The major news from the penultimate day of the SAS Secondary School Championships in Palmerston North is that the 2015 champions, St Peter’s School and Rangitoto College are headed back to the final.
In the first girls semi-final St Peter’s School, Cambridge edged a high quality encounter with Westlake Girls 79-76. The Junior Tall Ferns quartet of Charlisse Leger-Walker, Kendell Heremaia, (for St Peter’s) and Tiarna Clarke and Zara Jillings (for Westlake) combined for an incredible 102 points.
The decision making of Charlisse Leger-Walker and Kendell Heremaia was exemplary, particularly down the stretch, as they held off the determined Westlake side.
The game that was tight throughout. 16-15 at the first break and 34 apiece at half-time became 56-53 to St Peter’s at the last break with never more than four points in it.
A Jillings And 1 play put Westlake ahead 63-62 early in the fourth but Heremaia and the hard working Ella Bradley restored the St Peter’s lead. A long Clarke three gave Westlake the lead with three to play but the big three of Leger-Walker, Heremaia and Bradley responded again. Jillings once again gave Lake the lead (74-73) with 1:15 to play but the defending champions would not be denied as Bradley and Heremaia made the go ahead scores and this time there was no way back for Westlake
Final score; St Peter’s 79 – Leger-Walker 30 points/14 rebounds/7assists, Heremaia 26/14, Bradley 19/7/3/3steals
Westlake 76 – Jillings 26/8/4, Clarke 20 (4/5 3PG), Tini 10/12, Shearer 10/12
In the second girls semi-final the surprise package of the tournament, Mt Albert Grammar School continued their winning run defeating local rivals Auckland Girls Grammar School 75-58.
Sharne Pupuke-Robati was huge for Mt Albert doing a lot of damage in the paint alongside Trinity Paeu. Pupuke-Robati finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds as Mt Albert led for all but the first five minutes of the game.
They opened with a 15-6 quarter, led 32-20 at the interval and 48-39 entering the last period.
Auckland started the fourth quarter strongly with tireless captain Elianna Tuiti, Mele Latu, Rionne Papa and the Tyla Tuala all working their way to basket. But every time Auckland made a run Mt Albert were able to find a counter – Rhyannon Poto often the architect of accurate offence.
A Tuala three gave Grammar hope, 64-48 with 5 minutes to play but that evaporated as Pupuke-Robati made back to back baskets, Jodeci Joseph scored off a Poto pass then the roles were reversed as Joseph fed Poto to cap a fine team performance from Mt Albert.
Final score: Mt Albert 75 – Pupuke-Robati 27/15rebs, Paeu 12, Joseph 12, Poto 10/8rebs/7assists
Auckland – Papa 18/7, Tuala 15, Latu 13/22, E Tuaiti 10/7
Both teams struggled for offensive fluency in the opening half of the first boys semi-final with Rangitoto College enjoying slightly better success leading 36-25 against Auckland Grammar at half-time. Sam Waardenburg had 16 points for the holders, Taki Fahrensohn 8 points for Grammar at the break.
Fahrensohn and Thomas Whyte made some inroads into the Rangi lead but every time a run looked like coming Waardenburg and Dan Fotu would find a way to basket. From nowhere Sam Aruwa landed a three on the three-quater time hooter and Grammar were back in contention down just 47-41.
Another Whyte triple got the Grammar supporters excited and although Brayden Inger made a couple of baskets Grammar only trailed 60-53 after a pair of Farensohn buckets.
Rangi point guard Harry Clarke then stamped his mark on the game making three triples in the final period to stretch the advantage to 69-53 before Waardenburg with a dunk off a back cut put the exclamation mark on the win, Grammar outscored 29-18 in the final quarter.
Final score: Rangitoto 76 – Waardenburg 30 points/ 16 rebounds, Fotu 17/7, Clarke 9 (3/3 3PG), Inger 7, Te Puni 6/7
Auckland Grammar 59 – Fahrensohn 19/12, Aruwa 13, Flanagan 11/10, Whyte 8
In the second boys semi-final a low scoring game was won 59-53 by Palmerston North Boys High School over New Plymouth Boys High School much to the delight of large vociferous home crowd.
The home side led 32-21 at half time and 45-36 at three-quarter time. It was looking comfortable for Palmy before Corbin Giddy initiated a New Plymouth come back.
The crowd went quiet as Thane O’Leary trimmed the Palmerston advantage to just a single point, 45-44 with 4 minutes to play.
Sitting on four fouls Palmerston centre Callum McLeod was reintroduced and he immediately scored, as did Jack Henry. The impressive Oscar Oswald landed a three then blocked yet another shot and Palmerston suddenly had breathing space leading 56-48 with two minutes to play.
Baxter Fenwick landed a triple for New Plymouth but it wasn’t enough and it is Palmerston North who will face Rangitoto in the final.
Final Score; Palmerston North 59 – Henry 14, Walker 13/9, Oswald 12/5blocks, Faamausili 12
New Plymouth 53 – Giddy 20/8, Potts-Broughton 11/13, Fenwick 9, O’Leary 7/12