The form of the Napier Boys’ High School basketball team suggested they wouldn’t win the Super 8 basketball tourney for the first time since 2006 at last week’s annual tournament in Palmerston North.
Napier hadn’t won any Super 8 code since a 2014 tennis triumph. Results in basketball against fierce local rivals Hastings Boys’ High School had been unfavourable for some time.
Napier started badly when they dropped their opening pool match against Hamilton Boys’ High School (67-78). Jaxon MacFarlane shares his teams’ frustration.
“We lost to Tauranga, Hamilton and most of the teams in pre-season and hadn’t beaten Hastings for ages. We knew we were better than what we had been playing. We had to show we wanted it more,” the power forward says.
Gisborne Boys’ High School would suffer the Napier backlash flogged 85-47. MacFarlane indentified the victory as an important one.
“Gisborne weren’t the strongest team, but we gained a lot of confidence from such a big win. We kept our intensity high for the whole game and played unselfishly which was awesome.”
MacFarlane stands nearly two meters tall and is an exceptional talent who has represented the Hawks in the National Basketball league for the last two years averaging six or seven minutes per game, a hefty workload for a schoolboy rookie.
MacFarlane had to step up in the final group game against Hastings Boys’ High School, a match that would determine who qualified for the semi-finals.
“We had to get into the right mind space and bring the intensity for the Hastings game. We wanted it bad and it was a real tough game, but we played well to win,” MacFarlane says.
The final score was 74-67 in favour of Napier. The semi-final against Tauranga Boys’ College was even closer. It was won 73-68. In the final Napier faced New Plymouth Boys’ High School who had won four of the last Super 8 titles. Napier found themselves in early trouble.
“We were down by 15 points in the first quarter and it was really tough. We showed pure heart to fight back and take a 10 point lead. We knew if we could stay ahead of them by about 10 points we would win. New Plymouth are a dangerous team when they get on a roll. We played great defense,” MacFarlane recalls.
Napier won 75-64, MacFarlane Cruz and Tyrese Davies were named in the tournament team with the former winning the MVP award.
“Cruz and Tyrese are great players. Cruz is a real skilful finisher and has a great post game. Tyrese is a bit different. He is real strong on the dribble-drive and sets up a lot of our plays,” MacFarlane acclaims.
Former Tall Fern Kirstin Daly-Taylor is the basketball director at Napier Boys’. The coaches of the premier team are brothers Damian and Dwayne Davies whose nephews Cruz, Tyrese. Jordon and Tylah Davies are all in the team. Damian and Dwayne played for Napier when they won the National title in 1992. Both are local policeman and have made a big difference to the fortunes of the team McFarlane believes.
“They have brought greater discipline and togetherness. This team feels more like a brotherhood than a team,” McFarlane concludes.
The central regional tournament determining which six teams qualify for the Nationals is staged at the end of August.
Cruz Davies – Napier Boys’ High School
Tyrese Davies – Napier Boys’ High School
Jaxson MacFarlane – Napier Boys’ High School
Baxter Fenwick – New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Corbin Giddy – New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Max Anderson – New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Baleigh McDonnell – Tauranga Boys’ College
Dylan Ryburn – Hamilton Boys’ High School
Jack Henry – Palmerston North Boys’ High School
Marcos Edwards – Hastings Boys’ High School
7 v: 8 Rotorua v Gisborne, 53:61
5 v 6: Hastings v Palmerston North, 63:80
3 v 4: Tauranga v Hamilton, 84:76
1 v 2: Napier v New Plymouth, 75:64
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