Waikato Girls and Harbour Boys are on track to defend their respective titles at the 2016 Under 17 National Championships at North Shore Events Centre.
On Friday the first Girls semi-final was a match up between defending champions Waikato and Wellington.
Waikato took a 16-9 lead into the quarter time break but then conceded a 12-0 run to trail 21-16 in the middle of the second.
The lead narrowed to two points, 29-27, in favour of Wellington at half-time. Waikato guard Charlisse Leger-Walker led all scorers with 16 points; Renee Savaiinaea had 7 points for Wellington.
The two teams exchanged scores in the third quarter before three consecutive baskets from Grace Hunter took Wellington to a 40-34 lead at the last break.
Zhanay Hettig scored on consecutive plays for Waikato as they moved within a single point 43-42 with 6 minutes to play.
Hettig then made the go ahead play with 4 minutes to play and Wellington were unable to find a scoring response. Managing just three points in the final quarter the girls from the capital fell 49-43.
Leger-Walker was immense contributing over half of her team’s points with 25.
Final Score: Waikato 49 – Leger-Walker 25, Hettig 7 Wellington 43 – Hunter 10, Mafua 7, Savaiinaea 7
The second semi-final was a local derby between North Harbour 1 and Waitakere West. Mele Latu scored 14 points as Waitakere West forged a 37-24 half time advantage.
The Waitakere transition offence continued to reap dividends their lead extending to twenty points in the middle of the third.
Chanel Brodeue-Muir landed a three for Harbour but the free scoring Latu responded with a triple of her own.
Elianna Tuaiti found he way to the basket a couple of times and the Waitakere advantage was 58-38 at three-quarter time.
Parehuia Delamere made a couple of baskets but Harbour were unable to make any inroads into the Waitakere lead, the girls from the West advancing to play Waikato in the Grand Final.
Final Score: Waitakere West 74 – Mele Latu 26pts/18rebs, Elianna Tuaiti 21/11, Abigail Roache 10, Shauna Povey 7 Harbour A 56 – Chanel Brodeur-Muir 11, Parehuia Delamere 10/9, Keeley Tini 9/7 Rashaan Smith 8
The first Boys semi final featured traditional rivals Canterbury and North Harbour. It was the boys in black and maroon that started the strongest quickly getting out to a ten point lead courtesy of a couple of eye catching James Moors and Kruz Perrrott-Hunt baskets.
The first quarter closed with Harbour 28-12 in the lead.
A better second quarter showing from Canterbury, with Connor McLaughlin making an impression, improved the mood of the Cantab supporters but their team were still 48-27 in arrears at half-time.
The third quarter was largely one-way traffic as Harbour piled on 43 points to finish the period 81-39 ahead.
McLaughlin kept the score rolling over for Canterbury but the result was never in doubt as Harbour moved comfortably into the final with a 97-63 victory.
Final Score: Harbour 97 – Harry Clarke 21, Mitchell Dance 17, Peter Jenkins 17/11, James Moors 16/9, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 12/11 Canterbury 63 – Connor McLaughlin 22, Will Harrison 9, Isaiah Morris 7
The second semi-final began with Palmerston North in the ascendancy taking the opening period 21-12 against Waitakere West.
The inside presence of Kale Lawson started to trouble Palmerston in the second quarter but the scoring efficiency of Oscar Oswald and Lachlan Scott kept Palmerston ahead. Palmy centre Cooper Boyce-Towler put down a dunk to put an exclamation mark on a 45-28 opening half in their favour.
Dru Leusogi Ape sank a three for Waitakere in the middle of the third but the response from Shaka Riddell was emphatic – three three’s in three minutes and Palmerston were 66-43 to the good with ten to play.
Waitakere didn’t give up trying but they looked weary in the fourth, as the exertions of their come from behind quarter-final win appeared to take its toll.
Coaches Jason Seumanu and Kent Mori gave deserved game time to their bench players in the closing minutes as Palmerston North eased to an 88-59 win.
Final Score: Palmerston North 88 – Shaka Riddell 24, Lachlan Scott 22, Oscar Oswald 14/7, Nikau Tangaroa 8 Waitakere West 59 – Kale Lawson 26/20, Kennedy Nikolaison 7/8, John Fabian 7, Dru Leusogi-Ape 7
The Grand Finals will be played at NSEC on Saturday
3.30pm Girls Final – Waikato v Waitakere West
5.15pm Boys Final – Harbour A v Palmerston North
Earlier in the day in girls quarter-final action Wellington easily disposed of Rotorua 95-43 and Waikato, in a much tighter game, beat Auckland Counties 1 51-40. Waitakere West continued their good run overcoming Taranaki 80-52 and North Harbour defeated Tasman 80-52.
In the Boys quarter finals Harbour A accounted for Auckland Counties 1 89-51 and Canterbury ditched Porirua Capital 116-68.
Central Country lost to Palmerston North and Waitakere West beat Waikato