It's fair to say the southern-most end of North Island dictates the tempo of junior premiership basketball after the dust settled in the Lower North Island Junior Secondary School finals in Hawke's Bay this week.
Scots College, of Wellington, and Sacred Heart College, of Lower Hutt City, claimed the respective boys' and girls' crowns of the four-day Basketball New Zealand zone 3 at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, on Tuesday.
Scots College beat Napier Boys' High School 81-73 in the final while earlier Sacred Heart pipped New Plymouth Girls' High School 63-62 in the nail-biting finish to the best junior (Year 9 and 10) teams from the Lower North Island.
"Sacred Heart scored with eight seconds left on the clock," said tourney co-ordinator Morgan Maskell who also performs a similar role with Basketball Hawke's Bay.
Maskell said the victors were trailing by a point before going on to secure, what he believed, to be their maiden tourney crown.
"They were dominant and had a double-digit lead in the first half but New Plymouth came charging back," said the first assistant of the Taylor Corporation Hawks team competing in the Sal's Pizza National Basketball League.
T Rahui-Laulau scored 24 points and Janina Buot added 20 to Sacred Heart's victory while L Tewhata scored 22 and G Gardner-Harrison contributed 13 to New Plymouth's courageous cause.
In the boys' premiership grade, R Rusholme-Cobb claimed a match-high 32 points and T Gapare chimed in with 19 points for Scots College while Toby Kendon's 27 and T Edwards' 16 spearheaded the NBHS drive.
Maskell said "it was an awesome tournament" to host as it put the Bay on the age-group basketball map with 31 teams converging here from Saturday.
"The local teams did really well as well," he said. "It was pleasing to see local teams competing at a high level outside our region against great teams from Wellington, Taranaki and Manawatu."
Hastings Girls' High School beat Manukura, of Palmerston North, 80-73 in the playoff for fifth place of the premiership grade.
R Blake (24 points), K Awa (22) and L Harrison (18) came to the party for HGHS while J Johnson claimed the match-high score of 38 for Manukura.
Hastings Boys' High School also settled for fifth place after edging out St Patrick's College, of Wellington, 80-78.
R Maaka claimed 22 points and L Spooner 13 for HBHS but the match-high honours went to T Pou with 38 points for the opposition.
In the second-tier A grade competition, NBHS Year 9 side beat Francis Douglas Memorial College (New Plymouth) 79-74 with H Pollock scoring 26 points and O Edquila 30 for their schools, respectively.
Tamatea High School pipped Taihape Area School 71-70 in the playoff for fifth place in the boys' A grade competition. T Ounsworth scored 21 points and R Mondjer added 15 for the winners while N Sullivan made 20 and T Pekamu backed up with 12 for Taihape.
Maskell said Basketball HB had conducted a series of promotional videos on social media which Basketball NZ had accentuated on their media platforms.
"They are really happy with our score updates and our promos so I think Basketball Hawke's Bay would really like to host another tournament like this next year so we'll be doing everything possible in our power to do so."
Maskell said they had used the Hastings Sports Centre court on the first two days to accommodate the demand.
"Palmerston North, Wellington, Auckland and the likes have bigger venues so we've had to cancel our competitions to make sure we could host this tournament."