Waikato and Waitakere West win Aon Under 17 Basketball Nationals

Waikato and Waitakere West win Aon Under 17 Basketball Nationals
The 2019 Aon U17 National Champions have been found with Waikato claiming the girls’ title and Waitakere West the boys’ championship in two exciting, hard fought finals.

Geoff Blampied, CEO of major sponsor Aon, said the games were a great spectacle of young Kiwi basketball talent. 

“The Under 17 Nationals were a great success with Waikato girls and Waitakere West boys coming first place, and a wonderful display of skill by Hutt Valley girls and Waitaha Canterbury boys who came in second. Congratulations to all grand-finalists for the great results.” 



Waikato won its third U17 Girl’s Championship in the last five years with a hard earned 70-63 overtime victory against Hutt Valley thanks largely to a haul of 36 points from Tournament MVP Jayze’lee Waihi.

It appeared that Nina Buot’s pair of free throws inside the final minute of regulation time had secured the title for Hutt Valley but a game tying basket from Waikato guard Breeje Schuler with 14.5 seconds left on the clock forced the game into overtime with the scores locked at 59 points apiece.

Industrious Waikato guard Alana Paewai (10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals) scored the first four points in overtime, and when Waihi added another four it was clear the title was heading down State Highway 1 to Hamilton.

A nervy opening ten minutes was shaded 16-12 by Waikato with captain Waihi making nine points.
Striving to win their first U17 title Hutt Valley began the second quarter with a 7-0 run with Selai To’ia earning visits to the foul line.

Waihi got the score ticking over again for Waikato and her triple late in the period cancelled out an identical score from Jyordanna Davey - the teams were level (26-26) at half-time.

Five straight points from Tia-Calais Remuera gave Hutt a six-point lead but an 11-3 run from Waikato, with Breeje Schuler (18 rebounds and 9 points) prominent, gave them a narrow 40-38 lead at the three-quarter mark.

Hutt guard D’stani Foley (15 points and 9 rebounds) opened the scoring in the fourth, but the irrepressible Waihi responded with eight straight points for her team as they led 48-47 with under six minutes to play.

Buot’s 11 points in the period looked as if it was enough to secure the championship for Hutt but Waihi and Waikato had other ideas.

Waihi was delighted with the win, her fourth national championship.

“It was a good win, it feels good! The work we did on defense and offense really paid off against a good Hutt team. The support from our managers, parents and siblings was really nice,” said Waihi, although she was extremely modest about her own outstanding display.

“The other players worked hard putting in a lot of off-the-ball work with cuts and screens to get me open. It was a real team performance with everyone contributing.”

Final score:

Hutt Valley 63 – D Foley 15/9r, N Buot 13, J Davey 10, C Wen 6, P Apineru 2/14r
Waikato 70 – J Waihi 36, A Paewai 10/9r, B Schuler 9/18r, R Anderson 6/9r, L Hemi-Ta’Ala 6

Referees: Danielle Kooge and Reagan Ashley

GIRLS’ 3rd/4th PLAY-OFF 

Harbour 75 – F Dallow 16, A Moore 12, Z Kailahi-Fulu 10, M Chatfield 9, M Boucher 7
Otago 61 – L Briggs 23, A Ring 21, A Samasoni 9


Waitakere West held off a fast finishing Waitaha Canterbury A to win 77-72.

Guard Lucas Payne scored 26 points (6/13 3PG) to lead Waitakere West to a 77-72 victory against Waitaha Canterbury A.

When Waitakere led by 19 points in the middle of the third period it looked as if Canterbury’s hopes were buried but, to their credit, they fought back to close within five points inside the last 60 seconds. Gregory Rodger (28 points) and Josh Book (26 points) led the Canterbury effort but it wasn’t quite enough to deny Waitakere the title.

The opening quarter was notable for the sharp shooting of Lucas Payne and Tournament MVP Dontae Russo-Nance as Waitakere forged a 22-16 lead. 

Rodger scored 8 points in the second period to lead all scorers with 15 points at the interval but an Ethan Skelton (13 points) three and a left-handed floater from Russo-Nance in the shadows of half-time gave Waitakere a 42-30 lead. 

When Waitakere opened the third frame with a 7-0 run Canterbury coach Ed Book needed a timeout.

The industrious Rodger scored on the resumption and when Book knocked down a three and Tanae Lavery added points it was a ten-point game at the last break (57-47).

Lavery and Book narrowed the deficit to six points, but Payne had the hot hands for Waitakere - his sixth three of the game keeping Waitakere ahead 67-58 with five minutes to play.

Ryan Pringle, Rodger and Book gave Canterbury hope, down 73-68 inside the last minute. Book gave the Waitakere supporters some anxious moments when he made a four-point play with 10.8 seconds to play but the Waitakere guards kept their poise, as they had done all tournament, to close out the game and cap an impressive unbeaten run through the 2019 championships. 

Waitakere West captain Ethan Skelton credited the togetherness off the team for the win.

“Some of us have been playing together since we were six or seven years old, so we were like brothers out there. We stayed tight as a group never doubting our coach and that pulled us through.”

Final score:

Waitaha Canterbury A 72 – G Rodger 28/9r, J Book 26/9r, T Lavery 8
Waitakere West 77 – L Payne 26, D Russo-Nance 17/7a, E Skelton 13/7a, T Wynyard 6/7r

Referees:  Hamish Dale and Sherhon Martin

BOYS’ 3rd/4th PLAY-OFF

Wellington 66 – T Gapare 23, B Gold 12, P Tapsell 7, K Lolesio 7, P Blackman 6
Harbour 64 – Z Riley 21, J Thompson 18, B Caldwell 8, P Winitana Jnr 6

We would like to acknowledge the continued support of major sponsor Aon. 

“The U17 Nationals were a great success with both Waikato and Waitakere West coming in first place, and we also saw wonderful displays of skill by Hutt Valley and Waitaha Canterbury A who came in second. Congratulations to all the teams,” said Geoff Blampied, CEO of major sponsor Aon.

Aon U17 Nationals Tournament Teams


Sataan Tawera – Auckland
Kazlo Evans – Waikato
Braydon Iuli – Tauranga
Josh Book – Waitaha
Jett Thompson – North Harbour
Ben Gold – Wellington
Greg Rodger – Waitaha
Tautoko Wynyard – Waitakere West
Ethan Skelton - Waitakere West
Dontae Russo- Nance – Waitakere West

Tournament MVP : Donte Russo-Nance


Reese Anderson - Waikato
Alana Paewai - Waikato
Tia-Calais Remuera - Hutt Valley
Florence Dallow - Harbour
Jyordanna Davey - Hutt Valley
Annabelle Ring - Otago
Odessa Lawson - Waitekere West
Savannah Cook - Auckland
Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu - Harbour
Jayze’lee Waihi – Waikato

Tournament MVP: Jayze’lee Waihi

About Aon

Aon is a leading global professional services firm with 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries. In New Zealand, Aon is the leading provider of insurance broking, risk management and associated services with over 950 staff in 65 offices, managing renewal placements and related revenues in excess of NZD $1 billion. For more information about Aon’s sponsorship of Basketball New Zealand please visit the website here: https://www.aon.co.nz/About-Aon/Sponsorships/Basketball-NZ or email sponsorshipsnz@aon.com