Hawke's Bay age-group netballers missed out on creating history after they stumbled in their crucial crossover match to Christchurch A Red during the under-17 nationals in Auckland this afternoon.
The Annemarie Kupa-coached Bay Black representative schoolgirls lost 33-25 to Christchurch in Waitakere to secure a quarterfinal berth in the hope of making the top four for the first time.
However, the Bay still have three more matches to play at the Netball New Zealand Championship but have dropped in reckoning for the 9th to16th place bracket.
They were playing Eastern Southland later today for a 9th-12th finish. The province's best finish in the championship was eighth in 2016. They were ninth last year.
The Bayleys-sponsored Bay had a rollicking start to the tourney with a 57-13 and 39-16 victories over North harbour 2 and Selwyn, respectively.
However, on day two they had to settle for with a 29-all stalemate against neighbours Taupo after a 10-4 first-quarter lead.
They kept ahead with a 18-12 return in the second spell but a tenacious Taupo prompted the Bay into making bad decisions and missing crucial shots in the remaining two quarters and a goal-for-goal shootout towards the end.
Coach Annemarie Kupa singled out Libby Charlton (Havelock North High School) and Kiah McCorkindale (Napier Girls' High School) for their no-nonsense defence with Tabitha Coddington (Central Hawke's Bay College) backing up.
Kupa said the combination of NGHS players Parris Petera, Ashleigh Poi, Shyan Murphy and Sahria Adams made for a smooth transition of ball to the shooting circle.
In the second match, the Bay opened throttle on Taranaki to come away with a don't-argue 43-23 victory.
"All girls were firing right from leaving the motel. This was a crucial game to go through as No 1 in our pool," said Kupa, mindful the girls had had Taranaki's measure twice before in the pre-season but by a narrow margin of five and seven goals.
The Bay shot to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter thanks to shooters Hannah O'Keeffe (Havelock North High) and Mia Reeves, brought up from the U15s grade, who oozed confidence and were up 24-11 at halftime.
Coddington and Charlton found cohesiveness to add confusion to the opposition foragers in finding space from their feeders.