The country may have moved into the Covid orange setting at midnight Wednesday but three hours earlier it was green-for-go as Sacred Heart College defeated St Peter’s College 91-78 to earn promotion to the Auckland Secondary School’s Premier League.
Played at a frenetic pace, in front of a vibrant crowd, Sacred Heart were out the starting gate the quickest piling on 34 first quarter points to lead by 14 after ten minutes.
Andrei Manio scored St Peter’s first dozen points but Matt Fautuaalii and Josh Stewart combined for twenty to the delight of the away support.
The second period was equally furious but far more even – Sacred Heart 58-42 ahead at half-time.
A triple from Stewart and a transition score from Dalton Dennis stretched the visitors lead to beyond twenty and a runaway victory was on the cards. But a momentum shift changed all that.
The cellophane went over the Sacred Heart bucket while at the other end skipper Scott Erey, Toby Cox and Manio consistently found a route to basket.
St Peter’s finished the period with a 14-3 run to trail 69-60 – the home fans in full voice during the three-quarter time break.
Preston Tuaputa opened the final quarter scoring but a triple from Milan Tolich and another bucket from Dorian Sula kept St Peter’s in touch – 75-67 down with six minutes to play.
Owain Leigh knocked down another three for St Peter’s but Tuaputa, Stewart and Adam Davies steadied the ship for Sacred Heart.
Players were exiting the game left right and centre in the dying minutes, with bouts of cramp or through fouling out, as the physical effort from both sets of players took its toll.
Stewart, the leading scorer in the game with 33 points, ensured Sacred Heart managed the clock in the dying seconds to close out a deserved victory and with it promotion to the upper echelons of Auckland Schools basketball.
St Peter’s 78 – Manio 22, Errey 17, Sula 8, Cox 7, Leigh 7, Bailey Smith 7
Sacred Heart 91 – Stewart 33, Fautuaalii 17, Davies 14, Tuaputa 12, Dennis 9
In the other promotion/relegation battle Liston College edged Mt Roskill Grammar 77-76 to retain their place in the Premier League.