Monthly Archives: November 2017

Australian WNBL log jam – three Tall Ferns involved


Kalani purcell_n

There is a three-way tie at the top of the Australian WNBL with three Tall Ferns players in the midst of the action. Townsville Fire, Melbourne Boomers and defending champions Sydney University Flames each have an 8-4 record just over halfway through the regular season.

One of those players is Micaela Cocks. Her Townsville Fire team got the better of Melbourne Boomers (73-66) but came unstuck in Perth on Sunday going down 73-66.

After a 17 points haul the previous weekend Cocks had to settle for just 7 points across the two games in this round.

Melbourne of course boasts two Kiwi internationals with Kalani Purcell and Rebecca Ott in their lineup. However they didn’t enjoy the best of weeks losing to both of their closest rivals.

The loss to Townsville was followed by defeat at home to Sydney, 101-89.

Ott has just returned after injury but did post 4 points against the Sydney.

Purcell is amongst the top 10 rebounders in the WNBL and demonstrated that fact by snaring a team high 11 rebounds in Townsville.

Averaging 7.2 rebounds per game Purcell came up with another 5 against Sydney to go with 9 points

Canberra Capitals now sit dead last on the ladder after going down 83-80 at home to Bendigo Spirit. Chevannah Paalvast failed to put any points on the board but did dish a season high 5 assists.

In Italy Napoli won again with an 84-60 win against Vigarano. Jillian Harmon produced her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds as well as 5 assists.

Napoli now has a 4-4 record. Harmon is third on the Italian League individual standings for both points scored (18.0) and rebounds (9.6) per game.

Career bests for Beck, Beckley and Le’afa in American college action.

stella beck

Over the Thanksgiving holiday period there was plenty of action involving our Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks playing college basketball in the States.

It was quite a weekend for former Hutt Valley standout Stella Beck as she passed the 1,000 career points mark with 18 points as St Mary’s Gaels beat USC Santa Barbara 89-59 in the Hilton Concord Classic. In the same game she also matched a career best 6 steals.

“I didn’t really think about (scoring 1,000 career points) until someone mentioned last game that I was three points away from reaching the 1,000-point record. It’s funny because it makes me think about being a senior, which is sad, but it’s also really exciting,” said Beck.

24 hours later Beck took her tally for the weekend to 40 points, nailing 22 to help St Mary’s to a narrow 88-82 win against Idaho and with it the Hilton Concord Classic – not surprisingly Beck was made MVP.

It was also a good time for Jacinta Beckley who scored a career high 20 points for Seattle in the Redhawks 91-77 win against Portland State. The Kapiti native added 8 rebounds for good measure then followed up with a 15 points haul against UC Davis – a game dropped 70-54 by Seattle after three straight wins.

Brooke Blair posted a team high in points (12) and rebounds (7) as Idaho State Bengals improved to 5-1 for the season with a convincing 64-44 victory against Utah State. Blair is leading the Bengals in scoring over the first six games averaging 15.9 points per outing.

Krystal Leger-Walker and Northern Colorado Bears had a night to forget at Fordham University where in a New Zealand first FIVE Kiwis were in action. The Bears made their second lowest score in programme history going down 48-33. The Bears were awful from the three point line making just one from 26 attempts – that single triple made was from Leger-Walker in the final two minutes of the game. That was Leger-Walker’s only score of the night with teammate Tiarna Clarke quiet with just a couple of rebounds to her name.

The hosts featured three Kiwis in their line up led by Cantabrian forward Mary Goulding (6pts/7rebs). They also have the freshman pair of Kendell Heremaia (2pts/7rebs) and Tall Fern Zara Jillings (5pts/2rebs) on their roster.

Penina Davidson led the Cal Berkeley rebounding with 9 boards (plus 7 points) as the Bears beat Manhattan 87-66 in the Cal Classic.

Tessa Boagni and Cal State Northridge are in the winner’s circle at the sixth attempt after downing Arizona 66-63. Boagni collected a game high 12 rebounds and also added 9 points, 3 assists and a block.

Fresno State Bulldogs are in something of a slump going down 76-59 to Texas State. Katelin Noyer scored two points and secured 4 rebounds but it was a fourth straight loss for the Dogs.

On the men’s front there were good performances from the Tall Blacks in college this week.

Sam Timmins produced a strong performance as Washington Huskies beat cross-town rival Seattle 89-84. Timmins was an efficient 9 points (4/5FG), 8 rebounds and 1 block.

Izayah Le’afa didn’t have the best of shooting night’s (1/9FG) in Sacramento State’s 68-63 loss to Cal State Fullerton but he did dish a career high 11 assists with zero turnovers in 34 minutes. The Hornets point guard followed that with 7 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists but it was a fifth straight loss for Sacramento going down 74-69 to Saint Joseph’s.

Virginia Cavaliers won a seventh straight game with centre Jack Salt contributing 8 rebounds (for the second straight game) along with 4 points (2/2FG) in the low scoring 49-37 win against Wisconsin.

Tai Wynyard saw a small amount of action as Kentucky defeated University of Illinois-Chicago 107-73. Wynyard was only given 5 minutes playing time but it was enough for him to register 4 points and 3 rebounds.

Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam – Round 5 wrap


Round five of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam saw wins for Birdmen and 68A Nelson Street in the Men’s competition, with Suns and Sky grabbing the victories in the women’s competition.

Nelson Street, with five players scoring double figures, led from start to finish against Breakers Development.

With Derone Raukawa (35 points) once again in good scoring touch Nelson Street were quickly out to a 30-20 lead in the opening period.

Twenty first half points from Mitch Dance kept Breakers in touch but the greater scoring productivity of Johnny Fesolai, Ana Haku and Mitch Newton propelled Nelson Street to a 53-38 lead at half-time.

Threes from Thomas Whyte, Harry Payne and Kruz Perrott-Hunt were of little consequence as Nelson Street dominated the second half to run out easy winners.

Nelson Street 111 – Raukawa 35, Haku 24, Fesolai 20, Newton 18, Jayden Boucher 11

Breakers Development 72 –Dance 24, Langridge 14, Payne 11, Perrott-Hunt 9, Te Puni 8

Aided by a 36 points haul from Kevin Braswell, Birdmen with a strong fourth quarter finish beat Railsplitters 123-113.

Railsplitters got off to a good start courtesy of Hayden Allen and Jaylen Gerrand to lead by three points (36-33) in a high scoring opening frame.

The same two players, along with Sam Aruwa, landed triples in the second but 15 points in the period from Braswell gave Birdmen a 64-61 edge at the interval.

Railsplitters chances were dealt a blow in the third with Allen forced to retire with an ankle injury although 10 points in the quarter from James Hunter ensured Railsplitters only trailed by a point (87-86) at the last break.

Triples from Brayden Inger, Matt Lacey and Braswell sprung Birdmen into a 113-104 lead with four minutes to play. Gerrand piled in 17 fourth quarter points but TInashe Matambanadzo, Nick Barrow and Braswell ensured Birdmen remained on the top rung.

Railsplitters 113 – Gerrand 29, Allen 20, Harris 19, Hunter 14, Aruwa 13

Birdmen 123 – Braswell 36, Colla 19, Matambanadzo 19, Inger 14, Barrow 13

Current Standings:

4-1 Birdmen

3-2 Railsplitters, Nelson Street

0-5 Breakers Development

After a close first half it was a commanding second half performance that carried Sky to 79-62 win against Sparks in the women’s competition.

Sky dominated the third stanza 29-8 with Orewa College guard Hannah Wentworth and Breana Jones knocking down perimeter shots and Ashleigh Kelman-Poto scoring inside.

Sparks shaded the fourth quarter with Shanee Kiriau prominent but Sky had little trouble protecting their advantage to win their second game of the season.

Earlier Mikayla Blair had been in good scoring touch making 11 first quarter points for Sparks. An even first half ensued with Alyesha Schuster and Sophie Dil chipping in for Sparks as they entered the break 41-38 ahead – Wentworth made one of her four triples in the shadows of half-time to keep Sky in touch.

Sky 79 – Kelman-Poto 22, Wentworth 18, Jones 17, Maddix 9

Sparks 62 – Blair 17, Dil 10, Schuster 10, Kiriau 9, Davidson 8

Despite 25 points from Tall Ferns forward Deena Franklin the Suns were able to win the battle of the top two teams beating Storm 70-60.

It was 13 points apiece at quarter time but Suns broke the deadlock in the second winning the stanza 25-18 – 15 points in the half from Morgan Ili proving the difference.

Franklin scored eight straight points to open the third but the triple inside threat of Annabelle Jenkins and the Kailahi-Fulu sisters Jazz and Zaaliyah gave Suns a 54-42 three-quarter time lead.

Triples from Emme Shearer and Shauna Povey hinted at a strong Storm finish but five points apiece from Anna Lacey and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu ensured Suns have a spot in the grand final with a round of the regular season still to play.

Suns 70 – Ili 19, A Jenkins 12, Lacey 10, J Kailahi-Fulu 10, Z Kailahi-Fulu 10

Storm 60 – Franklin 25, Berry 7, Shearer 7, Povey 7


4-1 Suns

3-2 Storm

2-3 Sky

1-4 Sparks

Kiwis in College – Fordham trio beat Northern Colorado duo


In a first for New Zealand basketball five Kiwi players featured in the same NCAA Division 1 basketball game as Fordham University Rams beat University of Northern Colorado Bears, that endured a horror shooting night, 48-33 in a low scoring non-conference game.

The hosts featured three Kiwis in their line up led by Cantabrian forward Mary Goulding. They also have the freshman pair of Kendell Heremaia and Zara Jillings on their roster.

Northern Colorado entered the fixture boasting a 4-1 record with sophmore guard Krystal Leger-Walker and freshman guard Tiarna Clarke in their lineup but had a shooting night to forget making just one of 26 three point attempts – that single triple make from Leger-Walker in the final two minutes of the game.

Played on the Rams home court in the Bronx, New York, the hosts led by as many as nine points in the first half but had to settle for just a 21-18 advantage at the interval – both teams shooting around the 33% mark from the field.

UNC closed to within two points (22-20) early in the second half but a 13 – 1 run from Fordham including an inside bucket from Goulding and a corner three from Jillings moved them to a 35-21 lead.

All three Kiwis were on the board for Fordham when Heremaia converted a left-handed drive to take the Rams to a formidable 40-23 three-quarter time advantage.

Little was going right for UNC and a late rally failed to materialize as Fordham eased to a second regular season win of the season and relegated the Bears to its second lowest score in programme history.

All five Kiwis enjoyed sizeable court time putting up the following numbers:

Fordham Rams 48

Goulding – 22 minutes, 6 points, 7 rebounds

Jillings – 24 mins, 5 pts, 2 rebs, 1 assist, I steal

Heremaia – 20 mins, 2 pts, 7 rebs, 3 assists

Northern Colorado Bears 33

Leger-Walker – 35 mins, 3 pts, 4 rebs, 2 assists, 1 steal

Clarke – 0 pts, 2 rebs, 1 assist

L-W v Heremaia

Mate v Mate as Kiwi Women make a little bit of history

tiarna clarke

In a first for New Zealand basketball five Kiwi players will feature in the same NCAA Division 1 basketball game as Fordham University Rams entertained Northern Colorado Bears.

Played on the Rams home court in the Bronx, New York the two teams will match up for the very first time on Saturday afternoon (NZ time).

The hosts feature three Kiwis in their line up led by Cantabrian forward Mary Goulding. They also have the freshman pair of Kendell Heremaia and Zara Jillings on their roster.

Northern Colorado head to the Big Apple boasting a 4-0 record with sophmore guard Krystal Leger-Walker and freshman guard Tiarna Clarke both in good form.

Leger-Walker’s distribution skills are key for the Bears and her 5.5 assists per game rank her first amongst Big Sky Conference players in that statistical category.

Adding a little more spice to the game is that Jillings and Clarke oppose each other after both were in the class of 2016 at Westlake Girls High and were on the same Harbour team that won the U19 National title in that year.


There is also a Waikato mate v mate scenario, as Heremaia and Leger-Walker played on successful Waikato representative and school teams together. The pair were the key performers in St Peter’s, Cambridge winning the 2015 NZ Secondary Schools National title.

Overseas based Tall Ferns in outstanding form

Micaela cocks

All four overseas based Tall Ferns currently in action performed with distinction last week.

Micaela Cocks was named in the Australian WNBL Team of the Week after her 17 points haul in Townsville Fire’s 101-78 win against Adelaide Lightning.

Cocks was hot from behind the three point arc hitting five of her seven attempts as the Fire moved to the top of the WNBL ladder with a 7-3 record.

Kalani Purcell once again demonstrated her rebounding prowess snaring a game high 12 rebounds as Melbourne Boomers beat Canberra Capitals 96-66 to improve to second behind Townsville with an 8-4 win-loss record.

Purcell finished with 5 points and 5 assists to go with the dozen boards.

For Canberra (2-9), who are languishing in seventh place on the eight team table, Chevannah Paalvast contributed 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, a block and a steal.

The only bad news for Melbourne is that star centre Liz Cambage has received a one game suspension for unduly rough play against Canberra import Mistie Bass. The suspension was reduced from two games after Cambage and Melbourne accepted an early guilty plea.

In Italy the week off whilst the European Championship Qualifying Tournament was on didn’t do Jillian Harmon any harm.

The Tall Ferns forward put together a formidable double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds as Napoli thumped Broni 77-46.

Napoli sit mid table with a mediocre 3-4 record but Harmon is having a standout campaign in her first season with the club. She is second on the Italian League individual points standings averaging 8.4ppg, sits fourth on the rebounding list (9.4rpg) and is seventh for assists (3.4apg).

Davidson and Blair shine but plenty of other good Kiwi performers in American College games



Ahead of Thanksgiving celebrations there was plenty of success for our Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks playing college basketball in the States.

It is difficult to pick out a single standout performance but perhaps the double-double from Penina Davidson shades the efforts of another Rangitoto alumni Brooke Blair.

Davidson completed her second-double of the season as she collected a dozen rebounds to accompany 15 points as Cal Berkeley Bears accounted for Brown University 89-79.

Blair had a nice double dose of scoring as Idaho State Bengals mauled College of Idaho 89-32 and followed up by beating University of California Irvine 78-72. Blair scored 14 points in the College of Idaho saunter and 17 against Irvine – four straight wins for the Bengals and four straight double digit outings for the 2016 Tall Fern.

Stella Beck is just 3 points shy of 1,000 career points for St Mary’s Gaels after scoring 10 points in the comfortable 82-64 win against Cal Poly Mustangs.

Jacinta Beckley, made a crucial free throw in the dying seconds in Seattle Redhawks 65-62 win against Pepperdine. Beckley scored 9 points and pulled down 4 rebounds as Seattle improved to 2-2.

Cantabrian Tessa Boagni and Cal State Northridge are doing it tough at the moment slipping to 0-4 in the opening quartet of games. Boagni is certainly doing her bit to get the Matadors across the line coming up with 6 blocks and 14 points in the narrow 58-50 loss against New Orleans.

Krystal Leger-Walker was again dropping plenty of dimes coming up with 7 assists as University of Northern Colorado Bears defeated LSU 58-50. The combo guard followed that with a further 5 assists (plus 5 points and 7 rebounds) in the 73-60 win against San Francisco as the Bears improved to 4-0.

In addition to scoring 8 points Katelin Noyer snared 7 rebounds, including 4 at the offensive end, but Fresno State Bulldogs slipped to a 68-56 loss against UC Riverside.

Amongst players not yet capped at full international level Shalae Salmon takes the plaudits this week.

Salmon isn’t a Tall Fern yet but the new Tall Ferns coach (when appointed) will surely take a look at the BYU Provo centre out of Porirua. Salmon has played a major part in BYU’s start to the season averaging an impressive 9 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks across the three games.

 It was reasonably quiet on the men’s front with Sam Timmins the best performer this week.


Timmins came up with 3 blocks to go with 8 rebounds and 6 points in Washington Huskies 77-70 loss to Providence in New York.

Izayah Le’afa played 25 minutes off the bench for Sacramento State Hornets contributing 2 points, 2 rebounds and a steal in the 69-56 loss at San Francisco.

 Jack Salt to go with 4 points and 4 rebounds as Virginia Cavaliers win at state rivals Virginia Commonwealth 76-67.

None of the above players were considered for Tall Blacks duty this week due to their college commitments.

Mexicali Fresh – Round 4 wrap


Round four of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam saw wins for Birdmen and Railsplitters in the Men’s competition, the Storm and Suns shining on the Women’s side.

Birdmen, with forwards Nick Barrow and Dom Kelman-Poto sharing 56 points, proved too strong for Breakers Development winning 90-75.

Birdmen soared to an early 13-3 lead and despite a couple of triples from Breakers forward Zack Te Puni held a 21-13 advantage at three-quarter time.

A trey from Brayden Inger and inside dominance from Kelman-Poto and Barrow kept the Birdmen advantage in double figures.

Breakers guard Harry Clarke closed the first half with back-to-back scores but his team trailed 45-30 at the interval.

Kainoa Lepou pushed the Birdmen advantage out to twenty points and a steal and score from Juan Cruz Cola added to Breakers problems as they finished the third 71-49 adrift.

The Breakers kept plugging away and enjoyed a good spell as Tom Whyte and Te Puni made threes while Thabo Manyere and Anzac Rissetto chimed in with inside buckets.

Clarke also landed a couple of late triple as the Breakers enjoyed their best spell of the game but it was too little too late as Birdmen recorded their third win.

Birdmen 90 – Barrow 30, Kelman-Poto 26, Colo 14, Inger 12

Breakers Development 75 –Te Puni 12, Rissetto 11, Manyere 9, Clarke 8, Whyte 8

In the second game Derone Raukawa, after thirty odd points last week, went even better in this round running up 46 points  but it wasn’t enough to carry 68A Nelson Street to the win as they were edged 108-101 by Railsplitters.

Raukawa’s Southland Sharks teammate Hayden Allens scored 34  points, closely followed by Jaylen Gerrand – the former Westlake standout put up a season high 13 three-point attempts converting eight, at healthy 62%, on his way to 33 points.

The scores were tied at quarter-time (27-27) before Nelson Street had the best of the second, with veteran Dillon Boucher leading the way (12 points and 14 rebounds), to lead 55-48 at half-time.

New, Bay Hawks signing Mitch Newton (21 points and 11 rebounds) played a strong hand for Nelson Street as they maintained an 81-77 lead at the three-quarter mark.

That advantage was quickly overturned by Railsplitters with a 17-8 run in the early stages of the fourth – Gerrand and the experienced Allen and Tipene Friday holding Nelson Street at bay in the closing stages.

Railsplitters 108 – Allen 34, Gerrand 33, Aruwa 15, Friday 13

68A Nelson St 101 – Raukawa 46, Newton 21, Boucher 12,

Current Standings:

3-1 Railsplitters, Birdmen

2-2 Nelson Street

0-4 Breakers Development

Strong performances from Annabelle Jenkins and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu took Suns to a win against team Sky.

Suns got off to a bright start forging a 9-3 advantage courtesy of Luye Murphy and Tabitha Jenkins.

Keeley Tini and Ashleigh Kelman-Poto shared the scoring load for Sky as they responded but still trailed 26-19 at the first break.

Breana Jones landed a trademark three for Sky and with Kelman-Poto and Tini working tirelessly inside narrowed to 42-38 at half-time.

Suns made the pivotal move early in the third frame – a ten points haul from St Mary’s forward Kailahi-Fulu propelling her team to a 65-54 advantage at the thirty minute mark.

Scores from Riana Rangi-Brown and Summer-Jean Motufoua threatened a Sky comeback but that was extinguished by Anna Lacey, Morgan Ili and Annabelle Jenkins as they conjured up a 12-2 run to seal a third victory for Suns.

Sky 72 – Kelman-Poto 19, Tini 13, Rangi-Brown 11, Jones 7

Suns 81 – A Jenkins 18, J 15, T Jenkins 10, Murphy 9, Ili 9

The Harbour Breeze pair of Deena Franklin (23 points) and Olivia Berry (19 points) carried Storm to a convincing 82-66 victory against Sparks to keep the pressure on the Suns at the top of the table.

In her first appearance Shinae Tuhoro scored half a dozen early points for Sparks but Stevee-Rose Theyers landed three triples in the first quarter as Storm opened a 29-25 lead.

Franklin had 15 points by half-time and Berry scored 10 points as the lead was extended to 50-38 at the major break.

Sharne Pupuke-Robati and Bella Elgar did their best to stem the scoring flow from the Storm but it was always an uphill struggle – the Storm winning every quarter in this one.

Sparks 66 – Pupuke-Robati 12, Tuhoro 10, Elgar10, Dalton 9

Storm 82 – Franklin 23, Berry 19, Theyers 12, Povey 8


3-1 Suns, Storm

1-3 Sky, Sparks

Fotu and Ulm get the win


Tai Webster and Isaac Fotu are about to board a flight back to New Zealand to join up with their Tall Blacks teammates for the World Cup qualifying fixture against Korea on Thursday in Wellington and it will be Fotu who will be the happier as they settle in for the long haul from Frankfurt.

The Tall Blacks forward and his Ratiopharm Ulm team sprung something of a surprise beating the more fancied Frankfurt Skyliners, with Tai Webster at the helm, in their German Bundesliga encounter on Saturday night.

The Skyliners entered the game with a superior 6-3 record and actually led Ulm 59-58 entering the final quarter.

However a blistering last quarter from the visitors, won 31-16, propelled Ulm to the win and improved their record to 5-5. Fotu, with an efficient 10 points (5 from 7 from the field) was one of four of his team in double figures.

Webster scored just the four points but demonstrated his all court ability by leading the Skyliners’ rebounding with 7 boards and also dished 5 assists.

Both players have been in good form this season. In his first season in the professional ranks, since graduating from the University of Nebraska, Webster is averaging 13 points, 4.3 rebounds and a team high 4.3 assists per game.

Fotu, who moved to Ulm this season, after playing three years in the Spanish League, is averaging 9.2 points and 3.6 rebounds for the regular season defending champions.

The pair are expected to arrive in Auckland late Monday before linking with the rest of the Tall Blacks squad on Tuesday morning in Wellington.

Shalae Salmon posting huge numbers


During the last two seasons we were used to seeing Kalani Purcell put together ‘Stats Stuffing’ performances for Brigham Young University Cougars.

Purcell has of course now moved into the professional ranks playing for Melbourne Boomers in the Australian WNBL but it looks as if the Cougars have found another Kiwi forward to fill the void left by the Tall Ferns forward.

Shalae Salmon, the sophomore out of Porirua, posted astonishing numbers in the Cougars 75-67 overtime win against Southern Utah last weekend.

A 17 rebounds haul would be a good performance on any day but to supplement that effort with 12 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks was quite staggering – probably, based on statistics alone, one of the best ever performances by a New Zealand college player.

Salmon was something of a bit-part player last year, in her first year at BYU, averaging just a couple of points and rebounds per game.

However BYU head coach Jeff Judkins has entrusted Salmon with the starting centre berth and she has responded in style. A week earlier she recorded 10 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in a pre season game against Colorado Mesa.

If that wasn’t enough, in BYU’s 80-72 loss to Washington today Salmon again snared a bucket full of rebounds – 15 in total – plus 8 points and another 3 blocks.

Three games – two double-doubles – 10.0 points per game – 14.3 rebounds per game – 2.0 steals per game– 2.7 blocks per game.

Watch this space!