All teams involved in the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) congregate in Tauranga next week (March 4-6) for the first of three tournament weekends that will decide the 2017 championship.
The WBC takes on the same format as last year with some games played outside the three tournament weekends, in an attempt to promote the women’s games and profile the players in their local associations.
The first of these games was played in Cambridge on Wednesday evening with Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks edging a tight encounter, 59-58, against Waikato Wizards.
The Wizards, led by veterans Natasha Lenden and Miriam Stevens made the stronger start opening up a 6 points lead although that was trimmed to a single point, 19-18, at quarter time.
Breana Jones, back in the WBC after a stint at the University of Hawaii was prominent for the Hawks as it forged a 30-26 half-time advantage.
Waikato, strengthened by the addition of former Tauranga forward Kelcy Ballantyne, bounced back in the third period winning the quarter 20-13 to hold a 46-43 lead entering the final ten minutes.
Waikato still had a four point cushion with 5 minutes to play but the poise of Jordan Hunter, Hayley Moala and Jones helped last years runners-up boss the final minutes and get its campaign off to a winning start.
Waikato Wizards 58 – Stevens 13p/6r, Krystal Leger Walker 11p/6r/5a, Kendell Heremaia 8p/9r, Kyler Parai 7p
ACM Lady Hawks 59 – Hunter 19p/5r/5a, Moala 16p/8r, Jones 13p/5r/4a, Sharne Pupuke 6p/7r