Napier Girls' High School Senior A team signalled a new order in Super 8 netball in Napier tonight.
The Annemarie Kupa-coached schoolgirls beat perennial champions Thirsty Whale Otane 55-48 in the final of Hawke's Bay Netball's premier competition.
"This is the first time a school team has won the competition in history," said HB Netball operations manager Tina Arlidge tonight. "This is where the strength of our players currently sit within the HB Netball structure."
Arlidge said they were looking forward to seeing how NGHS competed at the Lower North Island Secondary Schools tournament next month.
Captain Valentine Kahukura, battling the effects of tonsilitis, epitomised the steely resolve of NGHS who established a seven-goal lead in the first quarter and didn't relinquish it.
They led 17-10 and went into halftime with a handsome 32-23 margin. They put in a 43-36 statement in the third quarter before closing at 55-48 in front of a robust crowd at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.
Otane didn't drop their shoulders, winning the third quarter 13-11 and drawing the last 12-12, but it was too little, too late.
NGHS player Janaya Preece shot 93 per cent and didn't miss in the second half when the pressure mounted.
Otane's Pania Rowe came in at 89 per cent, missing only one attempt in the last three quarters but failing with four shots in the first spell.
The Tammy Kupa-coached Otane got five in a row in the third quarter, reeling it back to 39-31.
The only player who will not be in the NGHS mix next season, Kahukura was immensely proud of her teammates. The year 13 boarder from Wairoa was unwell but never entertained the thought of not playing last night.
"I was going to play no matter what," said the 17-year-old goal keep. "I've had it a couple of times this season but it was the first time I've actually played while I was recovering."
Kahukura, who felt lethargic throughout the game, said they had battled jangled nerves throughout the game, despite coach Annemarie emphasising the two-pronged importance of attacking and staying calm.
"There was an uneasiness throughout the game because of the number of people who turned out to watch us play."
Annemarie, a former Otane stalwart who was up against twin sister Tammy, was proud of the schoolgirls, including her daughter, Parris Petera.
Kahukura expected Kiah McKorkindale and Melika Samia to easily slip on her goal keep bib with aplomb next season.
"Our team has potential across the entire court," she said.
Asked what club she would play for next season, Kahukura was unsure as she was weighing up her options on attending university or live in Napier to play.
Otane skipper Briar Chalmers said everyone expected Otane to prevail but they had a new-look side and missed the services of expectant mother Becky Kupa, as well as sister Tammy for a good part of the season.
"We just had too many turnovers. When we had the ball, we didn't treasure it enough," said Chalmers, the Woodford House sports co-ordinator.
The 28-year-old goal defence, who coached NGHS in 2015, said there was even support from fans.
"I was just proud of how we never gave up and kept fighting to the end," said Chalmers of Otane who have won 14 titles but lost three times to NGHS this winter, including the four-round shield competition.
Both sides will celebrate with a team dinner tonight to thank Otane's sponsors.
Earlier, Outkast Optimise Physio beat All In Elusive 56-44 in the third-place playoff.
Outkast made their move in the second quarter, doubling the score to 18-9. All In player Imke Kitchin was the highest scorer of the competition, claiming 521 goals for the season.