The finalists for the Basketball New Zealand Under 19 National Championships were decided today in Nelson with Waikato meeting Harbour in the womens event, and Auckland Counties Manukau taking on Canterbury in the mens.

Womens First Semi-Final - Waikato V Canterbury

The Waikato Under 19 Women were able to emphatically reverse the results from their first meeting against Canterbury, as they turned a seven-point loss in pool play (56-63), into an extremely decisive 32-point drubbing in the first Womens semi-final. Surgical rotations by Coach Anthony Corbans team on defence were too much for the Cantabrians to overcome, as they were held to only fifteen points in the first half, and were unable to get clean looks at the basket throughout the game, as well as struggling to hang on to possession of the basketball in the open court.

The second quarter proved to be the deciding point of the game, as Canterbury was not able to put any points on the board until just over two minutes were remaining on the clock - while Waikato was able to go on a 20-0 run over the same time span. Offensive rebounds helped Waikato gradually pull away, and the 41-15 scoreline at the main break essentially signalled it was game over for Coach Mikey Grahams team.

Kendell Heremaia lead all scorers with 24, including a stretch where she scored nine straight for her Waikato team. Zarya Poulava had 18, and the Captain, Alyssa Hirawani, finished with 14 in the win. For Canterbury, Sapphire Wairau, and Nelson native Chelsea Neame both had nine points in a difficult game.

Final Score: Waikato 71-39 Canterbury.

U19 Womens Second Semi-Final - North Harbour V Taranaki

In the second womens semi-final, North Harbour had their toughest game in the tournament so far, but still accounted for a shorthanded Taranaki team relatively easily. In an almost perfect facsimile of the first semi-final, North Harbour built themselves a 51-18 halftime lead, eventually extending this to forty points in the third quarter.

Foul trouble also wreaked havoc on Trent Adams rotation, as starters Briana Latavao and Joellen How both picked up their fourth personal fouls midway through the third quarter. Bronwyn Davidsons Harbour team pummelled Taranaki on the offensive glass, grabbing 27 second-shot opportunities and converting these into 23 points. In comparison the undersized Taranaki team only managed defensive rebounds on 17 occasions.

Zara Jillings stuffed the stat sheet with a line of 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals; while Katie Diakhaby only needed 14 minutes to put up a double-double of 14 and 13. Rounding out the other major box score contributors for Harbour were Tabitha Jenkins (12 points) and Coola Tayla Baudry (8 points, 12 rebounds). For Taranaki Bayley Ransfield (20 points, 6 rebounds) and Tara Clement (13 points) stood out.

Final Score North Harbour 81-50 Taranaki.

Mens First Semi Final - Canterbury V Otago

In the first Mens semi-final, Canterbury faced off against an Otago team they were familiar with after having played them just a month ago in an invitational tournament. Some hot shooting for Greg Brockbanks Otago team kept them in touch early, with the teams heading into the half-time break with only nine points between them - 36 to 27 in Canterburys favour.

The third quarter was time for former Otago player, but current Cantabrian, Matt Dukes to shine. He hit four of seven threes in the stanza, essentially opening up space around the hoop for the Canterbury bigs. A 22-2 run for Canterbury in a six-minute period, spanning across the end of the third and start of the fourth, closed off any chance of an exciting finish, save for a few dunks and blocks. Canterbury Coach Mo Corkery was very pleased with the teams performance, as they booked their place in the Championship game on Saturday afternoon: "Paul Isitt (Co-Coach) and I thought we played pretty decent overall, moving the ball well as a team. As the game progressed, we were able to grab the ascendency from Otago, as they started struggling to deal with both our size and shooting capability at the same time."

Canterburys Toby Gillooly led all scorers with 26 points and 9 rebounds, with fellow starters Sam Lees (21 points, 13 rebounds), Matt Dukes (16 points), and Angus McWilliam (11 points, 8 rebounds) all able to add to the teams ledger. For Otago, Josh Aitcheson managed a double-double of 10 and 10, but was harassed into shooting 4/17. Matthew Brien scored 11 off the bench, but his team went down comprehensively in the end.

Final Score Canterbury 94-46 Otago.

Mens Second Semi-Final - Waikato V Auckland Counties Manukau

The best game of the day was a back and forth affair between the men from Waikato and Auckland Counties Manukau (ACM). A 10/26 effort from behind the arc in the first half helped Waikato to a seven-point lead of 47-40 at the half. With just over four minutes left in the third quarter, Samuel Aruwa grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw, and got fouled as he attempted another basket. This extra free throw proved to be the point that evened the scores at 56 apiece. Coach Anthony Keungs ACM team wasnt done though, as they finished out the third quarter to the tune of 26-12, easing a seven-point deficit, and replacing it with their own seven-point lead.

It wasnt game-over though. It only took three minutes for Daniel Greens team to erase the margin and an exciting game followed, as seven ties or lead changes ensued. Unfortunately for Waikato, Ezra Simmons fouled out with three minutes to go in regulation, adding more pressure to his teammates lot. Thompson Karena-Reed hit the final field goal of the game just before the 2:00 mark, tying the game at 79 all. The Aruwa brothers (Samson and Samuel) then split a pair of free throws each for ACM, which ultimately ended up being the two points that decided the game in their favour.

ACM had five players reach double figures: Samuel Aruwa (18 points, 12 rebounds); Sioeli Vaiangina (12 points, 10 rebounds); Samson Aruwa (12 points, 9 rebounds); Zarne Leuluai-Hughes (12 points); Tevita Latu (10 points). In contrast, Waikatos scoring was a bit more focused, with Thompson Karena-Reed (25 points) and Ezra Simmons (23 points, 6 assists) leading the way, with Thomas Power hitting 10 points too for Waikato.

Final Score ACM 81-79 Waikato.

Finals Coverage

The Womens and Mens Championship games are scheduled for 3pm and 4:45pm respectively, Saturday 23 July (tomorrow), with live streaming available on
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand