As suggested in the preview last week the 2017 Auckland Secondary Schools Boys Premier competition is expected to be the most competitive in recent seasons. The results from the first round, played on Friday, gave further credence to this prognosis. There were wins for Westlake, Auckland Grammar and St Kentigern but all three games were in the balance until the final minutes.
Zac Fitzgerald’s tenure as Westlake Boys High Prem coach got off to a successful start as his charges put together a strong fourth quarter performance to run out 78-72 victors at Mt Albert Grammar School.
A nervy opening quarter from both sides was edged by MAGS with Cole Pocock draining a deep three to give the hosts a 14-13 advantage.
Early second quarter points from forward Te Akau Pumipi got the home crowd aroused and a banked three from southpaw guard Mandela Baledrokadroka produced more excitement requiring a timeout from coach Fitzgerald to halt a 14-2 MAGS run.
A pair of James Moors triples and a Thabo Manyere jump shot and block stopped the charge as the sky blue lead was cut to 30-25 in the middle of the period.
An athletic drive from Xjanda Luamanuvae-Su’A was answered by a Matt Cairns-Hita triple before a Jonty Vink put back kept MAGS in the ascendancy and they led 42-37 after Su’A and Jackson Port exchanged threes.
Manyere led all scorers at the break with 12 points, Ryan Laumatia the best for a balanced Mt Albert effort with 9 points.
Port knocked down his third triple to open proceedings in the second half but three consecutive baskets from Vink took MAGS to a ten points lead.
Reuben Fitzgerald made a neat floater but Vink’s presence in the paint was causing Westlake headaches and they needed a timeout trailing 52-44 at the mid point of the third.
The timeout produced an exciting ‘Lake’ run closing the quarter with a 13-2 charge initiated by outstanding rim protection from Manyere producing blocks and steals on demand. Westlake ahead 57-54 at the final break.
A frantic spell ensued as the lead changed hands several times but the reintroduction of Manyere changed the game.
The Westlake forward was a defensive juggernaut in the closing stages providing rim protection with rebounds and blocks and finishing with a match winning stats line of 12 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks and 5 steals.
James Moors, easing back into action after injury, put Westlake ahead with 2:21 to play and then Reuben Fitzgerald scored in transition off an exquisite Josh Hidalgo pass (72-69).
Moors put the lid on the win as Westlake closed out the game with a 29-18 final quarter surge.
MAGS coach Daryl Cartwright admitted his team were “underdone,” entering the contest but their spirited performance showed that it was not by a great deal.
Score: Mt Albert 72 – Luamanuvae-Su’A 15, Vink 14, Pumipi 11, Baledrokadroka 10. Westlake 78 – Fitzgerald 21, Moors 17, Manyere 12, Port 11
Also grabbing a first up Premier Grade win was St Kentigern coach Aaron Young. His newly promoted team had to claw their way back from a 36-31 first half deficit against Kelston Boys playing under new coach Carl Buck.
St Kent’s Kyle Robb and Max Shorter shared 25 of the home team’s first half points but the more balanced scoring of Kelston led by Liam Milne and Shaun Falefa held sway at the half.
Momentum turned in the third quarter won 24-11 by St Kent’s. Zachary Chan initiated the swing with a couple of treys and Robb put a stamp on the stanza – trailing by 5 at the interval St Kent’s entered the final quarter 8 points ahead, 55-47.
Solomon Faapoi and Kale Lawson kept chipping away at the St Kent’s advantage but 8 fourth quarter points from Billy Simpson and some fine assists from Kyle Robb ensured a confidence boosting win for the hosts.
Score: St Kentigern 77 – Shorter 28, Robb 16, Chan 11, Simpson 10. Kelston 71 – Milne 14, Lawson 14, Faapoi 11, To’o Mase 10
Also back in Premier grade are Macleans College and they pushed Auckland Grammar all the way before going down 96-85.
It took a 37 points performance from debutant Auckland forward Tom Higgins to see off Macleans for whom Alex Arthur and Blake van Uden combined for 50 points.
Grammar edged an even first quarter 22-21 and despite 12 second quarter points from Sai Kuvelkar held a 43-38 advantage at the interval.
A balanced scoring effort from Grammar in the third (seven players found the basket) extended the lead to 73-59 at three-quarter time.
A high scoring final period followed with both offences in full flow. Arthur and van Uden kept Macleans in contention but Higgins, Anzac Risetto and Elijah Andrews ensured Grammar began the season with a win.
Score: Auckland Grammar 96 –Higgins 37, Andrews 12, Risetto 12, Leroy Brown 10. Macleans College 85 – Arthur 26, van Uden 24, Kuvelkar 18
The fixture between Rangitoto and Rosmini was postponed as Rangitoto are in Croatia attending the Secondary Schools Basketball World Championships.
Senior A Results:
Manurewa HS 64 Western Springs Coll 52
Pakuranga Coll 102 Northcote Coll 72
Avondale Coll 89 Massey HS 59
St Peter’s Coll 98 Liston Coll