Category Archives: Tall Ferns

A Unique Opportunity

After four years of painstaking research, interviewing key individuals and compiling the text, ‘The History of New Zealand Basketball’, the official history of the sport in New Zealand to date, is being released .

Wellington based basketball historian and author Roger Booth will be available to sign individual copies of his unique and outstanding publication, “History of New Zealand Basketball” at the upcoming book launch.

When: Friday June 24, 4.30-6.30pm

Where: Kings Lounge, Eventfinda Stadium

Cost: Free

MC: Former Tall Blacks captain John Macdonald

Special Guests:  John Dybvig, Tom Abercrombie, Dillon Boucher, Leanne Walker, Kim Lucas, and Carolyn Grey.

The launch precedes the Auckland Tuatara v Nelson Giants NBL game being played at Eventfinda (tip-off 7.30pm) that evening.

Fundamentally a people story, individual interviews and subsequent comments are the heart of the text that has now emerged – Booth interviewed over 200 people to formulate this 570 page masterpiece.

The book, with a large quota of photographs, tells the story of the game in New Zealand, its key factor being coverage of every senior international game from 1947.

Please Tell Your Basketball Friends

This is the only full New Zealand history of our sport, and there will not be another one for many years. If you are unable to attend the launch but would like to purchase a copy of the History of New Zealand Basketball you can contact Roger Booth directly –

Charlisse L-W and Kruz P-H the standouts – latest Div I wrap

The prodigious Charlisse Leger-Walker scored a career high 30 points (9/18FG, 8/10FT) as Washington State secured a 63-56 road win at Colorado. The Cougars leading scorer now has 346 points at 17.3ppg this season.

Krystal L-W produced her usual all-court game in the win – 8 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal for the senior point guard. 

Another former St Peter’s School, Cambridge standout Kendell Heremaia, produced a 15-points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals performance to help propel Fordham to a 59-52 victory against Duquesne. Fordham now 7-2 in the Atlantic-10 and third spot on the ladder.

BYU produced a stunning second half performance to defeat Gonzaga in the top of the West Coast Conference table clash. Down 35-20 at half-time BYU gave up just 3 points in the third quarter and 15 in the half to win 62-50. Tegan Graham added 5 rebounds to 3 points in the victory. Both teams now have an 8-1 record.

Also, in the West Coast Conference Tayla Dalton scored in double figures for the third straight game as St Mary’s got back to .500 with a commanding 96-80 win at Pacific. Dalton finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

Jade Kirisome was also in good form with 14 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

South Dakota’s leading scorer Kruz Perrott-Hunt, averaging 15 points per game, scored exactly that number as the Coyotes went down 89-79 to top of the table South Dakota State. Perrott-Hunt also dished a team high 5 assists and claimed 6 rebounds.

James Moors was one of three Colorado State players in double figures as the Rams won a thriller against San Diego State 58-57. The sophomore forward added 8 rebounds, a block and a steal to 10 points (3/3FG, 4/5FT).

Sam Mennenga was also highly efficient as Davidson remained top of the Atlantic 10 with a 78-73 win against George Washington. Mennenga had 10 points (4/5FG, 3/4FT), 3 rebounds and a block.

Yuat Alok scored 11 points and secured 3 rebounds as New Mexico State defeated Seattle 79-64.

Sam Waardenburg and the University of Miami Hurricanes made a sensational start in the ACC. However they have lost twice this week including a 71-58 defeat at Virginia where Sam had 6 points, 5 rebounds, a block and a couple of assists.

Abilene Christian 83 (Tobias Cameron 2 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal) UTRGV 66

Nothing Black about the performances of Heremaia and McRae

Callum McRae and Kendell Heremaia stole the headlines on Black Friday in the States where no fewer than 16 New Zealander’s were in action in NCAA Division I games.

Heremaia was in double-double territory as Fordham University beat Houston 67-53 at the Cancum Challenge in Mexico. She tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in her 123rd game (96th start) for the Rams. That number ties the mark set by Stella Beck (St Mary’s) and Tessa Boagni (CSU Northridge) and places her equal 7th on the NZ Women’s All-Time Div I Appearances list. 

McRae dominated the glass with a career high 16 rebounds to go with 10 points, 2 assists, a block and a steal as UC Riverside beat Florida A&M 60-49.

The performance earned the Palmerston North Boys High alum a spot on the All-Tournament trio at the Cerebro Sports Golden Classic.  

McRae also reached another milestone becoming the 12th Kiwi to score 600 points in Men’s NCAA Division I basketball.

In scoring 8 points Sam Waardenburg moved past 450 career points in Miami’s 69-63 victory against North Texas. 

Other Results:

St Mary’s 68 (Jade Kirisome 11pts, 3rebs, 4a/ Amy West 9pts, 4rebs, 2a, 1 steal/ Tayla Dalton 2pts, 1 assist) Texas Christian 72 (Tara Manumaleuga 1a, 1 block)

Florida International 64 (Grace Hunter 10p, 1reb, 2 blocks) Chicago State 46

UC Irvine 67 (Olivia Williams 9pts, 2 steals) Illinois State 57

Virginia 70 (McKenna Dale (6pts, 1reb, 1a) Rhode Island 80

Boise State 57 (Kaitlin Burgess 5pts, 1reb, 1 steal) Louisiana Tech 60

Georgia Southern 72 (Tsubasa Nisbett 5rebs) South Carolina 57

Fresno State 64 (Amiee Book 2rebs, 1a, 1 block) San Diego 68

Houston Baptist 56 (Lauryn Mapusua 2rebs) Montana 59 AOT 

Reed moves past Compain to second on NZ’s all-time list

Tera Reed moved to second on the New Zealand Women’s All-time NCAA Division I scoring list on Friday (NZT) when University of California Trojans overcame Western Michigan 80-50.

Plagued by early foul trouble (three in the opening period) the Trojans starter played just 17 minutes but still finished with 8 points, making 3 from 4 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers in her third game of the season.

That tally took the Tall Ferns and former Harbour Breeze wing to 1,498 Division 1 career points, a single point more than one of New Zealand’s all-time greats Megan Compain scored for the St Joseph’s University Hawks (1993-97).

Compain reached that mark in 113 appearances with Reed reaching the figure playing one game more.

Reed is in her Graduate Year at USC having previously played at Virginia Commonwealth University where, as a 4-year starter, she scored 1,466 points.

Only another former Tall Fern Erin Rooney remains ahead of Reed on the all-time scoring list. Cantabrian Rooney, a bronze medal winner at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, scored 1,648 points during her 131 game collegiate career – two years at Monmouth University Hawks and a further two years at Fordham University concluding in 2014.

If Reed stays healthy Rooney’s record tally is well within her reach with a 30+ game season ahead over the next four months.

Tall Ferns squad and opposition at the Asia Cup

The Sky Sport Tall Ferns have named a squad of 14 players ahead of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup to be held from 27 September to 3 October and played at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan.

“The last 18 months has been tough. We’re desperate to get back on the floor and represent New Zealand, and this is an awesome opportunity to do just that. It won’t be easy, we’re missing some experienced players and we won’t have a pre-tournament camp due to the trans-Tasman bubble being shut, but when we step onto the hardwood in late September with the black jersey on and the fern on our chests, we’ll be ready,” said Molloy.

The squad will be reduced to 12 before the team travels to Jordan so who makes the cut?

The Covid outbreak in New Zealand prematurely shut down our own NBL competition but the good news for Head Coach Guy Molloy is that with nine of his players based in Australia all but Penina Davidson (based in a locked-down Melbourne) have been playing weekly in the competitive NBL1 competition.

Of the nine players based in Australia seven of them appear to be certain selections.

Micaela Cocks, the veteran of the side will run the point with forwards Kalani Purcell and  Penina Davidson two more certain starters.

Ash Karaitiana is another contender for a starting spot having impressed in her international appearances to date as is experienced wing Chevannah Paalvast.

It will be difficult to leave Mary Goulding out of the 12 based on her current form. Goulding has enjoyed a remarkable season in the NBL1 Western Conference with East Perth Eagles where she has led the conference in both scoring and rebounding averaging a stunning 24 points and 13.6 boards per game!

Ash Taia will not be a name familiar to many New Zealand basketball fans.

After schooling in Brisbane she played three-years at Indiana State University playing 79 games for the Sycamores. Since graduating in 2018 Taia has played professionally in Australia.

“Ashley is a wing player who plays physically at both ends and can really shoot the ball. She is a star performer for Logan Thunder in the NBL1 competition and has had Australian WNBL experience with Adelaide Lightning and Canberra Capitals,” said Molloy when announcing her selection.

Taia shapes as a natural replacement for the retired Toni Farnworth.

Tessa Boagni and the Leger-Walker sisters, Krystal and Charlisse, were arguably the three standout players in the New Zealand NBL before it was derailed by Covid.

Boagni marked her return to competitive basketball following childbirth with a massive 34 points and 21 rebounds performance for Canterbury Wildcats against Harbour Breeze in the opening round of the NBL season. It looks a given that she will be the back-up centre to Davidson.

Krystal and Charlisse have never played together for the Tall Ferns but are certain to be given that opportunity in Amman.

Having lost the services of Stella Beck, due to an ankle injury sustained in training, coach Molloy will be delighted to have Krystal available and pushing for the point guard starting berth.

Brooke Blair and Zoe Richards have enjoyed fine seasons in Australia but both appear to be in one on one battles with the New Zealand based duo of Lauryn Hippolite and Ash Kelman-Poto for the last two spots.

Blair averaged 14.6 points per game for Brisbane Capitals in NBL1 and, as she has done throughout her career, shot the three-ball at a more than useful clip (40%).

Hippolite is a fine two-way prospect blessed with speed and athleticism and seemingly suited for contests against the quick guards that Japan and Korea boast.

Molloy described the 21 year-old as, “A crafty left-hander with excellent shooting range and I expect she can make her presence felt in coming years for the Ferns.” 

Is 2021 a year too early for the Nelson product?

If selected Ash Kelman-Potu would also be a debutant. Molloy certainly liked what he saw from the power forward at a selection camp earlier in the year.

“Ash had a strong camp in Auckland and although she is battling a chronic ankle injury at the moment, I like the physicality she brings to the team.” 

Since then the Harbour Breeze standout has undergone surgery to fix the knee problem, and is back in full training, but as a consequence missed the opening rounds of the NBL season.

In contrast Zoe Richards headed to Western Australia and has regular game time under her belt. She was a consistent performer for Rockingham Flames averaging 8.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Will Richards add to three international appearances she made in 2019 or will Molloy opt for the physical presence of Ash K-P? 

We will find out soon as the FIBA Asia Cup begins in just four weeks time with a critical game against Korea looming on September 27. To progress to the next phase of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Australia, New Zealand must finish in the top 4 at the Asia Cup.

They’ll face Japan, Korea, and India in Group A which excites Molloy who says the draw is as exciting as it is challenging.

“There’s no easy draw in a tournament like this. Japan are five time defending champions and were silver medallists at the recent Olympic Games, so that will be a fantastic test for us as a team. Korea are ranked 19th in the world and we have some recent history with them having played them in Auckland in 2019, it’ll be good to see them again.”

Despite having beaten Korea 69-65 back in 2019 in Auckland repeating that performance, with no preparation camp or warm-up games, will be a big ask against opposition that have win the FIBA Asia title on no fewer than 12 occasions.

Why is the Korea tie important?

Take a look at the opposition in Group B – China, Australia, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines.

Assuming we beat India (ranked 70th) in the world and lose to #8 ranked Japan the Korean game becomes highly significant if we are to make the semi-finals and advance to the next World Cup Qualifying Tournament in February 2022. 

Lose to Korea and we will likely finish third in Group A therefore facing a cross-over game against the second placed team in Group B – either Australia ranked #3 in the world or #7 China.

Topple Korea, finish second in the pool, and the path becomes significantly easier. A victory against Chinese Taipei (#34) or the Philippines (#51) wouldn’t be a given but you would prefer that match up to a Top 10 nation.  

Game schedule (tip-off NZ time):

Monday Sept 27 v Korea (8pm)

Tuesday Sept 28 v Japan (8pm)

Wednesday Sept 29 v India (11pm)

Thursday Sept 30 play-off (TBC)

The Sky Sports Tall Ferns FIBA Asia Cup 2021 14-player Squad

  • Brooke Blair – Brisbane Capitals
  • Tessa Boagni – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
  • Micaela Cocks – Townsville Heat/ Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze
  • Penina Davidson – Melbourne Boomers/Nunawading Spectres
  • Mary Goulding – Bendigo Spirit/East Perth Eagles
  • Lauryn Hippolite – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
  • Ash Karaitiana – Melbourne Boomers/Southern District Spartans
  • Ash Kelman-Poto – Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze
  • Charlisse Leger-Walker – Washington State University/Waikato Wizards
  • Krystal Leger-Walker – Washington State University/Waikato Wizards
  • Chevannah Paalvast – Bendigo Spirit/Logan Thunder
  • Kalani Purcell – Sydney Uni Flames/Southern District Spartans
  • Zoe Richards – Otago Gold Rush/Rockingham Flames
  • Ash Taia – Canberra Capitals/Logan Thunder

Tall Ferns Overseas

The NBL1 season has commenced in Australia. The tier below the WNBL has four geographical divisions with Kiwi representation in all-four.

Jordan Hunter controlled the tempo for South Adelaide Panthers as they clawed Eastern Mavericks 103-75 in NBL1 Central action. Hunter finished with 11 assists and 2 steals to go with 7 points.

In NBL South play forward Penina Davidson had 15 points and 7 rebounds for Nunawading but the Spectres went down 90-78 to Frankston Blues in the opening round of action.

Toni Farnworth produced 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists but couldn’t prevent Ringwood Hawks going down 81-52 to Eltham Wildcats.

In NBL1 West Zoe Richards claimed 8 rebounds to go with 6 points as Rockingham Flames were burnt 85-78 by Cockburn Cougars.

Jordan Hunter laid a solid platform for South Adelaide Panthers as they clawed Eastern Mavericks 103-75 in NBL1 Central action. Hunter finished with 11 assists and 2 steals to go with 7 points.

NBL1 North, with a bunch of Tall Ferns playing including Chev Paalvast, Kalani Purcell and Micaela Cocks, begins next month.

In the Big V League Jacinta Beckley piled on 23 points (9/12FG) as Sunbury Jets defeated Bulleen Boomers 93-63.

Tall Ferns laden Melbourne Boomers WNBL play-offs bound

It doesn’t pay to give your opponent a 19 points start in any game of basketball but when you are winless, bottom of the ladder and playing the second on the table it becomes more problematic.

That’s exactly what Bendigo Spirit did on Friday night against the high flying Melbourne Boomers in the Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).

To their credit Bendigo’s spirit wasn’t dented and with Mary Goulding to the fore they made a couple of good runs at the Boomers before going down 91-70.

It was the second clash of the season between the two teams that total seven New Zealand Tall Ferns on their rosters. In the first encounter earlier in the month, also won by the Boomers, all but Toni Farnworth contributed to the scoring column but in this one Farnworth joined the other six with a scoring contribution.

Stella Beck had a fine night steering the Boomers offence, the point guard scoring a season high 17 points (7/11FG) to accompany 4 assists.

Penina Davidson was also in double figures with 10 points to go with four rebounds. The Boomers came up with six steals in the contest, four of those going the way of Kalani Purcell who added 4 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a typically robust performance. Farnworth finished with three points and Ash Karaitiana two.

For the Spirit Goulding, the only WNBL rookie out of the seven Kiwis, scored 12 points (4/7FG) off the bench with Chev Paalvast knocking down her only shot of the game for three points.

The Spirit are done and dusted, a disappointing season seeing them finish with an 0-13 record.

The Boomers (9-3) travel to Townsville for their final regular season game on Sunday against the Fire (tip-off 3.05pm NZ time). A win could see them move up to second on the WNBL league table – a more favourable position than third ahead of next week’s play-offs.

You can view the Townsville game and the play-offs on FIBA YouTube. 

Paalvast gold plus plenty of other overseas news

Chev Paalvast strikes championship gold, Kalani Purcell with a triple double, an MVP performance from Jillian Harmon plus season best from Isaac Fotu.

Get the wrap on our Tall Ferns and Tall Placks overseas here:

At a Glance: Tall Blacks and Sky Sport Tall Ferns Abroad

Gracie Roberts-Hare in fine form then …..

Gracie Roberts-Hare scored 15 points and pulled down 7 rebounds as Lekdetec beat newly promoted Triple Threat in the opening round of the Dutch League last week.

Unfortunately that was where the good news ended for the Waimea College and University of Charleston alumna as the League has been shut down for at least a month due to rising COVID-19 infections in the country.

Roberts-Hare is in her second season with Lekdetec but it may well be some weeks before she can get back on court with over 40,000 new COVID cases reported in Holland last week.

Still in Europe and former Tall Fern Jillian Harmon posted 11 points and 5 rebounds as Schio beat Vigarano 88-49 to make it four wins from four outings in the Italian League.

For further news on New Zealand player performances overseas click here:

Double-double delight

Chevannah Paalvast in good form for Logan Thunder

There are four Kiwi double-doubles to report from the final regular season games in the Queensland State Basketball League (QSL) played at the weekend plus one in Italy.

Chevannah Paalvast and Logan Thunder take pride of place as they head into the play-offs with an unblemished 11-0 record. The Thunder beat Northside Wizards 114-55 with Paalvast claiming a season high 23 points along with 10 rebounds.

Southern District Spartans finished second on the ladder after a comfortable 95-67 home win against Brisbane Capitals.

Kalani Purcell led the way for the Spartans with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 5 steals – her fifth double-double in nine games.

Natalie Taylor was also in good form tallying 19 points.

RedCity Roar slipped to a surprising 86-74 home defeat against Ipswich Force. Despite the loss the Roar are comfortable inside the top-six headed to the play-offs.

The Roar have five kiwis in their lineup and all made a contribution on Saturday including double-doubles from Kayla Kiriau (11 points and 10 rebounds) and Charmian Mellars (12 points and 13 rebounds.

There were also good contributions from Ajiah Siosiua-Pepe (16 points), Ashleigh Karaitiana (16 points) and Karlene Kingi (6 points). 

Other news from Australia is that the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is that the 2020 season will be played in a Queensland hub (Cairns, Townsville and Mackay).

Tip-off is November 12 and the Lowdown will be keeping tabs on the Tall Ferns playing in the League. Mary Goulding is in her debut season with Bendigo Spirit with Penina Davidson, Kalani Purcell, Toni Farnworth and Stella Beck all suiting up again for Melbourne Boomers. 

In Spain Jillian Harmon was also in double-double form. The former Tall Fern corralled 14 rebounds to accompany 13 points as Famila Wuber Schio made it three wins from three outings with a 77-72 victory against Empoli.

In the Dutch League Gracie Roberts-Hare scored 15 points as Lekdetec beat newly promoted Triple Threat 102-60 in the opening round of the season.