“We never had a basketball community until a couple of years ago. We are still a young team and more and more girls want to play,” Jazz Kailahi-Fulu of St Mary’s College, Ponsonby warns rivals.
The Auckland outfit have just completed their best ever season, finishing with a 30-1 record.
St Mary’s was third at the Nationals in Palmerston North last week and won their first Auckland and Zone I regional titles.
“Our results don’t surprise me. We have worked really hard this season and had a talented team. The support of the school has been amazing and our coach Jody Cameron is really experienced. The girls know she can teach them a lot,” Kailahi-Fulu acclaimed.
Kailahi-Fulu concedes she needed plenty of teaching when she first started playing basketball at the age of 11.
“I was really bad,” she laughed.
“But I stuck at it. When I was 13, I was picked for the Harbour team that went to Nationals. I made the tournament team and I thought that was really cool.”
The accolades have continued for Kailahi-Fulu who first made a New Zealand age group team in 2017, traveling to Perth for the Australian State Championships. Last year Kailahi-Fulu was a member of the New Zealand Under 17’s at the FIBA World Championships in Belarus.
Driving the ascent of St Mary’s has been perhaps her most impressive achievement to date.
Kailahi-Fulu averaged 23.8 points per game at Nationals to lift them to their best ever finish. St Mary’s beat fierce rivals Westlake Girls’ High School 70-64 in the playoff for third with Kailahi-Fulu scoring 19 points. St Mary’s also beat Westlake in the Auckland and Zone I final.
“Westlake is a great team and have been up there for a long time. I guess we got a mental block on them this season. The first time we played them it was a really tough game and we beat them with a buzzer beater which gave us a lot of confidence,” Kailahi-Fulu observed.
St Mary’s won the Zone I final 78-70 victory with Kailahi-Fulu scoring 14 points alone in the third quarter to keep St Mary’s in the contest. She had contributed 20 points in the Auckland final where St Mary’s won 83-74. Westlake was only down by three points heading into the last two minutes.
Jazz’s sister Zaaluyah Kailahi-Fulu has been a major part of St Mary’s success too. The New Zealand Under 16 representative and Jazz have a strong relationship.
“We get on most of the time, but sometimes there is some sibling rivalry. I’m proud of my little sister,” Jazz said.
In 2020, Jazz is seeking a US scholarship and insists St Mary’s results aren’t a flash in the pan.
St Peter’s Cambridge is anything but a flash in the pan. The Waikato private school won the Nationals for the fourth time in the last five years, beating provincial rivals Hamilton Girls’ High School 78-66 in the final.
For a fourth year in a row Charlisse Leger-Walker was named tournament MVP. The Tall Ferns guard amassed 30 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in the decider.
Jazz and Charlisse played together at the World Under 17 championships and are friends with bright futures on and off the court.
Schick ‘AA’ Girls Tournament Team:
The ‘A’ Boys and ‘A’ Girls champions were crowned at the 2019 Schick Secondary Schools National Championships in Palmerston North on Thursday.
Te Aroha College, runners-up at last year’s Schick Nationals, again had to settle for silver losing 68-54 to Kavanagh College in the Girls ‘A’ Final.
A closely fought Boys ‘A’ Final went the way of Opunake High School, who outlasted St Kevin’s College to win 58-56.
Kavanagh made the slightly better start to the contest, edging the opening quarter 10-8 and were still ahead 18-17 midway through the second quarter.
The respective captains then made a move as Dejaan Schuler, on her way to 15 first-half points, peeled off a pair of threes for Te Aroha. Annabelle Ring knocked down a three of her own in reply, but it was Te Aroha who was happier at the break leading 29-26.
Kavanagh, with guard Annalise Wilson and all her hustle, took the reins and outscored Te Aroha 8-2 to lead 36-31 in the middle of the third. A Te Ana Barrett three was answered by Kyra McEntyre, but it was Ring who had the last say in the frame – Kavanagh led 45-40 at three-quarter time.
Kavanagh was in firm control with 4:30 to play when Dre Whaanga dropped an arching three to give her team a 56-47 lead.
Te Aroha threw everything they had at Kavanagh in the closing minutes. Dejaan Schuler (31 points and 11 rebounds) dropped her seventh three of the game but Wilson, McEntyre, Whaanga and MVP Annabelle Ring (19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocks) had all the answers – each adding to their points tally to send the travelling supporters from Dunedin home with a smile.
Kavanagh Coach Gerard Mullin was delighted for his team.
“The girls wanted that one, the boys have won one before, so the girls wanted one hanging in the gym as well.
“It’s taken four or five years to get there, but all the hard work and training pays off in the end. They deserve it.
“I’d like to think Annabelle will get the MVP title, she was awesome. She had to keep fighting in that game as it wasn’t all going her way but she showed her grit, determination and belief.”
Kavanagh College 68 – A Ring 19, D Whaanga 18, K McEntyre 13/8r, A Wilson 12
Te Aroha College 54 – D Schuler 31/11r, B Schuler 10, A Nicholas 6, T Barrett 5
Officials – Logan Start and Mikayla Willis
‘A’ Girls 3rd/4th play-off game.
Tararua College 58 – S Oswald 23, L Powick 14, R Ngaruhe 9, H Ngaruhe 6
Mercury Bay Area School 85 – J McCleery 36, O Clague 22, L Murie 8, E Hinds-Senior 8
Schick ‘A’ Girls Tournament Team
Hineaupounamu Nuku – Te Kura Kōkiri
Breeje Schuler – Te Aroha College
Dejaan Schuler – Te Aroha College
Dre Whaanga - Kavanagh College
Holly McCleery – Mercury Bay Area School
Leah Powick – Tararua College
Te Ahikaa Bidois – Te Wharekura O Mauao
Olivia Clague – Mercury Bay Area School
Kyra McEntyre – Kavanagh College
‘A’ Girls Schick MVP – Annabelle Ring
Opunake had won the pool game against St Kevin’s by 20 points on the opening day of the tournament, but nine points in the opening quarter from centre Jack Andrew gave St Kev’s a 19-14 advantage at the first break.
A tight second period ensued, scores late in the half from point guard Mark Xie and Paea Fifita giving St Kevin’s a narrow 32-28 lead at the half. Kenan Sionetama led the Opunake effort at the interval with 10 points.
Andrew was soon into double-double territory as the St Kevin’s lead increased to nine points (41-32).
Joel Clement scored six straight points for Opunake and when Scott Quinnell sunk a corner three on the buzzer the St Kevin’s lead was suddenly cut to six points (49-43) going into the fourth.
The Opunake fans were in full voice when Sione Tama made a three. It was near noise deafening when Clement tied proceedings at 51 points apiece and then put his team ahead by two with five minutes to play.
The Opunake defence was smothering the St Kevin’s attacking weapons, who only managed one score in seven minutes.
Andrew finally broke the drought to lock the scores at 53 points each, but in a frantic final two minutes, when defences ruled, free-throws from Clement and Quinnell settled a thrilling contest. St Kevin’s captain Jack Souness knocked down a three as the final hooter sounded but it was too little too late for him and his team.
Opunake Coach Jeneane Taamaru felt her team’s defence got them over the line.
“Defence won the game, they were committed, they wanted it, 100% no regrets.
“It was our goal all through the season, we’ve accomplished it and I’m so proud of these young men,” added Taamaru.
Opunake High School 58 – J Clement 21, K Sionetama 13/10r, R Bloemen 7, A Hepi-Karena 6, C Taamaru 6
St Kevin’s College 56 – J Andrew 19/18r, D Cooper 11, P Fifita 10/10r, M Xie 6, J Souness 6
Officials – Brendan Douglas and Samuel Roberts
‘A’ Boys 3rd/4th play-off game
Manukura 54 – S Brown 24, K Millar 12, T Richmond 8
Mana College 81 – L Ware 24, W Wana 17, K Hippolite 16, N Salmon 11
Schick ‘A’ Boys Tournament Team
Jack Andrews – St Kevin’s College
Manaaki Kaumoana – Te Aroha College
Tetuhikiterangi Lewis – Ngā Taiātea Wharekura
Ahurei Hepi-Karena – Opunake High School
Levi Ware – Mana College
Mosiah McDonald – Manukura
Paea Fifita – St Kevin’s College
Kawharu Hippolite – Mana College
Regan Bloemen – Opunake High School
‘A’ Girls Schick MVP – Joel Clement
The semi-final matchups were also decided in the Schick Nationals ‘AA’ Tournament on Thursday with defending champions Rosmini College and St Peter’s School, Cambridge, still on track in the defence of their titles.
St Peter’s School, Cambridge, will face Westlake Girls High School in one girls semi-final while St Mary’s College, Ponsonby will take on Hamilton Girls High School in the other semi.
St Kentigern College faces Mt Albert Grammar School in an all Auckland boys semi-final with Rosmini College to meet Cashmere High School in the other matchup.
‘AA’ Girls Quarter-Final results
St Peter’s School, Cambridge 83 – A Paewai 18, E Bradley 10, C Leger-Walker 10, D Stephens 8, L Vaetoe 6
Christchurch Girls’ High School 33 – I Luhetoa 6, A Peterson 6, M Faitaua-Nanai 5
St Mary’s College, Ponsonby 60 – J Kailahi-Fulu 19, Z Kailahi-Fulu 10, S Te Nana-Williams 8, R Matiseni 7
Manukura 55 – H Stanshall 23, R Fourie 15, H Coleman 9
Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth 71 – C O’Connell 24, R Sampson 14, I Cook 10, G Walsh 9
Hamilton Girls’ High School 74 – R Walker-Pitman 20, K Leith 18, K Lewis 17, Q Walker-Eketone 11
Queen Margaret College 76 – P Lokotui 20, T Sopoaga 19, R Tawera 14, L Taulelei 9
Westlake Girls’ High School 78 – E Shearer 18, J Moors 17, J Maddix 15, P Manolas 11
‘AA’ Boys Quarter-Final results
St Kentigern College 94 – S Broughton 38, M Gan 17, L Kerr 17, K Evans 12, E Watson 10
Westlake Boys’ High School 78 – S Mennenga 24, J Kooiman 24, R Natusch 11, J Wuthrich 8
Rangitoto College 56 – H Payne 21, L Judd 10, Z Riley 9, J Thornton 8
Mt Albert Grammar School 68 – N Wilson 19, S Tawera 13, P Sorensen 10, D Elia 7
Rosmini College 64 – C Bush 22, J Murphy 11, T Kendon 8
Napier Boys’ High School 57 – T Murray 22, S Murphy 16, R Maxwell-Topia 10,
Cashmere High School 110 – T Webley 50, L Oskam 23, F Barclay 15, L Williams 13
Tauranga Boys’ College 97 – K Harema 26, J McManaway 21, B Iuli 17, J Preston 11
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