The cloudy waters of the 2017 Auckland Secondary Schools Premier Qualifying Tournament have now cleared.
After three days of competition the twenty nine would be qualifiers (20 boys teams, 9 girls teams) have been whittled down to the successful four.
Massey High and Carmel College will contest the Girls Prem Grade this season with Macleans College and St Kentigern College earning the right to play in the Boys Prem Grade.
Macleans and St Kent’s progressed in exciting but contrasting encounters.
Macleans led at the end of each quarter against Massey High. 25-20 at quarter time, 55-31 at the half and 72-62 at three-quarter time.
Macleans with Blake van Uden, Alex Arthur and Andrew Fei in good form appeared to have gained a stranglehold on the game in the middle stages of the fourth stretching out to 90-74 but then things became interesting.
A three point play by Elijah Williams gave Massey hope and Marvis Pavli optimism as the lead was reduced to single figures.
A Williams triple made it even closer, 93-86, with 60 seconds to play. Inconsistent free throw shooting from Macleans afforded the opposition more opportunities and Jordan Papa-Mita obliged with 8 straight points as Massey closed to 97-96 with 20 seconds to play.
A cool head was needed in the Macleans camp and they found one in Fei who made three straight freebies to close out a 100-96 victory for the Adrian Boyd coached team.
In contrast the other final eliminator was a tight affair throughout. Avondale College had the better of the early exchanges leading 19-15 at quarter time.
St Kent’s rebounding machine Matt Shorter and Avondale guard David Gatoloai kept the score moving for their respective teams but it was the Eastern suburbs team that had better of the second to edge ahead 33-35 at the break.
It was still tight at three-quarter time St Kent’s ahead 50-49 and 59-57 with less than 6 minutes to play.
St Kent’s guard Tom Chester landed a neat floater but Amand Donaldson tied proceedings at 61 apiece inside the last 90 seconds.
Zach Chan knocked down a sideline three for St Kent’s only for Kennedy Nicolaison to respond in kind on the next possession, 66-66 with 30 seconds to play.
Kyle Robb made a free throw as St Kent’s edged ahead 67-66 with 18 seconds on the clock.
Man of the match Shorter secured a crucial defensive rebound, as Avondale failed to score on the next possession, then secured Prem status for the Aaron Young coached St Kent’s by calmly knocking down a pair of free throws. St Kentigern home but only just 69-66.
Results from the Round of Eight
Massey 92 Western Springs 84
Manurewa 81 Avondale 84
St Kentigern 67 v St Peter’s 58
Macleans 94 v Pakuranga 81
The Senior A competition will be made up of all of the above bar St Kent’s and Macleans.
The two additional qualifiers are Liston College and Northcote College who came through a four team round robin series at the expense of Takapuna GS and Birkenhead College. Birkenhead were edged out on points differential after they, Liston and Northcote each finished with a 2-1 record
In the Girl’s competition Massey High proved too strong, as they had throughout pool play, disposing of Birkenhead College 88-42.
Massey dominated the opening quarter 25-9 and with the lead 47-15 at half-time the retention of Premier Grade status was almost assured. Shauna Povey (20pts), Ramona Fuaivaa (13pts) and Alyesha Shuster (13pts) led the scoring but it was an all-round team performance that produced the win.
New Zealand Under 16 forward Rashaan Smith led the Birkenhead effort with 19 points.
In the other qualifier Carmel College proved too strong for St Kentigern winning 68-58 on the back of 38 points from guard Tayla Dalton.
St Kent’s made a strong start leading 20-13 at the quarter break, Summer-Jean Motufoua quickly into double figures. Fortunes were reversed in the second period as Catie Levell and Emily Bloomfield helped Carmel to a 34-30 half-time advantage.
Kristin Hansen scored 8 third quarter points for St Kent’s but Carmel still held a 50-46 lead with a quarter to play.
The St Kent’s scoring dried up in the front half of the final stanza and Carmen capitalized as Dalton and Bloomfield stretched the advantage to double figures creating a buffer St Kent’s were unable to breach. Carmel into Prem Grade with a fine 68-58 win.