The Division 1 semi-final lineup in the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) has been confirmed following the completion of the final round of games over the weekend.
Harbour Breeze, the regular season champions, will play Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats and the other semi will feature Waikato Wizards and Auckland Dream – both games to be played at AUT Sports Centre on Friday July 5th. The four teams will be vying for a Grand-Final berth with that game, and the 3rd/4th play-off game, to be televised live on SKY Sport on Saturday from 2pm.
Emphasising the tightness of the competition Harbour Breeze jumped from fourth on the ladder at the start of the round to top after a successful ‘South Island Swing’. On Saturday the Breeze beat the Canterbury Wildcats 74-66 at Cowles Stadium and followed that with a comfortable 80-43 victory against AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush on Sunday in Dunedin.
Auckland Dream and Waikato Wizards both registered wins against Taranaki Thunder and in so doing finished with the same win/loss record as the Breeze (7-3), but with a better points differential the Breeze claim top placing on the WBC Division 1 ladder.
Saturday June 29, 1pm – Waikato Wizards 110 Taranaki Thunder 50
Charlisse Leger-Walker continued her sensational form since returning from injury by posting a rare triple double as Waikato Wizards wrapped up their regular season campaign with a 110-50 victory against Taranaki Thunder in Cambridge on Saturday.
In addition to notching a third consecutive thirty points haul (35 points) the young Tall Ferns guard dished 12 assists and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Rochelle Fourie was outstanding in a losing cause with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Thunder actually made the better start scoring the first six points of the game but were quickly hauled in by the Wizards who had a 33-13 lead at quarter time.
Turnovers were once again hurting Aarun Langton’s team, twenty by half-time presented Waikato with 35 of their 56 points as they led by 29 at the break.
In the second half Wildcats Head Coach Anthony Corban, just returned from Amsterdam where he guided the Tall Ferns to tenth place at the FIBA 3x3 Women’s World Cup, was able to give extended court time to his less experienced squad members – Reese Anderson, Breeje Schuler and Katie Jones grabbing their opportunities with relish.
Along with Fourie, Thunder were well served by Teesha Smith, Eva Langton and Tayla Murray who all battled away gamely in a losing cause.
The Wizards made it four wins in a row and will head into their semi-final game next Friday against Auckland Dream with confidence high.
Wizards 110 - Charlisse Leger-Walker 35/11r/12a, Ella Bradley 17/10r, Koha Lewis 12, Krystal Leger-Walker 11p/13r, Zarya Poulava 10
Thunder 50 – Rochelle Fourie 18/10r, Teesha Smith 9, Tayla Murray 9/8r,
Saturday June 29, 7.30pm – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 66 Harbour Breeze 74
The Breeze, on the back of 28 points (11/18FG) from Penina Davidson, locked in the fourth semi-final berth with a 74-66 victory against the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats at Cowles Stadium on Saturday night.
In addition to being a constant threat at the offensive end Davidson kept Russian forward Mareta Davydova to a relatively modest 9 points and 7 boards – her lowest rebounding count of the season.
The Breeze led 40-30 at half-time and on the back of a scoring spree from Davidson, Ella Fotu and teenage guard Emme Shearer increased their advantage to 21 points (60-39) late in the third quarter.
In front of a sizeable crowd at Cowles Stadium forwards Tessa Boagni (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Terai Sadler led a Wildcats revival in the final period. However the Breeze held the 2017 champions at bay as they bounced back from the home defeat to the Waikato Wizards in the last round.
Wildcats 66 –Tessa Boagni 17/12r, Terai Sadler 10, Mareta Davydova 9, Helen Matthews 8
Breeze 74 – Penina Davidson 28/13r, Emme Shearer 14, Ella Fotu 13, Deena Franklin 6/10r
Sunday June 30, 2.30pm – Taranaki Thunder 68 Auckland Dream 107
The Thunder remained winless in the regular season but did have the satisfaction of posting their highest score of their campaign after going down 107-68 to Auckland Dream.
The Dream, paced by 21 points from Tall Fern Natalie Taylor, broke a three-game losing streak as they set up the win with a 29-6 opening quarter.
Kalani Purcell, back from international duty with the Tall Ferns at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup, was in double-double territory with 13 points and 15 rebounds whilst Jordan Hunter, Sharne Pupuke-Robati, Shauna Povey and Riana Rangi-Brown all made double figure contributions. In addition Hunter, the leading assist provider in the league, dished off a season best 12 dimes.
Tara Clement and Raquel Sampson each scored 17 points in a spirited effort from the Thunder who claimed the last quarter 21-16 whilst Rochelle Fourie continued her productive campaign with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Thunder 68 – Raquel Sampson 17/9r, Tara Clement 17, Rochelle Fourie 13, Eva Langton 9/6a, Teesha Smith 8,
Dream 107 –Natalie Taylor 21, Kalani Purcell 13/15r, Shauna Povey 12, Jordan Hunter 11/12a, Sharne Pupuke-Robati 11, Riana Rangi-Brown 10, Becks van Kuyk 8/10r
Sunday June 30, 3.00pm – AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush 43 Harbour Breeze 80
Harbour Breeze clinched the regular season title at More FM Arena Edgar Centre on Sunday with a comprehensive 80-43 victory against AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush.
Penina Davidson (14 points and 13 rebounds), Deena Franklin (10 points and 10 rebounds) and Keeley Tini (11 points and 10 rebounds) all produced double-doubles as the Breeze dominated the front court battle winning the rebounding count 51-35 and amassing 54 points in the paint.
The Breeze won the opening period 28-10 and never looked back with the teenage guards Tayla Dalton and Emme Shearer benefitting from that rebounding advantage to score a number of points in transition.
Zoe Richards was once again the Gold Rush leading scorer with 12 points (4/9FG) but other than Nicole Ruske’s 8 points there was little support for the power forward.
Gold Rush 43 – Zoe Richards 12, Nicole Ruske 8, Hannah Matehaere 5, Olivia O’Neill 5
Breeze – 80 Tayla Dalton 15, Penina Davidson 14/13r, Keeley Tini 11/10r, Emme Shearer 11/6s, Yume Negishi 10, Deena Franklin 10 /10r
Article by Mike Lacey
WBC Division 1 Placings
7-3 Harbour Breeze* (+16)
7-3 Auckland Dream* (+12)
7-3 Waikato Wizards* (-28)
5-5 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
4-6 AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush
0-10 Taranaki Thunder
*Teams have same win/loss record with placings decided on points differential.
Watch selected 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship games through livestream on BBNZ’s Facebook @basketballNZ hashtag #NZWBC or website www.nz.basketball/tv.