Basketball: Teams have all to play for finals

By Cameron Leslie

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Semifinals bring with them an added intensity no matter who you're playing. For Full Blooded Whangaruru, the extra intensity helped them through to the grand final of the Super 6.

After having been knocked over last weekend by Muriwhenua, it was Whangaruru who got even this weekend in the do-or-die rematch.

The third placed Muriwhenua couldn't repeat last week's win as they went down in the marquee match of the weekend 73-65, the second match of a triple header of semifinals.

Muriwhenua came to play and, with the knowledge of their win last week, pushed Whangaruru to the final buzzer. However, defensive pressure by Whangaruru saw them over the finish line.

Earlier in the match, uncontrolled plays by Whangaruru let Muriwhenua get within five points before they regained composure and settled play down.

Exceptional lane running and driving to the basket by Keeghan Sadler saw him top score with 17 points. Brothers Kieron and Imrahn Henare supported Sadler with 10 points each.

Young up and coming player Tumoana Halkyard took control for Muriwhenua, directing his team's possession. Halkyard scored 14 points to back up Arahi O'Donnell with 18.

In the other Super 6 match-up, the Portland Blazers made easy work of the Raumanga Royals - dispatching them by 90 points to 67.

Ball pressure and strong rebounds by the Blazers in the first quarter kept the Royals to only 4 points, and it didn't stop there.

Not letting up in the second quarter, with the leadership of Ray Cameron, and hustle from Harlyn Clunie, the Blazers stretched their lead out to 17 by halftime.

Four well-timed 3 pointers by Niasi Malua, and fast breaks from the Royals, had them striking back at Portland before the Blazers stepped it up another gear and ran away with the game.

Top scorers for Portland were Clunie with 25 points, Cameron (20) and Walter Smith with 19. For the Royals it was really only Malua with 23 who troubled the scorers.

In the TTT Classic semi-finals, Whangaruru's women's team, who were the top-ranked team, dispatched Phoenix Takahiwai easily 64-37 as Te Aniwa Kingi ruled the court.

Kingi was unstoppable once she received the ball inside and made her presence known at the other end of the court by blocking shots and pulling in many a rebound.

Whangaruru stepped up when they lost two of their players, one because her full name was omitted from the score sheet and one who hurt her knee. However, this wasn't enough to put off Whangaruru.

Top scorers were led by the dominant Kingi with 36 as Sian Telfer (8) was the next best. For Takahiwai it was Kaylah Chapman and Deborah Harding who contributed the most with 11 and 10 respectively.

Whangaruru will meet Muriwhenua's women's team in the final this weekend after they toppled the Portland Flames on Friday night 59-47.

Finals weekend sees Muriwhenua trying to trip up Whangaruru Tukaiaia in the TTT Classic at 2pm, while the Portland Blazers will need to use all their experience to stop the game-hardened Full Blooded Whangaruru at 4pm. Both games are at Kensington Stadium and have a $2 entry fee for 16-years-and-over.

- Northern Advocate

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