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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