In 2016, Rotorua Girls' High School established a junior basketball academy with the goal of further developing Years 9 and 10 players.
During the past three years academy teams have won several titles but 2019 has been their most successful season yet, winning every competition they entered for a total of six titles.
The first success was in the Secondary Schools Preseason Invitational tournament, hosted by Rotorua Basketball Association in March. The tournament attracts teams from as far north as Whangarei and as far south Wellington.
The next two titles came from the Bay of Plenty Championships in Tauranga. Rotorua Girls' Academy entered two teams – one in the Premier Grade and the other in the A Grade. Both won their grades against schools from throughout the Bay of Plenty Region.
Soon after was the Basketball New Zealand Zone 2 Junior Premiership and again the Rotorua Girls' High Premier team proved too strong, going through the tournament unbeaten. Their strongest opponent was an up-and-coming Mount Maunganui team who they defeated 88-56.
Academy teams were also dominant in the Waikato Secondary Schools Sports Senior Girls Division 1 League and the Rotorua Secondary Schools Junior Girls League taking out both titles.
Four of the girls are also playing in the National Secondary Schools Senior tournament with the Rotorua Girls' senior team in Palmerston North this week.
Academy players Carly Ohia and Hana Lacey-Rameka have been selected to trial for the New Zealand Under-15 Girls' squad during Labour Weekend and 10 of the 16 girls in the academy played representative basketball for Rotorua in the under-15 or under-17 teams.
The commitment and effort by the girls and their families towards training and transport to games, has paid dividends.
The academy has two components – the first being the practical on-court training twice a week and the second being sports theory where the girls attend a basketball academy class during school time and cover a number of theory aspects such as the rules, goal setting, competition load and sports psychology.
The pathways for the players is there for the taking and several have expressed interest in following the footsteps of their predecessors in gaining scholarships to United States colleges.
Currently Rotorua Girls' has two former students, Pareunuora Pene and Awatea Leach, attending college in the US on basketball scholarships.
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