The New Zealand Women’s Basketball Championship is heating up after the Week Four Round has just completed, with the Waikato Wizards going undefeated so far with five wins. They’ll be looking to take it to six when they play the Otago Gold Rush in Cambridge in the next round.
The defending champions, the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats, will be looking to develop a strategy with an upcoming bye. They’ll be wondering how they are going to wind back the mighty Waikato team.
The Auckland Dream remain strong and determined, especially with a last round win over the Wildcats. Also, strong contending that second spot, is the Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons who have three wins to their season, although they suffered a blow in the most recent round with a loss to the Otago Gold Rush.
The next round of games are:
Saturday, 9 June Tauranga City Coasters V Auckland Dream 1pm at Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre, Tauranga
Saturday, 9 June Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons V Harbour Breeze 2pm ASB Te Awamutu Event Centre
Saturday, 9 June Waikato Wizards V Otago Gold Rush 6pm St Peters School, Cambridge
Sunday, 10 June Taranaki Thunder V Harbour Breeze 12pm, Sandford's Event Centre, Opunake
WBC Week Four Review
Week four of the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) produced victories for Auckland Dream, Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats, Waikato Wizards and Otago Gold Rush.
The closest game of the weekend was held at Epsom Girls Grammar School where Auckland Dream outlasted Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats to win 69-63 in overtime.
Auckland forward Hailey Moala (19 points and 13 rebounds) calmly stroked a pair of free-throws to tie the game at 56 apiece in regulation time then scored nine points in the extra period to clinch a third win of the season for the newly formed Dream outfit.
“We have come from two associations (Waitakere West and Auckland Counties Manukau) and merged as one which has been a little bit challenging to gel as one but the more we play together the better it’s getting”.
“It was hard work today as the Wildcats post players are physical and strong but it’s good to play against really strong players and be able to pull through,” Moala said modestly about her own performance.
“Sharne Pupuke-Robati played really well today. We don’t have many true post players so the fact that she really stepped up today really helped us, particularly as our outside shots were not dropping.”
The thought of having sisters Charmian Mellars and Natalie Taylor back for the play‑offs in Dunedin in July is an attractive proposition for Moala.
“I love playing with my sisters and any opportunity we get to play together I’m always there. Hopefully we can win it this year,” she added.
Earlier the Wildcats had made the better start leading 13-8 at quarter time and 24-23 at half-time. Late in the half the Wildcats suffered a telling blow when forward Fran Edmondson was forced from the game with a knee injury. The 2016 WBC MVP was leading all scorers at that stage with 12 points and her interior presence would be missed by the Wildcats in the closing stages.
Connie Poletti and Darcy Rose filled the breach admirably as the Wildcats retained the lead to head into the fourth quarter 42-40 ahead.
Consecutive scores from Rose, Shea Crotty and Laken Wairau gave the Wildcats a 51-45 lead with five minutes to play. However Sharne Pupuke-Robati had a storming final four minutes making seven straight points. Poletti edged the Wildcats back into the lead (54-52) before fouling out as Riana Rangi-Brown tied the scores inside the last minute.
Rose scored on the next play but Moala calmly stroked the free-throws to force overtime and along with Pupuke-Robati and Amanda Buck took control of overtime to give the Dream to a third win of the season.
Auckland Dream 69 (H Moala 19, S Pupuke-Robati 19, A Buck 8)
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 63 (S Crotty 16, D Rose 13, F Edmondson 12, C Poletti 9)
A day earlier a spectacular three-point shooting display from Wildcats guards Shea Crotty and Tessa Morrison propelled the defending champions to a 91-38 win in Tauranga.
Crotty (27 points) made seven triples from just ten attempts and Morrison (19 points) was equally efficient converting six from nine attempts. Overall the Wildcats made 16 from 33 from beyond the arc at a heady 48%.
Tauranga City Coasters guard Courtney Wilson opened the scoring for the hosts but Morrison helped give the Wildcats a 20-8 first quarter advantage.
Crotty made three triples in the third quarter to take the Wildcats to a 44-21 half-time lead.
Lauryn Hippolite and Crotty continued to find success from beyond the arc to stretch the Wildcats advantage as they poured in 29 points in the third period.
In-form forward Connie Poletti was also in good touch contributing a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Briarley Rogers was the best for the Coasters scoring 13 points.
Tauranga City Coasters 38 (B Rogers 13, M Daysh 7, C Wilson 6)
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 91 (S Crotty 27, T Morrison 19, C Poletti 14, F Edmondson 7, A Siosiua-Pepe 7)
In front of a 500+ crowd at AUT University Sports Centre Waikato Wizards recorded a fifth straight win to stay on top of the WBC standings. The 79-53 victory was built around a 24 points apiece showing from the ever improving Ella Bradley and Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker.
Threes from Harbour Breeze guards Anna Lacey and Tayla Dalton bookended an even first quarter that finished 15 points apiece.
A Dalton steal and lay-up gave the Breeze a brief lead early in the second but Ella Bradley’s transition basket followed by a corner three restored the Wizards advantage (24-21) and prompted a timeout from Breeze coach Sonny Tuapatu.
Leger-Walker’s jump shot from the elbow took the Wizards lead into double figures - a Kelcy Ballantyne inside basket giving the Wizards a 37-23 half-time lead. Alyssa Hirawani, heading the WBC scoring list with 24 points per game, led all scorers at the break with 15 points.
The Breeze started the third quarter in promising fashion with scores to forwards Katie Diakhaby and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu. A couple of spinning drives from Brooke Blair reduced the arrears further (43-33) before baseline threes from Leger-Walker and Bradley gave the Wizards a 54-39 three-quarter time lead.
A 9-0 Breeze run once again dragged them to within ten points (58-48) but that was as close as it got for the hosts. The Wizards dominated the middle stages of the final period with a 15-0 run that included a brace of Leger-Walker threes and a pair of Koha Lewis baskets. The Wizards comfortably protected their record as the only unbeaten team in the competition.
Harbour Breeze 53 (B Blair 13, J Kailahi-Fulu 10, A Lacey 9, T Dalton 9)
Waikato Wizards 79 (C Leger-Walker 24, E Bradley 24, A Hirawani 18, K Ballantyne 7)
At the Edgar Centre in Dunedin ten first quarter points from American forward Dana Goularte propelled Otago Gold Rush to a 21-16 lead over Power Chill Country Cannons.
Gold Rush dealt almost exclusively in threes in the second frame as Brittany Richards, Bronwyn Kjestrup, Aleisha Ruske and Goularte all landed from beyond the arc to give the hosts a 40-28 half-time advantage.
Arielle Parai and Moengaroa Subritzky, making her Cannons debut, scored 9 first half points for the visitors.
The scoring slowed in the third period but it was still 53-38 in favour of the Gold Rush at three-quarter time.
Kyler Parai and Donna Fermanis led a Cannons revival early in the final period but Gold Rush held firm – Nicole Ruske and Danielle Frost making the most of their opportunities from the foul line to carry them to their third win of the season.
Otago Gold Rush 74 (N Ruske 19, D Goularte 13, N Visger 7, D Frost 7)
Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons 62 (A Parai 13, M Subritzky 13, D Fermanis 10, K Parai 9)
5-0 Waikato Wizards
3-2 Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons, Auckland Dream, Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
2-2 Otago Gold Rush
1-2 Taranaki Thunder
1-3 Harbour Breeze
0-5 Tauranga City Coasters
The full draw is available here.
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