Nelson Sparks have taken out the 2012 women's basketball championship, trouncing Waitakere West Auckland 61-40 in the final at Dunedin today.
Last year's runners-up maintained their unbeaten record through the playoffs tournament, taking the initiative with a nine-point run in the opening quarter and never looking back. They had a 17-point lead at halftime and their advantage never fell below 14 over the final 20 minutes.
In a line-up filled with experienced performers, Nelson were led by youngsters Jess Bygate (10 points/12 rebounds) and Shannon Perrett (11 points), supported by the balanced scoring of Jodi Hikuroa, Lisa Book and Jane Gowans (eight points each).
The Sparks dominated the boards, grabbing 20 offensive rebounds and outscoring their rivals 20-8 in the paint. Defensively, they held the Rangers to just 20 per cent shooting from the field, blocking six shots in the process - five by veteran centre Nicky Rampton.
Only Junior Tall Ferns forward Penina Davidson offered any answer for debutants Waitakere, scoring 15 points.
Defending champions Otago defeated previous champions Harbour 54-49, while Waikato Wizards took out the plate final, overrunning Canterbury Wildcats 68-46.
Results from the women's basketball championship at the Edgar Centre, Dunedin, today:
Ninth/10th playoff - Southland 51 (Elise Cassidy 15, Te Huinga Selby Rickett 13) Rotorua 53 (Danielle Marks 18, Hana Tapiata 12).
Seventh/eighth playoff (Plate Final) - Waikato 68 (Rhaiah Spoonter-Knight 22, Miriam Slatter 13, Natasha Lenden 13, Walker 10) Canterbury 46 (Pip Connell 12, Courtney Hamblin 10).
Fifth/sixth playoff - Taranaki 58 (Toni Sharader 14, Hannah Flemming 13, Terai Sadler 13) Hutt Valley 81 (Lisa Scott 19, Margaret Scott 16, Jacinta Beckley 14).
Third/fourth playoff - Harbour 49 (Shinae Blair 12, Jody Cameron 10, Halsey Ward 10) Otago 54 (Soraya Umaga-Jensen 22).
Championship Final - Nelson Sparks 61 (Shannon Perrett 11, Jess Bygate 10) Waitakere West Auckland 40 (Penina Davidson 15).