With the first half of the Premier Grade season (7 games) doubling as Secondary Schools National Championship Qualifiers wins on Friday to Rangitoto College, Auckland Grammar and St Kentigern College guaranteed the three safe passage to Palmerston North in October.
The fourth automatic qualifying spot will likely not be decided until Round 7 fixtures. Teams placed 5-7 will then join Whangarei Boys to battle for the two remaining spots at the National Championships.
Westlake Boys High led from start to finish but had to stave off a Pita Maxwell-Topia inspired Rosmini College comeback before closing out a solid 82-74 win.
When the impressive Hamza Zahran, playing just his second game for the premier team, knocked down a deep three with 5:30 to play Westlake appeared to be cruising to victory, ahead 75-57.
Signal a Maxwell-Topia onslaught with the Rosmini wing scoring 13 straight points for his team. Josh Kooiman and Zahran made scores for Westlake but when Maxwell-Topia made his third trey of the quarter Rosmini were just eight behind (72-80) with two to play.
They failed with some good looks in the closing seconds allowing Kooiman and Jett Thompson to seal the win from the foul line.
Earlier Westlake made a dream start scoring the first 14 points of the game through good work from Reuben Natusch and Liam Spencer.
Zahran signaled his intentions with a couple of his six made triples in the game coming in the opening quarter that Westlake claimed 24-13.
Sean Murphy, on his way to a game high 31 points, scored 10 of those in the second for Rosmini but a three on the half-time buzzer from Kooiman gave Lake a healthy 43-31 lead.
Thompson’s sniping cuts to the hoop kept the Rosmini defence honest but Murphy, Charlie Dalton and Maxwell-Topia ensured the home team had the better of the third – down 59-54 with ten to play.
Westlake started the third quarter at pace with Thompson and Kooiman doing the damage as they stretched out to that 18-point lead.
The Maxwell-Topia charge caused them some anxious moments down the stretch but Kooiman and young Zahran held their nerve to close out a second win of the season for The Swans and keep their top four hopes alive.
Rosmini 74 – Murphy 31, Maxwell-Topia 28, Dalton 6
Westlake 82 – Zahran 21, Thompson 19, Kooiman 18, Natusch 7
Auckland Grammar made it four straight wins with a 67-53 home victory over traditional rivals Mt Albert Grammar School.
Down 56-34 at three-quarter time Mt Albert had the better of the closing stages as Phoenix Sorensen and Morgon Aiono went to work. By then however AGS had taken a strong grip on proceedings and MAGS were in catch up mode.
Earlier a couple of triples from Toby Caldwell helped AGS to a 17-12 lead after the opening ten.
Despite threes from Sorensen and Dakota Stephens MAGS were under the pump in the second frame outscored 22-11 to trail 39-22 at the break.
Josh Muggleston provided some impetus at the back end of the half scoring 8 of AGS last 10 points.
AGS dealt almost exclusively in threes in the third frame. Connor Ngan knocked down three from deep, Luka Vea and Stefan Bigio chimed in with one apiece and the hosts were well clear at three-quarter time leading 56-34.
To their credit MAGS showed their fighting spirit in the final quarter but by then AGS had done enough to claim the points ahead of a tasty looking clash at Rangitoto College next Friday.
AGS 67 – Ngan 14, Caldwell 14, Vea 12, Muggleston 8, Landon 8
MAGS 53 – Sorensen 15, Aiono 10/10r, Stephens 8, Tawera 7, Tapula’aia 7
As has been their trait of late Rangitoto College made a fast start and it was St Peter’s on the receiving end on this occasion. David Jovanovic, appropriately wearing the No 8 singlet, had 8 points in the opening period that ended 21-10 in favour of the visitors.
Jack Donnelly failed to score in the opening spell but thereafter he was in fabulous form. The St Peter’s guard scored 13 points in the second quarter and went on to amass a mighty 36 points scoring over half of his team’s points in one of the best individual performances of the season.
Scott Errey was the only other St Peter’s player close to double figures contributing 9 points.
Rangitoto led 42-25 at half-time, 73-49 at the three-quarter mark to eventually win 92-69. Zack Riley threatened a triple double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists and there were also significant contributions from Jovanovic (23 points), Zeke Priest (18 points) and Lucas Payne (13 points and 7 assists).
St Peter’s 69 – Donnelly 36, Errey 9, Arlove 7, Manio 6
Rangitoto 92 – Jovanovic 23, Riley 23, Priest 18, Payne 13, Powell 7
It was one way traffic at Liston College where the hosts were overpowered as they fell 116-33 to St Kentigern College.
It was 28-6 after 10 minutes and 55-17 by half-time affording St Kent’s Head Coach Aaron Young plenty of opportunity to give his bench payers extended minutes – James Chester took the opportunity to score his first points of the season.
Levick Kerr produced a huge double-double of 38 points and 20 rebounds, pounding the offensive glass for 11 ‘O’ boards.
Also enjoying a free scoring night were Alex McNaught (19 points), Dontae Nance (18 points), George Turner (17 points) and Kazlo Evans (15 points).
On an occasion when not much went right for Liston, Ryan Fabian top scored with 8 points.
Liston 33 – Fabian 8, Helu 6, Prasad 5
St Kentigern 116 – Kerr 38, McNaught 19, Nance 18, Turner 17, Evans 15, Gan 2/7a
Premier Table after 5 Rounds
4-1 AGS, St Kentigern
1-4 MAGS, Liston
0-5 St Peter’s