By their lofty standard a 9-5 regular season effort in the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier competition was nothing to write home about for Rangitoto College.
However those following the fortunes of the National Champions know that the team has been plagued by injuries this season. All the leading Premier teams have had to cope without key players at various stages but Rangi have probably been the hardest hit.
Comfortably securing the fourth play-off spot they took care of business in the semi-final last week against Auckland Grammar School to book a spot in the final against North Shore rivals Rosmini College.
Played in front of another bumper crowd at the NSEC Rangi had the better of the early skirmishes and despite a Kruz Perrott-Hunt long three led 21-14 at quarter time.
Rangi dealt in three’s to open the second quarter as Dan Fotu converted an And-1 play and point guard Harry Clarke knocked down a pair of triples – 30-14 the lead.
Marvin-Williams-Dunn, four minutes into the stanza, finally got the scoreboard ticking again for Rosmini and Matt Sokol chipped in with a bucket. Mitch Dance had the last say in the first half but Rangi were still handily placed at the interval with a 38-29 lead.
Rangi, much to the delight of their boisterous fans, threatened to take the game away from Rosmini at the outset of the third frame going on a 16-2 run.
Fotu, initiated the run, Logan Anderson solidified it with 7 straight points and Jared Thornton capped it with a sweeping left-hander.
When Harry Payne converted the Rangi lead was over 20 points (57-36) and for the first time on the night the Rosmini Faithful fell silent.
Dance was forced to the bench after picking up a fourth foul but the introduction of Terrence Abdon sparked a Rosmini revival. The livewire guard scored back-to –back baskets and when Peter Jenkins scored in the shadows of three-quarter time the Rosmini deficit had been reduced to a more manageable 59-51.
Caleb Langridge emphasized what a good addition he has been to the Rangi squad this season with a trio of baskets as Rangi maintained a double digit buffer.
All that changed in the middle of the fourth as some Rosmini full court pressure resulted in consecutive scores from Dance (twice), Williams-Dunn and Jenkins – suddenly the Rangi lead was just four points (69-65) and The Faithful were in full voice.
Fotu made plays on repeat possessions but when Abdon converted a seemingly impossible drive it was 71-67 with 2:30 to play and memories of 2016 came flooding back – in last year’s final Rangitoto were run down in the final minutes by a fast finishing Rosmini.
On this occasion the Rangitoto senior’s put paid to that notion – the cool, calm Anderson converted a drive, Langridge and Fotu engineered a nice inside basket and although Rosmini had a couple of good looks their late surge petered out.
Clarke and Fotu iced the game from the free-throw line – the 79-68 win signaling a crowd invasion from jubilant Rangi supporters.
Rangitoto 79 – Anderson 19, Fotu 17, Clarke 16, Langridge 13
Rosmini 68 – Dance 25, Williams-Dunn 12, Perrott-Hunt 10, Abdon 9