Seeing others celebrate success at Nationals has driven Rangitoto College basketball captain Isaac Davidson to greater heights in 2015.
"In 2013 we finished second and in 2014 we finished third. I wanted the title badly this year. Watching others celebrate hurts," Davidson laments.
Rangitoto's quest for the illusive prize would be compromised by the frequent absence of Tai Wynyard. The Tall Black bound for the prestigious University of Kentucky only played a handful of games for his school this year.
How did the team adjust to Wynyard's lack of court time?
"It was tough at first because Tai is such a big part of the team, but at the same time it was a blessing in disguise. It allowed us to build depth across the board. Everybody had lots of experience by the Nationals," Davidson says.
With the exception of the Fraser High School game (won 97-82) Rangitoto cruised through pool play winning every game by more than 20 points.
In the quarter final Rangitoto eliminated Super 8 Champions Hastings Boys' High School 92-81. Davidson top scored with 21 points.
One of the features of Rangitoto's play was that nobody scored over 25 points in a single game and they boasted the top rebounder Brayden Igner and assist maker Josiah Williams at Nationals.
However their big guns were required to tame a fierce challenge from Rotorua Boys' High School. Rotorua finished ninth in 2014 and didn't even feature in the main draw a year earlier. Davidson was well aware of the threat they poised though.
"We played them in the group stage last year and they were the toughest game we had. They were dynamic and had the makings of a really good side," Davidson says.
Rotorua was up 67-64 with under a minute left, but Davidson landed a long three to take the game into overtime.
In the extra period Wynyard claimed eight of the ten points scored by Rangitoto, including a faultless 4 from 4 from the free throw line as Rangitoto prevailed 77-76. Davidson top scored with 21 points, but recalls the drama lasted right to the end.
"It was really nerve-racking. Mikaere Watene had the last shot of the game for Rotorua. It was similar to the one Matt Freeman hit to win Westlake's semi-final. We were lucky Watene's missed."
Watene scored a game-high 27 points.
In the final Rangitoto was unstoppable. They led from start to finish and won emphatically by 80-63. Davidson admits the victory was very sweet.
"Westlake is a fierce rival. They are just down the road so we play them a lot and know their game really well - as they know ours well. I think we did a good job limiting some of their good players. Matt Freeman only got 28 points. If he had got nothing in the final he would have still averaged 33 for the tournament."
Davidson scored 13 points in the decider. Wynyard was in sparkling form. He had 23 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks.
Davidson was surprised to be named in the tournament team given the all-round contribution of everybody. He is seeking a scholarship in the US and wishes to study law next year.
Note: The coach of Rangitoto is Kenny Stone. Stone won several National titles as a player and guided the North Harbour Under-17 team to the National championship this year.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand