Penultimate Day for NZ Under 18 Men and Women.

The New Zealand teams were involved in classification games on the penultimate day of the Australian U 18 National Championships in Canberra on Tuesday.

Waikato’s Nikau McCullough scored the first 6 points of the game as the U18 Men led Queensland North 17-10 at quarter time and 48-43 at half-time – Harbour’s Jackson Stent landing a couple of key baskets to close the half.

The Kiwis maintained their lead throughout the third period, Stent, Shou Nisbet (Canterbury) and Sioeli Vaiangina (Counties) all making key contributions – 71-66 at the three-quarter mark.

A big win looked on the cards as the NZ’ers led 88-70 with 4:50 remaining but the Queenslanders scored 15 of the last 17 points in the game to produce a final score of 90-85. Their fifth win in eight games, the NZ Men play-off for 5th/6th on Thursday.

Vaiangina (21pts) led the NZ scoring. He was well supported by the North Harbour pair of Stent (16pts/8 assists) and Matt Freeman (16pts/9 rebounds), McCullough (14pts) and Rotorua’s Logan Elers (6pts/8 boards). The U18 Women won the first quarter of their encounter against New South Wales Metro 21-13, Kelcy Ballantyne (Tauranga) and Kayla Manuirirangi (New Plymouth) sharing 16 points. Thereafter the Kiwi’s found it hard going, giving up over 20 points in each of the next three periods eventually losing 87-67. Ballantyne (12pts/15 rebounds) and Manuirirangi (22pts) were immense, backed up by Harbour’s Tiarna Clarke (15pts) and Wellington’s Tegan Graham (9pts/5 rebounds).

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