Both the Waitaha Canterbury Men’s and Waikato Women’s teams successfully defended their Aon Under 19 National Basketball Championship titles at North Shore Events Centre on Tuesday.
Charlisse Leger-Walker came close to a triple-double (36 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists) as Waikato ran out comfortable 81-54 winners against Harbour in the women’s final.
Max Darling was at his dominant best (27 points and 12 rebounds) as Waitaha Canterbury subdued the Manawatu challenge to win the Men’s Championship in equally convincing fashion 104-77.
Aon Under 19 Men’s National Championship Final
A pair of Max Darling dunks highlighted an 18-7 Waitaha Canterbury Red start against Manawatu.
Matt O’Connell and Jake McKinlay each made a couple of scores for Manawatu but it was still a healthy 34-18 quarter time lead to the Cantabs.
Jacob Collis and Oscar Oswald three’s opened the second quarter scoring but Tom Higgins replied in identical fashion as the Canterbury lead approached twenty points (45-26).
Darling, the Tournament MVP, helped himself to more inside points and although the scoring slowed Kurt Feneon and Max de Geest were still able to make scoring contributions. O’Connell (11 points in the half) made a three as time expired in the half but Manawatu still trailed 53-35 at the interval. Darling led all scorers with 19 points at half-time.
Oswald kick started second half proceedings before de Geest made his fourth three of the game – he finished with 5 triples from10 attempts.
O’Connell’s penetrative play reduced the arrears (64-48) but a pair of transition baskets from Connor McLaughlin pushed the lead back beyond twenty points and necessitated a timeout from Manawatu coach Miles Pearce.
Nic Wenmoth (9 points in the quarter) extended the lead further – Canterbury with one hand on the trophy at three-quarter-time leading 83-56.
The industrious Scott Lachlan and the outstanding O’Connell (26 points) added to the Manawatu points tally but the Canterbury lead was never compromised as they completed a successful title defence.
“We came out pretty tough, coach Mark Dickel had us fired up for the game, we put it on hard from the start and pretty much kept it on all game,” said shooting guard de Geest.
“I got a real good start,” said Darling referring to his early dunks. “We were hitting which we haven’t always done – making decent shots which really helped us out,” he added.
“This squad hasn’t been together for too long but we all like each other and get along well and I think that really shows on the court,” added de Geest.
The pair made a combined fourty-nine points and both were named in the Tournament Team alongside teammate Tom Higgins.
Waitaha Canterbury Red 104 – M Darling 27, M de Geest 22, N Wenmoth 15, T Higgins 12, C McLaughlin 10
Manawatu 77 – O’Connell 26, O Oswald 12, J McKinlay 10, J Collis 8
Referees – Tayla Ammunson and Duran Whiu
Wellington 92 – A Tai-Jones 22, F McClure 17, M Kapua 13, K Salmon 12
Harbour 83 – S Mennenga 24, T Cowie 22, 9 J Burton 9
U19 Men’s Tournament Team
Anzac Rissetto (Auckland A)
Sam Mennenga (Harbour A)
Maxim Stephens (Waikato)
Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Harbour A)
Joseph Ahie (Wellington)
Jake Mckinlay (Manawatu)
Tom Higgins (Waitaha Canterbury Red)
Oscar Oswald (Manawatu)
Max de Geest (Waitaha Canterbury Red)
Max Darling (Waitaha Canterbury Red) MVP
Aon Under 19 Women’s National Championship Final
A complete all-game performance from Tall Ferns guard Charlisse Leger-Walker highlighted Waikato Women’s resounding 81-54 victory against Harbour. The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist finished with 36 points (5/8 3PG), 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals.
Predictably it was Leger-Walker, the Tournament MVP, that opened the scoring and she moved quickly to ten points as Waikato led 23-16 at quarter time.
Riva Walker-Pitman took Waikato into a double-figure lead (28-18), seven straight points from Tayla Dalton keeping Harbour in the hunt.
Jordyn Maddix converted an And-1 play but Leger-Walker, 20 points (9/15FG) in the half, had the final say before the interval to give Waikato a 36-29 lead.
The games leading scorers Dalton and Leger-Walker exchanged baskets to open the second half before Koha Lewis and Kasee Leef once again took the Waikato lead into double-digits - the advantage 51-35 at the mid point of the third quarter.
A long Ella Bradley two extended the Waikato lead into the twenties forcing a Harbour timeout. The break in play bore little fruit as Waikato powered to a 60-35 three-quarter time lead.
Keeley Tini and Rashaan Smith posted fourth quarter points for Harbour but it was of little consequence as Waikato coasted to victory – their fifth Under 19 title in the past nine years.
Leger-Walker was delighted with another national title.
“It was a satisfying win because Harbour were one of the better teams at the tournament but we got a roll on early – it felt even despite it being a big margin at the end.
“The core group of the team have been together about six years now so we feel comfortable together. It’s always nice coming back together to come to Nationals.
Despite having played at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games just a few weeks ago the youngest ever Tall Fern had little trouble adjusting back to age-group basketball.
“I love coming back to play with the girls of my own age group and getting back to the home environment, it’s always fun to play with this team.
Waikato 81 – C Leger-Walker 36, E Bradley 15, A Williams-McKay 10, K Lewis 6
Harbour 54 – T Dalton 17, R Smith 11, J Maddix 9, K Tini 6
Referees – Rhys Hamilton and Brad Clive
Waitaha Canterbury Red 74 – A Book 18, L Hippolite 16, T Nisbett 16, S Kennedy 10
Taranaki 67 – R Samia 15, I Cook 13, K Jones 11, S Cook 8
U19 Women’s Tournament Team
Mele Latu (Waitakere West)
Leah Mafua (Wellington)
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Auckland Counties)
Isabelle Cook (Taranaki)
Jordan Maddix (Harbour A)
Lauren Hippolite (Canterbury)
Ella Bradley (Waikato)
Arielle Williams-Mckay (Waikato)
Tayla Dalton (Harbour A)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato) MVP