Harmon and Lucca lose important game


Le Mura Lucca are in danger of relinquishing top spot on the Italian League table after suffering a 74-61 defeat at the hands of defending champions Famila Schio on Wednesday night. Lucca lost to Schio in the Italian Cup final last month and a win against their arch rivals would have secured the regular season title for Lucca. However they trailed at every interval in the game falling to just their third league defeat of the season.

Jillian Harmon was forced to spend time on the bench in the second half after picking up a fourth foul but still mustered 20 points, 8 points and a brace of assists in 31 minutes.

The Tall Ferns forward was one of just two Lucca players in double figures on the night.

The top four teams will play each other at the weekend in the final regular season fixtures. Lucca (18-3) will travel to fourth placed San Martino (15-6) whilst Schio (17-4) entertain Venezia who have the same (17-4) win/loss record.

The top three spots are still up for grabs ahead of the play-offs. By my reckoning Lucca hold the head to head over Venezia but not Schio. Therefore they need to topple San Martino at the weekend and hope Venezia can overturn Schio in order to take the number one ranking into the play-offs.

A mixed bag in Europe this week

Despite a change of coach a couple of games ago Zaragoza, with another loss, are flirting with the Liga Endesa relegation zone after a 100-92 loss at Andorra. Former Rangitoto College favourite Isaac Fotu finished the game with 10 points (5/8FG) and 5 rebounds. Zaragoza now has an 8-16 record, just one win above the drop zone.

In contrast Mike Karena and Sammic ISB are flying high. Sammic head the LEB Silver ladder, the Spanish third division, with a 19-6 record. Karena put together another strong performance nabbing 21 points (8/12FG) and 6 rebounds in the latest Sammic success – an 89-82 win against mid-table Zornotza.

In Turkey Thomas Abercrombie’s club Demir IBB continue to struggle slipping to a ninth straight league defeat. Up against defending champions Fenerbache in Istanbul Demir was well beaten 89-68.

In his fourth game for Demir Abercrombie scored 7 points (3/8FG) and also totaled 3 rebounds and a block.


Erin Rooney scored 9 points for Artego Bydgoszcz in Polish League quarter-finals play-off action. Artego went down 75-61 at Energa Torun in the first game in the best of three tie on Saturday.

48 hours later Artego leveled the series with a nail biting 68-67 victory in game two. Rooney enjoyed 30 minutes of court time in that one producing 5 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal.

The deciding game is on Saturday.

In Italy top of the table Le Mura Lucca thumped Umbertide 87-46 to improve to 18-3 for the season. Starting forward Jillian Harmon was only required for 18 minutes but still scored 17 points on 8 from 9 shooting. Harmon has amassed 352 points this season averaging 17.6 points per game.

Rangitoto host invitation tournament and win


The final of the Rangitoto College Invitational Tournament (RIT), that involved eight Auckland high school teams, was won by the hosts Rangitoto beating Rosmini College 74-66 in the final on Sunday at NSEC.

The scores were locked at 35 apiece at half-time but Rangi quickly opened a double-digit lead early in the second and were able to hold off their local rivals for a deserved win.

Leading Scorers in the final:

Rangitoto 74 – Zack Te Puni 20, Dan Fotu 15, Logan Anderson 12, Jared Thornton 11

Rosmini 66 – Will Heather 20, Marvin Williams-Dunne 13, Mitch Dance 12

Earlier in the semi-finals Rosmini comfortably accounted for St Peter’s 81-32. The other semi was a much tighter affair with Rangitoto winning 66-61 against Westlake after the scores were tied 61-61 with 2:07 to play.

Leading scorers in the semi-finals:

Rosmini 81 – Mitch Dance 17, Will Heather 16, Peter Jenkins 12, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 10

St Peter’s 32 – Gerard Boersen 11, Toffer Espinosa 8

Rangitoto 66 – Zack Te Puni 13, Logan McIntosh 11, Dan Fotu 11, Cam Stone 8

Westlake 61 – James Moors 32, Reuben Fitzgerald 11, Jesse Winter 7

For a number of the teams it was a perfect build up towards the 20 team Premier Qualifying Tournament being played early next month (April 8-11). NB there will be an 11 team Girls Qualifying tournament held at the same time.

St Peter’s College is one of the teams with high hopes of gaining qualification to Premier Grade.

Coach Leyton Haddleton felt his team had made progress at the RIT.

“The players have had a tough week with school commitments and two pre-season friendly games earlier in the week. However this has given us a good opportunity to build combinations against tough opposition. We ran Westlake close, before losing 73-68 on day one – the last time we played them we lost by over 50 points.

“It’s also given us an opportunity to test players resolve when tired and under pressure,” Haddleton added.

Haddleton believes there are a number of teams with a real opportunity of joining Rangitoto, Rosmini, Auckland Grammar, Westlake, Mt Albert and Kelston in the top echelon of Auckland Secondary Schools boy’s basketball.

“St Kentigern College, MacLeans College and Massey High are all looking strong and we are yet to find out what the relegated teams from last year, Liston College and Onehunga High, will look like,” said Haddleton.

Despite being without some starters due to other commitments St Kentigern second year coach Aaron Young also thought the Rangitoto Invitational was of value.

“The experience against top quality players gives us great prep for the RIT.”

Young agreed with Haddleton that there are a number of schools with a good chance of playing Prem’s in 2017.

“Liston will have a good chance of qualifying with their experience from last year and a solid junior programme.

“I would like to think our chances are also good especially with home court advantage. I’m hoping the five seniors in our team and much the same group as last year will stand us in good stead,” said Young.

St Kent’s fell one game short of qualifying in 2016 losing to MAGS in the semi-final. They will be hoping 2017 is their year.

But then again so will 19 other teams.

Rangitoto Invitational Final Standings

1 Rangitoto College

2 Rosmini College

3 Westlake Boys

4 St Peter’s College

5 St Kentigern

6 Macleans College

7 Avondale College

8 Rosmini Senior A

Goulding Gone


Mary Goulding could not repeat her Women’s National Invitation Tournament first round scoring heroics for Fordham University as the Rams bowed out at Penn State beaten 70-51 on Monday (NZ time).

48 hours earlier the former Rangiora High School stand out posted a career-best 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the win over Georgetown.

Unfortunately the scoring touch deserted Goulding in the second round against Penn as she collected just three points on 1 from 7 shooting. However she once again demonstrated her rebounding prowess collecting 10 boards – her third straight double figure haul.

The season ending defeat brings the curtain down on Goulding’s sophomore season that has seen her gain increased court time in the second half of the campaign.

Salt best not enough but Wynyard, Davidson and Goulding winners

After beating North Carolina Wilmington in the first round at the NCAA Tournament Virginia was held to a season-low 17 points in the first half and 30.2 percent shooting on the night as the Cavaliers went down 65-39 to Florida. The turning point came late in the first half,when Florida started a 21-0 run that was their most lopsided of the season.

Jack Salt was one of the better performers for Virginia securing a collegiate career high 10 rebounds whilst also scoring 8 points.


Also exiting was Sam Waardenburg and the Miami Hurricanes beaten in the first round by Michigan State. Waardenburg, a redshirt freshman, will hope Miami can return to the Big Dance next season when he will be eligible to play.

The Kentucky Wildcats beat state rivals Northern Kentucky 79-70 in the first round but Tai Wynyard didn’t take the floor.

Also in the winner’s circle was the University of California Berkeley who defeated Louisiana State University 55-52 in the first round of the Women’s Tournament. Cal’s starting forward Penina Davidson scored with her only shot and also collected 3 rebounds in the win.

Sunday’s victory marked the seventh straight time the Golden Bears have won at least their first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. They will play top seed Baylor in the second round, for the second time in three years, on Tuesday (NZ time).


Also worthy of mention is the performance of Mary Goulding who played a big part in Fordham University Rams overcoming Georgetown, 60-49 in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

The Cantabrian forward posted a career-best 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting with 10 rebounds, five on the offensive glass, in 37 minutes and also added three assists.

Fordham next face Penn State on Monday.

8 x 3 = Zero at WNIT

Eight was the unlucky number for the three Tall Ferns involved in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) on Friday (NZ time). All three registered 8 points but all three, and their respective teams, exited the tournament in the first round.

 Jacinta Beckley was playing her first game since she fractured her hand in early February but was unable to prevent the Seattle Redhawks going down to Wyoming 68-52. Seattle only trailed by 4 points at the half, 28-24 but was comfortably outscored in the final two periods.

Brigham Young Cougars (BYU) gave up 29 turnovers against Washington State, as they were downed 72-64. BYU scored from nine of their opening ten shots but it went downhill from there for the hosts. Kalani Purcell added 8 rebounds and 9 assists to her 8 points.


St Mary’s Gaels visited Colorado State and were beaten 80-68 in overtime after giving up a double-digit advantage in the fourth quarter. The scores were tied at 62 each in regulation before Colorado dominated the additional five minutes. Stella Beck snared 4 rebounds in addition to her 8 points.

It was better news at the Big Dance.

The Virginia Cavaliers came from behind to beat University of North Carolina Wilmington at the NCAA Tournament in Orlando, Florida on Friday.

Progressing past the first round for the fourth straight time at the Big Dance, Virginia had to come back from as many as 15 points in arrears before eventually claiming a 76-71 victory.

Jack Salt scored with his only field goal attempt, a two handed dunk, finishing with three points, 3 rebounds and a block.

Fotu and Karena gain in Spain

Zaragoza broke a three game losing streak with a thumping 85-59 victory against Obradoiro on Sunday. Power forward Isaac Fotu finished the game with 10 points (4/7FG), 8 rebounds an assist, a block and a steal. The win lifts Zaragoza to 12th on the 17 team Spanish League ladder with an 8 win, 15 loss record.


Also in Spain Mike Karena led all scorers with 18 points (7/11FG, 4/5FT) as Sammic ISB maintained top spot on the LEB Silver ladder, the Spanish third division, with a 63-52 win 83-75 against fourth placed Lucentum. The 2016 Tall Black also added a handy 7 rebound.

It wasn’t a good weekend in Turkey for Thomas Abercrombie and his club Demir IBB.

Abercrombie failed to score from five attempts for Demir who were pummeled 79-52 by Anadolu Efes. Perhaps a predictable result when 14th plays second although Demir was at home.

Neither Erin Rooney, playing in Poland for Artego Bydgoszcz or Jillian Harmon playing in Italy for top of the table Le Mura Lucca were in action last weekend.

Beck, Purcell and Beckley headed for WNIT

In addition to the four Kiwis, Penina Davidson, Jack Salt, Tai Wynyard and Sam Waardenburg, participating in ‘The Big Dance’ three Tall Ferns will be playing in the 2017 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The tournament, once more prestigious than NCAA Division 1 tournament is competed for at the same time.


Jacinta Beckley (University of Seattle Redhawks)

Disappointingly Beckley fractured her hand in a game in early February and has been unable to suit up for Seattle in Western Athletic Conference games since. Beckley has had a strong season for Seattle, the fourth highest scorer on the team has averaged 8.0 points per game. She hopes to be fit for the opening round of the WNIT when the Redhawks visit Wyoming.


Stella Beck (St Mary’s University Gaels)

After losing to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference final last week Saint Mary’s will make its eighth straight postseason appearance beginning Friday as the Gaels travel to Colorado State for a first round matchup.

Beck in her penultimate year at St Mary’s has had an outstanding season and was named in the 2017 All- Academic West Coast Conference first team.

Beck leads Saint Mary’s in scoring at 13.2 points per game, posting double-figure scoring in 23 of 30 games played. She also leads the team in assists (3.2 per game) and steals (1.6 per game).

The Gaels (20-12) won 20 games for the sixth consecutive year in 2016-17 while finishing among the top-three in the West Coast Conference for the fourth time in the last five years.


Kalani Purcell (Brigham Young University Provos Cougars)

Purcell is about to bring the curtain down on an outstanding two-year career at BYU.

She has racked up a colossal 16 double doubles this season in 31 games.

The power forward is averaging a double double with 12.9 points and a team- and league -high 10.6 boards per game. She also leads the Gaels in assists (4.9 per game) and blocks (1.3 per game).

Purcell was named this year’s West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and picked up her second-straight WCC Women’s Basketball All-First Team honour.

The BYU Cougars (20-11) will host the Cougars of Washington State on Friday.

Four Kiwis headed for The Big Dance

Four Kiwis will be lining up at the men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 tournaments that begin this week.


Jack Salt (University of Virginia Cavaliers).

Salt has had a solid season for the 22-10 Cavaliers starting in all 32 games.

His 3.6 points per game and 3.9 rebounds don’t do justice to his value to the Cav’s where his 6’11” frame provides a significant inside presence for coach Tony Bennett’s Atlantic Coast outfit.

Virginia is drawn to play UNC Wilmington in the first round on Friday (NZ time).



Penina Davidson (University of California Berkeley Golden Bears)

Davidson is making her second appearance at the tournament being one of three Bears to have represented Cal when they last appeared in the tournament in 2015. The 19-13 Bears will face LSU in the first round in Waco, Texas on Sunday (NZ time).

The Tall Ferns forward has averaged 6.8 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game in her 31 appearances this season. She scored a season high 19 points against Arizona State on New Years Day.



Tai Wynyard (University of Kentucky Wildcats)

 Kentucky (29-5) is on an 11 game winning streak entering a record extending 56th appearance at the NCAA Tournament. The Southeastern Conference champions have been paired with Northern Kentucky in the opening round in the South Region.

Wynyard has been a bit part player in his first year with the Wildcats logging just 54 minutes in 15 games.



Sam Waardenburg (University of Miami Hurricanes)

The Hurricanes (21-11) face Michigan State in the first round hoping to improve on their 2-1 record in the 2016 tournament.

Waardenburg, a redshirt freshman, is ineligible to play this season so will be restricted to towel waving supportive duty during the tournament. It is to be hoped he can perform that duty with the same vigour shown by Oklahoma Sooners redshirt freshman Matt Freeman last year.

Wynyard and Salt headed for the ‘Big Dance’



Tai Wynyard courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats winning their conference and Jack Salt’s Virginia Cavaliers receiving an invitation look to be the only Kiwis heading into the 2017 NCAA Tournament beginning later this week.

For a full roundup of the conference tournaments played last week visit the BBNZ website