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)
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