While the New Zealand Under 18 Men and Women were enjoying a day off in tropical Guam the Under 16’s were still hard at work in Perth.
It was quarter-finals day at the U16 Australian State Champs with the Girls facing No 1 ranked Victoria Metro in the late game and the Boys up against New South Wales Metro.
It is not often New Zealand finish top of their pool at a State Champs but that is exactly what the Zico Coronel coached Boys team did. Their reward was not one they probably expected at the outset – a match up against traditional powerhouse New South Wales Metro.
No NSW team is a poor one – and although they finished fourth in their pool they would be dangerous opponents.
And so it proved as New Zealand were forced to come from 7 points down – 59-52 early in the final period.
Mac Stodart then scored the next 5 points followed by a brace of baskets from Harry Payne to tie the scores with 7 minutes to play – 61 points each.
Stodart and Sam Jenkins landed threes and crucially 6 from 8 free throws were sunk as the boys in black outscored the Sky Blues 13-5 in the closing minutes to win 74-68.
Earlier the first half was tight – NSW 38-35 ahead at the interval. Payne joined Stodart on nine points at the break with Reihana Maxwell-Topia next best on six.
An even third stanza kept the difference at three points – 55-52 with Stoddart and Payne again the main providers for the Kiwis.
The pair finished with 26 and 20 points respectively – point guard Ezrah Vaigafa a useful 7 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists as the Kiwis progressed to the semi-final.
The Under 16 Girls went down 67-48 to the highly fancied Victoria Metro in their quarter-final tie.
New Zealand trailed in each quarter- 31-18 at half-time and 51-30 at the three-quarter mark before edging the last frame by two points.
Waiata Jennings put together an impressive stats line of 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 steals. Emme Shearer was also in double figures with 10 points and Sophie Adams notched 9 points.
The New Zealand effort was hampered by 34 turnovers, the girls now playing for spots 5-8 on Friday and Saturday.