Fierce competition looming for Auckland Sec Schools Prem Grade spots

Next Tuesday we will know the makeup of the 2017 Auckland Secondary Schools Premier competition.

Auckland College Sport and the decision makers in Auckland secondary schools basketball are to be applauded for their initiative to introduce both a Boy’s and Girl’s Premier Grade reserve competition for 2017.

The new grade has created plenty of interest and intrigue in the Premier Qualifying Tournament being played this coming Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday

Ten schools have entered the Girls Qualifying Tournament meaning that the top two qualifiers will gain automatic entry into the Premier Grade with the remaining eight teams making up the Reserve Grade that will be known officially as the Auckland Senior A competition.

With twenty schools entered in the Boy’s Qualifying Tournament competition for the two places in the Premier Grade and eight spots in Senior A will be fierce.

It is hard to pick favourites in either tournament but I like the chances of Massey High School retaining their place in the Girls Premier competition. With much the same team as last season, but all a year wiser, the likes of Shauna Povey, Terina Aratangi and Laticia Jost should perform well.

Also in Pool A look out for St Mary’s College Ponsonby with sisters Zaaliyah and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu making a handy front court pairing. St Kent’s with home court advantage should feature strongly in Pool B.

Girls Pool A

Massey HS, Epsom Girls, St Mary’s, Carmel College, Pakuranga College

Girls Pool B

St Kentigern College, Birkenhead College, Onehunga HS, Mt Roskill GS, Diocesan School.

Picking a winner in the Boy’s Tournament is something of a lottery.

St Peter’s College, St Kentigern College and Mcleans College all performed well at the recent Rangitoto Invitational Tournament.

St Peter’s will look towards Gerard Boersen and Toffer Espinosa to provide scoring punch whilst St Kent’s will be hoping Max Shorter and Kyle Robb can lead a return to top flight basketball for the East Auckland college.

St Peter’s coach Leyton Haddleton likes the look of both Massey High and Macleans College and also thinks Onehunga High, one of the bottom two finishers in 2016 will be going all out to preserve their Premier status.

Liston College has been building nicely via a strong junior programme in the last couple of years and Avondale College, with Doe Williams back at the helm, can’t be discounted.

However, with twenty teams competing, a dark horse or two will inevitably emerge.

Boys Pool A

Onehunga HS, Massey HS, Takapuna GS, Avondale College, Kings College

Boys Pool B

Liston College, St Kentigern College, Mt Roskill GS, Pakuranga College, Waitakere College

Boys Pool C

St Peter’s College, Selwyn College, Macleans College, Birkenhead College, Sacred Heart College

Boys Pool D

Manurewa HS, Northcote College, Western Springs College, Dilworth School, De La Salle College

All round robin games will be played on Saturday and Sunday with the critical play-off games set down for North Shore Events Centre on Tuesday.

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