The Women’s D League Grand Final will be a North Island versus South Island affair with Etco Auckland Dream Black taking on Otago Gold Rush on Saturday afternoon at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland.
In the first semi-final on Friday the Etco Auckland Dream comfortably held off the challenge of the Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze winning the Battle of the Bridge 88-65.
Resolute defence and a superior shooting performance got the Dream home. In comparison to Harbour’s 2 from 22 from beyond the arc Auckland had six different players connect from deep for a combined 9 from 22 (40%).
Riana Rangi-Brown led the Dream scoring with 18 points, the livewire guard receiving able support from Summer-Jean Motufoua (16 points). Elianna Tuaiti, Casyn Buchman and Coola Baudry were also double figure contributors.
For the Breeze the Westlake Girls High duo of MacKenzie Chatfield and Izzy Pugh led the way with 20 points and 18 respectively.
The Dream set the tone early on – Rangi-Brown helping herself to 9 points in a 19-11 opening salvo.
Chatfield, having played for the Northern Kāhu in Wellington the night before, made 8 second quarter points for the Breeze but a triple from Dream player-coach Darci Finnigan kept her team in the ascendancy.
Another trey from Buchman helped further – Dream 37-33 ahead at half-time.
Dream quickly established a 10-point lead and when Trinity Paeu hit a baseline jumper the margin was up to 13 (54-41).
Pugh reduced the dficit back to 10 but it was just a brief respite as the Dream 3-point shooting heated up – closing the quarter with a 14-4 run they held all the cards at three-quarter time with a 68-48 lead.
The Breeze made a 6-0 run to threaten a comeback but it was a mere temporary inconvenience for the Dream as they comfortably advanced to Saturday’s final.
Dream 88 – Rangi-Brown 18, Motufoua 16, Baudry 11, Tuaiti 11, Buchman 10
Breeze 65 – Chatfield 20, Pugh 18/10rebs, Anderson 10, Negishi 7
In the second semi the all-South Island dual went the way of Otago Gold Rush defeating Canterbury 80-69.
Sophie Adams posted a big double-double of 24 points (9/12FG) and 13 points – Tyler Mitchell also played a good hand with 14 points. Hannah Matehaere joined Adams in double-double territory with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Caitlin O’Connell was within a point of a DD with 9 points and 10 rebounds. The rebounding numbers were heavily in favour of Otago as they won the battle on the boards 63-45.
Gemma Etheridge (9 points and 10 rebounds) and Hannah Mischewski (9 points) supported Nicole Gleason’s team high 21 points but it wasn’t quite enough to see off their southern neighbours.
Adams had 13 points to her name as Otago edged the opening quarter 21-19.
Gleason scored 9 points in the second period and with Tatiana Kaumoana draining a long three it was the Cantabs with the half-time advantage (36-33).
That lead was quickly erased by Matehaere before Annabelle Ring gave Otago the lead. Tyler Mitchell (14 points) made some telling scores as Gold Rush took the third 20-12 to lead 53-48 at the last break.
A Karereatua triple three minutes into the fourth pulled Canterbury to within a point (61-59) and a grandstand finish looked on the cards.
However Otago, as they had in the quarter final win against Waikato, controlled the closing minutes. They outscored Canterbury 11-2 over the following five minutes to establish a 72-61 advantage.
Canterbury were unable to put a dent in that lead, Otago marching on to a Dream final!
Gold Rush 80 – Adams 24, Mitchell 14, Matehaere 12, O’Connell 9
Canterbury 69 – Gleason 21, Herman 9, Etheridge 9, Mischewski 9