New Zealand finished sixth at the 2022 FIBA U18 Asian Championship in Bengaluru, India last week, losing the 5th/6thplay-off game against Korea 73-56.
The four Aucklanders on the New Zealand team performed with distinction despite the one win, four loss record of the Kiwis.
All four ranked in the top five Kiwis in the major statistical categories with Westlake Girls Year 13 Mackenzie Chatfield leading the team in steals, assists and rebounds (5.4rpg). Her 4.6 assists per game ranked her 4th overall amongst all players in the 8 team tournament.
Former Baradene College forward Lilly Parke was the team’s leading scorer averaging 8.6 points per game. Now in her freshman year at Auburn University at Montgomery, Parke was also the second highest rebounder with 4.8 boards per game.
Ex-Epsom Girls Grammar standout Flo Dallow is also in her freshman year in the States at the University of Portland. She averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game – 4th highest in points and third in rebounds.
Massey High School Year 13 Allyah Leusogi-Ape was the fifth highest scorer (7.8ppg) and 3rd leading rebounder with 4.4 boards per game.
Its also worth mentioning the performance of Takapuna Grammar forward Qaizden Stephano who averaged 8.8 rebounds and 4.6 points for the Samoan U18 team that finished 4th in the B Division of the U18 Asian Championship, the tournament played simultaneously alongside the A Division.
Australia beat China 81-55 in the A Division Grand Final with Japan claiming bronze after a 77-45 defeat of Chinese Taipei. All four team qualified for the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup in Spain.
Malaysia earned promotion to the A Division after downing Mongolia 64-53 in the B Division Grand Final. India will be the team relegated after being pipped 48-45 in the A Division 7th-8th play-off fixture.
With the Zone 1 Premierships (National Championships Qualifying Tournament) completed I’ve taken a look at the past performances of the six Zone 1 Schools that have qualified for the 2022 National Champs in Palmerston North next month.
There have been no champions from north of the Bombay Hills since Northcote College were the victors in 2006.
Prior to that Avondale College won two consecutive National titles in 2004 and 2005 but since then Auckland school have had to be content with the minor medals.
Westlake Girls High have not finished lower than 9th in their last 8 appearances – 5 semi-final appearances and 2 bronze medal finishes in 2013 and 2018 the highlights. Emme Shearer, now at the University of Portland was named to the ‘18 Tournament Team and Bronwyn Kjestrup in ’13.
Mt Albert Grammar School also have a good recent record with their 2022 qualification making it 10 appearances in 12 years. They have twice finished runners-up in recent years, beaten by St Peter’s, Cambridge in 2016 and Hamilton Girls High in 2012. Sharne Robati and Rhyannon Poto were named to the Tournament Team in ’16 and Kezeiah Lewis in ’12.
None of the other four Zone 1 qualifiers have much recent history to draw on.
Whangārei Girls High School, with their second place finish at Premierships, have become the first Northland girls team to clip a ticket to Nationals since Kamo College in 2005. It will be the first trip to Nationals for Girls High since the mid 1990’s!
The mums of two current players played on those 90’s teams that were coached by the legendary Matagini ‘Mata’ Cameron. 2022 player Mahinaarangi Kukutai-Wairau is the daughter of 90’s player Kay Wairau while Te Rina Cameron-Tama is the daughter of Jeannie Cameron.
It hasn’t been quite that long since Takapuna Grammar School made an appearance but if I tell you Micaela Cocks was on the team you will know it’s been a while. It was 2004 and Cocks was in her last year of school and since then of course has gone on to become the most capped Tall Fern. Two years earlier Takapuna had finished runners-up to Church College.
Epsom Girls Grammar assistant coach Chanel Pompallier was on that 2002 Takapuna Grammar team. EGGS have been limited to just two appearances at Nationals (2007 and 2016), but buoyed by their 3rd place finish at Premierships will be hoping 2022 is the start of regular visits to Palmerston North.
Saint Kentigern College will be making their first appearance at Nationals since three consecutive trips from 2013 to 2015 – current Head Coach Darci Finnigan was a leading player on all three teams.
Saint Kent’s are yet to make a Top-10 finish in five previous visits – could this be the year?
Notable absentees in 2022 are Rangitoto College and Auckland Girls Grammar School.
Rangitoto’s run of 15 straight appearances dating back to 2005 has comes to an end – they were runners up on 3 occasions and bronze medalists twice in that time.
The AGGS run is just one less at 14 years with three bronze medal performances during that time.
Below is a list of the highest placed Zone 1 teams at Nationals in recent years including all medalists – records pre 2004 are not extensive.
With the Zone 1 Premierships (National Championships Qualifying Tournament) completed and a wet Monday driving me to the record books I’ve taken a look at the past performances of Auckland Schools at National Championships.
Here goes with the boys (girls to follow) bearing in mind on-line records only go back to 2004 when four future Tall Blacks were named to the Tournament Team that year.
Tom Abercrombie (Westlake Boys), Jeremaia Trueman (Nelson College), Alex Pledger (Hamilton Boys High) and Benny Anthony – 24 points for Avondale College in their Grand Final win against Mana College – were the recipients.
Since then Westlake Boys (5), Rosmini (3), Rangitoto (2), St Kentigern (1) have won 11 of the last 15 championships emphasizing the dominance the Auckland Schools have engineered since ’04.
Westlake Boys head to Nationals as the only team from the region to compete at every championship since ’04. In addition to the 5 championships, 2 silvers, and 2 bronze medals they have only finished outside the top ten once and that was a creditable 11th in 2018. That is some record.
Rangitoto College, National champions in 2015 and 2016, have only failed to qualify twice (06 and ’12) in the last 17 years. In addition to the two championships they have two silvers and a bronze with a total of 10 Top-10 finishes.
Like Rangitoto College, Auckland Grammar have only missed two championships since ’04. You have to go back to 1979 to find the only time Grammar have won the title although since claiming bronze in 2010 they have been a model of consistency with an impressive ten straight Top-10 finishes. Could this be their year to convert that consistency into a championship?
Attending just their 8th National Tournament Rosmini College boast a formidable record in that short time. They were crowned champions at their first appearance in 2011 and subsequently have finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 11th, 1st, 1st and 2nd.
Mt Albert Grammar are headed to the National Champs for a 7th straight year hoping to at least match the performance of 2017 when a 3rd place finish was the best in the school’s history.
St Kentigern College, lest we forget, are the defending champions! They defeated Rosmini in an all-Auckland final in 2019 and, having claimed bronze in 2018, will be hoping to medal again in their 7th championship appearance.
For Sacred Heart College the 2022 National Championships will be the school’s first ever appearance at the ‘Big Dance’. What a way for all the Year 13 students to end their collegiate careers!
In a trip down memory lane here is a list of the Auckland champions and MVP’s (bracketed) noting records from pre 2004 are less detailed.
Westlake Girls claimed the headline by defeating Whangārei Girls High 74-47 to take out the Zone 1 Nationals Qualification Tournament at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday night but it was the history making runners-up that were the main storyline.
Despite playing the whole tournament with just seven players Whangārei Girls High gave all the Auckland teams plenty of trouble winning four from five pool games, a quarter-final against St Kent’s and a semi against Takapuna Grammar – most the wins by a convincing margin.
Their trip down State Highway 1 has seen them become first Northland Girls team to clip a ticket to Nationals since Kamo College in 2005. It will be the first visit to Nationals for Girls High since the mid 1990’s!
In the final Westlake, as usual, enjoyed scoring contributions across the board with Izzy Pugh (19 points), Amiya Fotu (17 points) and Rebecca Moors (16 points) leading the way. Kiama Tahere scored 12 points and Mahina Kukutai-Wairau 15 points for Whangārei but all seven players put in a mighty shift.
If Whangārei’s effort was the major highlight of the tournament then the success of Takapuna Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar were interesting sub plots.
Takapuna’s opening round overtime victory against Baradene kick started their qualifying campaign perfectly. Qaizden Stephano was the hero with a buzzer beating three to tie the contest in regulation.
Takapuna went on to top Pool A despite Stephano’s interior prowess being lost – mid tournament she flew to India to link up with the Samoan U18 team at the Asia Cup.
The Senior A champions defeated Manurewa in the critical quarter-final tie 70-60 before fading in the semi and bronze medal games. Taka were well served throughout by Amy McKenzie, Zenthia Stowers and Bailey Flavell.
Epsom Girls Grammar saved their best performances of the season until it mattered. They defeated Baradene College in the quarters and although they lost to Westlake in the semi’s they bounced back to defeat Takapuna 76-49 in the 3rd-4th play-off.
Draun Forbes, Maia Fowler and Leah Patuwarua were outstanding throughout for EGGS.
Mt Albert Grammar endured a horror start to the tournament losing both opening day games. They then lost point guard Danae Tait to an ankle injury in the tie against Takapuna on day two but recovered to win that game to ignite their campaign.
They lost to Westlake in the quarters but in the all-important classification game that followed they defeated Baradene College to secure an October visit to Palmerston North.
NZ U17 rep Waimanu Clarken averaged an impressive 26 points a game for MAGS.
In contrast to MAGS, Saint Kentigern College made the perfect start winning both opening games but then lost their remaining three pool games and quarter-final against Whangārei.
They also needed to win their 6-8 classification game – in a nervy affair they beat Manurewa High School 59-52 and followed that with a 56-45 win against MAGS to secure 5th spot overall – Ashleigh Tuumaialu and Anamia Rangihaeta double digit scorers in both games.
St Kentigern College, still the reigning champions from 2019 remember, will carry the number one seeding at the 2022 Secondary Schools National Championships in October after downing Westlake 96-71 in the Final of the Zone I Qualifying Tournament at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday night.
While Dontae Russo-Nance orchestrated proceedings it was Merrick Rillstone’s night to hit the right chords as the rangy forward dropped a staggering 49 points in what turned out to be a one-sided affair. The U15 National Championship MVP had his shooting game in fine tune as his team plundered 51 second half points.
Westlake will be content with a second placed finish, having had to undergo a change of coaching staff prior to the start the tournament, but it promised more when they led 29-19 as Rocco Chang (17 points), Daniel Ottenhoff (16 points) and Hamza Zahran (29 points) began impressively.
The Swans were just three adrift at half-time (45-42) before a major momentum shift in the third became seismic in the fourth as Rillstone, Russo-Nance (26 points) and Hunter Te Ratna (15 points) produced a scoring medley to delight the St Kent’s followers.
Rangitoto College garnered a couple of useful scalps during the tournament and should have made it a third when they led Auckland Grammar 69-60 deep into the fourth quarter and by five points inside the final seconds of the 3rd/4th play-off game.
Some indecision in their ranks allowed Josh Howes to make a game levelling three, then Cody Brown (28 points) to make the go-ahead basket with time almost expired – Rangi, unable to come up with an answer on the final possession, were pipped 71-69.
A dozen points each from forwards Jacob Fotu and Tautoko Wynyard, plus 18 from livewire guard Michael Ropotini seemed to have done the trick until Brown pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.
Rosmini College, one the back of a career best performance from young forward Julius Halaifonua (38 points), came from behind to pip Mt Albert Grammar in the 5th/6th place contest.
15 points apiece from Will Leger and Denvor Elia, plus 17 from Dante Matakatea gave MAGS the edge for long spells but Halaifonua and Tom Beattie (26 points) carried Rosmini to victory with a fourth quarter push.
Sacred Heart College claimed the coveted seventh spot at Nationals after defeating St Peter’s College 74-63 in the critical 7th/8th play-off game.
The contest was still in the balance at three-quarter time with St Peter’s only 4 points behind (54-50).
However it was Josh Tengblad (13 points) and Adam Davies (21 points) that proved the difference makers in the fourth as Sacred Heart stamped their ticket for Palmerston North with a 20-13 closing run.
Milan Tolich (17 points), Scott Errey (15 points) and Dorian Sula (14 points) kept the Senior A champions in the hunt but they looked leg weary in the fourth and slipped to a disappointing defeat.
In a cliffhanger Senior A Grand Final St Peter’s College needed overtime to see off the challenge of Avondale College before eventually winning 104-99.
In a game of see-sawing fortunes Avondale boasted a 78-67 lead early in the fourth quarter, were still 92-86 ahead with 90 seconds to play and looked destined for an upset win.
However, with their unbeaten record on the line Scott Errey, headed for a game high 43 points, halved the deficit before a Milan Tolich free-throw and an Andrei Manio two tied proceedings.
Blaze Murphy restored the Avondale advantage with 21 seconds remaining only for Dorian Sula to tie proceedings once more and send the game into an additional five minutes.
Errey and Bailey Smith put the Saints 5 points up in the extra spell before the excellent Jimitose Iosia-Sipeli (41 points) trimmed the deficit once more. However another Errey basket and a Manio free-throw sealed the deal for St Peter’s – a 16th straight win.
Earlier it was Avondale that made most the early running as they claimed an 18-16 first quarter lead and stretched the advantage to a 42-36 half time advantage with Iosia-Sipeli and Kabir Bhargava (28) causing most the headaches for the St Peter’s defence.
Manio gave the St Peter’s offence some impetus at the beginning of the third only for Avondale to unleash five threes, in a similar number of minutes, four of them from the hot hands of Bhargava.
St Peter’s preferred to accumulate points in the more orthodox fashion – Smith, Errey and Gus Dallow but Avondale were still in the box seat at three-quarter time ahead 73-68.
The sharp shooting Bhargava made his seventh three of the game to proceed the St Peter’s fight back and a fitting climax to an exciting final.
Both teams will now set their sights on claiming a spot at the Secondary Schools National Champs. Their qualifying campaigns begins on Wednesday.
St Peter’s 104 – Scott Errey 43, Andrei Manio 26, Bailey Smith 12, Dorian Sula 7, Gus Dallow 6, Milan Tolich 6
Takapuna Grammar School defeated Northcote College 78-61 in the Auckland Secondary Schools Girls Senior A Grand Final at Eventfinda Stadium.
Paced by 33 points from guard Bailey Flavell Takapuna led at every quarter but Northcote showed commendable resilience – their challenge only overcome in the final quarter.
Qaizden Stephano opened the scoring with a trademark inside jumper – Lizzie May got Northcote on the board but they trailed 17-13 after quarter one.
Amy McKenzie scored 6 second quarter points but it was a ten minute period dominated by Grace Lai and Flavell. Lai scored 8 of her 9 points in the spell while Flavell buried three triples on her way to 11 points in the quarter and 17 at the half.
Takapuna ahead 36-26 at half-time.
With Stephano dominating the paint and Flavell controlling the backcourt Takapuna stretched their lead to 14 before Anna Dyachenko’s added a further three to the advantage.
To their credit Northcote weren’t about to throw the towel in. Triples from DJ Hannah and Lizzie May, plus inside baskets from Lily Morgan fuelled a 10-point run – the deficit trimmed to 8 points late in the spell.
Amy McKenzie righted the ship for Takapuna with a brace of baskets – their lead 58-46 at three-quarter time.
Any thoughts of a fourth quarter Takapuna comeback were short lived as Flavell knocked down triple number eight and Manaia Watson connected from deep also.
Both teams will now set their sights on claiming a spot at the Secondary Schools National Champs. Their qualifying campaigns begins on Wednesday.
Takapuna 78 – Flavell 33 (8 made 3-pointers), Amy McKenzie 20, Qaizden Stephano 10, Anna Dyachenko 9
Northcote 61 – DJ Hannah 25, Lily Morgan 11, Grace Lai 9, Lizzie May 8
Westlake Girls High School underlined their status as the number on basketball team in the region with an emphatic 87-54 victory against Mt Albert Grammar School in the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier Grand Final on Thursday night.
The early signs were encouraging for MAGS as they went toe-to-toe with the unbeaten regular season champions – Waimanu Clarken and April Liu ensuring it was only a one point deficit at quarter-time (16-15).
Points became harder to come by in the second period for MAGS whereas Westlake gave it the full throttle to rack up 29 as their lead climbed to 46-26 by half-time.
Mackenzie Chatfield orchestrated affairs with deft touch assists for teammates or scoring makes of her own. Amy Pateman and Rebecca Moors were beneficiaries of Chatfield assists and when Sarah Moors knocked down an arching three the lead was twenty points and MAGS were clinging on.
Any prospect of a MAGS comeback were put to bed immediately after the break as Westlake opened with an 11-2 run – Pateman with five of those.
Danae Tait nailed a deep three for MAGS but Chatfield sunk a couple from beyond the arc in response – the Westlake lead 73-45 at three-quarter time.
Waimanu Clarken worked tirelessly for MAGS with the NZ U17 representative tallying 23 points but the offensive prowess of Westlake was just too potent on the night.
Both team will now prepare for the National Champs Qualifying Tournament commencing on Wednesday although Westlake will have to do so without Chatfield who will be with the New Zealand U18 team preparing for a trip to India for the upcoming FIBA Asia Championships.
Westlake 87 – Chatfield 25, Pateman 16, R Moors 15, Amiya Fotu 9, Jaelah Clayton 9, S Moors 8
An entertaining, keenly fought, Auckland Secondary Schools Boys Premier Grand Final went the way of Rosmini College with a 61-54 victory against Auckland Grammar School on Thursday night.
When Cody Brown, In front of a boisterous crowd at Eventfinda Stadium, gave Grammar their first lead of the game early in the final period it was the away fans that had most to cheer.
There was even more for those fans to celebrate at the mid-point of the fourth when forward Will Shortt connected from beyond the arc to stretch the Grammar lead to 5 points (49-44).
Having been held to just 13 points in the previous 15 minutes the Rosmini offense suddenly sprung to life. An inside basket from Julius Halaifonua proceeded a game tying triple from Tom Beattie and a go ahead basket from Jameer Reed to put Rosmini ahead 51-49 with 2:30 to play.
The two team had struggled to shoot the ball consistently throughout the game and the trend continued in the final couple of minutes as both relied on trips to the foul line for points.
Shortt and Beattie exchanged free throws but inside the final 60 seconds a couple of Grammar turnovers proved costly as they were punished by Rosmini – Dalton and Beattie making no mistake from the charity stripe on both occasions.
Josh Muggleston made a late three but it was too little to affect the outcome.
Earlier Rosmini had opened with a 12-2 burst and were still ahead at quarter time (16-10).
Brown and Ryan Hunt featured strongly for Grammar in the second but Dalton and Halaifonua maintained the Rosmini advantage at half time (31-22).
Grammar began to find some offensive fluidity in the third – Shortt and Jackson Kiss helping narrow the deficit to 41-38 at three-quarter time.
Muggleston and Brown quickly erased the arrears at the start of the fourth to set up a tense finish.
Rosmini 60 – Beattie 24, Dalton 14, Halaifonua 11
AGS 54 – Muggleston 15, Brown 13, Shortt 12, Kiss 6
The Auckland Secondary Schools Girls Premier Grade Grand Final next Thursday will be between Westlake Girls High and Mt Albert Grammar after Westlake defeated St Kentigern College 110-29 and MAGS overcame Baradene College 53-50 in semi-final ties at Eventfinda Stadium on Friday.
The Senior A Grand Final will be an all North Shore affair with Takapuna Grammar taking on Northcote College.
Due to my commitments to the Women’s D League (Saturday) and Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa (Sunday) the wrap on the semi-finals is a little less detailed than normal.
The Westlake against St Kentigern College matchup was a disappointingly one-sided affair won 110-29 by unbeaten Westlake. The Lake lead was 25-9 at quarter time and grew steadily throughout the contest.
In contrast the other semi-final wasn’t decided until the final possession of the contest, a go-ahead banked three from Danae Tait with 12 seconds to play proving to be the game winner.
Having trailed 45-32 half way through the final quarter, and shots not dropping, Baradene looked dead and buried.
However back-to-back scores from Ritorya Tamilo plus an And-1 play from Summer Faleafa sparked a Baradene revival.
When Baradene point guard Deyna Topia scored inside the last three minutes it was just a three point deficit (47-44). Wai Clarken (25 points) extended the MAGS advantage to five but Baradene were on a roll.
A Tamilo score preceded a Poppy Cavanagh-Briggs make and when the same player found herself unmarked for an open layup Baradene were ahead 50-49 with 32 seconds left on the clock.
The next MAGS possession seemed to be fizzling out until Tait’s 3-point effort found the net via the backboard.
Baradene couldn’t make anything of their final possession – Clarken, at the other end, icing the game from the foul line to see MAGS home in a thrilling finish.
There was no such drama in the Senior A semi’s with Takapuna Grammar and Northcote College advancing with almost identical scorelines. Takapuna defeated Manurewa High 73-49 with Northcote winning 73-51 against Massey High.
Takapuna were given some trouble by Manurewa in the early stages, their lead only 16-12 at quarter time and 25-16 midway through the second.
It was Sela Uluheua and Bella Manu-Moore providing most the scoring firepower for Manurewa who were still in the contest close to the three-quarter mark.
However a 10-0 Takapuna run, either side of that mark, broke the Manurewa resistance. Takapuna were paced by a game high 26 points from Amy McKenzie with Qaizden Stephano and Bailey Flavell the other double figure contributors.
Manurewa 49 – Sela Uluheua 19, Bella Manu-Moore 11, Zhendy Li 9
Northcote College bossed proceedings throughout against Massey High School who were hampered by having just five players.
With Lizzie May and Nikki Gear in good touch Northcote had a 22-11 lead at quarter-time, 42-22 at half-time and 59-33 at three-quarter time. The result was not in doubt at that stage but to their credit the ‘Massey Five’ were competitive to the end and took the fourth period 18-14, Allyah Leusogi-Ape their top scorer with 20 points.
Northcote with the win and a grand final date with Takapuna on Thursday.
Northcote 73 – Lizzie May 22, Nikki Gear 17, DJ Hannah 13, Lily Morgan 10