Mt Albert Grammar and Rosmini College have booked their Auckland Schools Premier Grade Grand Final places for next Friday but the two came through their semi-finals in vastly contrasting styles.
Rosmini secured a relatively comfortable 94-57 victory against Auckland Grammar whereas Mt Albert had to come from 19 points down to pip St Kentigern 68-66.
St Kentigern looked to be headed for their debut appearance in the Grand Final when they led 64-48 at three-quarter time but unfortunately endured a nightmare final quarter managing just two points against the fast finishing regular season champions.
Point guard Sataan Tawera (23 points) initiated the comeback with a long three and when Ryan Laumatia dropped back to back jump shots, to cut the deficit to eight points (64-56), the travelling Lions supporters were starting to find their voices.
Shalom Broughton (23 points) converted a free throw and added an acrobatic block to the highlights reel but Rishon Royce and Tawera ate more into the deficit (65-62).
St Kent’s were looking anxious and although Max Shorter made a freebie MAGS were within two (66-64) when Nate Wilson scored with 1:20 to play.
St Kent’s anxiety heightened when Clarke Aiono tied proceedings, the MAGS comeback complete when Royce calmly stroked a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left on the clock.
St Kent’s launched one last vain effort to regain the lead, the final buzzer leaving the MAGS players and supporters in raptures, their opponents utterly dejected.
Earlier at had all been going well for St Kent’s as they built a handy 21-18 first quarter lead and an even more promising 44-33 half-time advantage with Broughton and Shorter doing most the damage.
Aiono scored a couple of much needed baskets for MAGS but when Levic Kerr and Alex McNaught scored consecutive buckets things were not looking too good for the Lions trailing 60-41.
Tawera and Dorcil gave MAGS a lift shortly before the three-quarter break – what happened after the restart was scarcely believable.
Mt Albert Grammar 68– S Tawera 23, R Laumatia 12, C Aiono10, R Royce 9
St Kentigern College 66– S Broughton 23, L Kerr 15, M Shorter 14, A McNaught 7
Ilaisa Tela scored a couple of early baskets for Auckland Grammar before scores late in the first from Joe Hylton and Terrence Abdon gave Rosmini a 21-8 early lead.
Teacum McCarthy, who had a fine game, and Isara Nua helped close the gap to single digits but when the influential Anzac Rissetto departed after picking up a third foul the complexion of the game changed.
With Rissetto not patrolling the paint Mitch Dance, Marvin Williams-Dunn and Jayden Boucher pounced to take Rosmini out to a 50-27 half-time lead.
Rissetto demonstrated his versatility with a triple to open the third frame and along with McCarthy and Nua the trio kept pace with Rosmini early in the third.
However Rozza moved into ‘Kruz’ control later in the period. Tall Blacks trialist Kruz Perrott-Hunt capped off a ten points quarter with a classy drive and finish to take his team out to a 71-43 lead at three-quarter time.
Perrott-Hunt with a dish for a Tom Seuren basket and a couple more triples from Williams-Dunn – he had six on the night – extended the Rosmini lead. Thomas Morgan and Sean Murphy applied the finishing touches to a convincing win.
Auckland Grammar 59– A Rissetto 22, T McCarthy 16, I Nua 11, I Tela 10
Rosmini94 – K Perrott-Hunt 22, Williams-Dunn 20, T Morgan 8, M Dance 8