Taranaki Thunder secured an important win early on Day 1 of the 2016 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) second tournament on Friday at Saxton Arena.
The Thunder upset hosts Nelson Sparks winning 52-36 and in so doing boosted their chances of a top six finish and an opportunity to contest the championship section in Porirua early next month.
Jess Tuki was a rebounding machine for Taranaki, grabbing 11 by half-time, eventually finishing with 17 to add to 8 points. Iritana Hohaia complimented Tuki nicely with 12 points (5/9FG) whilst Jodi Hikuroa-Jeffrey fought something of a lone hand for Nelson recording 16 points.
Waikato Wizards were given a huge fright by Capital Flyers coming from four points down at three-quarter time to eventually win 52-50. Miriam Stevens (19pts) eased her team over the line with 11 final quarter points. The Flyers, led by Tegan Graham’s 16 points, were denied their first win of the season but bounced back later in the day.
Graham (28pts) combined for 52 points with Kayla Kiriau to give the Flyers their break out win, 85-74, against Taranaki Thunder. They led 36-32 at the main break and controlled the tempo in the second half to record a deserved win.
The long journey south caused Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix a few problems as they managed just two points in the opening quarter against ACM Lady Hawks. They did improve as the game progressed but still went down 59-25 to the Aucklander’s who were paced by Jordan Hunter (18pts) and Hailey Moala (13pts).
A key game featured the unbeaten Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats and Waikato Wizards. The scores were tied 22 apiece at half time but the inside domination of Canterbury forwards Fran Edmondson (11p/15r) and import Ashley Gayle (13p/11r) proved the difference as the Wildcats ran out 58-53 to the good.
Tauranga City Coasters were outclassed by Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 110-33 in the opening game of the day but demonstrated a huge improvement against Oceana Gold Rush Otago later in the day losing in heartbraking fashion 65-62. The Coasters were ahead 62-60 with under a minute to play but committed an inbounds turnover allowing Aleisha Ruske the opportunity to make the go ahead three for the defending champions with 34 seconds remaining. Rebecca Hughes missed a jump shot on the next play for the Coasters who were then forced to foul allowing Janet Main (12pts) to ice the game for Otago.
15 year old Tauranga guard Briarly Rogers was outstanding leading all scorers with 19 points (8/12FG).
Otago won the battle for second spot on the WBC ladder beating Waitakere Lady Rangers 70-57. The Rangers welcomed back Chevannah Paalvast (12pts) fresh from her Australian WNBL success with Townsville Fire but it was the performances of Soraya Umaga-Jensen (17pts) and Natalie Visger (15pts) in Otago colours that caught the eye.
In the last game of the day Kat Jones kept Nelson’s slim championship play-off hopes alive with a dominating 19 points, 10 rebounds performance as the Sparks kept Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix winless with a hard fought 44-39 victory. Sian Telfar (9pts) top scored for the Phoenix despite leaving the court early in the third period after sustaining an eye injury.
WBC Current Standings
6-0 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
5-1 Oceana Gold Rush Otago
5-2 ACM Lady Hawks
4-2 Waikato Wizards, Waitakere Lady Rangers
3-3 Taranaki Thunder
2-4 Nelson Sparks
1-5 Tauranga City Coasters
1-6 Capital Flyers
0-6 Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix