Wildcats welcome back Marita Davydova


Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats have announced their first signing for the 2020 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) season and it is a major coup not only for the Cantabrians but for women’s basketball in New Zealand.

The club have revealed that Russian forward Marita Davydova will be returning to the Wildcats this year. Davydova is a class act on and off the court – her presence sure to make the Wildcats WBC title contenders once again.

Davydova has recently been playing in Spain but had little hesitation in resigning with the Wildcats.

“I can say that I really enjoyed my time in New Zealand, I loved your nature and still smile when I remember breath taking views of the ocean, mountains and fields. I also loved the food in New Zealand!

“But above all it is people who made my decision to return so easy. I got so much love from my teammates, their families, management and the Wildcats fans that I decided to come back.

“Also I really liked coaching the Canterbury U14 team. It was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed sharing my experience with the young players of Christchurch,” added Marita.

New Wildcats Head Coach Dene Robinson is naturally delighted with the signing.

“I have had only positive reports about Marita in terms of her leadership and performance on and off the court.

“Coming back for a repeat season gives us the advantage of Marita knowing the league and the players. It is a real bonus for me as a coach, and for the squad, to have an experienced professional player returning to the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats in 2020,” Dene added.

Marita is looking forward to linking up with her teammates and coach Robinson.

“I have been in contact with Dene since December. He is very attentive and he is supportive of me even now, while I am playing in Spain.

“I have had a chance to work with coaches from four different continents and each of them taught me something so I really look forward to meeting him in person.”

The return of a quality international player like Davydova is not only a coup for the Wildcats but also the women’s game in New Zealand.

The former Russian U20 international has experience playing in the USA, Spain and Ecuador as well as her native Russia where she has played for four-times Euro League champions Sparta&K Vidnoe.

Davydova was named to the  WBC All-Star Five in 2019 after posting a league high 14.9 rebounds per game in addition to a team high 15 points per game but was very modest when speaking about her achievements.

“Every personal award or achievement is always a pleasant thing for any sportsperson. But in team sport all that is really important is the award that the team gets. My goal for this season is to do my best to help Wildcats win the WBC. If by doing so I get selected for some individual award, it would be a nice bonus. But I will repeat that I dream to return home in July with a WBC gold medal,” said Marita.

Marita enjoyed the level of competition last season and also believes the Wildcats culture will stand them in good stead for another tilt at the WBC title they won in 2016 and 2017.

“We had so much fun together all the time. I felt like I am with my family, very easy, relaxed and enjoyable and a great team spirit. In addition the Wildcats organisation was great.

“The WBC was very competitive. We had a great start, but at the end of the season we were less lucky and finished fourth. We also missed some of our players due to injuries and international representation. I hope that this season we will be more successful at the end,” Marita added.

The 2020 New Zealand women’s league season begins in May. With pre-season training beginning on January 19ththe Wildcats are set to make further player announcements in the coming weeks.


Three career highs amongst Men’s Div I Team of the Week

The Lowdown Team of the Week is dominated by former North Harbour representatives. Wellingtonian Izayah Le’afa breaks the northern domination with his fine performance otherwise the accolades fall the way of a couple of Westlakers and two Rangitoto College alumni.


Dan Fotu, sophomore at St Mary’s College, California

Promoted to a starting spot Dan Fotu responded in style scoring a career high 17 points as St Mary’s triumphed 84-58 against Seattle.

Playing in the unaccustomed role of centre Fotu was 7 from 9 from the field and 3 from 3 from the foul line whilst also adding 5 rebounds. “We know as a team that wins are what matters most so adjusting positions is just part of what we are willing to do to get the win,” said Fotu after the game.

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Matt Freeman, senior at University California Santa Barbara

Matt Freeman scored a career high 21 points (7/10FG, 6/7FT) as University California Santa Barbara defeated Merrimack College 68-50. The former Westlake wing also came up with 7 rebounds, an assist and a steal as the Gauchos improved to 9-4 ahead of conference play. In a profitable week for Freeman he scored 16 points in the 85-77 win against Louisiana as the Gauchos improved to 10-4.

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Sam Waardenburg, junior at Miami University

A third career high was set by Sam Waardenburg as he posted his first double-double for Miami in their 91-60 demolition of Coppin State. He scored a career high 15 points and corralled a career high equaling 11 rebounds. The former Rangitoto College forward made 6 of 8 from the field including 3 from 5 from three-point range.


Yanni Wetzell, senior at San Diego State University

Wetzell posted 12 points, 8 rebounds and a brace of steals as San Diego State remained unbeaten this season with a 73-57 win against Cal Poly.

Izayah Le'afa

Izayah Le’afa, senior at Sacramento State University

Izayah Le’afa made a free throw for Sacramento State to tie proceedings with 5 seconds to play against Montana but Montana scored on the last possession to win 52-50. Le’afa scored 8 points and added 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals but Sacramento have started Big Sky Conference play with two losses.

Bubbling Under

Taki Fahrensohn scored 9 points (4/9FG) but Portland fell 61-46 to Ball State at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.

Callum McRae posted 7 points and 5 rebounds whilst Angus McWilliam had 8 points and 2 boards but it was of little consequence as UC Riverside were bombarded 105-56 by Air Force.

Also with 8 points (3/3FG) was Jackson Stent as Houston Baptist went down 107-88 at New Mexico.

Heremaia heads NCAA Div I Team of the Week

As 2019 wound down there were a number of standout performances by Kiwi women, playing NCAA Division I basketball, in the final week of the year. Kendell Heremaia led the Lowdown Team of the Week with Akiene-Tera Reed, McKenna Dale, Tegan Graham and Kayla Manuirirangi completing the five.

Kendell Heremaia

Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University

Heremaia was in imperious form as hosts Fordham Rams won the Holiday Classic with a 63-54 win against Houston in the Bronx.

Heremaia was named Atlantic 10 Player of the week after a pair of games at the Classic where she lit up proceedings. Having scored 21 points against Stamford the previous day she averaged 16.5 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists over 31 minutes on consecutive days.


Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University

Despite a career high 29 points (7/16FG) performance from Akiene-Tera Reed Virginia Commonwealth went down 69-58 to North Carolina A&T.

Reed scored 22 of her points in the second half and also added 5 rebounds and a pair of steals. She leads the VCU scoring averaging 14.4 points per game.

McKenna Dale

McKenna Dale, junior guard at Brown University

Dale finished 2019 in style banking double figures, including a career high 19 points, in her last four games for Brown University before their New Year break. Dale had her career first double-double (17 points and 12 rebounds) against FIU. Brown begin Ivy League play on January 17 at Yale.

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Tegan Graham, senior guard at Colgate University

Colgate University wound up non-conference play with a 74-58 win at Wagner. Graham not only came up with 13 points (5/9FG) for the Raiders in the win but also captured a career high 4 steals.

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Kayla Manuirirangi, senior guard at Tulane University

Manuirirangi, the former New Plymouth Girls High standout, led the way for Tulane Green Wave with 16 points (a season best) in the 56-40 win against Georgia Southern. The senior guard knocked down 4 threes in that tally.

In the same game Cantabrian Tsubasa Nisbett contributed 3 points and 3 rebounds for Georgia in just her second start for the Eagles.

Bubbling Under

Pareunora Pene scored a season best 7 points in 24 minutes as Chattanooga went down 70-58 to Ohio in their final game of 2019.

Shalae Salmon came up with 4 rebounds and 8 points as BYU beat Loyola Marymount 59-44.

Colorado, currently an impressive 12-0, won their opening Pac 12 encounter against Utah 80-70. Charlotte Whittaker had 5 points, 3 rebounds and a block in the win.

Katelin Noyer produced 6 points and 3 rebounds as Fresno State outclassed UC Merced 92-26.

Over 100 Kiwis are on overseas basketball scholarships.

In addition to fourty-one Kiwis on NCAA Division I basketball scholarships a whole swag are attending Div II and Div III schools, NAIA universities and Junior colleges.

It doesn’t stop with USA schools as Kiwis are also shining at universities in the Philippines and Canada also.

By my reckoning 122 New Zealand basketball players are based at overseas tertiary institutions

For the full story click here




New faces in Men’s Div I Team of the Week

The Lowdown Team of the Week includes Angus McWilliam who also earned a Student-Athlete of the Week Award at the University of California Riverside.

Freshman Kruz Perrott-Hunt makes the line-up for the first time as does sophomore Taki Fahrensohn. The performance of the week however belonged to the more experienced Yanni Wetzell – a senior at No 20 ranked San Diego State University.

Yanni Wetzell, senior at San Diego State University


Only nine miles separate San Diego State University and San Diego Christian University but the gap in class is much greater as SDSU moved to 11-0 with a comprehensive 92-48 win. Yanni Wetzell needed just 19 minutes to compile 17 points (7/10FG), 6 rebounds, 2 steals, an assist and a block.

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Takiula Fahrensohn, sophomore at University of Portland

Taki Fahrensohn was in great form for Portland scoring 15 points shooting 4 from 7 from beyond the arc. The former Auckland Grammar guard also had 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal as the Pilots beat Florida A&M 66-60. His points and rebound numbers were both career highs.

Angus McWilliam

Angus McWilliam, sophomore at University of California Riverside

Also putting up career high points was Angus McWilliam. The Cantabrian forward posted 13 points (6/10FG) and 6 rebounds and a block although UC Riverside Highlanders  (7-4) went down 70-56 at Washington State. The performance helped McWilliam earn Student-Athlete of the Week at UCR.

Kruz Perrott-Hunt

Kruz Perrott-Hunt, freshman at University of South Dakota

Kruz Perrott-Hunt had a season best seven assists against zero turnovers and added 5 points, a block and a steal as South Dakota beat Mayville State 96-60 to improve to 9-3. It was a fifth straight start for the freshman out of Rosmini College.

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Daniel Fotu, sophomore at St Mary’s College, California

Dan Fotu scored 9 points and pulled down a career high 9 rebounds in a solid 25 minute performance as St Mary’s Gaels improved to 10-2 with an 89—77 win against Cal Berkeley.

The Gaels closing in on a  Top 25 ranking.

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Matt Freeman, senior at University California Santa Barbara

Matt Freeman produced 7 points (3/6FG), 8 rebounds and 2 assists as University California Santa Barbara hung tough at Idaho State to win 74-68.

Bubbling Under

 Miami fashioned a 78-77 thrilling win against Temple with Sam Waardenburg filling all the stats boxes. The former Rangitoto College forward had 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, I steal and a season best 3 blocks in 35 minutes as Miami moved to 7-3 this season.

Max de Geest enjoyed his first start for Long Beach State, the Cantabrian ending up with 11 points in the 87-76 loss to USC. The freshman shooting guard also dished 3 assists.

Another Cantabrian, Jackson Stent, produced 5 points, 3 rebounds and a pair of steals for Houston Baptist but the Huskies went down 96-84 at Rice University.

Tobias Cameron, son of newly appointed Tall Blacks Coach Pero Cameron, came up with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists as Abilene Christian routed the University of Howard Payne 105-36.

Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam finale

The 2019 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam wrapped up on Saturday at HoopQuarters with Blue Chips and Gauchos getting the wins with almost identical score lines.

Gauchos beat Birdmen 106-102 whilst Blue Chips got the better of Railsplitters winning 103-102.

There were plenty of heavy scorers in both games topped by Southland Sharks guard TinasheMatambanadzo (42pts) and Rosmini College wing Sean Murphy (35pts).

Blue Chips 103– Sean Murphy 35, Dru Leo Leusage-Ape 24, Nick Barrow 17, Ollie Hayward 8

Railsplitters 102– Jaga Mete 33, Levick Kerr 18, Josh Leger 16, Alex McNaught 14


Gauchos 106– TinasheMatambanadzo 42, Denhym Brooke 19, Jaga mete 14, Dontae Russo-Nance 11, Ollie Hayward 10

Railsplitters 102– Jaylen Gerrand 26, Dom Kelman-Poto 24, Joel Vaiagina 14, Zack Riley 12, Ryan Laumatia 9, Reihana Maxwell-Topia 8

The Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam is supported by HoopQuarters, SAS and ABSL.

NCAA Div I TOTW includes freshman Charlotte Whittaker

24 points apiece from Amiee Book and Kendell Heremaia earn them a place in the Kiwi NCAA Div I Team of the Week. Also recogniised are Charlotte Whittaker, Shalae Salmon and Akiene-Tera Reed.

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Amiee Book, sophomore at California State University Fullerton

Amiee Book knocked down 24 points and snared a career high 9 rebounds as Cal State Fullerton won a high scoring affair against Cal Baptist 97-93.

Book is second on the CSUF scoring list averaging 13.1 points per game and shooting the three-ball at a handy 37% (16/43).

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Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University

Also scoring 24 points was Fordham University co-captain Kendell Heremaia. Fordham beat Southern 65-52 and it was another stats stuffing performance from Heremaia who also logged 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block in 28 minutes of action. The former St Peter’s School, Cambridge standout is averaging 12.1 points per game and a team high 8.3 rebounds. Heremaia also leads the Fordham three-point shooting making 23 from 57 at 40%.

Shalae Salmon

Shalae Salmon, senior at Brigham Young University

Shalae Salmon pulled down a team high 11 rebounds, including 6 at the offensive end, as BYU went down 66-55 to Boise State. It’s the fourth time in seven games that the Wellingtonian has pulled down 11 or more boards this season. She followed that with 14 points and 6 rebounds in the 71-57 win against Utah Valley. Salmon, with six starts from eight games, is second on the BYU rebounding list averaging 7.4 boards per game.

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Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University

Akiene-Tera Reed top scored for Virginia Commonwealth in the 62-49 win against Old Dominion. Reed scored 17 points (6/11FG) and added 3 rebounds and a couple of steals. Last season’s Atlantic-10 First Team selection has been a little hampered by a hand injury this season but despite missing three games still leads the VCU scoring averaging 11.9 points per game.

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Charlotte Whittaker, freshman at University of Colorado

Charlotte Whittaker was once again in good form for the high flying University of Colorado Buffaloes who moved to 9-0 with a 96-70 win against Denver. The freshman forward added a career best 9 rebounds (5 of those off the offensive glass) to sit alongside 10 points (5/8FG). Whittaker has averaged 10.5 points per game in her last six outings.

Bubbling Under

The Kiwi playing in the highest ranked American college basketball team is Tara Manumaleuga. The 2018 New Zealand U17 representative recorded 3 points and 4 rebounds for Arizona Wildcats as they eased past Tennessee State 77-42. Arizona, with a 10-0 record are ranked #18.

Katelin Noyerposted 6 points plus 2 rebounds and 2 assists as Fresno State thumped Laverne 111-56 to improve to 8-3 this season.

Kaylee Smiler, a freshman at BYU, scored three points in the win against Utah Valley.

Breakers numbers ahead of clash with Adelaide 36ers

Finn Delany

Ahead of the Sky Sport Breakers home encounter with the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday it is interesting to note that four  of the players are closing in on significant milestones.

Corey Webster needs just a single assist to become the 6th Breaker to tally 400 career assists.

Tom Abercrombie requires 3 rebounds to register 1,500 career rebounds. He is second on the all-time Breakers rebounding list behind  Mika Vukona who pulled down a whopping 2,356 rebounds and set a mark that will not be passed for a long time.

Following on from his 150th NBL appearance against the Brisbane Bullets, Jarrad Weeks needs to score 10 points to total 1,000 NBL career points.

A couple of baskets will see Finn Delany become the 24th Breaker to score 500 points for the club.

Against Brisbane Bullets (home last Monday)

In scoring 23 points Corey Webster became the first Breaker to pass 200 points this season – he currently sits on 215 points at 19.6ppg. He is 8th on the NBL scoring list for the current season and in addition is 6th on the leading assists list averaging 4.3 dimes per game.

Tom Abercrombie’s 19 points was his highest score of the season.

Kiwi Women – NCAA Div I Team of the Week

There have been plenty of good performances in the past week from Kiwi women in college – a senior, three juniors and a freshman make the Team of the Week.

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1 Tegan Graham (Colgate University)

Given her first start of the season Tegan Graham grabbed the opportunity with both hands as Colgate Raiders beat Niagara 85-72. The former Wellington Girls College star filled the stats line with a season high 5 assists to go with 8 points, 5 rebounds, a steal and a block.

Reveling in the responsibility Graham hit 14 points and corralled 8 boards three days later when the Raiders booted Siena 88-51. Her 8 rebounds was a career best.

Kendell Heremaia

2 Kendell Heremaia (Fordham University)

Fordham Rams leading rebounder (averaging 8.3 rebounds per game) Kendell Heremaia came up with 10 boards as Fordham won the Battle of the Bronx beating Manhattan 51-45 and followed that with nine more in the 67-54 win against Georgetown. Heremaia was at her stats stuffing best against the Hoyas adding 10 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.


3 Akiene-Tera Reed (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Akiene-Tera Reed, the Virginia Commonwealth leading scorer, scored a team high 14 points (6/14FG) but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Rams going down 69-55 to William and Mary. The Rams wing added 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a pair of steals.

Charlotte Whittaker

4 Charlotte Whittaker (University of Colorado)

Forward Charlotte Whittaker scored 10 points (5/9FG) for Colorado in their 74-50 win against Texas Southern. That was four games in a row the ex-St Andrew’s College forward had notched double figures. The sequence came to an end in the 62-53 win against Xavier with Whittaker posting 6 points and 4 rebounds – the Buffaloes are still unbeaten stampeding along with an 8-0 record.

McKenna Dale


5 McKenna Dale (Brown University)

Starting guard McKenna Dale posted 12 points (4/8FG) 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal as Brown toppled Bryant 56-50 It was Dale’s third double figure scoring outing this season – Brown now 4-6 in this campaign.

Bubbling Under

 Shalae Salmon filled most of the positive stats categories with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block but BYU Cougars lost 60-52 to Arizona. The cougars have slipped back to .500 with a 3-3 record.

Three-from-six from beyond the arc gave Kayla Manuirirangi 9 points bit Tulane University slipped up against South Alabama going down 62-53.

Back after a bout of glandular fever Amiee Book scored 7 points as Cal State Fullerton beat San Diego 72-67 on the road.

City Side beat North Shore to win Battle of the Bridge


The inaugural high school ‘Battle of the Bridge’, hosted by the Sky Sport Breakers, was won by City Side who defeated North Shore 66-51.

Played ahead of the Breakers v Brisbane Bullets NBL clash at Spark Arena on Monday evening the game featured the best young high school players from Mt Albert Grammar, Auckland Grammar and St Kentigern College representing City Side. North Shore featured top players from Rosmini College, Rangitoto College and Westlake Boys High.

Shalom Broughton led the way for City Side with 18 points, the Schick Nationals MVP well supported by his St Kentigern teammates Levick Kerr and Alex McNaught. Auckland Grammar point guard Connor Ngan was also prominent as were the Mt Albert Grammar duo of Nate Wilson and Sataan Tawera.

Westlake Boys star Sam Mennenga, signed to play NCAA Division I basketball at Davidson College next year, top scored for North Shore with 15 points while Rangitoto’s Zack Riley and the Rosmini duo of Jayden Boucher and Reihana Maxwell Topia provided good support.

Played in front of the Sky Sport cameras, and a healthy crowd, Riley was the first to score and his teammate Josh Kooiman rounded out the first quarter scoring but in between triples from Ngan and Broughton helped City Side to a 21-15 first quarter lead.

Jaga Mete and Kerr extended the City Side lead to double digits before Mennenga replied with a brace of baskets and when Sean Murphy scored the last three points of the first half North Shore trailed by the narrowest of margins (31-30).

Boucher and Riley gave North Shore the lead immediately after the break but it was short lived as Tawera, Broughton and Ngan (8 points in the quarter) took City Side to a handy 47-40 three-quarter time lead.

Kerr and Josh Leger extended the City Side advantage and although Maxwell-Topia and Mennenga scored a couple of neat inside baskets North Shore were unable to cut into the City Side advantage. Fittingly Kerr, McNaught and Broughton, key players in St Kent’s National Championship winning campaign, put the lid on the win combining for 14 points in the closing ten minutes.

City Side 66– S Broughton 18, L Kerr 11, C Ngan 11, A McNaught 8, S Tawera 6, N Wilson 6, J Mete 4, J Leger 2, L Vea, K Evans

North Shore 51– S Mennenga 15, J Boucher 6, R Maxwell-Topia 6, Z Riley 6, S Murphy 5, J Kooiman 4, M Williams-Dunn 3, J Thompson 3, H Payne 3, E Mandeno