Nelson Sparks remain unbeaten at WBC

1429316390475The first game on day two of the WBC, being held at the Allan Brewster Leisure Centre in Auckland, featured Capital Flyers and Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix.

The Flyers did just that, they flew out the blocks creating a 17-5 lead at the end of the first period – Beks van Kuyk and Tegan Graham shared the first 10 points.

The Phoenix battled back to win the second quarter 11-10 but despite strong showings from Jaimee-Lee Tito (13pts/11 rebs) and Reanon Hetaraka-Sadler (12pts) they were eventually beaten 55-36 by the Flyers.

Graham led all scorers with 16 points and van Kuyk was highly efficient shooting 5/ 5 from the field on her way to 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Flyers.

Waitakere Lady Rangers continued their winning ways with a conclusive 79-61 win against Bartercard Taranaki Thunder. The Thunder kept the game tight in the early stages, only down 20-17 at the end of the opening period. However, the balanced Rangers offence, that had five players in double figures, dominated the middle stages of the encounter, the northerners in control 65-41 at three quarter time.

Once again Fijian international, Leba Koovou (14pts/12rebs) was impressive for the Rangers. Amber Bellringer recorded another double double (16pts/14 rebs) and the Kensington sisters Amber and Jemma both scored a dozen points for the Thunder

Rotorua Lady Vols found the going too tough against NZ Home Loans Canterbury Wildcats. It was all one-way traffic as the Wildcats recorded a comprehensive 74-24 victory.

Remarkably Awatea Leach scored 16 out of the 24 points that the Vols scored during the game.

Mary Goulding top scored for the Wildcats with 18 points and Connie Poletti mustered a handy 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Harbour Breeze secured a win at the third attempt at the expense of Tauranga City Coasters. All twelve Breeze players contributed to the 91-44 scoreline with Tall Fern Deena Franklin (16pts) and Kate Lacey (12pts, 4/7 3PG) leading the scoring. Georgina Richards (16pts) and Kelcy Ballantyne (13pts/11rebs) were the pick of the Coasters contributors.

Scoring just 15 points in the first half and shooting the ball at 13% hardly seems like a formula that would win many basketball games. Remarkably this is what Probands Nelson Sparks did as they came from behind to defeat Waikato Wizards 51-50 and remain unbeaten with a 3-0 record.

The Wizards looked in control at three quarter time as they led 40-31 but they failed to score in the first five minutes of the final period as the Sparks embarked on an 11-0 run. Leanne Walker followed by Krystal Leger- Walker broke the Waikato scoring drought with triples before Jess Bygate restored the Sparks lead with a pair of free throws with 2:58 to play.

Both teams had further scoring opportunities in the ensuing time but the score remained the same, the Sparks “out of another hole” acknowledged coach Tony Rampton, winning 51-50.

A converted shot from her own half by Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix point guard Freda Riwai to close the first half was a major highlight of the Phoenix encounter with the ACM Lady Hawks.

The Phoenix gave a much improved performance and only trailed 34-26 at half time. ACM pulled way in the second half to win 68-42 led by Jordan Hunter (16pts) and Lorelei Nathan (15pts).

The Phoenix will take heart from the performance but will miss the services of Riwai (18pts) for their double header on Sunday.

In their previous three games the undefeated Waitakere Lady Rangers had averaged 77 points a game so it was a surprise when the Aik Ho coached Rangers could only muster 15 points in the first half against NZ Home Loans Canterbury Wildcats. At the other end the Wildcats patient offence and disciplined offence was paying dividends as they led 32-15 at the half.

Things went from bad to worse in the third period for the Rangers they went eight minutes without scoring and scored just a solitary basket – to Wuanyei Ah-Hing. The Wildcats were in total control leading 46-17 with 10 minutes to play.

The final period was a formality; the Canterbury Wildcats easing to an impressive 61-33 win. Shea Crotty (12pts, 3 from 4 3PG), Connie Poletti (15pts/12rebs) and Darcy rose (7pts/8rebs) led a solid all round Canterbury effort.

Only Maria Milani with 12 points provided much scoring output for the Rangers.

Rotorua Lady Vols put together a solid half of basketball, their best of the tournament, against the Capital Flyers. The Vols trailed jut 27-22 against the more favoured Flyers at the main break.

It was different story in the third period as the Flyers zone defence stalled the Vols enabling them to get more production in transition to win the period 24-9 and eventually the contest 75-45.

Beks van Kuyk was at her best for the Flyers, dominating the paint at both ends to finish with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Awatea Leach (15pts) was again the best of the Vols.

Bartercard Taranaki Thunder found it hard going against Oceana Gold Rush Otago in the last round of the day. The Thunder failed to score double figures in any quarter as they went down 51-30. Even Amber Bellringer who was averaging over twenty points per game struggled offensively scoring just 9 points but still the top scorer for Taranaki.

Otago had five players score six points but Tall Fern Jillian Harmon was the stand out performer powering her way to a double double of 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Proband Nelson Sparks (4-0) maintained their unbeaten record but only just winning an exciting encounter 63-62. The Sparks appeared to be heading for a comfortable win entering the final quarter with a 53-42 lead against Tauranga City Coasters. However the Coasters surged back into the game with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter.

When Kelcy Ballantyne (18pts) scored with 4 minutes remaining the scores were locked at 57 apiece. Kat Jones (7pts/8rebs) and Nikki Rampton (10pts/7rebs) restored the Nelson advantage only for Courtney Wilson to knock down a triple with 20 seconds remaining to bring the Coasters within a single point.

Unfortunately the Coasters were unable to get off another shot and must wait at least one more day for an historic first WBC victory.

Current standings

4-0 Nelson Sparks

3-1 Waikato Wizards, Capital Flyers, Canterbury Wildcats, Waitakere Lady Rangers.

2-2 Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks, Taranaki Thunder

2-1 Otago Gold Rush

1-2 Harbour Breeze

0-4 Rotorua Lady Vols, Tauranga City Coasters, Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix

Otago Land Jillian Harmon for WBC

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Tournament one of the 2015 Women’s basketball Chamionsip gets underway on Friday at the Allan Brewster Leisure Centre, in Auckland. Thirty-two games are scheduled for the weekend as the twelve teams strive for a place amongst the top six sides that will contest the national title at the business end of the season in Poirua, early June.

The biggest news surrounding player movement is that one of New Zealand’s most credentialed players, Jillian Harmon, has confirmed she will play for the Oceana Otago Gold Rush.

Harmon, a graduate of the prestigious Stanford University programme played 4 years for the Cardinals. She then played five years of professional basketball in Italy before linking with Townsville Fire for the recent 2014/15 Australian WNBL season.

The 27 years old forward joined Tall Ferns colleague Micaela Cocks at the Fire and the pair helped the franchise secure it’s first WNBL title when defeating Bendigo Spirit in the Grand Final last month.

The Gold Rush, WBC Champions in 2011, will be coached by experienced campaigner Todd Marshall. The team will be
captained by Janet Main but unfortunately fellow guard Suzie Bates is currently unavailable due to cricket commitments.

Preview of Northern WBC Teams

Jordan Hunter

The 2015 Women’s Basketball Championship begins on Friday.

Last year the Purcell family dominated the Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks team. This year it is likely that only Hailey Purcell will return. She, alongside Jordan Hunter and Gabriella Adams, who has transferred from Rotorua, will provide the backbone of the team.

The Championship takes on a slightly different format this year as some games will be played outside the three tournament weekends, this an attempt to promote the women’s games in local associations.

As a result one game has already been played. The Waikato Wizards proved too strong for Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks winning 65-53, the game played in Hamilton last Saturday evening.

Defending champions Harbour Breeze have been boosted by the return of a couple of Harbour ‘old girls’ Amanda Buck and Millie Nathan. New Breeze coach Justine Reed likes what they bring to the group. “The pair give us a whole lot of experience and set a fine example for the younger girls coming through”. Reed will also utilise some of her charges from Westlake Girls High School where she is head coach. “They will provide us with a bit of speed and quickness to compliment the experienced players,” said Reed.

Waikato Wizards have been the bridesmaids for the last two years finishing runners-up in 2013 and 2014. Wizards assistant coach Leanne Walker is rather coy about their chances this year.

“The goal this year is just to be competitive as we have a big contingent of players overseas. We just want to get through the first couple of tournaments so we can get ourselves a spot (in the top six) so we can compete for the title”.

As for suiting up again this season? “I’d rather not” she quipped, but then added “I will probably have to put my boots back on as we will be short of players for our Sunday games as we have a big contingent of Mormon’s in the team”. Daughters Krystal and Charlisse will be suiting up for the Wizards, it could be fun to see al three family members out on court together.

Tall Ferns assistant coach Aik Ho is also down playing his teams chances. The Waitakere Lady Rangers have lost the likes of Emma Bergin and Milika Nathan and will use the opportunity to blood some youngsters “We are pretty young this year, I’m giving the young kids who are committed a chance.” Which youngsters does Ho expect to make an impact this season? “Jess Nicholson and Wuanyei Ah-Hing are returning and we’ve picked up Darci Finnigan from St Kentigern College but they are all young”.

“We would like to sneak in the top six but we are going to have to play some pretty good ball to do so,” added Ho.

Kiwis Abroad

Kirk Penney recorded a season high 20 points but Sevilla still went down 91-83 at home to Laboral Kutxa in the Spanish League. Penney struck 5 times from 8 attempts from behind the three-point arc but his effort couldn’t lift Sevilla who still languish in 17th place on the Liga Endesa table with an 8-20 record.

FIBA Stankovic Cup - Angola v Tall Blacks, 8 August 2011La Bruixa d’Or Manresa were also defeated, losing on the road to UCAM Murcia 83-72. Isaac Fotu played 25 minutes but only put up three shots from the field in accumulating 7 points (2/3FG, 2/4FT).

The Kiwi forward added 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Manresa also has an 8-20 record – next week will be interesting, Penney and his Sevilla team visit Fotu’s Manresa outfit.

Corey Webster showed good form at the weekend for his Serbian club Mega Leks, Webster knocked down 17 points against Bayern Munich, the Germans squeezing a victory 88-81. Both clubs have a couple of weeks off before contesting their respective Serbian and German play-offs.

Mega Leks head to Greece and Bulgaria for friendly fixtures during the next couple of weeks.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is locked in a battle with the New Orleans Pelicans for the 8th spot in the NBA Western Conference.

The Thunder broke a four game losing streak with a much-needed 116-103 victory against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. Steven Adams secured 11 rebounds for OKC and added 6 points and 4 blocks.

Despite a career high 54 points from Russell Westbrook the Thunder lost 116-104 to the Indiana Pacers on Monday. Again Adams had double figure rebounds (10) in addition to 4 points and a block.

Only regular season games 81 and 82 remain for the Thunder who may well miss the play-offs for the first time in six seasons

Following 8 straight defeats Errin Rooney’s club Arras finally secured a win in the French League.

Arras finished 7th at the end of the regular season and faced 6th placed Tarbes home and away in a 5-8 placing play-off game.

Arras won the first leg 82-72 with Rooney converting 3/3 triples on her way to an impressive stat line of 15p/8r/4a

Unfortunately the second leg didn’t go so well for the Canterbury guard or her team. Arras managed just 10 points in the final quarter losing 79-60. Rooney had a horror shooting night converting just 2 from 13 shots, finishing with 4p/7r/6a.

It is unclear at this stage if the season is over for Arras or further classification games remain to be played.

Canterbury Wildcats all geared up for 2015 WBC

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The 2015 Women’s Basketball Championship gets underway this weekend in Auckland with the Canterbury Wildcats opening their campaign against last year’s beaten finalists Waikato Wizards at midday on Friday.

Thirty-two games are scheduled for the weekend as the twelve teams strive for a place amongst the top six sides that will contest the championship section at tournament three in Porirua in early June.

All twelve teams will play each other over tournaments one and two. The second tournament will be hosted by Canterbury Basketball at Cowles Stadium, May 15-17.

The Wildcats have undergone some changes in 2015. Lori McDaniel has taken over the coaching reins from Phil Burns and has had to make some adjustments following the departure of key forwards Tessa Boagni (attending Cal State –Northridge) and Bridgette Lawn (overseas).

The Wildcats are boosted by the return of Pip Connell, the 26 year old forward returns after two years absence due to injury. Also in the front court will be American Darcy Rose, a graduate from Dartmouth University. Rose played four seasons for the prestigious Ivy League Big Green’s between 2005-2009.

Playing alongside Rose and Connell will be Junior Tall Fern Connie Poletti who has shifted from Taranaki prior to attending junior college in America later in the year.

The back court will come under the stewardship of the experienced Shea Crotty and Hayley Gray.

McDaniel, who enjoyed a successful playing career including time at Butler University is enjoying the challenge of coaching. “It is a great opportunity to give back to the game that has given me so much. We have a lot of enthusiasm in the team.”

Expect the ‘Cat’s’ to make a strong run at the title this year.

China U19 Men’s Team in Auckland

The China  Under 19 Men’s team are playing a couple of games in Auckland as part of their preparation for the FIBA Under 19 World Cup. China head to the World Cup, to be played in Greece during June as the top ranked Asian nation.

The Rangers select team will include a number of up and coming young players from the Auckland region including New Zealand age group internationals Isaac Davidson, Matt Freeman, Jaylen Gerrand and Matt Lacey.

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Early foul trouble hinders Fotu

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Three early fouls from Isaac Fotu severely limited the Kiwi forward’s court time as La Bruixa d’Or Manresa were defeated 82-63 by Fiat Joventut in the Spanish League. Continue reading

Penney inspired by Wisconsin Badgers

Penn State Nittany Lions v Wisconsin Badgers

Possibly inspired by his former college Wisconsin reaching the NCAA Championship Final, Kirk Penney helped Sevilla to a convincing 86-60 victory over Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro in Spain. Continue reading

Giants spoil Green’s return

1427820955527It has been eight years since Jeff Green secured a win in the Bartercard NBL and it will be at least another week before he enjoys the taste of further success. Green is back in the coaching saddle having not coached in the New Zealand National Basketball League since 2007. Continue reading

Viva Espana

ANBL - SkyCity Breakers v Melbourne United, 21 November 2014Like most full time basketball coaches Sky City Breakers head coach Dean Vickerman finds it difficult to stay away from the game even when on holiday. Continue reading

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