Tauranga's Under-17 representative girls basketball team may have lost their final but what they gained is experience battling an international side that will hopefully help them through to nationals.
The Tauranga U17 Girls A team came up against Australia's Country Cup side in their Under 17 Girls A Division final of the Mel Young Easter Classic junior basketball tournament yesterday, going down 77-58 to the international team.
Of the six games the Tauranga team played over the four days of competition, the Country Cup girls were the only side to get the better of them, taking wins against teams from Rotorua, Hibiscus Coast, Hawke's Bay and Waitakere West Auckland Basketball Inc (WWABi). They had earlier played the yellow and green, suffering a 74-66 loss on day two.
The tournament, held in Tauranga for the fifth consecutive year, has been held across six venues around the city over Easter Weekend, beginning April 19 and finishing with finals yesterday. The tournament is for North Island representative teams playing in five grades between under-11 and under-19 as well as teams from Australia.
Despite the loss, Tauranga Under-17 Girls A coach Niki O'Brien says playing a "very strong" Australian side has its benefits. He says it allows his players to come up against tough competition, which is good preparation for the qualifiers for nationals in a few months.
Having only come together about two months ago, O'Brien says the Mel Young Easter Classic allows new teams to come together for a good hit out on the court, which is vital for development.
"It's awesome. It's one of the best competitions in the North Island," O'Brien says.
"It's good preparation for us."
Having such a young squad, made up of only four seniors, O'Brien says that can only help future proof the team. And having lost to just one team over the four days is an honourable achievement.
"A lot of them were a bit shy throughout.
"There's a lot of potential there."
Mel Young Easter Classic finals results:
Under 11 Boys: Hawke's Bay Black 54, Waikato 45.
Under 11 Girls: Waikato 47, Tauranga 33.
Under 13 Boys A: Kingston 85, Waikato 48.
Under 13 Boys B: Gisborne 53, Tauranga 29.
Under 13 Boys C: Waikato 41, Rotorua 34.
Under 13 Girls A: To be advised.
Under 13 Girls B: Gisborne 27, Northland 24.
Under 15 Boys A: Waikato Red 97, WWABi 68.
Under 15 Boys B: Waikato Yellow 88, Waikato Black 55.
Under 15 Boys C: New Plymouth Yellow 96, Tauranga Gold 90.
Under 15 Girls A: Country Cup Girls 54, Waikato 52.
Under 15 Girls B: To be advised.
Under 17 Boys A: WWABi A 90, Waikato A 69.
Under 17 Boys B: WWABi B 68, Waikato B 43.
Under 17 Boys C: Taranaki 96, Northland 61.
Under 17 Girls A: Country Cup Girls 77, Tauranga 58.
Under 17 Girls B: Taranaki Country 90, Thames Valley 82.
Under 19 Men: Hawke's Bay 87, Waikato 83.