Both the Waitaha Canterbury Mens and Waikato Womens teams successfully defended their Under 23 National Basketball Championship titles at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua on Saturday.

The Waikato Women, led by Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker (26 points) defeated Waitaha Canterbury 75-52.

Waitaha Canterbury Men pulled away from Auckland in the second half, Sam Lees and Sam Smith combining for 51 points in a 99-80 victory.

Under 23 Womens National Championship Final

Tall Ferns internationals Alyssa Hirawani, Charlisse Leger-Walker and Krystal Leger Walker were all impressive as Waikato pulled away from Waitaha Canterbury in the second half to win 75-52. Canterbury forward Connie Poletti was outstanding with a double of 23 points and 23 rebounds but once again it was a stats stuffing performance from Charlisse Leger-Walker (26 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals) that caught the eye.

After Canterbury had opened an early five points lead Waikato reduced that advantage to 17-16 at quarter time.

Threes from Tessa Morrison and Laken Wairau gave Waikato a 25-16 lead but Kendall Heremaia and Charlisse Leger-Walker prompted a 15-0 run to give Waikato the lead.

Tall Fern centre Tessa Boagni ended the run but Waikato headed to the interval with a 35-31 advantage. Leger-Walker led all scorers at half-time with 13 points, Poletti the other player in double figures with ten points.

Poletti moved into double-double territory - her offensive rebound and put back kept Canterbury four points adrift.

New Tall Fern Alyssa Hirawani went back to back after a Boagni inside basket as Waikato moved to a double digit lead (49-39).

Another 9-4 Waikato run left Canterbury with a mountain to climb at three-quarter time trailing 58-43.

Poletti was playing something of a lone hand for the Cantabs and she moved to over twenty points (and 20 rebounds) but Waikato still held a 64-48 lead four minutes into the final period.

Krystal Leger-Walker gave the defending champions a 67-48 lead and with Heremaia and Hirawani adding to Canterburys woes Waikato eased to a convincing win.

Waikato captain Krystal Leger-Walker paid credit to Canterbury, "We knew they would come at us hard with the trophy at stake and it was only in the last quarter that we were able to make some easy baskets. Its fun to come back to New Zealand and play with the girls, especially Charlisse."

Head Coach Anthony Corbin said the game plan was to wear down the Canterbury guards. "We knew we didnt have the size to compete with Tessa (Boagni) and Connie (Poletti). We had to focus on their guards and I thought we achieved that in the final ten minutes.

"The stats didnt show it but Krystals leadership as captain was exceptional. Its great for our young players to be able to play with her and Kendall Heremaia," he added.

Waikato 75 - C Leger-Walker 26/8r/6a/5st, A Hirawani 18, K Heremaia 14, K Leger-Walker 7/8r, Z Poulava 4, K Lewis 4, E Bradley 2

Waitaha Canterbury 52 - C Poletti 23/23r, T Boagni 9/12r, T Morrison 7 A Pepe 4, L Brown 3, L Wairau 3, S Wairau 3

3rd/4th Play-off

Harbour 74

Waikato Country 57

U19 Womens Tournament Team

Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)

Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato)

Connie Poletti (Waitaha Canterbury)

Tessa Boagni (Waitaha Canterbury)

Kendell Heremaia (Waikato)

MVP Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)

Womens Final Officials:

Sasha Nicholson, Brad Clive, Hamish Dale

Under 23 Mens National Championship Final

The Sams, Lees and Smith, were outstanding but it was an all-round team performance from Waitaha Canterbury that led them to a 99-80 victory against Auckland.

Auckland guard Thomas Whyte scored 21 points in a losing cause and he led all scorers with nine points at quarter time - the scores tied 26 points apiece.

Samuel Aruwa opened the scoring in the second period but a triple from Joe Cook-Green gave Canterbury the lead.

Conor Flanagan made eight straight points and Whyte the triple to tie the scores (39 points each) with four minutes to play in the first half.

A jump shot from Sam Smith (13 points in the first half) and a transition bucket from Ben van Noorden more than cancelled out a Sam Colenutt two handed flush - Canterbury 50-43 ahead at half-time.

Canterbury stretched their lead to 64-47 by the mid point of the third period and although Auckland trimmed the deficit they still trailed 68-55 at the three-quarter mark - six points in the period from Lees helping the Cantabs cause.

Lees helped himself to another seven points as Canterbury extended their advantage, a Smith triple making it 83-62 with six minutes to play and Auckland required a timeout.

Sam Whyte and Pafe Momoisea scored on the resumption but Auckland, despite a late flurry of points, could do little to stop Canterbury defending their championship crown- Toby Gillooly putting the exclamation mark on the victory with a break-away dunk.

Waitaha Canterbury 99 - S Smith 26/13r, Lees 25, B Bowie 16/9r, T Gillooly 13, J Cook-Green 7, B van Noorden 7/9r, J Williams 5

Auckland 80 - T Whyte 21, S Colenutt 16, Samuel Aruwa 12/10r, P Momoisea 12, C Flanagan 11, L Haraqia 4, S Whyte 2, Samson Aruwa 2

3rd/4th Play-off

Manawatu 82

Harbour 100

U23 Mens Tournament Team

Sam Lees (Waitaha Canterbury)

Samuel Smith (Waitaha Canterbury)

Conor Flanagan (Auckland)

Jaylen Gerrand (Harbour)

Dane Brooks (Taranaki)

MVP Sam Lees (Waitaha Canterbury)

Mens Final Officials:

Tayla Ammunson, Sherhon Martin, Callum Welch

Link to all Under 23 results

http://nz.basketball/News/u23-national-champs-day-4

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- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand