Hawke's Bay qualified for the top 16 with two convincing wins at the national under-17 netball tournament in Palmerston North yesterday.
The Lee-Anne Taylor-coached side beat Gisborne 43-23 and Marlborough 64-28 to reach the top 16 of the 40-team event for the third consecutive year. Hawke's Bay take on Howick-Pakuranga at 10.25am today for a spot in the top-eight playoffs which begin this afternoon and continue tomorrow.
Against Marlborough Hawke's Bay scored in waves of four and goal shoot Imke Kitchin was the boss of the shooting circle. Midcourters Jaimee Tapine and Maddison Kaye found the circle edge regularly and their team led 12-5 after the first quarter.
A strong second quarter with classy in-circle defence from Valentine Kahukura and Tabitha Coddington shut down Marlborough's options and Hawke's Bay led 31-13 at halftime. The injection of Janayah Lewis at goal attack and and Parris Petera at centre saw Taylor's troops extend their lead and go ahead 49-22 after the third quarter.
Taylor was a proud coach.
"Today was about tidying up our attacking play throughout the court and consolidating on our turnover ball. We worked hard throughout the court and created some great intercepts for each other. It was great to see the attacking end of Liana [Mikaele-Tu'u], Imke and Maddi getting intercepts near to our goal."
Against a rugged Gisborne side Janayah Lewis collected an early injury which forced a midcourt shuffle. This forced Kitchin's Aotearoa Maori Secondary Schools teammate Asher Grapes to play goal attack.
Smart movements in the attacking end from Hastings Girls' High School team-mates Grapes and Mikaele-Tu'u created easy space for the feeders to find them under the goal. Hawke's Bay controlled the game throughout but led by only three at the end of the first quarter.
A united effort on defence saw centre Ashleigh Poi and wing defence Tapine create multiple intercepts for goal defence Kiah McCorkindale and goal defence Valentine Kahakura. The unit shut down the Gisborne shooting circle and restricted them to four goals during the second quarter.
The injection of defender Coddington added to Gisborne's woes and Kitchin who came on at the end was an excellent target.
"We are really pleased that we continued to build on our positive defensive efforts and consolidate our attack. It puts us in a good position for the crossover game tomorrow," Hawke's Bay assistant coach Rebecca Martin said last night.
Hawke's Bay finished pool play with three wins and a loss.