Cashmere and St Andrew’s win Canterbury Schools Division 1 titles

Cashmere High are back-to-back McDonald’s Thomson Trophy champions, defeating Rangiora in a convincing 86-61 win in the last game of season, with Nic Wenmoth taking the Finals MVP award (19PTS, 7REB). During the first half both teams kept the game close with the score being 36-31 to Cashmere. When the fourth quarter started Rangiora struggled to score and Cashmere took advantage consistently making easy buckets. The Cashmere bench outscored Rangiora’s 36-6 over the entire game, which helped contribute to their biggest lead of 26 points.

In the first quarter both teams traded buckets, Jack Exeter setting the pace of the game driving hard to the rim each time and his partner Lachie MacFarlane hitting some jump shots for Rangiora. But Cashmere’s ability to get the free throw line, stopping Rangiora’s momentum, was pivotal. The quarter ended 17-15 in Cashmere’s favour, with Thomas Webley leading the scoring with eight points after ten minutes.

Cashmere’s Louis Oskam also ended the first quarter on a strong note, and started the second quarter with consecutive jump shots. Rangiora answered and levelled the score thanks to MacFarlane’s mid-range shooting. In the last three minutes of the half, Paul Conner made liberal use of his substitutes, giving the starters some rest for the next half. Impact sub Finn Barclay managed to drain a three and followed this with a pair of free throws and Cashmere’s defensive presence were able to maintain the lead going into the half 36-31.

The third quarter action started off with Cashmere bringing their starters back. In the first four minutes here Oskam and Wenmoth combined for 11 points, but Exeter and MacFarlane dug deep to bring the Rangiora team back into the game, linking for 13-points to make the game 55-51 with two minutes left in the period. Cashmere again subbed their bench in, and managed to see out the third quarter up 61-53.

 With only ten minutes to go, Cashmere resting their starting players was essential for their fourth quarter dominance, as they went on a 14-2 run. Quick transition buckets from Cashmere’s starting line-up made the game 75-55 with only six minutes remaining. Rangiora had no answer now, and struggled to get a defensive stop. Exeter managed to sink a couple of free throws, but immediately at the other end, Quinten Conner delivered a back-breaking three. Cashmere did not stop there and continued to show their hard-work and ability by scoring on almost every possession. Paul Conner’s team outscored their opponents in the fourth quarter 25-8. Oskam finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds, while Jack Exeter and Lachie MacFarlane both scored 18 points.

Paul Connor said this after the win: “As a team we knew Rangiora were going to come out firing and step up for the final. They did this which produced challenges for our team, which we needed to adjust to constantly.

“Rangiora are a well-coached team and their lead players play to their strengths efficiently. Our team’s depth shone through in the fourth quarter, but until then Rangiora were in the game and we knew they will be a challenge if we meet them at the South Island Premiership next week.

In the McDonald’s Whelan Division One Final between Rangi Ruru and St. Andrew’s, it was Charlotte Whittaker who put on a show for the crowd. Whittaker started the game by scoring 13 of St. Andrew’s points in the first quarter, coming from all areas around the court. Rangi Ruru’s Alice Sproat (17PTS,14REB) made a strong first impression as she scored six in the quarter. This helped get the two-time defending champions into a rhythm. However, with the rest on the team struggling from the field, the first quarter ended being 24-11 to St. Andrew’s.

In the second quarter, it was a similar story. St. Andrew’s had all the momentum with multiple players scoring easy buckets. At the four-minute mark the score was 35-20, and it seemed like Rangi Ruru had no answer for stopping them. Whittaker and Millie Nesbit combined for 11 points here, allowing St. Andrew’s to take a 42-22 lead into the second half.

StAC continued to dominate Rangi Ruru in the second half. Sproat and Ashlee Strawbridge (20PTS, 13REB) managed to bring a bit of life into the team here, as they combined to score 8-points. They were still no match for Whittaker and her ability in the low post, as she alone managed to score 10-points in the third quarter. Notably for St. Andrew’s Billie Watson, Nesbit and Te Rina Cooper also contributed to the score and helped create a comfortable 23-point lead going into the fourth, up 61-38.

With the division title sitting very comfortably in the hands of St. Andrew’s and out of sight for Rangi Ruru, Strawbridge managed to create a late run scoring 10-points in the quarter with a pair of threes. With the help of Sproat’s 6-points in the quarter, the lead was cut down to 13. But St. Andrew’s tactic of feeding Whittaker in the post proved impossible to guard consistently, as she scored another 10-points in a quarter. With 45 seconds left remaining Whittaker delivered a dagger three right through the heart of Rangi Ruru, helping her team close out the game 73-59.

To nobody’s surprise Charlotte Whittaker was named Finals MVP award with an extremely impressive performance of 40 points, 18 rebounds and 5 steals.

From James Lissaman

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