Northland's under-15 and under-17 basketballers hit the national arena over the weekend, coming up against the country's best.
The under-15 girls' team, playing in the Waikato, reached a seventh/eighth place playoff with Taranaki yesterday afternoon, following on from their eighth-place finish last year. The team started well with two strong wins, over West Coast (108-43) and Tauranga (61-50).
However, the girls lost by just three to Otago (50-47) to qualify second in their pool, which meant a quarterfinal against Wellington. The team from the capital city proved too tough to contain as the Northlanders went down 74-61.
With their highest possible finish now fifth, Northland were handed a resounding loss at the hands of Waitaha Canterbury, 77-42, which set up the tie against Taranaki.
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At 5.45pm yesterday, the Northland under-17 boys' team were set to face Hutt Valley in a playoff for 11th/12th in their nationals tournament in Christchurch.
In their first game of the tournament, the boys came up against last year's champions Waitakere West, who beat the team from Tai Tokerau convincingly, 100-57.
Northland then suffered a narrow loss to Taranaki (89-85) and qualified third out of their three-team pool. Fortunately, Northland rose to beat North Otago 79-74 to give them a chance of a ninth-place finish. However, a 91-80 loss to Counties Manukau set up their 11th/12th playoff tie with Hutt Valley.
Both of the last fixtures for each team were unavailable at edition time.