From Wednesday to Saturday this week, the future stars of New Zealand basketball took to the court around the country as part of Basketball New Zealand's under-13 regional championships. Tauranga hosted the Northern Regional Championships tournament, which attracted 41 teams comprising more than 400 players overall. The talent on display throughout the tournament, at the Trustpower Arena, was undeniable as spectators were treated to some fantastic skills and close encounters. Sports reporter David Beck has a look at how the tournament went and the performances of some local Bay of Plenty sides.
The Rotorua Under-13 girls' basketball team have proven their worth at the Northern Regional Basketball Championship in Tauranga this week.
Competing in the A Grade, the Rotorua side finished third in the round robin with three wins and two losses. That booked them a semifinal spot against Harbour Maroon, which they won comfortably 75-56.
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In the other semifinal, Waikato A beat Tauranga A 64-42 to book their spot in the final.
In the final, it was Waikato who flexed their muscles, romping home to a 64-50 win and claiming the title.
Rotorua coach Jo-Ann Douglas said the tournament as a whole provided great experience for the young players.
"They learned a lot, we had a few issues in the first game [a 73-66 loss to Harbour Maroon] but they learned from it and played very well. It's extremely important at this age that they are able to learn.
"We had two outstanding players, Waikimihia Douglas-Karauna and Te Pumanawa Rogers. They just controlled the game and led well from the front. We had three of our top players fouled off in the first game, which was actually a really good learning point because we met that same team again in the semifinal."
Douglas was pleased with how her side played in the final, despite the loss.
"It was pretty good, we pushed them. We had a few injuries which probably held us back a bit but it was a good team effort - everyone was scoring. Aaliyah Stone-Taylor shot very well in that game which helped us stay with them.
"The whole tournament was very competitive. It is the first time most of these girls have played with a shot clock so most of the games were about an hour and a half long. Most of them are used to playing 40 minutes so it was a real test of courage and fitness playing two games a day for three days and then the final on the Saturday.
"They are a great group of girls. They listened, were well behaved and everyone in the team, including the bench, played a part in us getting to the final."
Tauranga City Basketball Association support co-ordinator Helen Richardson said overall, it was "a really good tournament".
"There were lots of teams, lots of improvement from the players and referees. It was just awesome to see all the under-13 players and coaches out there having fun.
"For some of them. It's the first stepping stone into a Basketball New Zealand tournament. The main aim of it is more for development. There's no nationals at this age, yes the teams who win or come second get trophies but it's more about that participation."
Bay of Plenty results at the Northern Regional Under-13 Basketball Championship
Boys' A Grade:
Tauranga - 3rd
Boys' B Grade:
Rotorua - 5th
Tauranga - 6th
Boys' C Grade:
Tauranga Gold - 3rd
Tauranga U12A - 4th
Rotorua - 6th
Tauranga U11A - 7th
Girls' A Grade:
Rotorua - 2nd
Tauranga A - 4th
Girls' B Grade:
Tauranga U11A - 6th
Lake Taupō - 7th