The boys final at the 2015 SAS Secondary Schools National Championships in Palmerston North was won by Rangitoto College 80-63, the win giving Rangitoto their first ever title.
Westlake had won five championships in the past 10 years aided by the likes of Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe and the Webster brothers but ran out of gas after after tough quarter final and semi final matches.
The key match up in the game was that between the youngest ever Tall Black Tai Wynyard and the Oklahoma University bound Matt Freeman who scored an incredible 50 points in Westlake’s semi-final victory over Fraser High the day before. On this occasion Wynyard with a double double of 23 points and 19 rebounds made the telling contribution. There would be no heroics from Freeman on this occasion, the effort of carrying his team through the previous knockout games taking a visible toll on the swingman.
Rangitoto had the better of the early exchanges establishing a useful 25-12 first quarter lead, 6 points each to Wynyard, Isaac Davidson and Dan Fotu.
Both teams struggled for offensive fluency in the second period but aided by frequent visits to the foul line and an Isaac Letoa triple Westlake reduced the deficit to 39-30 at half time. Wynyard was dominating the paint and had accumulated 9 rebounds and 10 points at the interval.
Rangi pulled further away in the early stages of the third period to lead 50-34 and worryingly for Westlake Freeman picked up a third foul. A Wynyard double block on the same play emphasised his dominance but Letoa, Freeman and Thabo Manyere responded to fuel a 9-0 Westlake run.This was answered by Wynyard and Inger to give Rangitoto a 60-43 three quarter time advantage and one hand on the trophy.
An early 6-2 run by Westlake in the final stanza prompted a Kenny Stone timeout. Rangi responded with a couple of Inger and Josiah Williams baskets prompting Phil Campbell to call a timeout of his own.
The timeout worked as Letoa drained a triple then a lay up but Rangitoto held their nerve, man of the match Wynyard, the impressive Fotu and captain Davidson sealing a deserved, convincing win for Rangitoto, 80-63.
Rangitoto Coach Kenny Stone was full of praise for tournament MVP Tai Wynyard.
“He dominated inside and I urged him to do that as nobody can match up against him, it was a terrific performance.
The game plan worked and a first title for Rangitoto was secured.
“ Our game plan was to play man to man on Matt Freeman and Isaac Letoa and tire them out. Our defenders worked hard and wore them down.”
“It has been a challenging season with numerous injuries and Tai absent for long periods but it is very satisfying and I am very proud to have helped secure a first title for Rangitoto.”
In addition to Wynyard winning the MVP award four other players from the game joined him in the tournament team. Team mates Isaac Davidson and Dan Fotu were joined by the Westlake pair of Matt Freeman and Isaac Letoa.
Rangitoto 80 – Wynyard 23p/19r/3b, Fotu 16p, Davidson 13p, Inger 10p/9r
Westlake 63 – Freeman 28p/9r, Letoa 13p, Hunt 9p