The quarter-final line ups have been resolved at the AA National Secondary Schools Basketball Championships in Palmerston North. The teams featured will surprise few, but one of last year’s boys finalists will not reach the decider in 2017 after Rangitoto College finished second in Pool D and as a consequence will face the top qualifier in Pool B, 2016 runners-up Palmerston North Boys’ High School.
Defending champions Rangitoto College were pipped by Auckland Grammar School 74-72. Grammar has beaten Rangitoto three times this season, but Rangitoto had won their last meeting in the semi-finals of the Auckland Premiership.
Auckland Grammar, who topped the Auckland standings after the round-robin, headed Rangitoto College with five wins in Pool D.
Palmerston North Boys’ High School was expected to make light work of Canterbury champions Christ’s College, especially with Christ’s missing key player Max de Geest. However Palmerston North trailed 47-45 with 90 seconds remaining, before prevailing 50-47 to top Pool B with five wins.
Rosmini College topped Pool A with five wins defeating second-placed Mount Albert Grammar School 77-67 in their last group game, though MAGS once again proved difficult for a top opponent to foil holding the lead for much of the third quarter.
Westlake Boys’ High School had the least hassle free route to the quarter-finals trouncing Rongotai College 76-56 in the Pool C decider. Rongotai are to be credited for making the top eight after crashing out in the semi-finals in Wellington.
The highlight of the quarter-final fixtures is a replay of the Auckland final between the two Grammar schools, Mount Albert and Auckland.
Auckland Grammar started the day with a routine 79-47 victory against Massey High School, but came unstuck against Hamilton Girls’ High School 65-62. Auckland Grammar scored more points in the group overall, but Hamilton claim top spot by virtue of their win over Auckland.
MAGS had no such dramas thrashing Hastings 91-52 to finish ahead of Melville High School who won four games.
Zone 4 champions St Hilda’s Collegiate had to beat defending champions St Peter’s Cambridge to keep their quarter-final prospects alive, but fell short 74-70 in a genuinely exciting contest.
St. Peter’s have won 21 matches in a row at the Nationals and will seek to preserve that unbeaten streak against Westlake Girls’ High School tomorrow who were second in Pool C behind Wellington and Zone III champions St Mary’s College.
St Mary’s are in ominous form, beating Sacred Heart 107-59 and Westlake 84-61 today to move serenely into the play-offs.
Draws and Results
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Day one of the Schick Championships, New Zealand’s secondary schools national basketball championships, tipped-off today at Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North.
The week-long event will bring over 850 students from 70 secondary schools, plus families and support staff, to the nine court venue.
The Manawatu public will have a special opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s best emerging basketball talent on display, with a large number of New Zealand age-group representatives leading out their school teams…
New Zealand age-group representatives at the Schick Championships
Aon New Zealand Under 16 Team:
Aon New Zealand Under 16 Select Team:
Aon New Zealand Under 16 Team:
Aon New Zealand Under 16 Select Team:
Aon New Zealand Under 17 Women Team:
3x3 Under 18 Women:
Aon New Zealand Under 18 Women Squad:
Aon New Zealand Under 18 Men Squad:
Anchor Junior Tall Blacks:
Basketball New Zealand has named the Aon New Zealand Under 17 girls team today, ahead of the FIBA Under 16 Girls’ Asia Cup, which will be played in Bangalore 22-28 October.
New Zealand Under 17 Women:
· Ella Bradley (Waikato Basketball Council)
· Isabelle Cook (Taranaki Country Basketball Association)
· Tayla Dalton (North Harbour Basketball)
· Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Basketball Council)
· Paris Lokotui (Wellington Basketball Association)
· Jordyn Maddix (North Harbour Basketball)
· Helen Matthews (North Canterbury Basketball Association)
· Kyra Paniora (Brisbane, Australia)
· Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Auckland Counties Manukau)
· Briarley Rogers (Tauranga City Basketball Association)
· Rosalia Samia (Basketball Hawkes Bay)
· Tessalonia Talo-Tomokino (North Harbour Basketball)
· Head Coach - Lori McDaniel
· Assistant Coach - Gina Farmer
· Assistant Coach - Jody Cameron
· Manager - Ushma Shah
· October 15 Assemble
· October 15-16 Preparation Camp – Auckland, New Zealand
· October 17 Travel to India
· October 18-21 Preparation Camp – Bangalore, India
· October 22-28 U16 FIBA Asia Championships – Bangalore, India
Head Coach Lori McDaniel, who has a strong coaching resume with two Women’s Basketball Championship titles to her name, says the Asia Cup is this young team’s pinnacle event for 2017 and their training has been focused on this event.
“We have had multiple camps during the year to gel as a group and become familiar with our systems and expectations. We have put the girls through some ‘outside the box’ activities in order to prepare them to be adaptable and embrace adversity,” says Coach McDaniel.
There’s no doubt that adversity will come in a number of ways, with Bangalore presenting confronting conditions similar to what the Tall Ferns battled in July this year when they played in the Women’s Asia Cup. The Tall Ferns not only had strong opponents to contend with, but they were hindered by food poisoning, and hot and humid playing conditions. Coach McDaniel says these conditions might not change much for this young age-group team, especially when it comes to the opposition teams.
“The Asian teams play very fast and aggressively, and we all know how skilled and disciplined the Australian players are. Most of the teams we encounter will play a style similar to their women's teams, which we saw in July when the Tall Ferns played. So we expect a high level of competition with some very fit and skilled athletes.
“It’s a big tournament in a big country, but travel and heat are factors all the teams have to contend with.”
Coach McDaniel says the team will travel to Bangalore early, to allow four days to adjust and finish off their preparation ahead of stepping into their very first Asia Cup.
“We have a talented group of young ladies who are in the unique situation of being the first New Zealand age-group to play in the Asia Zone. We will strive to embrace this opportunity to showcase our skillset on such a large stage.”
As for how this event will test McDaniel as a coach, she says that too is a team effort, alongside Assistant Coaches Jody Cameron and Gina Farmer.
“I am fortunate in my coaching role to be supported by two former Tall Ferns who have a great deal of experience in international travel within the Basketball New Zealand system.”
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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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 seven names who could have a massive impact.
Cullum McRae (Palmerston North BHS) - Any seven-footer is going to cause hassles, but McRae has the finesse, explosiveness and shooting prowess to win the game on his own. In last year’s National final the big man scored 14 points in a row as Palmerston North nearly overhauled a 25 point deficit against Rangitoto College. Palmerston North are the Super 8 and Zone III champions in 2017. McRae top scored with 24 points in that final against Rongotai College. He was named in the 2016 Nationals tournament team.
Mitchell Dance (Rosmini College) - The New Zealand age-group representative was a key figure in Rosmini winning the Zone I title and reaching the Auckland final. Dance has the ability to dominate inside as well shoot from the outside. Perhaps the most impressive display Dance has produced this season was in the Auckland semi-final when he scored 36 points in a win against Westlake Boys’ High School. Additionally, Dance scored a game-leading 25 points in the decider.
Tom Higgins (Auckland Grammar School) - The Te Awamutu import was pivotal in helping that school reach the AA Nationals for the first time, but in pursuit of greater success Higgins transferred to Auckland Grammar School and has had a big impact. Grammar have beaten defending National champions Rangitoto College twice this season and Higgins top scored in one of those games. Additionally, the New Zealand age group rep scored 29 points in the win against Mount Albert Grammar School which secured Auckland Grammar the minor premiership title for winning the round- robin.
Dan Fotou (Rangitoto College) - Rangitoto College lost five games and were fourth after the round-robin of the Auckland competition, but produced their best in the finals defeating the top two teams Auckland Grammar and Rosmini College to capture the title. Fotou has been absent for much of the year with various New Zealand teams, but his form has been top close lately. He scored 28 points in the Zone I final recently against Rosmini College.
Max de Geest (Christ’s College) - Christ’s College have been the big improvers in the South Island this year winning both the Christchurch title and the Zone IIII championship. Max top scored in the final of the Thompson Trophy against Cashmere High School banking 16 points in a game that featured 14 lead changes and ties. Max has been involved with Canterbury Rams and New Zealand Under-17 programs.
James Moors (Westlake Boys’ High School) - The New Zealand Under-18 rep stands 6 ft 10 and is Westlake’s most prodigious scorer and dangerous player. The MVP of the 2016 National Under-17 tourney top-scored in both Auckland games against Rangitoto College and produced a star turn in the semi-final against Rosmini College racking up 35 points nearly winning for Westlake a game they trailed in throughout.
Johnny Helu (Wellington College) - Wellington College had lost five times to St Pat’s Town during the season, but stunned the perennial powerhouse in the capital when they won the Pohlen trophy final for the first time in 22 years. Helu top scored with 20 points in the 65-63 triumph. Helu is a busy and aggressive guard who is a real leader for Wellington especially after original head coach, Danny Page departed mid-season to help run an NBA academy in Mumbai, India.
The qualifiers for the National Secondary Schools’ AA Basketball Championships in Palmerston North in October have been found with the conclusion of the four zone tournaments this week.
In the Zone 1 boys’ final, Rosmini College reversed their defeat to Rangitoto College in the Auckland final as did Canterbury runners up Christ’s College in the Zone 4 decider.
As expected, Hamilton Boys’ High School and Palmerston North Boys’ High School prevailed in their respective zones.
In the girls competition the Auckland, Waikato and Wellington champions triumphed in Zones 1-3 respectively while St Hilda’s College gained bragging rights in Zone 4.
College Sport Media watched Palmerston North Boys’ High School defeat Rongotai College 100-71 in the boys Zone 3 final.
Initially Rongotai was competitive holding Palmerston North to 34-26. However Palmerston North embarked on a 14-2 run midway through the second quarter to lead 48-30 at halftime.
Palmerston North increased their defensive intensity and Rongotai was restricted to just seven points in the first half of the third period.
Seven-foot giant Callum MacRae then went to work with two enormous slam dunks, one of which required repairs to the hoop, and a spectacular block as Palmerston North extended their advantage to 69-43.
MacRae was a beast on the defensive boards and top scored with 24 points, but he is an unselfish player. Palmerston North have multiple shooting threats and when point guard Oscar Oswald caught fire late the Wellington challengers were really in trouble, though they did achieve above expectation making the final here as they were only fourth in Wellington.
Boys Zone Final Results
Zone 1: Rosmini College: 70 v Rangitoto College: 67
Zone 2: Hamilton Boys’ High School: 75 v Melville High School: 46
Zone 3: Palmerston North Boys’ High School: 100 v Rongotai College: 71
Zone 4: Christ’s College: 62 v Cashmere High School: 56
Girls Zone Final Results
Zone 1: Auckland Girls’ Grammar: 70 v Westlake Girls’ High School: 67
Zone 2: St Peter’s Cambridge: 72 v Melville High School: 55
Zone 3: St Mary’s College: 70 v Hutt Valley High School: 52
Zone 4: St Hilda’s College: 58 v Christchurch Girls’ High School: 43
For All National Qualifiers go here:
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.
Nothing is conceded charitably in Rosmini College versus Westlake Boys’ High School sporting contests and that fact was categorically illustrated in the Auckland Premier basketball semi-final last Friday night. The excellent Lacey Lowdown blog was giddy in its praise of the match stating:
“It was a game that had outstanding individual performances, two passionate teams, a thundering climax, and all played out in front of two sets of ardent fans that turned North Shore Events Centre into a cauldron of noise and colour.”
With 95 seconds left, Rosmini appeared to be home and hosed with an 84-74 lead. What transpired next was quite extraordinary. Mitchell Dance attempts to make sense of the frantic final moments which yielded 29 points.
“Westlake decided to foul early which sent as to the free throw strip for two shots. We would make two and they caught fire and were hitting three’s. They scored four three pointers in the final 90 seconds which put pressure on us to hit our foul shots,” he says.
With three seconds remaining, Westlake had sliced the lead to a solitary point. Dance had a pair of free throws at 93-92.
“I was a bit nervous because I knew if I didn’t make both, Westlake could win with a three-pointer. Extra time wouldn’t have been a great result either, but it’s better than losing.”
Dance nailed both free throws and Westlake’s final attempt at yet another three was thwarted by a block.
Dance top scored with 36 points, helping Rosmini initially recover from a ten point deficit.
“I felt good. I hit a couple of early shots and got on a roll. We have a couple of big outs so I have had to step up lately, but everyone has lifted their intensity and our composure was impressive,” Dance acclaims.
Dance had to keep his cool in July when he travelled to the Philippines with the New Zealand Under-17’s. New Zealand played six games against leading Universities and despite only winning twice finished within four points in every fixture. The team was often subject to some dubious officiating.
“It was real different in the Philippines. They hardly call fouls and so we had to adjust to that. The referees were very helpful when the games got close, but it was a valuable learning experience,” Dance reveals.
Rosmini learned a heap by winning the Auckland title in 2016 and head into this Friday’s decider against National Championships Rangitoto College cautiously optimistic of a repeat success.
We are one-all against Rangitoto this year so it will be a tough game. We beat them the last time we played them and learned we need to keep our composure. They have their full team now so I wasn’t surprised they beat Auckland Grammar,” Dance reveals.
It’s been a golden year for sport at Rosmini College. The First XI cricket team are the Auckland champions and have qualified for the Nationals in December for the first time.
Additionally the First XV rugby team won the 1A North Harbour title and the First XI hockey team are favourites to win the Super City hockey tourney tomorrow night.
“There is a real brotherhood at this school. There was a huge crowd at the rugby and that same crowd is at the basketball. Were a smaller school, but everybody supports each other and that makes a real difference,” Dance theorises.
Dance was a member of the North Harbour Under-17 team who won the National championships in the term two holidays.
The Auckland Premier Basketball final between Rosmini College and Rangitoto College is played at the North Harbour Events Centre on Friday night.
North Shore Schools have dominated high school basketball in recent seasons, winning six of the last eight national titles.
However a new contender from the City of Sails has emerged in 2017. Auckland Grammar School won the Auckland Minor Premiership last week and will tackle National champions Rangitoto College in the premier semi-finals on Friday night.
Grammar has only won a single National title in 1979, but has beaten Rangitoto twice in three previous meeting this year.
“There is a long way to go in the season, but our goal is to win the National title,” states key forward Thomas Higgins.
“Rangitoto is a tough team. They have the likes of Dan Fotou and Zack Te Puni who can really light it up, but if we play tough defence and get our game going we can beat them.” Higgins continued.
Grammar have won both Premiership matches against Rangitoto 82-71 and 79-59. Higgins top scored in the initial meeting with 20 points, while Sam Aruwa banked 18 points in the second encounter.
Traditional powerhouses Westlake BHS and Rosmini College clash in the other semi-final. Like Grammar those teams finished the regular season with an 11-3 record, but Grammar is top qualifier by virtue of holding a better head to head record against both those schools.
However Grammar nearly blew pole position on Friday night against fifth placed Mount Albert Grammar School. Auckland required extra time to extinguish MAGS stubborn challenge.
“We started really slow and I don’t know why. Maybe we were tired or thinking too far ahead. We showed good character to comeback and win,” Higgins explains.
Higgins forced overtime by hitting a late shot in regulation to tie the scores. In the additional period the lead changed hands three times, but Higgins 29 points was the telling difference in the 70-67 win.
Higgins is used to dealing with pressure. The New Zealand Under-18 representative has traveled to diverse locations like Australia and China with his code. Higgins transferred from Te Awamutu College (TA) this season after helping TA to their first Nationals in 2015 where they finished 16th. TA improved a further two places last year.
“I really enjoyed my time at TA, but I want to try and win a National championship and that wasn’t going to happen at TA. The first term at Grammar was a bit of a struggle because the culture of the schools’ are so different, but I am settled now and looking forward to the end of the year.” Higgins says.
Interestingly Higgins lives with close friend, teammate and fellow national age group rep Thomas Whyte.
Auckland Premier Basketball Standings
11-3 Auckland Grammar
6-8 Mt Albert
4-10 St Kentigern
Note: Westlake and Rosmini finished their regular season matches with a win apiece against Grammar, but Grammar enjoyed a greater points differential across both games. Westlake beat Grammar, 78-85, but then lost 79-52 in the return exchange. Grammar beat Rosmini 62-53 and only lost 56-61. Higgins top scored with 16 points in the win against Rosmini. The Auckland Championship has no bearing on Nationals with a Zonal qualifier to be held from September 6-9 The top six teams from that tourney advance to Palmerston North for the Nationals which run from October 2-7.
“Our trainings are harder than most games. We are close friends off the court, but practice is intense. Palmerston North is a small town and the local competition isn’t strong. If we want to compete nationally we have to get stuck into each other,” Oscar Oswald concedes when attempting to explain how Palmerston North Boys’ High School has become a National basketball powerhouse.
Palmerston North has won 28 out of 30 games in 2017 and is stacked with National representatives. Rangimarie Mita, Tama Fa’amausili, Cooper Boyce-Towler, Callum McRae and Oswald have all represented New Zealand teams. Last year Palmerston North was National Secondary Schools runners-up. Oswald laments the last few seconds of the 80-79 defeat to Rangitoto College.
“There were seven seconds left and I was standing around the free throw line. I thought they would try and get inside the key because they had time to advance up court. Cameron Stone got the ball and he had a defender in front of him. When he let the ball go I thought there was no way it would go in. It was an ugly shot, but he hit it. That was really hard to accept.”
Palmerston North had rallied from 25 points down at halftime.
“We started in a zone defence figuring they were a lot bigger than us and would try and go inside and dominant close to the hoop. When there big men starting hitting shots we were in big trouble. At halftime we decided to man up and when we got on a roll the crowd was huge,” Oswald reflects.
Palmerston North made the crowds roar again at the Super 8 tournament held at Tui Ridge Park just outside Rotorua this week. Palmerston North were victors for the first time in nine years and at last assembled their full strength roster. Injuries and higher honours have prevented that from happening. Oswald himself has already travelled to China and Guam in 2017.
“It was awesome to get our top team on the court. We played hard all week against some quality opponents and really clicked,” Oswald warns.
Palmerston North breezed through pool play accounting for Hamilton BHS, 88 – 60, defending champions Napier BHS, 103 – 61 and hosts Rotorua BHS 100-52.
In the semi-final New Plymouth BHS was tamed 86-44, but there was a surprise on the opposite side of the draw.
“We expected Hastings to beat Hamilton, but that didn’t happen. Hamilton beat Napier by 50 something points so they showed they could really play.”
In the decider, Hamilton came out firing and genuinely challenged Palmerston North who only led by two points at halftime. In the second-half Oswald caught fire top scoring with 23 points as Palmerston North pulled clear to win 92-75. Mita contributed 17 points and McRae added 16.
“I didn’t realize until afterwards I had scored so many points. The shots started to fall which was great.”
Palmerston North had different leading scorers in all five games of Super 8, an ominous sign for opponents at the zone tourney in three weeks’ time. The top six of 21 teams will earn qualification for Nationals.
“We expect to face a lot strong teams. Wellington College, Scots College and St. Pats Town can play some amazing ball and though we’ve handled New Plymouth this year, we play them lots so they are always tough,” Oswald concludes.
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