Otago boys secure under 17 title in overtime
The Finals of the Under 17 National Championships hosted by North Harbour Basketball Association and supported by James Blond Vehicle Rentals were played out at North Shore Events Centre on Saturday.
The Girls Final featured local neighbours and arch rivals North Harbour and Waitakere West Auckland. The girls from the West had a largely untroubled path to the final dominating all opponents including their semi final opposition, Wellington who they defeated 87-64. Harbour was also unbeaten but needed a final quarter surge to beat a defiant Taranaki team 68-56 in their semi final.
Waitakere, coached by Tall Ferns assistant coach Aik Ho scored the first points of the game but Harbour responded in kind. A fast paced, high quality first quarter ended with the scores tied 24-24, both teams shooting over 50% from the field. Harbour’s Tera Reed led all scorers with 11 points in the period.
Tournament MVP Maia Wilson and small forward Faanana Sula (10 points each in the half) began to dominate for Waitakere in the second quarter, 40-31 they led with 2:57 remaining in the period. Further transition baskets in the final two minutes saw Waitakere draw further ahead their lead 47-32 at half time.
Threes from Georgia Perrott-Hunt and Tiana Clarke just about kept Harbour in touch in the third quarter before a 7-2 run inspired by Zara Jillings cut the three quarter time deficit to 12 points. Six points from Georgie Henare early in the final quarter reduced the lead to single digits before Maria Milani scored a welcome basket for the ‘Westies’. Lavinia Solomon made an ‘and one’ play and Waitakere had a double figure cushion, 76-54 with 3:34 remaining and everything apparently under control. However, the impressive Tera Reed embarked on a ten point scoring blitz and with 90 seconds left Harbour trailed just 78-76. The two teams exchanged free throws in the final minute, Lyric Taurua-Wolframm icing the game with three from four from the charity stripe to earn Waitakere an exciting win.
Waitakere West Auckland 85 (Wilson 20pts/10 rebounds, Milani 16, Michelle Nicholls 13/11, Sula 12). North Harbour 79 (Reed 32pts/10 rebounds/6 steals, Clarke 13, Perrott-Hunt 13/10).
The game was an excellent advert for girls basketball, very well officiated by Brendan Menhennet and Luke Chnielewski
The Boys Final was a classic North v South match up, Auckland versus Otago.
Otago had beaten Waikato 84-72 in their semi final, Auckland overcoming the slightly more fancied Waitakere West Auckland 72-61 in their encounter.
Auckland was the quickest out of the blocks. 17-10 ahead midway through the opening quarter and 25-14 at the first break.
Otago were far more composed in the second quarter, Joseph Cook-Green leading their offence with eight points in the period and excellent team defence drying up the Auckland offence. 38-32 to Auckland at half time, Yuat Aluk leading all scorers with 14 points.
Both teams struggled to score early in the second half but back to back baskets from Otago’s Richard Rodger and a long two from Timmins reduced the Auckland lead to just four points, 45-41 with 4:50 to go in the period. Aluk came to life again late in the period, Kane Keil added a couple of baskets and Auckland had restored a ten point advantage 52-42 with 3:02 remaining. A Timmins spin and score helped the Otago cause as did another brace of Cook-Green baskets but Auckland still held sway – just, 54-49 at three quarter time.
Again Auckland started a period slowly and a pair of Otago free throws brought the blue and gold’s level 54-54 with 7 minutes remaining. 59-59 with 5 minutes remaining, 61-61 with 4 minutes remaining, the sizeable crowd were on edge of their seats as Auckland attempted to secure their first Under 17 title.
What transpired was a grandstand finish culminating in Otago having possession with 18.4 seconds remaining and trailing 68-66 – under extreme pressure Timmins banked in a basket to tie the scores with 13.5 seconds to go. Auckland were unable to score with their buzzer beater, overtime resulting.
Rodger put Otago ahead for the first time in the game and when Auckland’s Aruwa Samuel fouled out with a technical foul the resulting free throws enabled Otago to stretch out to a six point lead. Luke Wilson scored a pair of baskets for Auckland but Otago were the more composed outfit in overtime and took out a very good championship game 81-74.
Yuat Alok was unlucky to finish on the losing team, his fouling out with 1:20 to go in regular time was a critical moment in the game.
Otago 80 (Rodger 22 points,/14 rebounds, Josh Peterman 16, Cook-Green 14, Timmins 14/16). Auckland 74 (Alok 22 points/19 rebounds/3 blocks, Keil 20, Aruwa 16, Wilson 7).