi stats averaging 15.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. At the domestic level in New Zealand Leger-Walker remained a bully of all opponents winning a second consecutive National Secondary Schools MVP award and top scoring with 35 points in the 92-51 win over Hutt Valley High School in the final.
Leah Mafua (Hutt Valley High School) - For the first time in five years Hutt Valley High School won the Wellington title and made it all the way through to the Zone 3 and National finals, finishing runners up in each game. Mafua had an outstanding season top scoring in the Wellington final and making the tournament team at Nationals, scoring 22 points in the final and 40 points in a single game against Tauranga Girls’ College. Mafua, a New Zealand Under-17 representative, is unsurprisingly bound for the US collegiate system on scholarship next year.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Rosmini College) - In June the impressive guard joined the likes of Rob Loe, Tai Webster, Jack Salt, Tai Wynyard, Isaac Fotu and Izayah Mauriohooho Le'Afa as a schoolboy to be selected for the Tall Blacks. Additionally Perrott-Hunt is a North Harbour and New Zealand Under-19 representative and was a key leader for Rosmini in winning the Auckland, Zone I and National titles. In the National final Perrott-Hunt top scored with 29 points.
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Mount Albert Grammar School) - MAGS have only lost twice in the Auckland Premiership in the past two seasons. Cruelly one of those defeats was in the 2018 final to Mount Albert Grammar School, 59-52. Pupuke-Robati, niece of NBA star Steven Adams, was the telling factor scoring a team high 21 points. Pupuke-Robati, a nomination for College Sport Auckland basketballer of the year, was a member of the New Zealand Under-17 representative team who competed in the FIBA World Championships for the first time. Pupuke-Robati enjoyed a productive tournament averaging 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones (St Pat's Town) - Transferring from Rongotai College, Tait-Jones drove Town to greater heights than anybody expected in 2018. Town became the first Wellington boys team in a decade to make the final of National’s with Tait-Jones the main factor exploding for 35 points in the quarter final against Hamilton Boys High School before scoring 23 points and collecting 12 rebounds in the semi-final against St John's College, Hamilton. Tait-Jones was Town’s leading scorer in the finals of the Wellington competition, piling 40 points on Scots College in the semi-final and amassing 24 against Rongotai in the final. Tait-Jones attended the inaugural Steven Adams basketball camp for the leading 20 age group players in New Zealand.
Who would be your Basketball Player of the Year? Vote in the poll below
2017: Grace Hunter (St Mary’s College)
2016: Callum McRae (Palmerston North BHS)
2015: Logan Elers (Rotorua BHS)/Krystal Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge)
Basketball New Zealand has named the New Zealand Boys’ and Girls’ basketball teams to compete in the FIBA Oceania U15 Championships in December this year, to be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
This comes after a selection camp held over Labour Weekend.
The Australian team will again step into the FIBA Oceania event as favourites for the Boys competion. Yet the Junior Tall Blacks did win the U18 Oceania event in 2016. That example proved the young Kiwi teams can match that level, and this Under 15 New Zealand team has the chance to make history by being the first U15 Kiwi team to do so.
“The FIBA Oceania Under 15 Championships will be a new and exciting experience for our group,” said Head coach Morgan Maskell Australia will be a very tough opponent as per usual, but the programmes in Guam and Samoa are on the rise and will also present a challenge to us at the tournament as well.”
Girls Head Coach Natalie Visger, says it was tough to narrow the team to 12 players.
“This was a very prepared group coming into camp, super switched-on and competitive. Girls in New Zealand are starting to choose basketball earlier and it showed at camp with their ability to shoot the ball.
“This is a different group than last year’s. We lack some length in certain spots, but will make up for it with resilience and tenacity for 94 feet. We have some shooters, some versatile forwards, and kids that can attack the rim. I like the speed and versatility that we have. Pace won’t be an issue for us. This group has high character and that means a lot.
“Heading to PNG to compete with this group will be an adventure and we will continue to improve as we go on this journey together. Our goal is to develop these young ladies and to do our best to qualify for the Asia Champs in 2019,” says Coach Visger.
The two teams listed below.
New Zealand Under 15 Boys:
· Jett Thompson - North Harbour Basketball
· Reegan Trego - NZ
· Sataan Poutasi Tiare Tawera - Basketball Auckland
· Joshua Book - Nelson Basketball
· Zach Riley - North Harbour Basketball
· Ethan Skelton - Waitakere West Auckland Basketball Inc.
· Junior James De Young - Te Aroha Basketball
· Hunter Adam - Canterbury Basketball
· Akiva McBirney-Griffin - Waikato Basketball Council
· Benjamin Gold - Wellington Basketball
· Tafara Gapare - Wellington Basketball
· Levic Kerr - Basketball Auckland
· Max Abbot - Wellington Basketball
· Piripi Tapsell - Wellington Basketball
· Wairehu Waata - Basketball Hawke's Bay
· Oscar Hickey - NZ
· Morgan Maskell - Head Coach
· Darron Larsen - Assistant Coach
· Brent Matehaere - Assistant Coach
· Leanne Barrett – Manager
New Zealand Under 15 Girls:
· Alana Paewai - Waikato Basketball
· Hineaupounamu Nuku - Tauranga City Basketball
· Simone Barnard - North Harbour Basketball
· Melika Samia - Basketball Hawke's Bay
· Reece Anderson - Waikato Basketball
· Riana Matiseni - Waitakere West Auckland Basketball Inc.
· Breeje Schuler - Te Aroha Basketball
· Florence Dallow - North Harbour Basketball
· Emma Pugh - Hibiscus Coast Basketball Association
· Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu - North Harbour Basketball
· Vitolia Tuilave - Tauranga City Basketball
· Sera Taei - Basketball Auckland
· Makenzee Boucher - North Harbour Basketball
· Te Arani Te Puni - Manawatu Basketball
· Taiana Day - Tauranga City Basketball
· Dekoda Roberts - Rotorua Basketball
· Visger Natalie - Head Coach
· Samson Kaea - Assistant Coach
· Reed Justine - Assistant Coach
· Kaan Glenda - Manager
The Junior Tall Ferns head to Bengaluru, India this week to compete in the 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship.
Sixteen teams are equally divided into A and B Divisions. New Zealand are in Pool B of the A Division drawn alongside Malaysia, defending champions China and 2016 silver medalists Japan.
Pool A is made up of Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia.
The top four teams will represent Asia at the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
The Junior Tall Ferns open their campaign against Japan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on 28 October (tip-off 1:15am 29 October, NZ time).
New Zealand will be led by Charlisse Leger-Walker playing at her third major tournament in 2018.
Leger-Walker was a member of the Tall Ferns silver medal winning team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. In July, she led the New Zealand scoring at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Belarus averaging 15.1 points per game.
Also backing up from the U17 World Cup is Leger-Walker’s Waikato teammate Ella Bradley and Harbour guard Tayla Dalton.
Leger-Walker, Bradley and Dalton also have experience of playing in Bangaluru. All three played at the FIBA U16 Asian Championship twelve months ago. Harbour guard Tessa Talo-Tomokino also made that trip, as did Head Coach Jody Cameron.
Coach Cameron says that tournament a year ago means she has some clarity of what to expect during this trip.
“It will be a challenge with the long travel and a short turnaround before our first game. It’s not ideal but it’s what you make of it, and being Kiwis we will make the best of the situation and certainly won’t be making excuses. We don’t have the luxury of resources that some teams have, but we do have the luxury of having mature dedicated individuals that know what is required. A lot of the team has experience playing in FIBA tournaments, so now have an understanding of what is required at the international level. They are looking forward to the challenge,” said Cameron.
Cameron thinks having former Tall Ferns teammate Leanne Walker as one of her assistant coaches is extremely advantageous. The pair were both on the New Zealand team that attended the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“We get on really well. I’ve learnt a lot from Leanne, both when I was playing and now as a coach. She has an immense understanding of the game, and a vast amount of knowledge and experience. She understands time frames, competition and what is required at tournaments. She has won so many titles in New Zealand and it’s great to have someone like that at your side. We have a great working relationship,” added Cameron.
Four players return to international duty having last played for New Zealand at the 2017 FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in Guam. Grace Hunter, Leah Mafua (both Wellington), Olivia O’Neill (Otago) and Charlotte Whittaker (Canterbury) all played key roles as the Kiwi’s secured silver medals at that championship.
Harbour guard Emme Shearer earns a call-up after some outstanding performances for the New Zealand U16 team last year.
Coach Cameron hands debuts to Rochelle Fourie, Koha Lewis and Sofia Kennedy.
Lewis has been a consistent performer in Waikato age-group teams in recent seasons and Fourie was outstanding at the Schick Secondary Schools National Championships recently, earning Tournament MVP recognition as Manukura claimed the Girls ‘A’ title.
Kennedy is set to become, like Shearer, a dual international. The Canterbury guard having represented New Zealand at the World Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris in April. Shearer played volleyball for New Zealand earlier in the year.
For all information regarding the draw, live statistics and live streaming go to
Fans will be able to watch all the games live on FIBA’s Facebook (Facebook.com/FIBA) page and Youtube.com/FIBA channel.
2018 Aon Junior Tall Ferns:
“We faced them three times before the final and despite winning each time I told my team we can’t take anything for granted,” Leah Mafua recalls when addressing her Hutt Valley High School (HVHS) basketball team prior to the Sharp Cup final against Queen Margaret College (QMC).
HVHS surged to a 32-17 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 15-2 QMC run leveled proceedings by halftime. In the final two quarters the lead changed frequently with Mafua scoring a game high 24 points. However there was an anxious moment with 15 seconds left.
HVHS led 67-65 when Mafua missed a second free throw. Heroically Jasmine Troke sneered the rebound and with urgent support managed to waste seven seconds before Jordan Rangitawa was fouled. When Rangitawa connected with both shots, the QMC title challenge was finally extinguished.
“It was a team effort to win the Championship. We knew QMC would come out hard. They have too many good players not to,” Mafua acclaims.
It was the first time since 2013 HVHS won the Wellington tittle, a great achievement for longtime coach Brian Yee.
“Brian’s been a great coach. He’s got a great understanding of the game and rapport with the girls. Our improvement throughout the season has been massive,” Mafua enthused.
HVHS won further acclaim at the Zone 3 regionals finishing in second place, losing the final 68-79 to Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth. Better was to come at Nationals.
After an initial stumble against St Peter’s Cambridge, HVHS beat Wellington Girls’ College (78-58), St Andrew’s College (74-59), Otago Girls’ High School (72-39) and Tauranga Girls’ College (75-57) with Mafu dropping a season high 40 points in that clash to win a place in the preliminary quarter final against Rangitoto College who were conquered 80-72, before Hamilton Girls’ High School was sent packing 76-69.
In the semi-final HVHS produced a 25-13 opening salvo, with 14 of the points from Mafua,who finished with 32 overall in a 87-60 wn.
“I think the semi-final was our best game. I can’t really put into words what happend. Everybody clicked,” Mafua said.
There have been an abundance of superlatives used to describe the play of Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker this season and the St Peter’s Cambridge gun didn’t disappoint in the final scoring 35 points in a 92-51 win for the Waikato powerhouse. Mafua tried to keep her side in the contest scoring 22 points but concedes St Peter’s was too strong.
“Charlisse is a great player. I’ve faced her a few times and it’s always a great challenge.
Making it into the top two in the country is something I’m really proud of. I think the girls can hang their heads up high,” Mafua reflects.
Mafua started competitive sport as a goal attack in netball, but switched to basketball in Year 10 making the First V in her debut season.
In 2019, Mafua is hoping to join the likes of former student Stella Beck in the US on a scholarship. Where she might be based stateside has yet to be determined.
“It was awesome to finish second in New Zealand. Nobody expected us to even make the Nationals,” Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones marvels when reflecting on the performance of the St Patrick’s College, Wellington basketball team at Nationals last week.
Town were runners up in Wellington and only fourth in the Zone 3 tourney, but punched well above their weight in in Palmerston North.
An impressive 102-87 win first up against Waimea College was followed by a 59-92 hiding at the hands of Napier Boys’ High School. Town rolled Tauranga Boys’ College as expected 92-70 before dropping their next fixture (74-90) against South Island Regional champions, Cashmere High School. It was a setback that proved invaluable for Town.
“Cashmere was a really good game. They were a tough side and we completed the whole time. We had a couple of bad patches, but we showed we could compete with the top teams,” Tait-Jones reflects.
Town ensured they would have a shot at the playoffs by accounting for McLeans College 77-60 which established a meeting in the preliminary quarter final against Hastings Boys’ High School.
“We were pretty confident we could beat Hastings and did for the fourth time this year. We’re a run and gun team and Hastings aren’t as fit as us so if we could play our team we know we could outlast them,” Tait-Jones reveals.
Hamilton Boys’ High School convincingly conquered Wellington champions Rongotai College in pool play. Tait-Jones had to be at his very best to deny the Zone 2 champions.
“The Hamilton game was my best game of the tournament. I scored 35 points and got a triple-double. I had to mark their Junior Tall Black Maxim Stephens whose bigger than me, but he only got 19 points on me. Everybody stepped up. It was a massive win,” Tait-Jones explains.
St John’s College, Hamilton was another bigger team than Town and presented a massive challenge in the semi-final. Despite being out-rebounded 21-6 on the offensive end and trailing often, Town pulled off a 70-69 win to make the National final for the first time in a decade. Tait-Jones scored 23 pulls and reigned in 12 rebounds.
“We just had to grind it out. We knew if we could stay in touch and hit some shots we were a chance,” Tait-Jones said.
Filimone Waqabaca came up big with 17 points, the same tally he collected in the final.
“Filimone made some big shots and had a great week,” Tait-Jones acclaimed.
The final wasn’t so great for Town. Reigning champions Rosmini College were resounding victors.
“It was awesome to just make the final. We would like to have been more competitive, but we had nothing left in the tank. I was struggling with my quad and Rosmini are an exceptional team and you have to be totally on to beat them,” Tait-Jones concedes.
Tait-Jones was selected for the tournament team alongside Jeremiah Savali, the only Wellington players to make the cut.
Jeremiah was steady all-round. He’s got a big presence inside and we could count on his rebounding and scoring,” Tait-Jones praised.
A North Shore school has won eight of the last ten National championships. It’s little coincidence the New Zealand Breakers are based there.
Town’s result was the best by any Wellington school since they won the National crown in 2008.
The 50th addition of the National Secondary Schools basketball championship concluded in Palmerston North today with big wins for two powerhouse basketball schools.
Rosmini College have won their third National title since 2012, going back to back for the first time.
Surprise finalists St Patrick’s College, Wellington were crushed 114-62 in the final.
When the score was 84-36 in the third quarter, Joseph Hylton snatched three consecutive offensive rebounds and eventually finished. The hustle by Hylton was a metaphor for Rosmini’s total dominance.
Every player on the roster scored as Rosmini led 26-12 after the first quarter and continued to expand their advantage.
The signs were ominous early for Town when Taine Murray nailed a corner three and converted a right hand lay up to make it 5-0.
Twice Kainoa Lepou was on target from long range and Kruz Perrott-Hunt controlled the point as Town fired 36 fewer shots than Rosmini.
Rosmini shot an exceptional 50% from the field with Perrott-Hunt leading all scorers with 29 points. Dance contributed 20 points and Lepou 17, including five triples. Rosmini’s bench added 33 points.
Rosmini was able to restrict the prolific Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones to 7 points on 3/9 shooting. Filimone Waqabaca top scored with 17. Jacob Paese battled manfully from the bench with 14 and Josh Hori refused to surrender.
Rosmini finish the season with a record of 31 wins in 33 games. After dropping their first pool game 50-53 to Mount Albert Grammar School, Rosmini won seven of their next eight fixture by 25 points or more. MAGS the only team to beat Rosmini this season eventually finished in 12th place.
A North Shore school has won eight of the last ten National championships. It’s little coincidence the New Zealand Breakers are based there.
St Pat's Town earned their place in the final for the first time since 2008 following a nail-biting 70-69 win over St John’s College, Hamilton.
A thrilling final five minutes ensued as the lead was tied on multiple occasions, but a basket from Kobe Lolesio with 90 seconds to play proved to be the match-winning play.
St Pat’s established an early 22-13 lead on the back of transition baskets and threes from Josh Hori and Filimone Waqabaca.
Eleven second-quarter points from shooting guard Kael Robinson narrowed the St Pat’s advantage before Logan Rush and Wiremu Jones tied proceedings – 36 points apiece at half-time.
St John’s point guard Ethan Dromgool gave his team a seven points advantage before livewire guard Hori and Jeremiah Savali inspired a 9-0 St Pat’s run which set the stage for the frantic finale.
Tait-Jones had 23 points and 12 rebounds while Waqabaca matched his effort in the final with 17 points.
Rosmini College put together a dominant second quarter, outscoring their St Kentigern College 29-6 before eventually winning 91-65.
Shalom Broughton made five points late in the opening quarter to keep St Kentigern on the tails of Rosmini trailing 22-18 at the first break.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt dropped a couple of triples early in the second period, but St Kent’s swingman Max Shorter replied with one from beyond the arc.
Eight points from Mitch Dance and a Terrence Abdon three fuelled a 20-0 Rosmini run. The dominance of Rosmini’s second quarter performance capped by Abdon’s ‘Hail-Mary’ from his own half finding nothing but net on the halftime buzzer. Rosmini able to take a 51-24 lead into the break.
St Kent’s actually won the third quarter by seven as Rosmini was kept to 11 points, but back to back threes from Taine Murray kept a vaillant St Kent’s a bay.
St Kent’s beat St John’s in the battle for third 75-65.
Boys Tournament Team
1. Maxim Stephens - Hamilton Boys' High School
2. Shalom Broughton - Saint Kentigern College
3. Simon Lafaele - St. John's College
4. Anzac Risetto - Auckland Grammar School
5. Jake McKinlay - Palmerston North Boys' High School
6. Kruz Perrott-Hunt – Rosmini College
7. Jeremiah Savali - St Patrick's College
8. Taine Murray – Rosmini College
9. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones - St Patrick's College
10. Mitchell Dance - Rosmini College - MVP
For the third time in four years St Peter’s Cambridge are the National champions, trouncing Hutt Valley High School 91-52.
As expected Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker was in imperious form, collecting 35 points and 24 rebounds in an MVP display.
In the 2017 final, Leger-Walker scored 77% of the 62 points St Peter’s managed. This year the support cast was greater allowing St Peter’s to go through the season unbeaten. New Zealand Under-17 representative Ella Bradley amassed 21 points and 10 rebounds.
St Peter’s won every quarter out rebounding Hutt Valley High 53-37 while St Peter’s shot 47% from the field as opposed to Hutt Valley’s 30%. The Wellington champions were restricted to just five points in the second quarter.
Leah Mafua top scored for the runners up with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
In semi-final, Westlake Girls’ High School had their six game winning streak snapped at, thumped 87-61.
Hutt Valley’s success was built around the all-court game of Captain Leah Mafua (32 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists) and an outstanding shooting performance – they converted 12 from 23 (52%) from beyond the arc.
A 25-13 opening salvo, with 14 of the points from Mafua, propelled Hutt Valley to a 25-13 first-quarter lead.
The lead extended to 21 points early in the second quarter and 25 points by half-time. Jordan Rangitawa (19 points and 11 rebounds) had a busy game while Westlake’s Jordyn Maddix and Emme Shearer posted double figures.
Westlake scored the first seven points of the final frame as Tabitha Leyson provided some spark off the bench, but Hutt Valley had little trouble closing out the win.
St Peter’s Cambridge eliminated Wellington runners up Queen Margaret College 79-36.
QMC’s Grace Hunter and Rosie Campbell dropped early threes, but 11 points from Charlisse Leger-Walker ensured an 18-8 first quarter lead for St Peter’s.
QMC forward Paris Lokotui made a couple of baskets, but Waita Jennings scored with a left handed floater and Leger-Walker dropped another three as St Peter’s stretched its lead to 26-12.
Outstanding St Peter’s defence made the score 40-14 at halftime.
Diminutive guard Rosie Campbell scored baskets early in the second half for QMC as they fashioned an 8-2 run.
An Alana Paewai drive and a Bradley triple reasserted the St Peter’s dominance, the Waikato team in complete control at the last break with a 57-24 lead.
Leger-Walker finished with 30 points and Ella Bradley 14.
Westlake Girls’ finished third defeating QMC 78-63.
Girls Tournament Team
1. Emme Shearer - Westlake Girls' High School
2. Riva Walker-Pitman - Hamilton Girls' High School
3. Charlotte Whittaker - St Andrew's College
4. Sharne Pupuke-Robati - Mt Albert Grammar School
5. Paris Lokotui - Queen Margaret College
6. Ella Bradley - St Peter's School, Cambridge
7. Jordan Rangitawa - Hutt Valley High School
8. Alana Paewai - St Peter's School, Cambridge
9. Leah Mafua - Hutt Valley High School
10. Charlisse Leger-Walker - St Peter's School, Cambridge - MVP
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