A sixth sense is the secret to Napier Girls' High School Senior A basketball team claiming the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schoolgirls' crown last night.
The Morgan Maskell-coached side crushed Hastings Girls' High School Senior A 84-38 in the final at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.
NGHS small forward Rosalia Samia heaped plaudits on Maskell, the Taylor Corporation Hawks first assistant co-coach, for finding a different level of competitive edge this season.
"He's a good coach and he's quite young so he relates to us quite well," said Samia of Maskell who also is the Basketball Hawke's Bay administrator.
The 25-year-old from Auckland was the go-to man for Hawks coach Zico Coronel when the the men made calls on any NBL player, rattling out relevant data to help make a difference at the height of battle in the Sal's National Basketball League (NBL) season.
"He definitely didn't just improve our skills but also our knowledge this year."
Maskell, the 17-year-old said, had instilled more structure and engaged the schoolgirls in numerous "off-court basketball IQ stuff".
"You know, it was like how to read a game, to understand how to use the weaknesses of the players you're marking to your strength so that's really improved our game."
Samia said that instinctive sense had given them the rub of the court this winter, thanks to Maskell, a former Rangitoto College, Auckland student who took up coaching in the first year after he finished high school.
Napier Girls' set the pace last night, surging to a 48-17 lead at halftime and then extending the gulf to 72-26 in the third spell.
It was their fourth consecutive title, according to Samia, but they hadn't gone into the game under any cloud of complacency.
"I think we were [confident] in the back of our minds but we had not played them throughout the season so we were a little iffy because we knew they had some good players," said the year 13 student of Hastings Girls' High who had defaulted their match in pool play.
Samia said the points were distributed between teammates, including her sister, point guard Melika Samia, 13, shooting guard Billie Paramore, centre Janayah Preece and guard Zoe Ebbitt.
Hastings Boys' High School Senior A were playing Napier Boys' High counterparts in the boys' final when Hawke's Bay Today went to print last night.