The 2016 WBC (Women’s Basketball Championship) champions have been found. Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats produced a dominant performance to beat Waikato Wizards 68-54 in the Final at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua on Saturday.
Final – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats v Waikato Wizards
Canterbury forward Ashley Gayle scored the first basket of the game, Alyssa Hirawani replied with a lay up in traffic for Waikato but a 12-0 run helped Canterbury to a 21-12 opening quarter lead. But for a running three from just beyond the half way line by Hirawani on the quarter time buzzer the lead could have been even more substantial.
Seven straight points from Courtney Hamblin and two from Terai Sadler stretched the Wildcats lead to 30-14 forcing a time out from Wizards coach Leanne Walker. Miriam Stevens broke the scoring drought for Waikato as a defence dominated quarter ended with the Wildcats 32-19 to the good. The impressive Hirawani led all scorers with 12 points at the break, Fran Edmondson close to a double double with 8 points and 8 boards for the Wildcats.
As in the first half Gayle opened the scoring with opposition centre Stevens converting from short range for Waikato in reply. Gayle began to dominate the key at both ends and she stretched the lead to 40-21 with seven straight points before Hirawani added to her tally with a triple but the lead by then was 20 points in favour of the Cantabs.
Tessa Morrison knocked down a couple of three’s either side of a Kelcy Ballantyne bucket and when Shea Crotty grabbed a steal and a break away lay-up the Canterbury captain had one hand on the trophy with her team 57-30 to the good.
Georgia Perrott-Hunt scored twice early in the final period to prompt a Waikato revival but the result was never in doubt as Canterbury won 68-54.
The Wildcats have remained unbeaten during the 2016 WBC campaign, winning 14 straight WBC games to deservedly claim the title.
Wildcats coach Lori McDaniel was naturally delighted, “I’m really proud of the girls performance, not just today, but throughout the season. They have remained unbeaten in WBC (14 games) and that is pretty impressive in it’s self.
“It got a bit out of control towards the end but luckily we were up by quite a bit by then but overall they’ve done a great job. I called a timeout and told them to chill and relax out as you are playing as if we are behind by 20 points not up by 20. Regardless of the turnovers at the end we won well and deserved to win”
McDaniel paid tribute to the Waikato Wizards and their coach Leanne Walker.
“Waikato have done a great job and for Leanne to do what she did without Krystal ( guard Krystal Leger-Walker is in China with the Tall Ferns) is a credit to them. They are a tough team, they are skilled”
McDaniel complimented three individual players.
“Fran Edmondson (10 points, 14 rebounds) has done a great job. She is not a traditional type of post player, a kind of wriggly, bendy kind of an athlete but its great to watch. I also want to commend Ashley Gayle (13 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks) on a controlled true posting game today and I’m really proud of how she played.
“I think it is a lot of effort from all the girls, everyone has contributed and Shea Crotty has been a fantastic leader at point guard.”
The Canterbury coach also took time to thank the team’s sponsors.
Murray Kennedy and Alloyfold have been fantastic. They have brought a lot of value to these players, not just monetary but going out and getting individual sponsors. I am thrilled to bits with their support, it makes a massive difference.”
Canterbury 68 – Gayle 13p/15r, Sadler 11, Edmondson 10p/14r, Hamblin 10
Waikato 54 – Hirawani 24p/9r, Heremaia10/10, Stevens 10
Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks 35 Capital Flyers 65
A dominant first half display by Capital propelled them to a 39-16 lead. A performance of pace and polish demonstrated why they were regarded as one of the form teams in the second half of the season. Kayla Kiriau with 10 points was the biggest contributor to the Flyers offensive game at half-time, Breana Jones with a brace of threes, the best for ACM.
The Lady Hawks gave up 13 turnovers in the first half and that trend continued in the third period, more errors contributing to an 11-2 run, and a 50-18 lead for the hosts. Steph Rigter and Idaho Purcell made up some ground for ACM but the efforts of Tegan Graham, Shalae Salmon and Sariah Penese kept Capital in control, a massive 30 points ahead (56-26) at the third break.
Hannah Turton and Jones made threes for ACM in the fourth but it was too little too late as Capital lifted the silverware with a 65-35 victory.
Capital 65 – K Kiriau 16p/8r/5stls, Penese 16, Graham 12, Morris 7
ACM 35 – Jones 11, Purcell 8, Pupuke-Robati 7/13
3rd/4th Play-off Game
Taranaki Thunder 52 Oceana Gold Rush Otago 54
As she has been all season centre Jess Tuki was the fulcrum of the Taranaki effort in a tight first twenty minutes with 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks as her team led 22-20. Soraya Umaga-Jensen was equally influential for Otago with 7 points and 6 rebounds.
Bailey Gavin slotted home a couple of long range efforts for the Thunder but they trailed 37-33 at the last break.
A couple of Joellen How drives get the Taranaki score ticking over but Otago had the better of the third leading 37-33 with ten minutes to play.
Aleisha Ruske stretched the lead further as did a pair of Umaga-Jensen triples. Tuki got the Nakki within 5 points with 2:30 to play, Rebekah Trethewey made it even closer before Tuki leveled proceedings with 60 seconds to play.
Inside the last 30 seconds Natalie Smith edged Otago ahead, Courtney Keech tied proceedings only for Aleisha Ruske to seal the deal with 1.5 seconds left on the clock for last season’s champions.
Otago 54 – Umaga-Jensen 18/8, A Ruske 15, Smith 7/7
Taranaki 52 – Keech 15, Tuki 13/13, Gavin 7
7th/8th Play-off Game
Waitakere Lady Rangers v Nelson Sparks
Forward Lauren Vetters impressed again with ten points in the first periodfor the Lady Rangers but they trailed 26-24 at half-time. Regular contributors Lauren Hippolite and Jodi Hikuroa-Jeffrey with 7 points apiece led the Sparks effort. Darci Finnigan showed some nice touches for the Lady Rangers but they still trailed by a point, 36-37 at three-quarter time.
Jess Nicholson and Greissen Leslie threes propelled Waitakere into the lead with four minutes to play. Chelsea Neame reduced the lead to two points but another Nicholson three gave Waitakere a 49-44 advantage with 1:36 to play.
One of the players of the tournament Hikuroa-Jeffrey scored 4 quick points. It looked all over when Kat Jones missed a free throw but Neame grabbed the offensive rebound, made the put back with 7 seconds left on the clock to take Nelson to an improbable victory 50-49.
Nelson 50 – Hippolite 15, Hikuroa-Jeffrey 11p/9r, Neame 10, Jones 4/14
Waitakere 49 – Vetters 13, Finnigan 10, Theyers 10
9th/10th Play-off Game
Te Tai Tokerau Phoenix 69 Tauranga City Coasters 64
A Freda Riwai baseline jumper on the cusp of half- time edged the Phoenix ahead 38-36. Baskets from Jaimee-Lee Tito, Ellen Ma and Riwai kept the Northerners ahead 53-48 with ten left on the clock.
Back to back baskets from Reanon Hetaraka-Sadler gave the Phoenix a ten points margin but the Coasters weren’t finished. An 8-0 run spurred by Briarley Rogers and Courtney Wilson dragged the Coasters back into the contest. Hetaraka-Sadler and Riwai re-established a four point margin, threatened but not overcome, by the Coasters.
Te Tai Tokerau 69 – Tito 21,Riwai 18, Hetaraka-Sadler 14p/8r, Ma 5, Telfer 1p/10r
Tauranga 64 – B Rogers 16, C Rogers 12, Wilson 13, Watene 10, Kendrick 6p/13r