Northcote College, after a long hiatus, are back in the Auckland Schools Girls Premier Grade after a commanding 78-48 win against Rangitoto College in the promotion/relegation play-off game on Tuesday.
Games are not won and lost in the opening quarter but Northcote certainly opened the contest with a statement of intent.
Nikki Gear nailed a corner three on the first possession to initiate a 10-0 opening salvo prompting Rangitoto coach Justine Reed to call a timeout.
Zaara Sain’s scooped layup got Rangi on the board but the first quarter belonged to the visitors who led 24-10 after ten minutes.
The large crowd were treated to an exciting second quarter as fortunes ebbed and flowed.
Ester Roberts knocked down a triple and with Maddison Skelton and Mela Andrews making shots the Northcote lead was shaved to 29-21.
Northcote would regain the initiative via Lily Morgan and DJ Hannah only for Roberts and Eva Veale to counter – Northcote ahead 40-28 after a fast paced first half.
The second half couldn’t have started worse for Rangi as Gear stole the restart inbounds pass before converting an uncontested layup while Lizzie May dropped her fourth triple (of five) to stretch the lead to 45-28.
Skelton got the scoreboard moving again for the hosts but it would be a quarter dominated by Northcote, and DJ Hannah in particular.
The livewire guard was responsible for a couple of steals and 8 points as the Northcote lead stretched to an unassailable 62-34 by the three-quarter mark.
With the result not in doubt both teams gave opportunities to their bench players in the closing minutes – Lisa Gear and Grace Giles taking the opportunity to impress.
After a long absence Northcote – the national champions back in 2006 – will return to the top tier of schools basketball in Auckland for the 2023 season. Rangi will set about their rebuilding in Senior A.
Northcote 78 – Hannah 24, May 15, Morgan 14, N Gear 13, L Gear 6
Rangitoto 38 – Roberts 17, Skelton 9, Andrews 9, Giles 3