The SAS Women’s National Basketball Championship Final was an Auckland local derby between North Harbour and Waitakere.
Waitakere boasted the presence of Tall Fern centre Megan Craig but she picked up two early fouls, forced to return to the bench. Michelle Nicholls and Stephanie Jones made a couple of early baskets for Waitakere. They were countered by Zara Jillings and Georgia Perrott-Hunt to give Harbour a slender 14-13 first quarter advantage.
Back to back baskets by Perrott-Hunt took Harbour further ahead before Milomilo Nanai made a neat basket for Waitakere then a block by Craig fuelled a transition basket for Nicholls.
Claire McCurran made back-to-back baskets including a triple to increase the Harbour advantage before Kate Gillespie scored from the elbow for Waitakere.
A trademark Stevee Theyers triple reduced the arrears, Harbour ahead 43-41 at half time. Perrott-Hunt led all scorers with 16 points at the break; Nanai had a dozen points for Watakere.
Craig tied the scores early in the third period but immediately picked up her third foul. Her exit from the court allowed the Harbour forwards parity in the paint, Camece Salmon making a score. Coach Aik Ho called for a timeout, his Waitakere charges trailing 50-45 midway through the period. Nanai responded with a drive resulting in a couple of free throws followed by a Milani transition layup. Jillings did the same for Harbour, 54-49 ahead with 3 minutes left in the quarter.
Theyers was leading the defensive effort for Waitakere and her triple closed the gap, Harbour ahead 59-55 at three-quarter time.
Consecutive trips to the free throw line by Waitakere tied the scores, Milani making the go ahead basket. Scoring from both teams stalled but Nicholson dropped a neat shot and then Nicholls got to the foul line, Harbour in need of a time out with 6 minutes remaining trailing 64-60.
Milani stretched the lead further, Nicholls even further as Harbour looked a spent force on offense having failed to score from the field for the first seven minutes of the final stanza.
A banked shot from Craig put Waitakere ahead 72-64 with 2:15 remaining and Harbour were unable to respond despite a couple of scores from the outstanding Perrott-Hunt. The hosts eased the clock down to record a deserved 78-64 victory.
Milomilo Nanai’s all round contribution earned her deserved MVP honours and Waitakere also got major contributions from Craig and the experienced Theyers.
Waitakere 78 – Nanai 20, Milani 16, Nicholls 14, Craig 12
Harbour 64 – Perrott-Hunt 24, Jillings 12, McCurran 10