The Junior Tall Ferns progressed to the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships Grand Final by defeating Samoa 108-25 in the semi-final played in Suva on Friday afternoon.
The JTF’s made a perfect start as Akiene Reed converted a lay-up on the opening play and Tiarna Clarke landed a sideline three on the next possession.
New Zealand scored the first 9 points of the game before Samoa opened their account with an inside basket.
Aliyah Dunn finished strong in the paint, Charlisse Leger-Walker landed a jump shot and followed with a steal and lay-up to take the JTB’s to a comfortable 25-4 quarter time advantage.
Samoa opened the scoring in the second quarter but seven straight points opened the JTF’s advantage to 32-8.
The JTF’s were dominating the paint and inside baskets from Dunn, Charlotte Whittaker and Esra McGoldrick increased the Ferns lead to 44-10 at the mid point in the stanza.
A three from Alyssa Hirawani capped a strong first half from the JTF’s as they led 56-14 at the interval – a balanced scoring effort led by McKenna Dale (8pts).
Leger-Walker knocked down a corner three off a no look Clarke pass, Clarke landed a brace of triples of her own as New Zealand scored 15 straight points before Samoa replied.
Samoa, with a number of Kiwi based players, never gave up and enjoyed a brief scoring burst before Kendell Heremaia landed a jump shot to help the JTF’s to an 83-23 lead at the last break.
Whittaker continued to trouble Samoa with her inside presence and earned herself a couple of trips to the foul line. Jayden Fuiava and Reed scored from beyond the arc and it was another triple, this time from Leger-Walker that brought up the JTF’s ton.
New Zealand coach Brent Matehaere was content to share the playing time amongst his full playing group ahead of a tougher examination against Australia in the final.
The Junior Tall Ferns will face Australia in the final at 4pm on Saturday for a place at the FIBA Under 19 World Championships in Cairo next year. Earlier Australia hammered New Caledonia 137-8 in the first semi-final.
Junior Tall Ferns 108 – Clarke 14, Reed 12, Whittaker 11/9r, Leger-Walker 11, Dunn 11/8r, Fuiava 10, Hirawani 9, Dale 9, Jillings 7, McGoldrick 6/9r, Ruske 5, Heremaia 3
Samoa 25 – A Sau 8, F Ropati 7