The Mens and Womens finalists have been found at the Aon Under 19 National Basketball Championships being held at the North Shore Events Centre and both defending champions are on track to retain their titles.

Waitaha Canterbury men proved too good for Wellington winning 89-68 and Waikato women eased past Waitaha Canterbury 92-59.

Aon Under 19 Mens National Championship semi-finals

Max Darling garnered an offensive rebound and score from the opening play of the game followed by a three on the next play and a defensive block.

It rather set the tone for the game as the Canterbury forward dominated proceedings with 31 points and 12 rebounds.

Darling was ably supported by Tom Higgins who posted 11 points in the first spell to give Canterbury a 24-16 opening quarter lead.

Despite 11 points from Finn McClure Wellington trailed 49-34 at the break as Higgins and Darling, with a collective 14 from 18 from the floor, controlled the opening half.

Max de Geest, fairly quiet in the first period, opened the second half scoring with a triple but McClure continued something of a lone offensive crusade to keep Wellington in touch at three-quarter time trailing 68-50.

Diminutive guard Harry Wall dropped a triple for the men from the capital but Nic Wenmoth took the Cantabs lead to twenty points (75-55) with six minutes to play.

Junior Waqabaca connected from deep but Darling eased into double-double territory and his team to a deserved place in the final.

Waitaha Canterbury Red 89 - M Darling 31, T Higgins 18, M de Geest 17, T Crutchley 10

Wellington 68 - F McClure 21, A Tai-Jones 13, K Salmon 7

In an absorbing second mens semi-final Manawatu swingman Oscar Oswald took his team to a grand final appearance with a put-back shot with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. Fouled as he scored, the resulting free throw which he wryly admitted he intended to miss, somehow dropped in but Harbour were unable to make anything of their in-bounds play - Manawatu the exciting win 94-91.

Earlier Manawatu opened up an 8-2 lead but eight straight points for Harbour from Kruz Perrott-Hunt (27 points) narrowed the advantage to 20-17 at quarter time. Jake McKinley had nine points for Manawatu.

Livewire Manawatu guard Lachlan Scott scored early in the second before

Jack Burton (three triples in the quarter) gave Harbour their first lead of the game The quarter was punctuated by seven lead changes but Harbour held a 45-38 lead at the interval - their forward Sam Mennenga led all scorers with 13 points, McKinley not far behind with 11 points.

Perrott-Hunt gave Harbour a double digit lead but Matt OConnell (23 points) and Tama Faamausili soon reduced the arrears (53-47).

Oswald landed a three from just over the half way line on the three-quarter time buzzer to close within three (64-61) at the last break.

OConnell tied the scores early in the fourth and Harbours chances took a blow when Perrott-Hunt was forced to the bench with a fourth foul.

Back to back threes from McKinley and Kade Muru sprung Manawatu to a 77-71 advantage with 6 minutes to play.

OConnell was performing at his best and he took Manawatu further ahead (86-78) with 4 minutes to play.

Harbour were not finished as Perrott-Hunt returned to make a three following an identical score from Caleb Langridge: 89-87 to the men in green.

Peter Jenkins calmly stroked a couple of free throws to tie proceedings and with the two teams looking as if they may need to be separated in overtime it was Oswald that made the all-important winning play.

Manawatu 94 - M OConnell 23, O Oswald 18, J McKinlay 17, L Scott 12

Harbour 91 - K Perrott-Hunt 27, S Mennenga 25, J Burton 14, P Jenkins 10

Aon Under 19 Womens National Championship semi-finals

Waikato met Waitaha Canterbury Red in a repeat of the 2017 final but unlike last years game (won by a single point by Waikato) Canterbury, despite a game high 28 points from Lauryn Hippolite, could not mount a similar effort and were comfortably beaten 92-59.

An entertaining opening quarter was headed 24-15 by Waikato - Arielle Williams-McKay bagging 10 points in the process.

Hippolite landed a deep three and Sofia Kennedy a tumbling drive as Canterbury pulled within four points (27-23). Ella Bradley responded with a jump shot from the elbow and Charlisse Leger-Walker a banked effort from a similar spot as Waikato moved to a 33-23 lead.

Canterbury responded through Rachel Pullan and Helen Matthews but a Koha Lewis triple gave Waikato a 41-33 half-time lead.

A pair of Bradley baskets preceded a brace of And-1 plays from Hippolite but Riva Walker-Pitmans drive kept Waikato ahead 52-43 at the mid point of the third period.

A steal and made basket from Lewis followed by a corner three proved costly for Canterbury as they were outscored 14-4 in the last five minutes of the period to trail 66-47 at the three-quarter mark.

Canterbury ran out of gas in the fourth, Waikato pulling away for a thumping win and the opportunity to repeat last years success.

Waikato 92 - A Williams-McKay 22, C Leger-Walker 21, K Lewis 17, K Leef 11

Waitaha Canterbury Red 59 - L Hippolite 28, R Pullan 8, T Nisbett 8, A Book 6

In the earlier semi-final the multiple scoring threats of Harbour proved too much for Taranaki, the hosts winning 91-60.

Harbour led at the end of the opening quarter 20-13 thanks largely to 11 points from Tessa Talo-Tomokino.

A 13-0 Harbour run extended their advantage to twenty points before Isabelle Cook stopped the rot.

Rosalia Samia landed a triple for Taranaki but a pair of the same from Jordyn Maddix and Tala Dalton kept Harbour in the ascendancy.

Despite the best efforts of Cook (15 points in the first half) and Kate Jones, Rashaan Smith was dominating the paint as Harbour pushed out to a 52-26 half-time lead. Smith, Dalton and Talo-Tomokino all had13 points at the break.

Zoe Ebbitt and Simone Cook battled away from Manawatu but six points from Piper Manolas and contributions from a further nine players gave Harbour a match winning 76-43 lead at three-quarter time.

Manawatu shaded the final period (17-15) but it was little consolation for a team well beaten on the day.

Harbour 91 - T Dalton 17, T Talo-Tomokino 16, R Smith 15, D Parehuia 10

Taranaki 60 - I Cook 22, Z Ebbitt 16, R Samia 9, K Jones 7

Livestream:

Ten games will be livestreamed www.nz.basketball/tv during the last two days of the event, including all Semi Finals and the Grand Finals, 4 and 5 June and on @BasketballNZ Facebook

5 June Livestream:

- 9am - Mens 5th and 6th Playoff

- 10:45am - Womens 3rd and 4th Playoff

- 12:30pm - Mens 3rd and 4th Playoff

- 3pm - Womens Grand Final

- 4:45pm - Mens Grand Final

Draws, Programme, Rosters can be found here:

http://nz.basketball/Competitions/Reps/Aon-U19-Nationals

FIBA Livestats:

http://websites.sportstg.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=1-4709-0-0-0&a=COMPS

For more information go to www.NZ.basketball and the @BasketballNZ social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand