Takapuna Grammar School, on the back of 40 points from Bailey Flavell, won 71-64 at Carmel College in the play-off for a Premier Grade spot for the 2023 season.
Takapuna, the Senior A champions last season, appeared to be cruising to victory midway through the third period when the led by 17 points, 46-29. However Carmel weren’t going down without a fight and roared back into the contest with a 16-4 run to trail by just 5 points at the three-quarter mark (50-45).
With Ruby Railton dominant in the low post and guards Imogen O’Rourke and Hannah Bellett forcing turnovers Carmel made it a single point game at 57-56 with a shade under five minutes to play to set up a tense finish.
Amy McKenzie eased the Taka nerves with a nice finish and soon after Flavell nailed a corner three to give her team some much needed breathing space.
Railton replied with another inside bucket but Flavell scored six straight to take the Taka lead out to double digits with two minutes to play (69-59).
Mackereth cancelled out another Railton score and although Carmel scored the last four points of the game Takapuna had done enough to secure the win.
Earlier in an understandably nervy start it was Carmel, with Zahara Tibbotts to the fore, that made the better start scoring the first six points of the game.
It took Taka over six minutes to score their first field goal, courtesy of Mackereth and her free throw tied the scores at 13 all at quarter time.
The early stages of the second period were tight before Taka put together a 15-8 run to go into the half-time break with a 35-23 advantage.
Flavell and Mackenzie further increased the lead in the early stages of the third before Carmel embarked on their stirring comeback.
Unfortunately for the hosts it wasn’t quite enough and it’s Takapuna that will play Premier basketball next term with Carmel slotting into Senior A.
Takapuna 71 – Flavell 40, McKenzie 11, Mackereth 10
Carmel 64 – Railton 23, Bellett 14, O’Rourke 11, Tibbotts 7