Category Archives: School Basketball

Callum McRae plays 100th game

Playing his 100th Division I game on Sunday (NZT) Callum McRae posted a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds despite Sacramento State University going down 72-65 at Santa Clara. It’s the seventh time in eight games this season he has posted double figures in points or rebounds.

Despite playing his 100th NCAA game it feels as if the collegiate career of McRae has flown under the radar somewhat – if dipping under the radar is possible for someone standing 7’1” tall!

Having spent four years at the University of California Riverside the former Manawatu and Palmerston North Boys High School standout has reunited with coach David Patrick at Sacramento State for the current 2022-23 collegiate campaign.

Coach Patrick was largely responsible for taking McRae to Riverside back in 2018 after his successful youth career. McRae repaid the faith by playing 92 games for the Highlanders over four years although he was forced to redshirt the 2020-21 year due to injury.

That was a particularly trying period for McRae given the timing of the injury.

“The injury was a huge challenge but it was compounded because Covid just hit too. I had great people around me to support me but not being able to be around my family was tough.”

McRae bounced back in style in the 2021-22 season scoring a career best 32 points against UC Santa Barbara and averaging 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds across 28 games – 27 as a starter. His 6.1 defensive rebounds per game placed him 42nd amongst all men’s Division I players in that statistical category. Given there are over 5,000 male Division I players a 42nd placing is rather impressive! 

Despite the successes of last season when the opportunity to reunite with Patrick presented itself McRae had little hesitation in jumping on board.

“Coach Patrick is a great coach and better person but it came down to trust. I could’ve gone to a lot of places for my last year but playing, and having a significant role, was important to me and I knew I could trust him to have my best interests at heart.” 

Eight games into the new season and the 100th NCAA Division I appearance has rolled around. McRae was aware that the major milestone was imminent but unsure of exactly when.

“Being in college for so long I knew it was coming up. I’m just happy to have made it this far, I had a couple injuries that almost forced me to stop playing so I am very thankful to be able to be on the court still and do what I love. 

Perhaps even more significantly, barring injury, he will soon complete the double of 100 NCAA Division I appearances and 1,000 points and move into elite company – the double has only been achieved previously by Kirk Penney, Tai Webster and Craig Bradshaw.

To date he has 940 points – averaging 10.9 points per game (and 9.6 rebounds) – the 1,000 points mark looks likely to be achieved around the turn of the year.

Only fourteen New Zealand men have racked up 100 Division I appearances and amongst them are Dan Fotu (126 games for St Mary’s College, California) and Sam Waardenburg (118 games for the University of Miami).

The pair were involved in the two most memorable events in McRae’s junior career, both taking place in 2016.

Waardenburg and Fotu were opponents in “That Final” – the 2016 Secondary Schools Boys National Final, one of the most spectacular championship games witnessed in recent years.

Scoring 33 points and snaring 17 rebounds McRae dragged Palmerston North Boys High back from a massive 60-35 half-time deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Had it not been for the miraculous Rangitoto buzzer beater, courtesy of Cameron Stone’s miraculous shot, the championship would have gone the way of Palmy North Boys.

Later that year, this time playing with Fotu and Waardenburg, McRae enjoyed tremendous success at the FIBA U18 Oceania Championships in Fiji where the New Zealand team pulled off a stunning 57-51 victory against Australia in the final – the win qualifying the Junior Tall Blacks for the U19 World Cup the following year.  

McRae still has vivid memories of both events.

“After all these years that Rangitoto game is always bought up and still hurts a little but the joy of beating Australia helps a little. All I remember was the atmosphere of the game with my school behind us and the haka the boys did for us and then to Rangi. Even though we lost I was proud of that and the fight to come back after being down so much. 

“I still talk with a few of the boys every now and again and have even played with and against some here in college. That year group has been successful and I’m happy to see everyone succeeding and continuing on their paths.”

That 2016 U18 New Zealand team have gone on to achieve big things in the game. In addition to Waardenburg and Fotu, Taki Fahrensohn, Isaac Letoa, Quinn Clinton and the Cameron brothers Tobias and Flynn have played Division I basketball while Fotu, Letoa, Fahrensohn, Flynn Cameron and Taane Samuel, who was also on the team in Fiji, have gone on to play for the Tall Blacks.

Becoming the sixth member of the “Class of 2016” to gain senior international recognition would be special for McRae.

“I’d love to – playing for your country is an honour so if I ever have that opportunity I’d take it.” 

More pressing are the needs of Coach Patrick and the Sacramento State Hornets team as they strive to make an impression in the Big Sky Conference and beyond.

“I want to make my first NCAA tournament. Doing what I can to make that happen is priority number one and hopefully that will lead me to continuing my career professionally and becoming the best player I can be.”

Whether he gets to the Big Dance or not McRae will have plenty of good memories to reflect on when his college career concludes.

“Most of my highlights come from off the court. I’m lucky to have met some great people while being over here and have created lifelong friends. However beating Nebraska by a lot and Arizona state on the buzzer were great highlights too.

“I appreciate all the coaches and people who have helped me get to where I am today.” 

One of those to help McRae along his journey is his former Palmerston North Boys High Head Coach Miles Pearce. The former Tall Black is impressed with what he has seen.

“Cal has achieved so much in his career and it’s really only just beginning. He’s been a starter every year of his college career and improved his game every step of the way.

“I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments and everything he’s worked for. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

For now the focus for McRae is the present rather than the future.

Studying for a Master’s Degree in Recreational Therapy and ensuring the Hornets have a successful season are the main priorities for the big Kiwi.

The full list of centurions below includes former Hornet Izayah Le’afa the current New Zealand Breakers guard. 

100+ Men’s NCAA Division I Appearances/Starts (*Currently playing #Playing

 a fifth year)

133/121Rob Loe (University of St Louis, 2010-14)
131/61Sam Timmins (University of Washington 2016-20)
127/106Jack Salt (University of Virginia, 2014-19)
127/92Kirk Penney (University of Wisconsin, 1999-2003)
127/83Tai Webster (University of Nebraska, 2013-17)
126/47Dan Fotu (St Mary’s College, 2018-22)
125/103Mark Dickel (UNLV, 1996-2000)
123/104Craig Bradshaw (Winthrop University, 2003-7)
120/83Tom Vodanovich (James Maddison University, 2013-17)
118/69Sam Waardenburg (University of Miami, 2016-22)
117/108Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (Sacramento State, 2016-20)
115/31Matt Freeman (Oklahoma, 2016-19, UC Santa Barbara, 19-20)
119/24*#Tobias Cameron (Abilene Christian University, 2017-present)
101/10Rory Fannon (Utah Valley University, 2007-12)

2022 Girls High School Wrap

18 October

The Lacey Lowdown was able to bring you extensive coverage of the Girls 2022 Auckland Secondary Schools Basketball season thanks to the tremendous support of Northern Kāhu.

It was a season dominated by Westlake Girls High School. The team of the year claimed the treble of the Secondary National Championship, Zone 1 Premierships (Nationals Qualifying Tournament) and the Auckland Premier Grade title – an unbeaten record of 30-0.

Defeating St Andrew’s College, from Christchurch, 99-66 in the Final they became the first Auckland team to win the Girls Championship since Northcote College were victorious in 2006.

Westlake defeated surprise package Whangarei Girls (74-47) in the Zone I Premiership Final and Mt Albert Grammar (87-54) in the Prems Grand Final.

At Nationals in Palmerston North Westlake and MAGS were joined by Epsom Girls Grammar, St Kentigern College and Takapuna Grammar School – all three schools returning to Nationals after significant breaks.

Takapuna Grammar’s achievement was particularly meritorious given they played in the second division (Senior A) of the Auckland competition this year – a competition they won with a 15-1 record.

Mt Albert finished 10th at Nationals, Epsom were 12th, Takapuna 13th and St Kentigern 21st.

All four teams will return the bulk of their squads in 2023 and will be keen to make a return visit to Palmerston North but with next season’s Auckland Prems League shaping to be super competitive places will be hard to come by. 

A number of Auckland players have gained international selection during the year most notably Amy Pateman (Westlake Girls HS), Waimanu Clarken (Mt Albert Grammar) and Ritorya Tamilo (Baradene College) who played at the FIBA U17 Women’s World Cup in Hungary in July.

The previous month the trio played at the FIBA Asia Cup where the team finished fourth to claim a World Cup berth. 

At the World Cup Tamilo had the distinction of being the leading shot blocker at the 16-team tournament averaging 3.1 per game. The Baradene centre was also New Zealand’s leading rebounder averaging 7.9 boards per game.

Selected for the U18 women’s National team that played at the FIBA U18 Asia Cup in India in September:

Mackenzie Chatfield – Westlake Girls HS 

Allyah Leusogi-Ape – Massey HS

Also in the team were 2021 Auckland high school graduates Lilly Parke (Baradene College) and Flo Dallow (Epsom Girls Grammar). Both players are currently on basketball scholarships in the USA.

Selected for next month’s FIBA U15 Oceania Championships in Guam are:

Bailey Flavell – Takapuna Grammar

Emma Schroeder – Westlake Girls HS

Zenthia Stowers – Takapuna Grammar

Kodee Williams-Sefo – St Mary‘s, Ponsonby

2022 Boys High School Wrap

October 15th

The Lacey Lowdown was able to bring you unrivalled coverage of the 2022 Auckland Secondary Schools Basketball season thanks to the support of Nigel Morgan and the team at Dynamic Sport New Zealand.

With the dust finally settling on the high school basketball season, following the conclusion of the Secondary Schools National Championships, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the successes enjoyed by teams and individuals during 2022.

Representing your country at a World Cup must be a great thrill so let’s begin by acknowledging the following Auckland athletes who played at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Spain in July:

Julius Halaifonua – Rosmini College

Dante Matakatea – Mt Albert Grammar School

William Passi – Manurewa High School

Kalid Petzer – Auckland Grammar School

Brody Perry – Pukekohe High School

Will Shortt – Auckland Grammar School

George Turner – St Kentigern College

All of the above missed a chunk of games for their schools as they also played at the FIBA Asia Cup in June – the team finishing a highly creditable third to claim bronze.

In the local competitions the Boys Premier Grade title was claimed by Rosmini College after they defeated Auckland Grammar 61-54 in an entertaining Final.

The Senior A title was deservedly claimed by St Peter’s College although they needed overtime to see off the challenge of Avondale College before winning a high scoring encounter 104-99.

St Peter’s won all 14 regular season games, and both play-off fixtures, to complete an unbeaten season.

Then it was on to the Nationals Qualifying Tournament (Zone 1 Premierships) which was won by St Kentigern College, comfortably defeating Westlake Boys 96-71 in the Final, ahead of the return to Palmerston North.

Joining St Kent’s and Westlake on the pilgrimage to the first National Champs since 2019 (which St Kent’s won) were Auckland Grammar, Rangitoto College, Rosmini College, Mt Albert Grammar and Sacred Heart College.

At Nationals Rosmini made it all the way to the championship game, for the fourth time in as many years, but were undone by an outstanding Christ’s College (Christchurch) team going down 87-52 in the Grand Final.

Auckland schools took five of the top nine spots in Palmy to re-emphasise that the City of Sails is still the main hub of boys high school hoops in New Zealand.

In other play-off results MAGS were pipped 87-80 by Waimea College (Nelson) 87-80 in the 5th/6th contest while Auckland Grammar edged St Kent’s 91-86 in the 7th/8th play-off.

Rangitoto College finished 9th after defeating Palmerston North Boys High 74-61 on the final day while Westlake had to settle for 13th place and Sacred Heart 20th.

Special mention to Sacred Heart who were competing at their first ever National Championships and congratulations to co-coaches, and cousins, Tayla Robinson and Mike Robinson on a job well done.

Talking of jobs well done Kenny Stone has called time on his coaching career at Rangitoto College after 9 years of service.

During that time he took Rangitoto to numerous titles including two National Championships in 2015 and 2016.

Thanks Kenny!

Back to the playing front and  it’s worth pointing out that Dontae-Russo Nance (St Kent’s), Tautoko Wynyard (Rangitoto) and Kahu Treacher (AGS) departed for high school in the States between the completion of the Nationals Qualifying Tournament and the actual National Champs. 

You imagine their presence would have aided the cause of those schools but it’s a brand new phenomena that more schools will likely have to deal with in the future.

Now back to recognizing our other international players. 

The U18 Men’s National team was selected to compete at the FIBA U18 Asia Cup but travelling to Iran proved to be problematic. However it is fitting to recognize the players selected:

Tom Beattie (Rosmini)

Charlie Dalton (Rosmini) 

Dontae Russo-Nance (St Kentigern)

Tautoko Wynyard (Rangitoto)

Selected for next month’s FIBA U15 Oceania Champs in Guam are:

Gus Dallow (St Peter’s)

Jameer Reed (Rosmini)

Merrick Rillstone (St Kentigern)

Cooper LePou (St Kentigern)

2022 Secondary Schools Nationals Wrap

October 10th

Sixty nine teams set out to win one of four titles up for grabs at the 2022 Basketball New Zealand Secondary Schools National Championships. Only four could succeed – here is a quick summary of what prevailed.

Westlake Girls High School became the first Auckland team to win the Girls Secondary Schools National Championship since Northcote College were victorious in 2006.

Defeating St Andrew’s College, from Christchurch, 99-66 in the Final they became just the 17th winner of the C.A. Clarke and Stone Trophy – awarded to the Girls ‘AA’ National Champions.

Westlake and Northcote are the only two North Harbour teams to have won the title since it was first played for in 1969.

Runners-up St Andrew’s College, playing in their first Grand Final, were the first South Island finalists since Christchurch Girls High were victorious in 2013.

Christ’s College were excellent in the Boys Grand Final overpowering Rosmini College to win 87-52.

Christ’s, playing in their first Grand Final, became the 24th school to win the Doug Harford Trophy.

They also got a monkey off the back of the Christchurch schools boys teams as it had been almost a quarter of a century since one last appeared in a Grand Final – Aranui High School were winners in 1998. 

Rosmini can take mild satisfaction from the fact that they are only the fourth school, in the 55 year history of the championships, to have contested four consecutive Grand Finals – the others were Westlake Boys (2012-2015), Church College in the 1980’s and Mairehau High School (1972-75).

Opunake High School survived a stirring fourth quarter fight back from Ngā Taiātea Wharekura to win an exciting Boys ‘A’ championship game 82-74.

Both teams were previous winners of the title – Ngā Taiātea Wharekura in 2009 and Opunake at the previous championship in 2019.

Ngā Taiātea Wharekura girls were able to do what the boys couldn’t – the Hamilton school won its first ‘A’ Girls Championship defeating Tauranga’s Aquinas College 75-49.

Ngā Taiātea Wharekura with a roll of barely 200 pupils and only a small hall to practice in deserve great credit for their achievements in the ‘A’ Championships.

I’m still staggered by the shooting performance that Ngatai Pirini-Maika achieved on Day 3 of Nationals. Establishing what must be a new Nationals individual shooting record the Te Aroha College guard made 16 3-pointers in his 50 point haul against Stratford High School!

Past records of Auckland & Northland Girls teams at Nationals

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.

A grainy shot of 2006 champions Northcote College

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.

2019 St Mary’s, Ponsonby – 3rd

2018 Westlake 3rd

2017 AGGS 3rd

2016 MAGS 2nd and AGGS 3rd

2015 Rangitoto 7th

2014 Westlake 4th

2013 Rangitoto 2nd and Westlake 3rd

2012 MAGS 2nd and Rangitoto 3rd

2011 Rangitoto 3rd

2010 AGGS 3rd

2009 MAGS 5th

2008 Rangitoto 2nd

2007 Rangitoto 2nd

2006 Northcote Winners

2005 Avondale Winners

2004 Avondale Winners

2003 Takapuna 3rd

2002 Takapuna 2nd

1999 Kaitaia College 2nd

1988 MAGS 2nd

1981 Selwyn College 2nd

Schools National Champs – records of 2022 qualifiers plus a little history.

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.

1979 Auckland Grammar

1983 Kelston Boys High

1999 Avondale College (Lindsay Tait)

2004 Avondale College (Tyrone Davey)

2005 Westlake Boys (Corey Webster)

2006 Westlake Boys (Corey Webster)

2009 Westlake Boys (Rob Loe)

2011 Rosmini College (Ana Haku)

2012 Westlake Boys (Tai Webster)

2013 Westlake Boys (Jaylen Gerrand)

2015 Rangitoto College (Tai Wynyard)

2016 Rangitoto College (Sam Waardenburg)

2017 Rosmini College (Mitch Dance)

2018 Rosmini College (Mitch Dance)

2019 St Kentigern College (Shalom Broughton)

Westlake win Zone 1 Girls Premierships as Whangārei make history.

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.

Final placings of team headed to Nationals:

1 Westlake

2 Whangārei

3 Epsom

4 Takapuna

5 St Kentigern


St Peter’s claim Senior A title in overtime thriller

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

Avondale 99 – Jimitose Iosia-Sipeli 41, Kabir Bhargava 28, Connor Gleeson 10, Kaliomiha Talamahina 7 

Takapuna Grammar claim Girls Senior A title

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 clinch Prems title

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

MAGS 54 – Clarken 23, Liu 10, D Tait 9