Opunake High School and St Kevins College have been crowned champions of the A competition at the SAS Secondary Schools National Basketball Championships in Palmerston North.
A Girls final - Opunake High School v Waihi College
In the first final of the day, Opunake High School overcame a spirited challenge from Waihi College to clinch the girls title 78-46. It was a sweet victory for them after finishing second in 2015. Waihi will be disappointed with the loss, but wont be too disheartened after improving from their third place position they managed last year.
Simeone Cook scored the first points of the final for Opunake with a comfortable lay-up although Waihi were quick to respond as Shavaughn Rakei banked one in off the glass. A vocal Opunake crowd had plenty to cheer about as their side looked to hit Waihi on the break and grabbed a couple of early lay-ups. Waihi looked for their outside shot to start, and despite a couple of early hiccups, Korrina Lindsey connected in a tight first-quarter.
Petra McCowatt was at the heart of everything for Waihi, although she found it tough going against a strong Opunake defence. They were aggressive on offence as well, looking to go inside and draw the foul. Late baskets from McCowatt and Lindsey helped Waihi to edge the quarter 15-13.
Opunake showed their quality in the second quarter, a three from Tara Clement getting the lead back for her side. Iritana Hohaia knocked down a jumper after a well-set screen as the Opunake offence clicked into gear. In contrast, Waihi were struggling as they committed several costly turnovers. A Cooke three ball, Hohaia jumper and a lay-up from Clement ballooned the lead out to 31-16 for Opunake as they moved into another gear. After a big push in the quarter, they headed into half-time with a comprehensive 40-23 lead, shooting 51%. Waihi meanwhile, were only shooting at 31% and committed 10 turnovers.
Waihi came out firing in the third quarter, Kelli Purcell hitting a three as they cut the lead back to 11. The game developed into a slightly messy pattern, but Opunake continued to frustrate Waihi with their zone defence. Chasing the game, Waihi tried to use a full-court press to force Opunake into errors. They had some success, but finding scoring proved to be a much tougher ask as Opunake swarmed around McCowatt whenever she had the ball.
Heading into the final quarter with a double-digit lead, Opunake continued to control the game, finding the open spaces to convert their shots. Waihi didnt give up, with McCowatt in particular continuing to plug away for her side. Opunake coach Angelo Hill allowed his bench some court time, hugging each of his players as they left the court. The large score deficit proved too much for Waihi as Opunake deservedly claimed the title with a 78-46 victory.
Their stand-out performers included Iritana Hohaia, who was influential with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Tara Clement added some great scoring with 22 points and 7 rebounds, while Simone Cook chipped in with 12 handy points.
For Waihi, McCowatt had another good outing with 19 points and 19 rebounds while Lindsey added 10 points off the bench.
Final score - Opunake 78, Waihi 46
Girls Final Teams Placing
1st Opunake High School
2nd Waihi College
3rd Stratford High School
4th Te Aroha College
5th Buller High School
6th Te Kura Kokiri
7th Kavanagh College
8th Aquinas College
9th Reporoa College
10th Greymouth High School
11th Ellesmere College
12th St Kevins College
Girls Tournament Team
Tara Clement (Opunake High School)
Bailey Gavin (Stratford High School)
Briarley Rogers (Aquinas College)
Estelle Schuler (Te Aroha College)
Iritana Hohaia (Opunake High School)
Korrina Lindsey (Waihi College)
Nicole Stuart (Bller High School)
Petra McCowatt (Waihi College)
Salley Kurei (Te Kura Kokiri)
Simone Cook (Opunake High School)
Tara Clement (Opunake High School)
Girls Final Officials
Sam McCartin & Corey Hogg
A Boys final - Manukura v St Kevins College
Meanwhile, in the boys final, St Kevins secured a thrilling 71-68 overtime victory against Manukura. It was the first time theyd won the A competition since their coach Hamish Robertson did back when he was playing in 2013. Manukura gave it everything in the game, but showed great improvement finishing second after placing ninth last year.
Brinkley Botting opened the scoring for St Kevins College in front of a substantial crowd, before Matangirei Hipango levelled things up underneath the basket. It was physical and fast-paced to start, with both sides leaving everything out on the floor. Alex Gonzales was on fire, draining nine first-quarter points as he showed off his jumper and ability to get to the hoop. Youheng Peng was also active early as St Kevins jumped out to a 15-10 lead after the first quarter.
It was more of the same from Gonzales who knocked down a deep two to get things started in the second. Hipango answered once more, leading his sides charge back into the contest. As St Kevins offence dried up, Keilym Pari grabbed a steal and finished well to drag Manukura back into the game. But St Kevins pulled away once more, Peng remaining calm despite the noise from a raucous crowd and nailing two free throws to put St Kevins up 29-22 at half-time.
The third quarter saw the see-sawing game continue as both sides went bucket for bucket. Matthew Brien was making his presence felt with his accuracy from deep, while an and one from the prominent Shaka Riddel-Houra brought the crowd to their feet. He soon followed it with an acrobatic shot off the glass, while Hipango split several defenders for two points.
A succession of reverse lay-ups from Riddel-Houra gave Manukura the lead 43-42 at three quarter time, but it was anyones game heading into the final period.
The passion of both sides was evident as several players launched themselves onto the floor in a bid to grab the loose ball. Brien continued to shoot St Kevins in front, while Peng tied the game up at 58-58 from the line with under a minute to go.
A crazy passage of play, with both sides losing the ball, gave Manukura the chance to win it but they couldnt get a shot up, forcing the game into over-time.
Peng once again stood up with an early three, before Jeron Hiri-Gush responded with a three of his own. With less than a minute remaining, Brien hit a corner jumper which edged St Kevins ahead by two points. A charge call against Manukura gave the ball back to St Kevins and Brien slotted both from the line to put them up by four with 20 seconds to go.
Kahurangi Devonshire got two points back for Manukura, and they had a chance to seal it when Brien couldnt convert from the free-throw line. But their desperate heave fell short, handing St Kevins the win in a brilliant game of basketball, 71-68.
St Kevins were paced by 24 points and 9 rebounds from Brien, while Peng was everywhere with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Gonzales was also crucial with 14 points, four assists and three rebounds.
Hipango was instrumental in Manukuras performance, with 16 points and a massive 19 rebounds, while Riddel-Houra made some big plays on his way to 14 points.
Final Score - St Kevins 71, Manukua 68
Boys Final Teams Placing
1st St Kevins College
3rd Stratford High School
4th Waihi College
5th Catholic Cathedral College
6th Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate
7th Te Aroha College
8th Nga Taiatea Wharekura
9th Greymouth High School
10th Hillmorton High School
Matthew Brien (St Kevins College)
Boys Tournament Team
1.Matthew Brien (St Kevins College)
2.Bradley Colman (Waihi College)
3.Matangirei Hipango (Manukura)
4.Cameron Tretheway (Stratford High School)
5.Morgan Trott (Stratford High School)
6.Youheng Peng (St Kevins College)
7.Jeremy Ebuen (Catholic Cathedral College)
8.Shaka Riddel-Horua (Manukura)
9.Leonardo Sauvao (Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate)
10.Dylan Roberston (Te Aroha College)
Boys Final Officials
Te Kirikauri Pene & Joel La Roche