In the first week of the Junior College (JUCO) season Harbour’s Keeley Tini, Wellington’s Te Araroa Sopoaga and Ezra Vigafa and Taranaki’s Nico Hill have put in outstanding individual performances.
2021 Harbour Breeze forward Keeley Tini has begun the season in dominating fashion posting a pair of double-doubles for Williston State College. She registered 11 points and 10 rebounds as Williston were sunk 67-59 by Bismarck State. However what followed was remarkable – 19 points (7/16FG), 17 rebounds and 7 assists in a 72-43 demolition of Miles College. Cantabrian guard Molly Cockburn scored 7 points for Miles.
Te Araroa Sopoaga has been a beast for Cloud County Community College in their opening two games – a win and a loss. The 2020 Otago Gold Rush standout has averaged 16.5 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 4.5 steals and 1.5 blocks whilst leading the scoring in both games.
She tallied 13 points and 15 rebounds in the 79-68 win against Highland and 20 points and 11 rebounds in the agonising 80-79 loss at Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.
Sophomore forward Nico Hill scored a career high 31 points including shooting six for eight from behind the arc in the second half to lead the Missouri State West Plains to a 109-67 win over SEMO Prep. The former Opunake High School guard added 7 rebounds and 3 assists for good measure.
In the same game forward Dallas Clayton scored his first collegiate points, coming off the bench to tally 7 points and 3 rebounds.
Ezrah Vaigafa was a dime short of a triple double in his first outing for Neosho County. The former Wellington guard came up with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists as Neosho County grabbed a 108-72 victory.
In addition to the quartet of stellar performances above there were numerous other noteworthy deeds
Canterbury forward Ashlee Strawbridge top scored for Southern Idaho as they dominated Central Wyoming to win 60-39. Strawbridge finished with 14 points (4/6 3PG) with fellow Junior Tall Fern Kyra Paniora tallying 7 points.
Te Aroha’s Dejaan Schuler tallied 11 points and 5 assists as Casper College disposed of Community Christian College 116-39.
Casper then faced off against Southern Idaho but none of the Kiwis made a major impact. Southern Idaho won 59-53 with Strawbridge contributing 3 points and 6 rebounds but neiher Paniora or Schuler could register points.
Jordyn Maddix scored 10 points and Parehuia Delamere 8 (plus 7 boards and 3 steals) but the Harbour pair couldn’t stop Western Texas being downed 63-54 by Cisco College.
Ella Bradley joint top scored for Utah State Eastern in their 76-60 loss against Seward County. The Waikato forward finished with 15 points (5/8FG) and 6 rebounds. Also for Utah State former Avondale College guard Maclani Michaelfinished with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on debut.
There are plenty of other encouraging debut performances to report:
Ollie Hayward enjoyed a tidy first outing as Midland College defeated Loyalty College 87-56. The former Northcote College standout posted 4 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and followed that with 11 points in a big 94-56 win against Strength ‘N Motion.
Heck of a debut from Safena Te Nana-Williams for Central Maine College Mustangs. The former St Mary’s College, Ponsonby guard amassed 20 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 steals and has recently been named a co-captain of the Mustangs.
Safena’s sister Leata had 4 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while Taranaki’s Harata Coleman scored 3 points as the Mustangs butted Northern Vermont – Lyndon 102-67.
Coleman, having transferred from Barton Community College, went even better a couple of days later top scoring with 14 points in the 67-42 win against Villa Martin.
Samantha Jenkins made three 3-pointers and totalled 15 points on debut for Dawson Community College as they climbed over Rocky Mountain College 89-46 in their season opener. Jenkins played at Nayland College, Nelson before moving to Wellington where she suited up for Queen Margaret College.
Wellingtonian Rosie Campbell scored 4 points on debut as Southeast beat Midland 87-46.