Two very good U17 Boys pool games took place side by side early afternoon on day two of the U17 National Championships.
The highly fancied Auckland Counties Manukau 1 team opened up a healthy 45-33 half-time lead over Pool 1 rivals Otago. Many expected the taller ACM team to run away with the game but the Mark Dickel coached Otago team, showing plenty of spirit and enthusiasm, tied the scores 62-62 with 7:15 remaining in the game. The closing stages were terrific to watch as Otago clung onto Auckland’s shirt tails, keeping within one or two points but not quite able to grab the lead.
ACM kept their heads and made their free throws down the stretch to claim a hard fought 75-70 victory but Otago will be heartened by their performance heading into the quarter finals. Connor Woodbridge and Sioeli Vaiangina scored 21 points apiece for the ACM, Josh Aitcheson paced the Otago effort with 20 points.
At the same time on court 2 at North Shore Events Centre, Canterbury Metro and North Harbour A played out a classic north v south encounter to decide top billing in Pool 1.The hosts led 44-36 at half-time but it wasn’t until the final quarter that Harbour were able to stretch their lead, eventually winning 81-68, Harbour’s Brayden Inger led all scorers with 19 points.
Pool 3 was a tight affair as Taranaki, Tauranga City and Waikato jostled for quarter final spots, all three teams ending with a 3-1 record. On count back Waikato and Tauranga advance with superior points differentials.
Waitakere West had things their own way in Pool 4 before meeting Wellington in the last round of the day. At half-time Wellington trailed by just a single point 39-38. It was still a single point in favour of Waitakere at three-quarter time 60-59. 80 points apiece with 60 seconds remaining, Zarne Leulai-Hughes drained a three to edge Waitakere ahead before Wellington tied the game with a triple from Kaleb Tyner-Wenman with 18 seconds remaining. On the next play Waitakere regained the advantage courtesy of a spinning drive from Michael Gardner. Wellington only had 12.3 seconds to run an offence but it was enough for the outstanding Welligton forward Taane Samuel to tie the game.
Still the scores were level, 92-92 deep into overtime before Tyner-Wenman cooly slooted home a pair of free throws to secure Wellington a 94-92 victory and top spot in their pool.
The match of the day was possibly the opening game of the day in Pool 1, Tasman defeating Hawkes Bay 102-95 in double overtime.
In the Girls competition North Harbour A, Waikato, Porirua and Taranaki all progressed as Pool winners and will take favouritism status into their quarter final encounters on day 3.