In the final game of their nine game tour of China the Junior Tall Ferns were defeated 72-65 by the Poland Under 23 team in Weng’an on Wednesday.
The game followed a similar pattern to that of many of the Ferns outings on the tour – still in contention in the fourth quarter but unable to complete the job and secure a win.
The JTF’s had a strong first half opening up an 18-11 first quarter lead and were still ahead 41-35 at the break.
Waikato’s Alyssa Hirawani had a game high 4 steals and Otago’s Nicole Ruske (8pts and 6 rebounds) was also prominent but they couldn’t prevent a third quarter comeback from the Poles and it was they that led 52-51 at the end of the third period.
Poland had been stung by the Kiwis four days earlier in Yuqing and weren’t going to be beaten a second time closing out the game to win 72-65.
Harbour’s Tiarna Clarke led all scorers with 17 points (3/6 3PG) recording her fourth double figures points haul in the last five outings. Southland’s Aliyah Dunn (10pts) was the only other player in double figures although three players recorded 8 points.
Poland Under U23, 72
JTF’s 65 – Tiarna Clarke 17pts/3rebs/2assists/1block/1steal, Dunn 10/5/2, Jillings 8/4/2/2blks, Finnigan 8/3/2stls, Ruske 8/6/3/1stl, Whittaker 5/1/1stl, Leger-Walker 4/2/1/1stl/2blks, Hirawani 3/2/2/4steals, Baudry 2, Penese 0/3/1, Watling DNP
The team arrives back in Auckland on Friday after a successful tour.
A one win, eight loss record doesn’t look particularly good on paper but the JTF’s were competitive in every game against bigger, more experienced opposition. Four of the losses were by 10 points or less and those were the games coaches Brent Matehaere and Bronwen Davidson will be reflecting on the most.
The USA Select team were all players with experience in the US College system, the Polish team were an under 23 group and the Chinese team are heading to Spain in June to compete in the FIBA Under 17 World Championships.