Rangitoto defend National 3×3 title


The 2016 Secondary Schools 3×3 National Slam concluded at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere on Saturday.

Sixty-three teams played more than 400 games spread over three days of competition to earn the right to be called the champions of the third annual 3×3 National Slam.

The Senior Boys final was a rematch of the 2015 championship game with local rivals Rangitoto College and Westlake Boys High School going head to head and once again Rangitoto secured the trophy winning 21-13.

Rangi breezed to an 8-3 lead before an Isaac Letoa inspired spell drew Westlake within a point. The Lake guard scored consecutive 2 twos and when Thabo Manyere added another double with three minutes to play the momentum was with Westlake. However Sam Waardenburg and Zac Te Puni took control of the dying minutes to ensure the Senior Boys cup remained in the Rangitoto trophy cabinet.

Rangitoto forward Te Puni was delighted to retain the silverware, “The guys from last year gave us big shoes to fill and it was a great challenge to step up to.”

Te Puni relishes the 3×3 game, “There is a bit more space than the five on five and it seems to suit my game. With other players like Sam (Waardenburg) and Logan (Anderson) we can spread the floor and open things up and that enables me to play my game to the maximum, “ he said.

Earlier Rangitoto had got the better of Wanganui High School 21-10 in one semi-final and in the other Westlake beat Rosmini College A 21-14. Credit to Rosmini for progressing deep into the tournament as they played with just three players for the entire three days.

The Senior Girls Final was eventually won by Hamilton Girls High School but not before New Plymouth Girls High School forced the game into overtime with the scores locked 9-9.

Hamilton led 3-1 early on but the outstanding Joellen How dragged New Plymouth back into the contest and Rebecca Nolly put them 9-7 ahead with a minute to play. Stirling Walker-Pitman tied the contest before Kharmen Wolfgramm-Kereama and Zarya Poulava scored the clutch two points to secure an 11-9 win.

Wolfgramm-Kereama, in only in her second season of basketball, was key to the Hamilton win but admitted overtime was tough physically. “I was really tired but I knew I had to just keep going if we were going to get the win”.

Earlier in the day Walker-Pitman dragged Hamilton Girls High School into the final converting a free throw after the final buzzer to eliminate Rangitoto Blue 10-9 in the semi-final.

The other semi was won 10-6 by New Plymouth; the Taranaki team eliminated defending champions, St Peter’s, Cambridge.

Hamilton Girls High School failed to make it a double beaten 11-7 by Westlake Girls High School in the Junior Girls Final. In a low scoring opening the scores were locked 5-5 at the mid point as Mareta Davidson (Westlake) and Dominique Stehens (Hamilton) went toe to toe in the low post, both making important plays for their respective teams.

Eventually it was a Jordyn Maddix deuce and a Piper Manolas and one play that broke the back of the Hamilton Girls resistance.

Westlake coach Stephen Dil admitted his team had to learn on the fly as they had only had one training session before the tournament.

“The girls worked as a team throughout the tournament and in the final they followed the game plan. We wanted to close out Hamilton’s good outside shooters and force their big as far away from the hoop as possible and that is certainly what Mereta (Davidson) did.”

The Junior Boys Final featured Rosmini College and Rongotai College after both had progressed relatively comfortably from semi-final action. Rosmini had accounted for Wanganui Boys High School 11-6 and Rongotai eliminated Rangitoto College Blue 21-9

Reon Paul and Ezrah Vaigafa helped Rongotai establish a 6-2 advantage, increased to 8-5 before Rosmini surged back into the contest. Marvin Williams-Dunn knocked down a couple of long range twos and Reihana Maxwell-Topia converted a couple of athletic plays to narrow the gap to 8-7 with four minutes to play.

That was as near as it got for Rosmini as Vaigafa and Jaylin To’o secured a 13-8 win for the Wellingtonians.

Former Tall Black, now Rongotai College coach, Chris Tupu was pleased with the experience his players had gained.

“It was nice to come here and play against the top teams this region has to offer. I think we did well, we are stoked with our young talent and how they performed.”

Rongotai did win a Secondary Schools title back in the 1980’s but this was the first win since and Tupu is keen to attempt to win another next year.

“I think we are the first team to attend from Wellington and it is certainly a worthwhile tournament and we will be back again next year.”

“They tell me 3×3 will be an exhibition sport at the 2020 Olympics and a full sport from 2024 so it is definitely a game of the future. It is a format that we need to get on board with.”

Perhaps one or two of the players that have shone during the past three days will be representing New Zealand in 3×3 at a future Olympics.

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