After three rounds of play at the 2018 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) only two teams remain unbeaten.
In the tier one competition the Waikato Wizards are 3-0 and North Canterbury boast the same record on the tier two standings.
In tier two action North Canterbury were given a thorough examination by Rotorua Lady Vols before eventually triumphing 84-68.
Led by Pareunuora Pene and Aroha Haumaha the Vols hustling defence caused the Cantabs plenty of problems - the 40-32 first half scoreline emphasizing the closeness of the competition.
A strong third quarter effort from North Canterbury, with Charlotte Whittaker and livewire guard Bianca Couto de Agular prominent eased them out to a 61-47 lead.
Rotorua closed to within nine points with five minutes to play but a combined 15 fourth quarter points from Whittaker and North Carolina State University bound Esra McGoldrick ensured NC remained unbeaten.
Grace McCarthy (13 points) led another balanced scoring effort from the Lady Vols.
Jelena Vucinic continued her good scoring form with 24 points (6/11 3PG) as Nelson Sparks beat Taitokerau Northland 72-41.
The Taitokerau scoring dried up in the third period allowing Nelson to extend its advantage from 41-25 at half-time to 62-27 at the end of the third. Tania Heremaia and Jeannie Cameron were prominent for Northland but the experienced trio of Vucinic, Kat Jones and Frances Tilly ensured Nelson collected their second win of the weekend.
An outstanding shooting display from Lauryn Hippolite and a strong all-round performance from Connie Poletti (16 points and 14 rebounds) helped Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats overcome a ten points half-time deficit to defeat Harbour Breeze 72-59.
Hippolite, heading for Hawaii Pacific University later in the year, led all scorers with 24 points making 8 of 13 shots from the floor including 5 from 8 from three-point land.
The Breeze edged a tight opening quarter 16-14. Hippolite nailed a couple of threes for Canterbury but Tera Reed replied in kind and her 15 points were the major factor in Harbour leading 37-27 at the interval.
Poletti and Hippolite led a Wildcats scoring run in the third – in contrast the Harbour points supply dried up although it was still a one possession game at three-quarter time with the Wildcats leading 43-42.
Shea Crotty’s five points stretched the Wildcats advantage in the third and although Tayla Dalton and Morgan Ili made scores for Harbour the Wildcats held their poise in the closing minutes to record a deserved win.
It took 28 points from Tall Ferns guard Natalie Taylor to enable Auckland Dream to see off the challenge of Otago Goldrush, the Dream eventually winning 74-62. Taylor tallied 14 points in the first half to give the Dream a 39-29 lead at the interval.
Aleisha Ruske nailed a three at the mid point of the third but seven straight points from Taylor extended the Dream lead to 54-38. Natalie Visger and Dana Goularte replied for the Goldrush but Auckland still held sway at the last break leading 59-49.
Otago closed to within six points (63-57) with under five minutes to play and a Nicole Ruske three kept it at that margin with ninety seconds to play.
However an Idaho Purcell jump shot gave the Dream a little breathing space (68-60) inside the last minute.
Nicole Ruske made another basket but Amanda Buck and Sharne Pupuke-Robati iced the game from the foul line to give Auckland a hard earned victory.
The two highest individual scoring performances of the season to date came in the game involving Tauranga City Coasters and Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons. Briarley Rogers scored 33 points for the Coasters but that effort was eclipsed by Arielle Parai who amassed 39 points for the Cannons.
The game had an interesting finish as multiple Cannons players fouled out leaving them with just four players on court.
A fine first quarter shooting display highlighted the Coasters 33-18 first quarter lead - the Coasters made 8 from 12 triples, Briarley Rogers an extraordinary 6 from 7.
Eleven second quarter points from Arielle Parai propelled the Canons back into the contest as they cut the Coasters lead to 44-37.
Parai continued her scoring momentum in the third, her 13 points instrumental in giving the Cannons a 59-55 lead at the end of the frame.
Latava Whippy’s departure with an ankle injury meant the Cannons only had five players and a ding-dong battle ensued in the closing minutes.
The Cannons problems became even greater when Theresa Pemberton fouled out leaving them with four players on court. Then Bayley Ross-Waitai (15 points) picked up a fifth meaning Whippy had to hobble back on court.
In the mayhem that ensued Briarley Rogers knocked down her seventh three of the game but the Cannons hung on for an exciting 79-73 win.
Day 3 Results:
Tier 1 Games
Harbour Breeze 59 – T Reed 19, T Dalton 13, M Ili 7, J Kailahi-Fulu 7
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 72 – L Hippolite 24, C Poletti 16, S Crotty 10, F Edmondson 8, D Rose 8
Auckland Dream 74 – N Taylor 28, S Pupuke-Robati 14, S Povey 8, J Nicholson 7,
Otago Goldrush 62 – N Visger 16, D Goularte 15, A Ruske 11, N Ruske 8
Taranaki Thunder 55 – L Laborn 20, I Hohaia 7, V Weir 7, S Cook 5
Waikato Wizards 62 – C Leger-Walker 19, R Walker-Pitman 14, J Waihi 8, K Ballantyne 8
Waikato Country Cannons 80 – A Parai 39, B Ross-Waitai 15, K Parai 14, V Asaua-Wilkinson 6
Tauranga City Coasters 74 – B Rogers 33, C Wilson 9, K Morrell 9, C Rogers 7
3-0 Waikato Wizards
2-1 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats, Auckland Dream, Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons
1-2 Harbour Breeze, Otago Gold Rush, Taranaki Thunder
0-3 Tauranga City Coasters
Tier 2 Games
Taitokerau Northland Phoenix 41 – J Cameron 12, T Heremaia 9, S Tua 6, Q Nathan-Hita 6
Nelson Sparks 72 – J Vucinic 24, F Tilly 9, R James 8, K Jones 7 J Hikuroa-Jeffrey 7
North Canterbury 84 – C Whittaker 26, E McGoldrick 18, R Madams 10, C Grice 8
Rototua Lady Vols 68 - A Haumaha 13, G McCarthy 11, A Leach 11, P Pene 10
3-0 North Canterbury
2-1 Nelson Sparks
1-2 Rotorua Lady Vols
0-3 Taitokerau Northland Phoenix
Image: Finn Kennedy Photography
The full draw is available here.