The U18 New Zealand Women ran into ‘The Wall’ called fatigue on the final day of the Australian State championships in Canberra.
The Women faced New South Wales Country in the play-off for seventh an eighth places. The scores were only close in the first quarter, NSW had built a commanding 47-25 lead by half-time and the game was over as a contest.
The Kiwis eventually lost 95-72, a slightly disappointing end to a tournament that had started so promisingly. Three victories in the first four games suggested much but the loss of Connie Poletti who averaged 13.5 pts and 11 rebounds in each of the first four games was too big an obstacle to overcome.
Kelcy Ballantyne (Tauranga) followed up her strong game on the previous day with another double double (14pts/11 rebounds). Harbour’s Tiarna Clarke scored 18 points, Waitakere’s Michelle Nicholls slotted in 14pts and Taranaki’s Kayla Manuirirangi (12pts/7 boards) all contributed strongly as the Women fought an uphill battle.
The New Zealand Men finished on a high beating Tasmania 99-76 and securing a very creditable 5th placing at the tournament – one of the best results achieved by a New Zealand team at Australian state champs in recent years.
The Kiwis led 45-30 at half time and although the Tasmanian’s mounted something of a revival in the third period the NZ’ers finished the stronger – a 33-22 flourish in the final period.
Matt Freeman concluded his outstanding tournament with a 34pts/14 rebounds haul. Nikau McCullough (5 assists and 21 pts), Logan Elers (12pts), Isaac Davidson (10pts) and Richard Rodger (7pts/9 rebounds) all had strong games.
This was a pleasing end to a successful campaign for coach Dave Mackay and his charges.