The New Zealand Under 16 Women met Queensland North on the final day of the Australian State Championships in Melbourne on Saturday in a 7th/8th classification game.
The two teams had met on the opening day of the Championships, New Zealand winning on that occasion 79-63. It was a tighter finish this time but the scoreline was still in favour of the Kiwis 61-53.
The Waikato pair of Charlisse Leger-Walker and Ella Bradley paced the New Zealand effort, both contributing 16 points.
Once again forward Sharne Pupuke-Robati was ruled out of the contest due to injury but the New Zealand team coped sufficiently without their leading rebounder tying the count on the boards 41-41.
Bradley scored the first 6 points for the Kiwis and Rosalia Samia a triple as the Kiwis were edged 17-16 in the first quarter.
New Zealand kept Queensland North to just 7 points in a decisive second period won 16-7. A Briarley Rogers three and a pair of Caitlin O’Connell baskets helped give the Kiwis some breathing space at half-time – 32-24 ahead.
Taranaki’s Isabelle Cook and Bradley scored 10 points between them in the third but Queensland were only six points behind with three minutes left in period. A seven points scoring burtst from the experienced Leger-Walker rebuffed the Queensland effort and gave New Zealand a 51-39 three-quarter time advantage.
When Bradley and Leger-Walker stretched the advantage further it appeared New Zealand would cruise to victory but they went scoreless for four minutes allowing Queensland to close to within 5 points, 55-50, with 3:19 to play.
Up stepped Bradley, having her most productive game of the tournament, to score and push the advantage back to 7 points. Jordyn Maddix and Leger-Walker, who played the whole fourty minutes, ensured a New Zealand victory would not slip from their grasp.
The win gave New Zealand a 5-4 record and a seventh place finish in the tournament.
NZ Scorers: Charlisse Leger-Walker 16/13/6, Ella Bradley 16/7, Isabelle Cook 8/6 Jordyn Maddix 5, Rosalia Samia 5, Caitlin O’Connell 4, Briarley Rogers 3, Gracie Hasler-Ewin 3, Rashaan Smith 1