The Auckland Girls’ Grammar School (AGGS) basketball team won the regular season title in Auckland Premier Basketball and entered Friday’s final against Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) at the North Shore Events Centre as favourites to defend their overall championship.
However for much of the game it was MAGS who led. AGGS player Mele Latu attempts to explain the difficulty in shrugging MAGS and how the coaches addressed the quandary.
“We weren’t awake. I don’t know why, maybe we were nervous. The coaches were outspoken and demanded us to lift our intensity on defence. It was defence that won it for us.”
MAGS surged to an early 22-10 lead, before Latu drained a triple to inspire a 7-0 run. MAGS regrouped and led 39-26 at halftime.
“We have played a zone defence all season. We started with a 3-2 zone, but that didn’t work so we switched to a 2-3 zone,” Latu explains.
AGGS gradually reduced the deficit and would only trail by a solitary point at three quarter time. Early in the fourth quarter AGGS catapulted ahead 57-51. Latu would finish with a game high 20 points and had an impressive shooting night.
“We got more rebounds and had second chance opportunities to score. All the credit for that goes to our defence. I like shooting three’s and managed a few open looks too,” Latu recalls.
MAGS refused to surrender easily and rallied to tie the scores 60-60 with 2:15 to play. Latu again propelled AGGS ahead, but a long three by Talo-Tomokino saw MAGS regain the ascendency. Latu scored again to make it 64-63 before AGGS conceded free throws. MAGS converted one of two to make it 64-64.
“It was a real close game. They had more chances than us at the end, but I guess it came down to which team best kept their cool,” Latu analyses of the gripping climax.
MAGS edged ahead 67-66 with a three-pointer by Moanekah Va’ai t, but Karma Skilton-Roberts hit a jumper to make it 68-67, the final score.
“It felt real good to win. All credit belongs to our coaches John Subritzky and Miu Tuala. They are awesome, Latu acclaimed.
AGGS won 15 out of 16 games in the Auckland competition.
Latu has been in the First V for four years and has played representatively for Waitakere West. She will be a key player at the National Qualifying Tournament next week. The top six teams from that tournament advance to Palmerston North for Nationals.
AGGS finished third at Nationals last year.
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