The Auckland Secondary Schools Premier competition begins on Friday but a number of boy’s teams will be down on fire power as a New Zealand Under 17 camp is being held in Rotorua at the weekend.
With the class of 2017 having moved on, the onus falls on a new crop of players to make their mark on the strongest high school basketball competition in the country.
The boy’s playing rosters have changed but the head coaching positions remain unaltered, which is rather unusual. This time last year Dave Mackay had moved to Auckland Grammar and rookie coaches Zac Fitzgerald (Westlake), Karl Buck (Kelston) and Matt Lacey (Rosmini) were dipping their toes into Premier basketball for the first time.
Kelston were relegated at the end of last season and replaced by Senior A League winners St Peter’s College. Junior Tall Blacks assistant coach Leyton Haddleton will take St Peter’s to Westlake hoping Luke Buckingham, Whititera Parata and Phoenix Leupolu can help his youthful side make a good showing on their Premier debut. Look out for Alex Freeman and Paora Winitana Jnr to make an early impression for Lake.
Also promoted are Avondale College who host Auckland Grammar. Avondale, coached by the experienced Doe Williams, recently won the play-off game against Macleans College who like Kelston will be looking for a bounce back season in Senior A. Grammar will be looking for Anzac Rissetto to build on the strong performances of 2017.
St Kentigern College, coached by Aaron Young, could be big movers this year having added Shalom Broughton to the mix. He will suit up alongside the likes of Max Shorter, Alex McNaughton and three-point specialist Zac Chan.
Visitors Mt Albert Grammar, coached by former Tall Black Daryl Cartwright, were one of the form teams in the country at the back end of last season. However they are a much changed outfit this season and will be anticipating guards Ryan Laumatia and Sataan Tawera can provide them with scoring punch.
The game of the round features Rangitoto College entertaining Rosmini College. Both teams will lineup vastly differently to the last time they met in the Schick Secondary Schools National Final back in October.
Injuries, the NZ camp and the departure of some outstanding seniors means the likes of Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Reihana Maxwell-Topia will feature strongly for Rosmini. Expect Ethan Mandeno and Jared Thornton to play extended minutes for Rangi.
Boys draw for Friday May 11, all games with a 7.30pm tip-off:
Rangitoto v Rosmini
Westlake v St Peter’s
St Kent’s v Mt Albert
Avondale v Auckland Grammar
St Kentigern College are back in the Girls Premier Grade competition after winning the Senior A competition last year. Second year coach Michael Aitken will lead St Kent’s as they entertain Mt Albert Grammar. Mt Albert’s Sharne Pupuke-Robati was one of a number of young players that appeared at the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) in Tauranga last weekend. The power forward played for Auckland Dream alongside shooting guard Shauna Povey.
Povey will be a key player for Massey High who open against defending champions Auckland Grammar.
Promoted to the Premier Division for the first time are St Mary’s College Ponsonby who defeated Orewa College in the play-off game. A quirk in the fixtures sees Jody Cameron, last season’s Westlake coach, take St Mary’s to play her former charges in the opening game of the season. St Mary’s progress and that of forward Jazz Kailahi-Fulu will be followed with interest.
Bronwen Davidson will coach Westlake this season – Jordyn Maddix and Mareta Davidson played for Harbour Breeze so should benefit from the playing time obtained at WBC.
Tayla Dalton was the second highest scorer for the Breeze in Tauranga averaging 12.7 points per outing across the three games and she will once again carry much of the scoring load for Carmel College at Rangitoto College. Rangitoto will have a more balanced offense with the likes of Bella Elgar, Kaitlin Burgess and Maania Spooner all capable of making contributions.
Girls draw for Friday May 11, all games with a 6.00pm start time:
Rangitoto v Carmel.
Westlake v St Mary’s, at Westlake Boys
St Kent’s v Mt Albert
Massey v Auckland Grammar