The Secondary Schools 3x3 National Slam, which serves as a delicious appetizer for the 2017 Secondary Schools season, reached a climax in Tauranga on Saturday with four titles contested.
And what a starter the Senior Boys final proved to be - a re-match of the 2016 AA National Secondary Schools Grand Final between Palmerston North Boys High School and Rangitoto College with a number of protagonists from that epic game featuring strongly.
Palmerston had Callum McRae, Oscar Oswald and Haize Walker harnessing their effort against Dan Fotu, Zack Te Puni and Logan Anderson locking the Rangitoto 3x3 three-peat quest.
Fotu scored the first point of the final and then added a two after baskets from McRae and Oswald. Back to back scores from Walker and Oswald gave Palmerston an 8-6 lead but Fotu tied the game at the 5 minutes mark, 8-8. Harry Clarke gave Rangi a 13-10 lead with 4 minutes to play but Walker struck back again. Te Puni executed an athletic block then knocked down a free-throw to make it 16-12 with under three to play. McCrae reduced the deficit to 16-14, but Fotu (10pts) and Te Puni (7pts) had the final say to clinch a third consecutive title for Rangitoto, the final score 20-16.
An exhausted Fotu was delighted with the win, "The boys played well even though we were fatigued. I have a knee injury, which has been troubling me for a month now, but the other boys more than made up for what I was unable to do. We are all year 13s at Rangi so it was nice to win the trophy in our last 3x3 season together."
Earlier in the semi-finals Rangitoto beat a well drilled St Kentigern College 18-11 and Palmerston North Boys High had to come from behind to beat Westlake Boys High School 15-11.
The Senior Girls final was an all Waikato affair between St Peters School, Cambridge and Melville High School. After an early Melville score via Kaylee Smiler, Ella Bradley made consecutive points then Jaz Ellis made a baseline jumper to edge Melville back ahead 3-2.
Kharmen Kereama stretched the lead further, but then Charlisse Leger-Walker and Rylee Godbold took charge. The pair made a number of key plays to grasp the lead for St Peters and then hold off Melville to close out a hard fought 12-9 victory.
Leger-Walker was delighted with her teams effort "We had to play with just three players after Jayze Waihi got a fractured wrist, so it was a really good performance - the rest of us had to step up.
"Its also nice to add the 3x3 trophy to the AA National title we won in October," she added.
Both Senior Girls semi-finals were nail biters with Melville beating local rivals Hamilton Girls High School 9-8 and St Peters squeezing home 18-17 against Westlake Girls Red.
In the Junior Boys semi-finals, Rosmini College Blue held off a fast finishing St Thomas of Canterbury College 18-16 and St Johns College Hamilton beat surprise package Te Aroha College 13-9.
Rosminis Taine Murray opened the scoring in the final but the athletic Finn Lally responded for St Johns. Ezra Harris gave St Johns a 4-3 advantage, but Murray maintained Rosminis momentum with three straight points. Josef Schnuriger gave Rosmini an 8-5 mid point lead but a steal and athletic drive from Kobe Olsen-Matara reduced the arrears to 10-8. Thomas Morgan stretched the Rozza advantage and the outstanding Murray (9 points) capped off a fine team performance by making the last play to seal an 11-8 win for Rosmini.
In the Junior Girls semi-finals Melville High defeated Westlake Girls Red 11-9 and Kavanagh College, Dunedin proved too good for St Marys College, Ponsonby winning 12-5.
Kavanagh, flying the flag for Otago, fell behind to an early Leila Hemi TaAla double, but fought back through Dre Whaanga, Anita Samasoni and Annabelle Ring. With five minutes to play Melville led 11-6 as Aria Cowley and Kaeya Hereaka made points. Cowley stretched the lead to 14-8 then wrapped up the win with a banked right hander. TaAla led all scorers with 10 points as Kavanagh closed out an impressive 15-8 win
The 3x3 Slam Dunk competition was won by Zack Te Puni (Rangitoto College). The 3x3 3-point shooting contest was won by Hayden Druce (Long Bay College).
Placing Junior Girls Final Team Placing
1: Melville High School
2: Kavanagh College
3: St Marys College, Ponsonby
4: Westlake Girls High School Red
5: Hamilton Girls High School
6: Rotorua Girls High School
7: Westlake Girls High School Green
8: Rangitoto College
9: Saint Kentigern College
10: Bethlehem College
11: St Peters School, Cambridge
12: Long Bay College
Junior Girls Final Officials
Jade Matenga & Josh Adamson
Placing Senior Girls Final Team Placing
1: St Peters School, Cambridge Red
2: Melville High School
3: Westlake Girls High School Red
4: Hamilton Girls High School
5: Massey High School 1
6: Rotorua Girls High School
7: Massey High School 3
8: Aquinas College
9: Ashburton College
10: Massey High School 2
11: Buller High School
12: St Dominics Catholic College
13: Kavanagh College
14: Pukekohe High School
15: Westlake Girls High School Green
16: St Peters School, Cambridge Blue
Senior Girls Final Officials
Alex Pou Poassa & Julie Adamson
Junior Boys Final Team Placing
1: Rosmini College Blue
2: St Johns College, Hamilton
3: Te Aroha College
4: St Thomas of Canterbury College
5: Rotorua Boys High School
6: Saint Kentigern College
7: Rongotai College
8: St Peters School, Cambridge
9: Long Bay College
10: Rosmini College White
11: Aquinas College
12: Wanganui High School
13: Bethlehem College
14: Tai Wananga
14: Kavanagh College
Junior Boys Final Officials
Tamatea Bennett & Jo Ogle
Senior Boys Final Team Placing
1: Rangitoto College Blue
2: Palmerston North Boys High School
3: Westlake Boys High School
4: Saint Kentigern College
5: Rongotai College Blue
6: Rongotai College Gold
7: Feilding High School
7: Long Bay College
8: Rangitoto College Red
9: Aotea College
10: St Peters School, Cambridge
11: Pukekohe High School
12: Rotorua Boys High School
13: St Johns College, Hamilton
14: St Pauls Collegiate, Hamilton
15: Aquinas College
16: Tai Wananga
17: Wanganui High School
18: Kavanagh College
19: Papamoa College
Senior Boys Final Officials
Crystal Bidois & Devina Banks
Zack Te Puni - Rangitoto College Blue
3 point Champion
Hayden Druce - Long Bay College