The National Secondary Schools’ Basketball Championships are due to tip off in Palmerston North next week with the final being played on October 7 at Arena Manawatu. Among the 24 teams there is always a plethora of talent to watch for and 2017 is no exception. Here are few girls names who could have a massive impact.
Mele Latu (Auckland Girls’ Grammar School) - Latu is in her fourth year with Auckland Girls’ Grammar who were third at Nationals in 2016 and have signalled they will be a strong contender again this season. Grammar won both the Auckland and Zone I titles with Latu top scoring in the final of the Auckland competition and collecting 19 points in the 70-67 win over Westlake Girls’ High School in the Zone decider. Latu combines particularly well with Elianna Tuaiti who top scored in the zone final with 22 points.
Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge) - St Peter’s are twice defending champions and Charlisse has been involved with both campaigns. In 2015 she made the tournament team as a Year 9 and last year she was tournament MVP. Leger-Walker has been involved with the New Zealand Under-17’s, secondary school and was a part of the NZ team that finished fifth at the Fiba Under-18 3x3 world championships in Kazakhstan. St Peters are the present Waikato and Zone II champions.
Esra McGoldrick (Rangi Ruru Girls’ School) - Recovered from ACL reconstruction to become MVP of the Whelan Trophy last year. She scored 43 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in the semi-final and top scored with 28 in the final as Rangi Ruru won the title. The New Zealand Under-18 rep was equally dominant in the 2017 finale won by Rangi Ruru scoring 20 points and fetching 17 rebounds. An all-court player any side that wants to beat Rangi Ruru will have to contain this explosive talent.
Sariah Penese (St Mary’s College) - In 2016 Penese was one of the youngest members of the Junior Tall Ferns (under-19) and the only member of the team from the Wellington region. Penese has continued to demonstrate why in 2017 guiding St Mary’s to both the Wellington and Zone III title. Penese was the top scorer in the Wellington final and is known for her speed, passing and ability to shoot from short and long range. Sariah also plays volleyball and has been involved with the National championship winning rugby team.
Nicole Ruske (St Hilda’s Collegiate School) - St Hilda’s won the Zone IIII title as South Island champions and with Ruske boast one of the top age group players in the country. A member of the Otago Goldrush and Junior Tall Ferns squad, Ruske is a dead-eye shooter and great leader. Ruske scored a game high 24 points in the Otago girls final.
Others to Watch: Ella Bradley (St Peters Cambridge), Hannah Matehaere (Otago Girls’ High School), Leah Mafua (Hutt Valley High School).
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