The first Men’s semi-final at the 2016 Under 23 National Championships in Tauranga was between North Harbour and Hutt Valley.
Harbour made the better start leading 10-4 with Matt Lacey and Ana Haku prominent and the lead was extended to 27-11 at quarter time.
Liam Thornton made a couple of good looking plays for Harbour requiring Hutt coach George Le’afa to call a timeout to discuss tactics.
Jackson Stubbins got the score moving for Hutt with five straight freebies and a Keota Warren transition basket trimmed the advantage to 36-18 in favour of Harbour.
Thornton continued to punish Hutt as the lead extended to twenty points although a series of fouls sidelined Lacey, Haku and Nick Brophy.
Hutt were unable to take full advantage although Jordan Hunt, Jamal Mikaio and Stubbins made baskets but a pair of Chris McIntosh threes helped Harbour to a 52-30 half-time lead.
Thornton picked up fouls three and four in quick succession and Lacey and Haku were also charged with their fourth offences igniting a Hutt charge on the back of Nico Buckrell and Jackson Stubbins scores.
Denhym Brooke and Brophy combined for Harbour scores. Jordan Hunt’s fourth foul sent Hutt to small ball and something of a revival as they closed the gap by three-quarter time to 67-53.
Tom Kingsmill made a couple of scores as did Brophy before Keota Warren replied – Harbour up 75-59 with 5:30 to play and a Hutt timeout.
Mikaio and Dion Yee scored to bring it back to 12 with four to play.
Jackson Stubbins two free throws 76-65 and Nico Buckrell in transition 76-67 with 2:51 to play.
Stubbins three 76-70 with 2:20 to play
Nathan Curran for Harbour 78-70
Buckrell free throws 78-74 with 1:30 to play
Ketoa Warren fouled out sending Haku to the foul line – 79-74 with one minute to play.
Jack Stubbins in transition 79-76 with 22 seconds to play then Harbour fail to convert free throw opportunities but Hutt miss an opportunity to tie the game.
Haku free throws 81-76 to Harbour but a Buckrell three 81-79 with 13 seconds left makes it interesting. Brophy was fouled as the clock wound down and iced the game from the free throw line
Final score Harbour 83 – Haku 14, Brophy 13, Brooke 12, Thornton 11 Lacey 10 Hutt Valley 79 – Buckrell 25, J Stubbins 23, Mikaio 14, Hunt 8