We conclude the four part preview of the Schick AA Secondary Schools Premierships that take place this week by taking a look at the Zone 4 hopefuls. The tournament will be played at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin over four days beginning Wednesday September 6th.
Zone 4 Boys
Pool makeup will once again plays a major part in which teams have a very tough road to qualify for the Schick National Tournament and which ones have a chance to finish higher up the South Island ladder than they probably expected at the start of the year.
Pool A looks to be wide open, with the three Canterbury teams all placing near the bottom of the regular season table. Rangiora (7th) will probably be the most likely team to make some noise here, as a quarter-final upset over Burnside saw them reach the semi-finals of the McDonald’s Thompson Trophy Competition. Noa Price is still relatively young, but along with Jack Exeter, will be the players to watch in this team. Christchurch Boys’ Kurt Feneon, and St. Bede’s Tom Hughes will help their teams be competitive in pool play, but will be hard pressed to pull their teams into the top six. Waitaki Boys will fancy their chances of a top two spot in the pool.
Pool B is a different story – Burnside has had some injury issues recently, but should be relatively healthy with the sharp shooting perimeter duo of Liam Reekie and John Quitiong spreading the offence for their point guard Isaiah Morris. Middleton Grange will be far tougher than their record would indicate – claiming the scalp of Christ’s College earlier in the year – and will have TCU commit and Tall-Blacks Trialist, Angus McWilliam available. Ashburton is no slouch either, with a good inside outside game in effect for Fletcher Arnold and Joshua Lowe. Papanui rounds out the Canterbury representation in this pool (Finalist in Division II), and will make use of the calm leadership of Ben Hussey to maximise Sam Archibald’s talents.
Canterbury Champions, Cashmere and Otago Boys High headline Pool C. Otago, perhaps the main threat to Cashmere’s top seeding in the section will be led by Taiaroa Porima Flavell.
Canterbury Finals MVP Connor McLaughlin will control the tempo for Ben Sheat’s extremely deep roster, with Louis Oskam being a likely starter for most other teams, usually coming off the bench for Tom Russ-Hofmans. The Shirley Boys’ have the potential to challenge for a spot at nationals, but will need to put together a run of consistent games to do so. Sean Kelly will run the Spartan offence, with a well-balanced roster of wings such as Saint Porter and Hamsa Shire, and bigs (Joel Jeffrey and Josh Thomson) capable of helping make sure of a win. St. Thomas has also struggled with consistency throughout the season, but have plenty of young players who have improved rapidly over the season. Izaac Beever will be the main determinant of how far this team goes. Kaiapoi is the final Canterbury entry in this pool, with Cameron Wilson being their player to watch.
Pool D’s Christ’s College (Finalist) will be many people’s pick as a team to win the Tournament outright, with Max De Geest being the premier perimeter shooting threat, while his namesake Max Darling can play above the rim, or outside with equal ease. St. Andrew’s (9th) is also in this pool, but without a whole lot of experience surrounding the sweet shooting duo of Will Hollings and Sam Jenkins, they will need to catch fire in multiple games to qualify for nationals. Nelson College are perrenial threats and with top seeding in the group but third seeded Waimea led by Tyler Marsh may actually be a bigger threat to Christ’s aspirations.
In summary – 24 teams – 8 progress to the quarter-finals – Quarter final winners progress to semi’s and an automatic place at Nationals – the losing quarter final teams battle for last 2 spots at Nationals.
Pool A – Christchurch Boys, Rangiora, Waitaki, James Hargest, St Bede’s, Central Southland
Pool B – Kings, Burnside, Middleton Grange, Ashburton College, Papanui, Marlborough
Pool C – Cashmere, Otago, Nayland, Shirley, St Thomas, Kaipoi
Pool D – Nelson, Christ’s, Waimea, St Andrew’s, John McGlashan, Timaru
Zone 4 Girls
Zone 4 boasts the largest number of entries (16) in the Girl’s competition.
The Pool A draw has done nobody any favours with Canterbury champions Rangi Ruru expected to be the most likely to progress due to the full court dominance of Esra McGoldrick. St. Andrew’s had a tight semi-final loss to Rangi Ruru two weeks ago, and can use fellow Junior Tall-Fern Charlotte Whittaker to nullify McGoldrick’s production. Ashburton boasts Ashlee Strawbridge and Sophie Adams so would not be a surprise if they knocked out one of the higher seeds from progressing to the Quarter-Final round. James Hargest are seeded second in the pool but it will be something of a surprise if they make it out of pool play.
In Pool B beaten Canterbury finalists Christchurch Girls’ are favoured to make it through, with Sapphire Wairau able to draw defenders away from the rim, in order for Olivia McIntryre to do her work. Cashmere is considerably smaller in stature, but will utilise a similar gameplan, with Sammy Irvine and Emma Robinson outside, and Rachel Pullan on the interior.
Craighead Diocesan School, Timaru are seeded second and they will be looking to deny a Canterbury 0ne-two in the pool.
Likewise in Pool C Otago Girls High, with NZ U16 representative Hannah Matehaere at the helm will be looking to dent some Canterbury pride. Middleton Grange carry top seed in the group with the Wildcat duo of Lauryn Hippolite and Amiee Book, along with scoring machine Megan Ellis expected to lead the Gators effort. Tsubasa Nisbet and Paige Willman will provide the experience for a relatively young Burnside side that are capable of getting through if things fall their way, as proven in 2016.
2016 Junior Tall Fern will lead St Hilda’s as they do battle with three Canterbury teams in Pool D. Rangiora has the strongest pedigree of the three with Keneisha Bond leading the team. St. Margaret’s has plenty of height, and Enselina Pale a lot of skill around the basket, while Avonside’s fast-paced attack is led by Molly Cockburn.
In summary – 16 teams – 8 progress to the quarter-finals – Quarter final winners progress to semi’s and an automatic place at Nationals – the losing quarter final teams battle for last 2 spots at Nationals.
Pool A – Rangi Ruru, James Hargest, Ashburton, St Andrews
Pool B – Christchurch, Craighead, Cashmere, Columba
Pool C – Middleton Grange, Burnside, Otago, Timaru
Pool D – Rangiora, St Hilda’s, Avonside, St Margaret’s