The Junior Tall Ferns head to Bengaluru, India this week to compete in the 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship.
Sixteen teams are equally divided into A and B Divisions. New Zealand are in Pool B of the A Division drawn alongside Malaysia, defending champions China and 2016 silver medalists Japan.
Pool A is made up of Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia.
The top four teams will represent Asia at the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
The Junior Tall Ferns open their campaign against Japan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on 28 October (tip-off 1:15am 29 October, NZ time).
New Zealand will be led by Charlisse Leger-Walker playing at her third major tournament in 2018.
Leger-Walker was a member of the Tall Ferns silver medal winning team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. In July, she led the New Zealand scoring at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Belarus averaging 15.1 points per game.
Also backing up from the U17 World Cup is Leger-Walker’s Waikato teammate Ella Bradley and Harbour guard Tayla Dalton.
Leger-Walker, Bradley and Dalton also have experience of playing in Bangaluru. All three played at the FIBA U16 Asian Championship twelve months ago. Harbour guard Tessa Talo-Tomokino also made that trip, as did Head Coach Jody Cameron.
Coach Cameron says that tournament a year ago means she has some clarity of what to expect during this trip.
“It will be a challenge with the long travel and a short turnaround before our first game. It’s not ideal but it’s what you make of it, and being Kiwis we will make the best of the situation and certainly won’t be making excuses. We don’t have the luxury of resources that some teams have, but we do have the luxury of having mature dedicated individuals that know what is required. A lot of the team has experience playing in FIBA tournaments, so now have an understanding of what is required at the international level. They are looking forward to the challenge,” said Cameron.
Cameron thinks having former Tall Ferns teammate Leanne Walker as one of her assistant coaches is extremely advantageous. The pair were both on the New Zealand team that attended the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“We get on really well. I’ve learnt a lot from Leanne, both when I was playing and now as a coach. She has an immense understanding of the game, and a vast amount of knowledge and experience. She understands time frames, competition and what is required at tournaments. She has won so many titles in New Zealand and it’s great to have someone like that at your side. We have a great working relationship,” added Cameron.
Four players return to international duty having last played for New Zealand at the 2017 FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in Guam. Grace Hunter, Leah Mafua (both Wellington), Olivia O’Neill (Otago) and Charlotte Whittaker (Canterbury) all played key roles as the Kiwi’s secured silver medals at that championship.
Harbour guard Emme Shearer earns a call-up after some outstanding performances for the New Zealand U16 team last year.
Coach Cameron hands debuts to Rochelle Fourie, Koha Lewis and Sofia Kennedy.
Lewis has been a consistent performer in Waikato age-group teams in recent seasons and Fourie was outstanding at the Schick Secondary Schools National Championships recently, earning Tournament MVP recognition as Manukura claimed the Girls ‘A’ title.
Kennedy is set to become, like Shearer, a dual international. The Canterbury guard having represented New Zealand at the World Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris in April. Shearer played volleyball for New Zealand earlier in the year.
For all information regarding the draw, live statistics and live streaming go to
Fans will be able to watch all the games live on FIBA’s Facebook (Facebook.com/FIBA) page and Youtube.com/FIBA channel.
2018 Aon Junior Tall Ferns:
“We faced them three times before the final and despite winning each time I told my team we can’t take anything for granted,” Leah Mafua recalls when addressing her Hutt Valley High School (HVHS) basketball team prior to the Sharp Cup final against Queen Margaret College (QMC).
HVHS surged to a 32-17 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 15-2 QMC run leveled proceedings by halftime. In the final two quarters the lead changed frequently with Mafua scoring a game high 24 points. However there was an anxious moment with 15 seconds left.
HVHS led 67-65 when Mafua missed a second free throw. Heroically Jasmine Troke sneered the rebound and with urgent support managed to waste seven seconds before Jordan Rangitawa was fouled. When Rangitawa connected with both shots, the QMC title challenge was finally extinguished.
“It was a team effort to win the Championship. We knew QMC would come out hard. They have too many good players not to,” Mafua acclaims.
It was the first time since 2013 HVHS won the Wellington tittle, a great achievement for longtime coach Brian Yee.
“Brian’s been a great coach. He’s got a great understanding of the game and rapport with the girls. Our improvement throughout the season has been massive,” Mafua enthused.
HVHS won further acclaim at the Zone 3 regionals finishing in second place, losing the final 68-79 to Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth. Better was to come at Nationals.
After an initial stumble against St Peter’s Cambridge, HVHS beat Wellington Girls’ College (78-58), St Andrew’s College (74-59), Otago Girls’ High School (72-39) and Tauranga Girls’ College (75-57) with Mafu dropping a season high 40 points in that clash to win a place in the preliminary quarter final against Rangitoto College who were conquered 80-72, before Hamilton Girls’ High School was sent packing 76-69.
In the semi-final HVHS produced a 25-13 opening salvo, with 14 of the points from Mafua,who finished with 32 overall in a 87-60 wn.
“I think the semi-final was our best game. I can’t really put into words what happend. Everybody clicked,” Mafua said.
There have been an abundance of superlatives used to describe the play of Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker this season and the St Peter’s Cambridge gun didn’t disappoint in the final scoring 35 points in a 92-51 win for the Waikato powerhouse. Mafua tried to keep her side in the contest scoring 22 points but concedes St Peter’s was too strong.
“Charlisse is a great player. I’ve faced her a few times and it’s always a great challenge.
Making it into the top two in the country is something I’m really proud of. I think the girls can hang their heads up high,” Mafua reflects.
Mafua started competitive sport as a goal attack in netball, but switched to basketball in Year 10 making the First V in her debut season.
In 2019, Mafua is hoping to join the likes of former student Stella Beck in the US on a scholarship. Where she might be based stateside has yet to be determined.
“It was awesome to finish second in New Zealand. Nobody expected us to even make the Nationals,” Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones marvels when reflecting on the performance of the St Patrick’s College, Wellington basketball team at Nationals last week.
Town were runners up in Wellington and only fourth in the Zone 3 tourney, but punched well above their weight in in Palmerston North.
An impressive 102-87 win first up against Waimea College was followed by a 59-92 hiding at the hands of Napier Boys’ High School. Town rolled Tauranga Boys’ College as expected 92-70 before dropping their next fixture (74-90) against South Island Regional champions, Cashmere High School. It was a setback that proved invaluable for Town.
“Cashmere was a really good game. They were a tough side and we completed the whole time. We had a couple of bad patches, but we showed we could compete with the top teams,” Tait-Jones reflects.
Town ensured they would have a shot at the playoffs by accounting for McLeans College 77-60 which established a meeting in the preliminary quarter final against Hastings Boys’ High School.
“We were pretty confident we could beat Hastings and did for the fourth time this year. We’re a run and gun team and Hastings aren’t as fit as us so if we could play our team we know we could outlast them,” Tait-Jones reveals.
Hamilton Boys’ High School convincingly conquered Wellington champions Rongotai College in pool play. Tait-Jones had to be at his very best to deny the Zone 2 champions.
“The Hamilton game was my best game of the tournament. I scored 35 points and got a triple-double. I had to mark their Junior Tall Black Maxim Stephens whose bigger than me, but he only got 19 points on me. Everybody stepped up. It was a massive win,” Tait-Jones explains.
St John’s College, Hamilton was another bigger team than Town and presented a massive challenge in the semi-final. Despite being out-rebounded 21-6 on the offensive end and trailing often, Town pulled off a 70-69 win to make the National final for the first time in a decade. Tait-Jones scored 23 pulls and reigned in 12 rebounds.
“We just had to grind it out. We knew if we could stay in touch and hit some shots we were a chance,” Tait-Jones said.
Filimone Waqabaca came up big with 17 points, the same tally he collected in the final.
“Filimone made some big shots and had a great week,” Tait-Jones acclaimed.
The final wasn’t so great for Town. Reigning champions Rosmini College were resounding victors.
“It was awesome to just make the final. We would like to have been more competitive, but we had nothing left in the tank. I was struggling with my quad and Rosmini are an exceptional team and you have to be totally on to beat them,” Tait-Jones concedes.
Tait-Jones was selected for the tournament team alongside Jeremiah Savali, the only Wellington players to make the cut.
Jeremiah was steady all-round. He’s got a big presence inside and we could count on his rebounding and scoring,” Tait-Jones praised.
A North Shore school has won eight of the last ten National championships. It’s little coincidence the New Zealand Breakers are based there.
Town’s result was the best by any Wellington school since they won the National crown in 2008.
The 50th addition of the National Secondary Schools basketball championship concluded in Palmerston North today with big wins for two powerhouse basketball schools.
Rosmini College have won their third National title since 2012, going back to back for the first time.
Surprise finalists St Patrick’s College, Wellington were crushed 114-62 in the final.
When the score was 84-36 in the third quarter, Joseph Hylton snatched three consecutive offensive rebounds and eventually finished. The hustle by Hylton was a metaphor for Rosmini’s total dominance.
Every player on the roster scored as Rosmini led 26-12 after the first quarter and continued to expand their advantage.
The signs were ominous early for Town when Taine Murray nailed a corner three and converted a right hand lay up to make it 5-0.
Twice Kainoa Lepou was on target from long range and Kruz Perrott-Hunt controlled the point as Town fired 36 fewer shots than Rosmini.
Rosmini shot an exceptional 50% from the field with Perrott-Hunt leading all scorers with 29 points. Dance contributed 20 points and Lepou 17, including five triples. Rosmini’s bench added 33 points.
Rosmini was able to restrict the prolific Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones to 7 points on 3/9 shooting. Filimone Waqabaca top scored with 17. Jacob Paese battled manfully from the bench with 14 and Josh Hori refused to surrender.
Rosmini finish the season with a record of 31 wins in 33 games. After dropping their first pool game 50-53 to Mount Albert Grammar School, Rosmini won seven of their next eight fixture by 25 points or more. MAGS the only team to beat Rosmini this season eventually finished in 12th place.
A North Shore school has won eight of the last ten National championships. It’s little coincidence the New Zealand Breakers are based there.
St Pat's Town earned their place in the final for the first time since 2008 following a nail-biting 70-69 win over St John’s College, Hamilton.
A thrilling final five minutes ensued as the lead was tied on multiple occasions, but a basket from Kobe Lolesio with 90 seconds to play proved to be the match-winning play.
St Pat’s established an early 22-13 lead on the back of transition baskets and threes from Josh Hori and Filimone Waqabaca.
Eleven second-quarter points from shooting guard Kael Robinson narrowed the St Pat’s advantage before Logan Rush and Wiremu Jones tied proceedings – 36 points apiece at half-time.
St John’s point guard Ethan Dromgool gave his team a seven points advantage before livewire guard Hori and Jeremiah Savali inspired a 9-0 St Pat’s run which set the stage for the frantic finale.
Tait-Jones had 23 points and 12 rebounds while Waqabaca matched his effort in the final with 17 points.
Rosmini College put together a dominant second quarter, outscoring their St Kentigern College 29-6 before eventually winning 91-65.
Shalom Broughton made five points late in the opening quarter to keep St Kentigern on the tails of Rosmini trailing 22-18 at the first break.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt dropped a couple of triples early in the second period, but St Kent’s swingman Max Shorter replied with one from beyond the arc.
Eight points from Mitch Dance and a Terrence Abdon three fuelled a 20-0 Rosmini run. The dominance of Rosmini’s second quarter performance capped by Abdon’s ‘Hail-Mary’ from his own half finding nothing but net on the halftime buzzer. Rosmini able to take a 51-24 lead into the break.
St Kent’s actually won the third quarter by seven as Rosmini was kept to 11 points, but back to back threes from Taine Murray kept a vaillant St Kent’s a bay.
St Kent’s beat St John’s in the battle for third 75-65.
Boys Tournament Team
1. Maxim Stephens - Hamilton Boys' High School
2. Shalom Broughton - Saint Kentigern College
3. Simon Lafaele - St. John's College
4. Anzac Risetto - Auckland Grammar School
5. Jake McKinlay - Palmerston North Boys' High School
6. Kruz Perrott-Hunt – Rosmini College
7. Jeremiah Savali - St Patrick's College
8. Taine Murray – Rosmini College
9. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones - St Patrick's College
10. Mitchell Dance - Rosmini College - MVP
For the third time in four years St Peter’s Cambridge are the National champions, trouncing Hutt Valley High School 91-52.
As expected Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker was in imperious form, collecting 35 points and 24 rebounds in an MVP display.
In the 2017 final, Leger-Walker scored 77% of the 62 points St Peter’s managed. This year the support cast was greater allowing St Peter’s to go through the season unbeaten. New Zealand Under-17 representative Ella Bradley amassed 21 points and 10 rebounds.
St Peter’s won every quarter out rebounding Hutt Valley High 53-37 while St Peter’s shot 47% from the field as opposed to Hutt Valley’s 30%. The Wellington champions were restricted to just five points in the second quarter.
Leah Mafua top scored for the runners up with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
In semi-final, Westlake Girls’ High School had their six game winning streak snapped at, thumped 87-61.
Hutt Valley’s success was built around the all-court game of Captain Leah Mafua (32 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists) and an outstanding shooting performance – they converted 12 from 23 (52%) from beyond the arc.
A 25-13 opening salvo, with 14 of the points from Mafua, propelled Hutt Valley to a 25-13 first-quarter lead.
The lead extended to 21 points early in the second quarter and 25 points by half-time. Jordan Rangitawa (19 points and 11 rebounds) had a busy game while Westlake’s Jordyn Maddix and Emme Shearer posted double figures.
Westlake scored the first seven points of the final frame as Tabitha Leyson provided some spark off the bench, but Hutt Valley had little trouble closing out the win.
St Peter’s Cambridge eliminated Wellington runners up Queen Margaret College 79-36.
QMC’s Grace Hunter and Rosie Campbell dropped early threes, but 11 points from Charlisse Leger-Walker ensured an 18-8 first quarter lead for St Peter’s.
QMC forward Paris Lokotui made a couple of baskets, but Waita Jennings scored with a left handed floater and Leger-Walker dropped another three as St Peter’s stretched its lead to 26-12.
Outstanding St Peter’s defence made the score 40-14 at halftime.
Diminutive guard Rosie Campbell scored baskets early in the second half for QMC as they fashioned an 8-2 run.
An Alana Paewai drive and a Bradley triple reasserted the St Peter’s dominance, the Waikato team in complete control at the last break with a 57-24 lead.
Leger-Walker finished with 30 points and Ella Bradley 14.
Westlake Girls’ finished third defeating QMC 78-63.
Girls Tournament Team
1. Emme Shearer - Westlake Girls' High School
2. Riva Walker-Pitman - Hamilton Girls' High School
3. Charlotte Whittaker - St Andrew's College
4. Sharne Pupuke-Robati - Mt Albert Grammar School
5. Paris Lokotui - Queen Margaret College
6. Ella Bradley - St Peter's School, Cambridge
7. Jordan Rangitawa - Hutt Valley High School
8. Alana Paewai - St Peter's School, Cambridge
9. Leah Mafua - Hutt Valley High School
10. Charlisse Leger-Walker - St Peter's School, Cambridge - MVP
Rosmini College are the favourites to take out the National Secondary Schools Boys AA basketball championships in 2018. The reigning champions have only dropped a single game this year and return to Palmerston North for an eighth consecutive time having also won in 2011 and finished second in 2012 and third in 2013.
1. Mitchell Dance
2. Kainoa Lepou
3. Kruz Perrott-Hunt (C)
4. Josephy Hylton
5. Tom Seuren
6. Marvin Williams-Dunn
7. Reihana Maxwell-Topia
8. Jayden Boucher
9. Terence Abdon
10. Sean Murphy
11. Taine Murray
12. Thomas Morgan
Head Coach: Matt Lacey
Assistant Coach: Sonny Tuaputa
Manager: Nick Turpin
Physio: Kairan Govender
Teacher in Charge: Ambrose Samuels
Mitchell Dance - NZ U17 World Cup Team
Kainoa Lepou - NZ U17 World Cup Team, Auckland U19
Kruz Perrott-Hunt - Tall Blacks, NZ U19 Asia Cup Team (Qualified for Worlds next year),
Joseph Hylton - Harbour U19
Tom Seuren - Harbour U19
Marvin Williams-Dunn - NZ U17 World Cup Team (Captain), Auckland U19
Reihana Maxwell-Topia - Harbour U17, (Upcoming NZ U17 trialist)
Jayden Boucher - Harbour U19
Terence Abdon - Harbour U17
Sean Murphy - Harbour U17, (Upcoming NZ U17 trialist)
Taine Murray - Harbour U17, (Upcoming NZ U17 trialist)
Thomas Morgan - Harbour U17, (Upcoming NZ U17 trialist)
Rosmini College have won 23 out of 24 games this season, but coach Matthew Lacey warns, “We are going to have to come out hungry. We have had a decent run into the tournament, but there is certainly no room for complacency.”
Lacey admits, “our biggest strength as a group is our depth. We are very lucky to have a number of New Zealand representatives in our squad, but I think everyone of our guys know that they may be required to step up on any given days. We have had games where it hasn’t been the guys you would expect to step up that have come in and made big plays.”
Rosmini went through the Auckland Premier Competition with a 13-1 in regular season record before beating Auckland Grammar School in the semi-final and Mount Albert Grammar School 80-48 in the final.
In the regional tourney Rosmini beat Auckland Grammar School in semi and then St Kentigern College in final to win the gold.
Lacey was very pleased with Rosmini’s form at the Regionals.
“We came through a really competitive Zone 1 tournament where all the playoff games to get into the top seven were fierce. We were really happy to get through injury free and it was the first time this season that we have played multiple games together as a group.”
However Lacey identifies the Auckland final win at the highlight of the season thus far.
“It would have to be our win against MAGS in the Auckland final in front of our crowd that has been unbelievable these past few years. To play well in front of them for the last time this year was an awesome feeling,” Lacey concluded.
Rosmini’s Regional Results
Liston College, won 93-53
Northcote College, won 162-45
Long Bay College, won 129-35
Manurewa High School, won 110-70
St Kentigern College, won 100-53
Selwyn College, won 117-30 (Quarter Final)
Auckland Grammar School, won 96-57 (Semi Final)
St Kentigern College, won 113-77 (Final)
Tauranga Boys’ College return to the Nationals for the first time in three years and will be looking to showcase the best of the Bay of Plenty.
Head Coach: Tane Bennett
Assistant Coach: Dominic Nicholson
Manager: Cameron Hays
Players: Jeremy McIntosh, Josiah Albert, Liam Hepi, Izaac Kershaw, Jacob Forward, Jack McManaway, Chris Tupaea, Zane Hamilton, Jack Preston, Braydon Luli, Kaleb Harema
Tauranga City Under-19 Representatives: Josiah Albert (Captain), Jeremy McIntosh, Chris Tupaea, Jacob Forward, Liam Hepi, Kaleb Harema Rep
Tauranga City Under-17 Representatives: Zane Hamilton (Captain), Izaac Kershaw
Nationals Best Finnish: Fifth
Pool: Cashmere High School, Macleans College, Napier Boys’ High School, Waimea College, St Patrick’s College, Wellington
Super 8: Fourth
Zone 2 Premiership: Fourth
Bay of Plenty Wide: Champions
Tauranga City Schools: Champions
Synopsis: The key to Tauranga Boys’ College achieving at Nationals this year is pace. Utilising athleticism and speed in transition along with general fitness is key. Tauranga isn’t a particularly big team, but they move and shot the ball well. Tauranga managed to top their pool at Premiership tourney which saw them avoid eventual winners, Hamilton Boys’ High School. Tauranga had missed out on Nationals for the past three years so a top four finish in the highly competitive Super 8 and a trip to Palmerston North is a great result.
The NZSS Basketball Nationals tip off in Palmerston North on Monday, and feature 268 games, 69 teams and over 800 players.
In one of the most hotly contested events on the sporting calendar, St Peters School, Cambridge have contested the last three finals, winning in 2015 and 2016.
They are in Pool B along with Wellington winners Hutt Valley High School and Canterbury champions St Andrews College, as well as Otago Girls’ High School, Tauranga Girls’ College and Wellington Girls’ College.
With a talented roster and a recent trip to Australia under their engine, St Peter’s will be raring to go.
Some more about their team below:
School: St Peter’s School, Cambridge
NZSS tournament squad:
Emma Baker, Ella Bradley, Megan Bradley, Waiata Jennings, Toha Kemp, Owahini Kingi, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Grace McGirr, Alana Paewai, Kirsten Rawson, Jayze Waihi, Ahi Williams
Number of NZSS tournaments attended and best finishes:
This will be our eighth tournament after finishing about 20th in 2011. In 2013 we were ninth, in 2014 fourth, in 2015 and 2016 winners and in 2017 runners-up.
Krystal Leger-Walker was the MVP in 2015 and Charlisse Leger-Walker was the MVP in 2016 and 2017.
Current representative players:
Charlisse Leger-Walker – Tall Fern 2018 (comm games bronze medallist), JTF’s 2018, 2017 (second in Oceania qualifier – now to asia qualifiers in 2018), 2016, 2015?
U17’s NZ – world champs first time qualifiers – 2018, finished 12th, 2017 team finished 4th at Fiba oceania qualifiers – qualified for world champs
2016 U16’s NZ, 2015, 2014 Koru tour member
Waikato WBC 2014, 2017, 2018, Waikato Age group rep – u11 – u13, u15, u17, u19, u23 (MVP – over many of those grades)
Ella Bradley NZ U16, NZ U17, NZ U18.
Waikato WBC 2017, 2018
Waikato U13, 15, 17, 19 23
NZ U16, U14
Waikato U13, 15, 17,
Waikato WBC 2018
NZ U16 2017
Rotorua Age group rep
NZ u14 2018
Waikato U13, 15,
Waikato u17, Waikato u19
Dominique Stephens (currently injured)
Waikato u13, u15, u17
Waikato u17, u19
What is the age make-up of your team?
There is only one year 13 player in the team. There are four year 12s, two year 11s, four year 10s and one year nine.
What is it going to take for your school to do well at the National tournament?
Sticking with the game plan. Being disciplined. Working hard, have a never give up attitude.
Key players are all 12 on the roster. Approach is play to our strengths, play up tempo, play to enjoy.
What is your 2018 record?
Winners Zone 2 premiership tournament, beating Hamilton Girls’ High School by 30 points. Runners up Waikato secondary schools league
What has been a season highlight so far?
The team Headed to the Gold coast recently, hosted by Pero Cameron, who organised some games against Hillcrest Christian College, which is the team he coaches.
Gold coast U16 and U18’s ran a skills session with us and organised other activities with GC families (especially those who toured to Belarus, with Ella and Charlisse in NZ U17 team at world champs.) including the Paniora and Manamaulega families. It was a great experience for the girls to work alongside Pero, stay with him and his family over the weekend, listen to his advice and shared stories. Not too many chances to stay with a FIBA Hall of Famer! The girls were stoked.
Does your team have a motto or saying that it comes together under?
Coaches saying: Make adjustments, not excuses.
Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones often travels to the US to further his basketball ambitions. A self confessed basketball tragic with considerable ability, Tait-Jones hardly played last year while a student at Rongotai College.
In 2018, Tait-Jones has helped St Patrick’s College, Wellington reach the Nationals, something they failed to achieve last year.
“Rongotai didn’t really work out for me. I had some personal things going on so I didn’t play.” Tait-Jones explains.
“I was training though so I was in shape to play. I was unsure how things would go at Town. I knew a lot of the boys from basketball, but settling into a new system took time,” he continued.
The Town system is implemented by coaches Brendon Polyblank (a former Tall Black) and Damien Ekenasio (Wellington Saints General Manager). It has suited Tait-Jones play. In addition to being the captain he is the leading scorer on the team and has assembled an impressive array of season highlights.
Tait-Jones single game season high is 46 points while he also amassed 38 against Rongotai and 33 in a 99-66 drubbing of Wellington College. However Tait-Jones identifies his 40-point haul against Scots College in the Pohlen Cup semi-final as a personal highlight.
“There was a lot of trash talk on social media before the Scots game. I try to lead by example and stay out of it, but the rivalry with Scots is intense. They’re a good team and we trailed for most of the match. I had to step up and take over. My shots started to drop and we got up,” Tait-Jones recalls.
In the final against Rongotai College, Tait-Jones scored 24 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop a rampant Rongotai.
“They were too good. When they get on a roll and hit every shot it’s pretty hard to stop. They caught fire and deserved their win,” Tait-Jones acclaimed.
“I was proud of the way our guys hung in. We clawed it back before they stretched again. Our best performance of the season was when we beat them in the round robin. We lost a tight game to them at regionals by eight so points we can match them,” Tait-Jones elaborated.
Zone 3 champions, Napier Boys’ High School, Cashmere High School, Tauranga Boys’ College and Waimea College are among the teams in the Town group for Nationals. Despite nobody on the Town roster having previous experience at Nationals, Tait-Jones is hopeful Town could advance to the top eight.
“I think we were a bit lucky with our pool. If you look at some of the other groups they are very tough. Rongotai is grouped with Rosmini and MAGS and Hamilton Boys’ are with Auckland Grammar. Our pool will be tough, no doubt, but Napier only beat Rongotai by five and the other teams didn’t win their zone so if we play our best we’ve got a shot,” Tait-Jones observers.
Tait-Jones is a member of the New Zealand Basketball Academy and is closely mentored by Kenny McFadden (a key figure in the ascent of Steven Adams).
Tait-Jones stands 6 ft 6 and boasts a wing span of 6 ft 10, attending the Steven Adams Basketball camp for the leading 20 high school players in New Zealand. The US is a dseried horizon.
“I’d love to get a scholarship or a free education in the US. I’ve been lucky to go to New York and California to play in tournaments. Through Kenny and the New Zealand Academy I have trained with US trainers which has been great for my game,” Tait-Jones concluded.
Rongotai College have been building a strong basketball roster for some time. Twice North Island Junior champions, Rongotai made the Nationals for the first time in two decades last year and achieved a top eight finish at the Nationals.
In 2018, Rongotai won the Wellington competition for the eighth time, and for the first time since 1998, and boast a sharp shooting and fast ball moving team with high hopes of producing a fine performance in Palmerston North next week.
Management: Chris Tupu (Former Tall Black), Josh Maessen, Rob Clarke, Denise McLure.
Players: Klein Salmon, Ezrah Vaigafa, Jaylin To’o, Evyatar Tabor, Jayden Puroku, Ben Robertson, Adam Rybinski, Te Hoera Sullivan, Zion Upton-Mahan, Zach Campbell-Smith, Kane Upton-Mahan.
1978 - 5th
1979 - 5th
1980 - 1st
1983 - 4th
1990 - 5th
1991 - 6th
1992 - 6th
1993 - 4th
1994 - 3rd
1997 - 4th
2017 - 8th
Others: Evyatar Tabor (Wellington Under 17 Rep and National Champion), Jayden Puroku (Hutt Valley Under 19 Rep team 2018), Ben Robertson (Saints Squad member 2018), Adam Rybinski (Co-Captain/Head Boy).
College Sport Wellington Champions for the first time in 20 years winning the Pohlen Cup with a 14-1 record. Rongotai was the best offensive and defensive team in the competition.
For a second year in a row finished second in the Zone 3 Regionals narrowly losing to Napier Boys’ High School 77-72 in the final.
Rosmini College - Zone 1: First/2017 National Champions
Mount Albert Grammar School - Zone 1: Seventh
Hamilton Boys’ High School - Zone 2: First
New Plymouth Boys’ High School - Zone 3: Fifth
St Andrew’s College - Zone 4: Fifth
The Junior Tall Ferns team has been announced ahead of contesting the FIBA U18 Asian Championships in Bengaluru India, 28 October to 3 November.
The team is:
Ella Bradley. Waikato
Tayla Dalton. Harbour
Rochelle Fourie. Palmerston North
Grace Hunter. Wellington
Charlisse Leger-Walker. Waikato
Mele Latu. Counties Manukau
Leah Mafua. Wellington
Olivia O’Neil. Otago
Te Araroa Sopoaga. Wellington
Emilia Shearer. Harbour
Tessa Taio-Tomokino. Harbour
Charlotte Whittaker. North Canterbury
Sophia Kennedy. Canterbury
Koha Lewis. Waikato
Rasharnn Smith. Harbour
Lawrin Tipene. Harbour
Jody Cameron. Head Coach
Leanne Walker. Assistant Coach
Tim Dennis. Assistant Coach
Peter Lee. Physiotherapy
Kate Lacey. Team Manager
This team sees the admission of younger than usual talent, including three Under 17 National team representatives who have been selected after winning Silver at last year’s U17 Oceania Championships in Guam, and finishing fourth at the 2017 FIBA U17 Asian Championships and 12th at the FIBA U17 World Cup in July this year.
The team will be coached by Tall Ferns Assistant Coach Jody Cameron. She is supported by Assistant Coach Leanne Walker, a former Tall Ferns Captain and Olympian who is also the New Zealand Gold Medal 3x3 Asian Championship winning Coach.
Coach Cameron says she’s thrilled within the group and looks forward to seeing the team compete on the world stage.
“I am very pleased with the talent this team has shown as we prepare to compete in the Asian Champs.
“We have had a number of young athletes push their way into selection, making my job very difficult, but necessary to progress to Worlds,” says Cameron.
The Junior Tall Ferns programme historically prepares talent for the Tall Ferns longlist. Cameron says being involved with the New Zealand talent development programme is special and part of the enjoyment comes from watching players achieve higher honours at the top level.
“It’s always a great honour to coach a junior national team and see players evolve into the senior programme. We hope these athletes have their sights set on being Tall Ferns one day.
“Their development is of high importance in the progress of the women's league and programme in New Zealand. We are starting to see more depth as the game attracts other sporting codes, sees increasing participation at the entry level, and retains those that have gone through their junior years and are now giving back to the game. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this sport,” says Cameron.
The FIBA Asian Championships are a qualifying tournament for the FIBA U19 World Cup. This team will have their sights set on a top four finish to secure a starting spot at that event.
With the success of the Tall Ferns with a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games and winning the William Jones Cup this year, plus a women’s 3x3 Asia Championship Gold medal, New Zealand women’s basketball is adding more trophies to their cabinet and the pathway is looking bright for these dedicated young players.
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