The four ‘AA’ Schick Premierships begin tomorrow (September 4), which will determine which 48 schools will be attending the 2019 Schick Championships in October.
Seven of the 24 places available for the ‘AA’ Boys Schick Championships are up for grabs at the Zone One Schick Premierships.
It would come as a surprise if the top five teams from the Auckland Premier Competition don’t progress – Rangitoto College, St Kentigern College, Auckland Grammar, Westlake Boys and defending national ‘AA’ champions Rosmini College.
The penultimate spot will likely go to Mt Albert Grammar (MAGS), who finished sixth in the recently concluded Premier League. MAGS are in Pool D at Pulman Arena alongside Westlake and the pair will almost certainly find Senior A champions St Peter’s College their main challengers.
The seventh spot is up for grabs with Long Bay College, Northcote College, Mt Roskill Grammar, Macleans College and Liston College all fancying their chances.
From outside of Auckland, Whangarei Boys High School caused a few surprises last year and they will be targeting Macleans and Northcote when they meet in Pool B.
There are just five places to play for in Rotorua in the Zone 2 Premierships.
St John’s College heads the Waikato Schools Premier Championship and will be favourites to progress as the number one team from Pool A. Hot on their heels in the Waikato competition are Rotorua Boys High (Pool D), Tauranga Boys’ College and Hamilton Boys’ High.
Fraser High will likely be in the mix for the fifth spot, alongside Gisborne Boys’ High and Mount Maunganui College.
Zones 3 and 4 are each allocated six places for the trip to Palmerston North.
The Zone 3 Premiership will be held at the ASB Sports Centre in the capital and you must think the four semi-finalists in Wellington’s premier competition, the Pohlen Cup, will be favoured to take four of the places.
It will be hard to envisage Scots College not progressing from Pool B, which would then leave St Pat’s Silverstream battling with perennial powerhouse Palmerston North Boys’ High for the second quarter-final place in that pool.
Rongotai College is in Pool D and the fourth Pohlen Cup semi-finalist Tawa College is in Pool A. It appears to be a battle between St Pat’s, Kilbirnie and Wellington College to accompany Tawa in the quarter-finals.
In Pool C, defending champions Napier Boys High, the Super 8 champions, will be favoured, with New Plymouth Boys High, Upper Hutt College and Hutt Valley High each vying for a quarter-final spot and a shot at a top-six finish.
Who will accompany Rongotai to the quarters from Pool D? Hastings Boys’ High and Francis Douglas Memorial College will be eager to be that team.
The prestigious Thomson Trophy, contested by the top boys’ high schools in Canterbury, was decided last Tuesday, with Middleton Grange emerging as winners and as such will carry the favourites tag in Zone 4.
Despite losing the Thomson Trophy final, Cashmere High will be buoyed by their good showing during their recent tour of Auckland and will be one of the heavyweights. Timaru Boys’ High and Christchurch Boys’ High may well be in a straight shoot-out to get through from Pool A to the quarter-finals.
It will be a tight tussle in Pool B with St Thomas of Canterbury College and Rangiora High being huge threats for Otago Boys’ High and Nelson College.
Shirley Boys’ High sit in Pool C and are capable of upsetting anyone in the competition, but all eyes will be on Pool D! Christ’s College, St Andrews College and Waitaki Boys’ High all possess the game and players to contest a quarter-final berth.
The four Girls ‘AA’ Schick Premierships will also determine the 24 teams that will head to Palmerston North in October. Each of the four zones is allocated six places to progress to the Schick Championships.
2018 Schick National Champions St Peter’s School, Cambridge along with Hamilton Girls’ High are almost a certainty to advance from Zone 2 but the other four teams to advance is anyone’s guess.
Melville High and hosts Rotorua Girls’ High are strongly favoured, with Tauranga Girls College and Mount Maunganui College from the Bay of Plenty also being real threats.
Fraser High has a similar record to Rotorua in the Waikato Premier League, so they could also feature at the sharp end of the qualifying tournament.
Auckland Premier finalists Westlake Girls’ High and St Mary’s College are also a near lock in Zone 1 to go through, with the ever-improving Rangitoto College and Carmel College the next cabs off the rank.
Auckland Senior A finalists Epsom Girls’ Grammar and Baradene College are both more than capable of upsetting their more illustrious rivals.
Massey High will be in the play-off mix, so recent powerhouse MAGS will have a battle on their hands to progress.
Defending Champions Sacred Heart Girls, New Plymouth are many people’s favourites to repeat their 2018 Zone 3 title-winning exploits. It’s also hard to look past Sharp Cup (Wellington Premier League) finalist’s Hutt Valley High School and Queen Margaret College.
Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt has a talented young side but find themselves in a tough pool with Manukura and Hutt Valley. Manukura, the 2018 Schick Secondary Schools ‘A’ champions, have made the step up to the ‘AA’ arena and should be very competitive.
Palmerston North Girls’ High return with a core group of players from last year and appear to be in an arm wrestle with New Plymouth Girls’ High to make the quarter-finals from Pool D.
In Pool C, Napier Girls’ High and Wellington Girls’ College will expect to make the last eight but making the top-six to qualify for Nationals could be problematic.
Rangi Ruru Girls’ College won the Whelan Trophy, the pinnacle of Canterbury basketball, and should take care of business in Zone 4.
Rangiora High will likely progress with them from Pool B to the quarter-finals. In Pool A, Middleton Grange appears to be top dog. Otago Girls’ High has been inconsistent this season, but it would be a surprise if they don’t progress from Pool C.
Beaten Whelan Trophy finalists Christchurch Girls’ High and semi-finalists Kaiapoi High are accompanied by Waimea College and Avonside High in a competitive Pool D.