Women’s Under 19 National Championship Final
The Women’s Under 19 Championship Final has been won by Harbour.
The final began with the perfect start for Waikato as Alyssa Hirawani stole the tip and quickly took it the distance for an extremely quick 2-0 lead. Harbour swiftly navigated Waikato’s full court press, and answered with a Tabitha Jenkins layup. Coach Anthony Corban’s team didn’t stop there, as his charges were able to expertly penetrate against the switching Harbour defence, often straight down the middle.
Further damaging Harbours strategy was two quick fouls called on Katie Diakhaby, who was forced to leave the game after only 80 seconds. Bronwen Davidson was able to get her Harbour team focused on each possession the rest of the quarter, fighting back to level the scores at 17 apiece at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter saw Harbour grab a small lead, but were stuck on 22 points for five minutes of game-time. Waikato wasn’t able to capitalise as much as they would have liked here, going into the half with a 33-29 scoreline deficit separating the two teams.
The second half saw another defensive battle begin to take place, with neither team able to put any points on the board over an almost four-minute stretch. Both teams then traded baskets until Zara Jillings hit two straight from deep. This helped put her Harbour team up by ten points, before Kendall Heremaia scored the last five points of the quarter for Waikato, cutting the Harbour lead in half, 46-41.
By midway through the fourth quarter Harbour had built themselves a 10-point lead again, only for the tenacity of Heremaia to keep her team in touch yet again, with a big three to cut the lead to five. Diakhaby was then able to get to the bucket and score for Harbour, only for Heremaia to immediately answer, as well as grabbing a steal. Waikato couldn’t capitalise here, but on the other end, Harbour couldn’t put them away either. Waikato would eventually convert a free throw with 39 seconds to go, cutting the Harbour lead to four points. It wasn’t to be though, as a clutch steal from Zara Jillings sealed the game for North Harbour, along with the ensuing free throws, essentially finishing off any Waikato hope.
Zara Jillings finished with an impressive line of 20 points, 11 rebounds, with support from Tabitha Jenkins (10 points), Coola Tayla Baudry (8 points, 15 rebounds), and Katie Diakhaby (8 points, 3 blocks). Waikato’s Kendell Heremaia finished off an excellent tournament with 25 points and 16 rebounds, with Alyssa Hirawani adding 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Final Score Harbour 61-53 Waikato
Men’s Under 19 National Championship Final
The men’s final showcased a distinct contrast in styles – Canterbury often sitting in a zone defence, banking on their athleticism to rebound missed shots from Auckland Counties Manukau (ACM), while ACM was more comfortable using man to man against the South Island team. Initial impressions indicated ACM was going to shoot the Cantabrians out of their defence of choice, with their first two baskets both coming from behind the arc, courtesy of Zarne Leiluia-Hughes. An entertaining quarter of action followed, with neither team able to clear away from the other, however foul trouble affected both teams as Lesae Coe and Toby Gillooly both took early seats after picking up their second personal foul each. ACM taking the early advantage as they hit the first break up by four 25-21.
A six-minute dry spell in the second quarter significantly reduced Canterbury’s margin for error, as their normally reliable outside shooting struggled (only going 2/11 from three in the half), partially due to the effort that ACM’s Samuel Aruwa and Sioeli Vaiangina put in, when challenging their opponents’ shots behind the arc. Anthony Keung’s team kept the foot on the pedal, executing well as they held Canterbury to only nine points in the quarter, giving themselves a comfortable 48-30 edge at the half.
Canterbury’s coaches Paul Isitt and Mo Corkery got their team coming out with more effort to start the third, exemplified by Matt Dukes hitting a three only a few seconds into the game. An attempt to cause some issues for the ACM offense by instituting a press fell flat, as Vaiangina was able to flush a nice alley-oop down to cap off a perfectly executed ACM press break. ACM was also starting to punish the Canterbury team on the glass when they did happen to miss a shot in the third. Canterbury’s Sam Lees helped engineer a mini four point run to end the quarter, limiting the scoreline damage, but still saw ACM with a 66-53 lead, with only ten minutes to go.
ACM kept Canterbury at bay in the fourth, as every time the lead dropped down to ten, somebody from ACM would find a way to score a bucket. With 4:00 to go, it was do or die time, and a Dukes’ three, followed up by an old fashioned three point play courtesy of Gillooly, gave last year’s champions some hope. That was as close as ACM would let them get thoug, as any cracks were unable to be exploited, with ACM holding off a late charge and winning the 2016 National Championship.
ACM had a nice balance in the game, led by Zarne Leuluia-Huges’ 20 points. Sioeli Vaiangina (15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks), Connor Woodbridge (12 points, 4/6 from three), and Samuel Aruwa (10 points, 9 rebounds) all made key plays when their team needed them. For Canterbury, Sam Lees stood out (27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals, 6 assists), with Toby Gillooly (13 points) and Matt Dukes (12 points) aiding in the points column, but not shooting a percentage they usually expect.
Final Score: Auckland Counties Manukau 82-73 Canterbury.