Corey Le’aupepe suffered the bitter taste of defeat in last season’s Pohlen Cup final when Newlands College was toppled by Onslow College in the Wellington basketball decider. In his pursuit for an elusive title he switched to St. Pats Town, a perennial contender.
Why did Le’aupepe leave Newlands where he had scored 398 points in two Pohlen Cup seasons, ranking him a top five scorer in Wellington in 2014 and 2015?
“Convenience and prospects I guess. A lot of my trainings were at the ASB centre which is a long way from Newlands. The structures at Town are better. Things are a lot more organised. It’s been a big step up for me,” Le’aupepe responds.
The centre insists he enjoyed his time at Newlands.
“Newlands was awesome. There were so many highlights. In last year’s semi-final we beat Hutt Valley High School which was an upset and even though we lost the final we gave it our all and the atmosphere was unbelievable,” Le’aupepe recalls.
Unfortunately Newlands didn’t reach the top eight in Wellington in 2016, but Le’aupepe will contest another semi-final in a few weeks time. Firstly St. Pats Town tackles Wellington College on Friday night in the first of three seeding games to determine the final order of the top four for those semi-finals.
Town and Wellington have played each other three times this season and Wellington enjoys a 2-1 advantage. Wellington won the first two encounters, including a stunning 81-57 victory in the final grading round. Town rebounded hard and won their Pohlen Cup round-robin match on June 17, 78-64. Le’aupepe scored 25 points for Town. Wellington’s prolific scoring guard Sione Helu was held to 21 points.
“They beat us by one point in the traditional and then we beat them comfortably in the Pohlen Cup. They are a good side, well-coached with good structures. It will be a tough game, but if we can keep their best guys quiet we can win,” Le’aupepe says.
Le’aupepe believes Scots College are perhaps the biggest threat for the Wellington title and identifies Palmerston North BHS and Hastings BHS as the strongest teams in the Central region.
Le’aupepe is a Wellington Under-19 representative and Tall Blacks U19 trialist with aspirations for a US college scholarship in 2017.
In addition to basketball Le’aupepe is a McEvedy shield standard high jumper and has played volleyball and softball for Johnsonville.
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