Having played in 14 finals of the Hawke's Bay Netball premier club competition, Napier Girls' High School Senior A coach Annemarie Kupa was battling a bout of different kind of nerves in Napier last night.
"It was really hard for me on the side, just watching against Otane. I was so nervous for both teams," Kupa said with a laugh after Thirsty Whale Otane beat NGHS 48-42 in the first semifinals of the championship round of the Super 8 competition at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.
"Usually you're just nervous for your own team," said the former Otane player/coach who is at the helm of NGHS this winter because her daughter, Parris Petera, plays for the schoolgirls.
"It's awesome that we got to the semifinals so I'm so proud of our team," she said, after NGHS became the only side to inflict a defeat on Otane this season.
Otane now play All In Elusive in the final, a repeat of the shield final which the former won, after the third-placed latter side beat second-placed HHSOG Proactive Huias 54-40 last night.
Annemarie's sister and Otane player-coach, Tammy Kupa, sang NGHS' praises, saying they oozed talent and were the future of Bay netball.
"I'll tell you, I think they definitely proved what they did that day [53-40 win]," said Tammy who impressed on her troops the need for more urgency as they trailed 24-23 at halftime last night.
Otane led 14-12 in the first quarter but the schoolgirls found another gear.
"After that two-week break in the holidays, we haven't really found that hunger in the game ... but then we slowly started getting back into the game again."
To Tammy's relief, Otane found impetus in the second half as they opened up a 37- 31 lead in the third quarter, a divide they maintained into the final spell.
The perennial powerhouses didn't reach for the panic button but instead looked each other in the eye at the halfway mark to acknowledge they needed to react in unison.
Asked who were the architects in the late renaissance for Otane, a chuckling Tammy replied: "All the Napier girls stood out for me."
She was loathe to single out any individuals in Otane.
"It's not that we didn't play well because we had to play well to beat Napier Girls so we don't want to take anything away from them because they are a blooming talented bunch of girls. It was hard yakka but we got there in the end."
Tammy said what probably tilted the result in their favour was experience over the teenagers.
"I can say we have the head and they have the youth and that's what pulled us through after halftime."
Otane's Kelsey McPhee scored 32 of the 48 shots as goal attack in the first half but finished shooting overall at 74 per cent as goal shoot in the second spell.
First-half goal shoot Ashlee Wilson scored 13 from 17 to sit at 76 per cent and Tammy Kupa, moving to goal attack in the second spell, scored just three from 11 to finish at 27 perc ent.
As a team, Otane's shooting was 68 per cent overall.
NGHS attacker Janayah Lewis shot at 81 per cent (21/42) while Janaya Preece sunk 14 from 20 attempts (70 per cent). Laike Baker, injected in the fourth spell, shot at 88 per cent (7/8 attempts) for NGHS to claim 78 per cent overall as a unit.
Annemarie remained upbeat, considering they had created history in the previous round in making the playoffs in their maiden season.
"Maybe the pressure of the semifinals saw them losing concentration in what I'd call the third-quarter blues," she lamented.
Annemarie said little errors didn't go the way of NGHS.
"Their transition was too fast for us and they scored off it straight away but, all in all, to only lose by six was a pretty good effort."
Annemarie singled out co-captain/goal defence Jaydi Chaffey-Taylor and goal keep Valentine Kahukura as typical examples of girls who didn't leave anything on the court.
"For schoolgirls to be playing in Hawke's Bay prems is just so awesome for them and it'll help because we'll try to go to the [secondary schools'] nationals," she said, revealing NGHS need a top-five finish at the Lower North Island Championship to qualify for the nationals.
Huias led 9-7 in the first quarter but All In took control, 23-16, at halftime before extending the lead to 39-27 in the third spell.
"Our defence got a huge number of turnover ball," said All In coach Charissa Barham of Natalie Brown (GK), Sonee-Lee Waerea (GD) and Tia Lewis (WD) who normally average seven but accumulated a dozen.
Barham said for All In it was always about their process rather than focus on opposition analysis.
"In two years of having this team it's starting to come together tonight but it's not over yet," she said, believing they had nothing to change in the final.
Huias coach Rebecca Martin said they played in patches but it was not to be.
"Our game plan didn't work," Martin said. "We had trouble finishing off."
However, she was immensely proud of her troops who had regained their berth in the Super 8 to finish second.
"Overall my girls never gave up and kept on going ... we're disappointed but were beaten by a better team at the end of the day," she said, looking forward to Huias playing NGHS for 3rd/4th placing.
In their only previous encounter this season, Huias prevailed but Martin acknowledged NGHS were without a few key players.
All In forager Imke Kitchen was the night's stand out, dropping 45 into the hoop from 50 attempts to register a 90 per cent pass mark to claim all but nine of her team's goals.
Kia Diamond, who only played the first quarter, claimed 57% (4/7) while Jemma Kendon slipped on the GA bib to nail five from 10 (50 per cent).
Overall, All In registered 81 per cent in the shooting circle as a collective.
For Huias, Judy Brown stamped her supremacy as predominantly a goal shoot although she slipped on the goal shoot bib in the third quarter to claim 29 from 37 attempts (78 per cent) while Rebecca van Rooyen shot 11 from 14 (79 per cent).
Overall, Huias were 79 per cent from the shooting circles.
Outkast Optimise Physio beat Central Sports Vet Services HB Outkast 42-38 to finish fifth. HGHS Senior A beat HHSOG Spicers Keas 55-48 to finish seventh.