The 2023 Secondary Schools 3×3 National Championships concluded on Saturday. Played in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Pulman Arena the eight hard fought Grand Finals produced a fitting climax to the four day event.
Arguably the two most successful schools at the tournament were St John’s College, Hamilton and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu. St John’s contested four finals while Rotorua’s Te Koutu, with a roll of just 300 students, featured in three championship games.
However the two most prestigious titles, the Girls and Boys Senior Elite Championships, went the way of Tauranga Girls College and Rosmini College.
Girls Elite Final
Tauranga Girls College 11 Westlake Girls High School 8
Amy Pateman continued her fine shooting form in the tournament to open the scoring for Westlake.
Tauranga Girls were quick to respond, their first points courtesy of a bucket from Anika Hyland. The scoring kept rolling in Tauranga’s favour as Pahlyss Hokianga scored a brace of baskets three minutes in.
MVP Honey Cooney then stepped up with a series of shots that helped Tauranga Girls increase their advantage. A foul on Westlake sent Anika Hyland to the line to keep the momentum rolling; and a free throw added on making it 9-2 with less than five minutes remaining.
Lily Fotu broke the Westlake scoring drought before Rebecca Moors and Pateman, who once again carried a heavy contribution for Westlake, struck again with her signature long range shot with a little more than a minute remaining.
Hokianga and Cooney kept the scoring going for Tauranga and although Pateman converted from the free throw line with 30 seconds left Hokianga dropped a last second shot to ensure the championship trophy headed to Tauranga.
MVP – Honey Cooney, Tauranga Girls College
Boys Elite Final
Rosmini College 16 St John’s College 14 (AOT)
It’s early in the year but the Senior Boys Elite Final may qualify as one of the most exciting high school games of 2023. It will be especially memorable for Rosmini as the team overcame a five points deficit to force overtime before claiming the title.
The game started in favour of St. Johns, who wasted no time with getting the scoring underway thanks to an opening shot courtesy of Kobe Reed with less than 10 seconds passed. It didn’t take long for Rosmini to get on the board as Chris Wyllie answered with bucket to tie proceedings.
Further scoring contributions from Elias Lepou, Sam Maggof and Mahnaya Heke kept St. Johns in the lead for the majority of the game, however the North Shore team didn’t give up. Trailing 11-6, Rosmini’s comeback was spearheaded by Zion Anderson.
Anderson made a crucial basket either side of scores from the Wylie brothers Chris and Josh then added another point to trim the deficit to 11-10 with two minutes remaining.
Lepou gave St. John’s a 12-10 advantage, then Anderson again pulled Rosmini within one.
In a frantic finish a Harlan Roudon 2-pointer put Rosmini 13-12 ahead – Reed knotted the scores then, after he and Anderson exchanged scores, overtime ensued.
Rosmini started overtime with a quick basket from Roudon to put his team ahead 15-14. With the intensity increasing it was Anderson, the Grand final MVP, that made the winning shot as Rosmini claimed a 16-14 come from behind win.
MVP – Zion Anderson, Rosmini
Girls Open Final
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu 11 Takapuna Grammar School 6
A tumbling layup from Mania Watson and a baseline two from Mackenzie Mackereth gave Takapuna some early momentum but Te Koutu struck back immediately through Iranui Stone-Taylor.
Takapuna were well in the contest trailing 5-4 but, forced to play with just three players due to an injury to Carmen Selby, ran out of steam in the closing stages.
Te Koutu were able to take full advantage winning the closing stages 5-1 to complete the victory with a degree of comfort.
Waikimihia Douglas-Karauna and Waiheke Rio, with three points apiece, led the scoring for the victors.
MVP – Waiheke Rio, Te Kura O Te Koutu
Boys Open Final
St John’s College Phoenix 13 Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu 6
The Te Koutu defensive intensity paid dividends in the early stages as they carved out a three point advantage with scores from Hawaiki Leach and Tanu Tahana-Worrall.
Scoring was of a premium in the early minutes with both teams locking down on defence. It was just four points each at the mid-point of the game and five apiece with 3:30 to play.
However from that point it was all St John’s. Oliver Wilson got through some telling work inside but it was Carter Hamlin that broke the game open nailing a couple of free-throws and then landing a deep two.
Any chance of a Te Koutu comeback were finally buried when Dylan Hau’s 2-point attempt bounced high off the back of the rim before, after what seemed an eternity, dropping through the net.
MVP – Carter Hamlin, St Johns Falcons
Girls Elite Final
Rotorua Girls High School 7 Westlake Girls High School 5
Westlake, looking to claim the title they won in 2019, scored the first 2 points of the contest courtesy of Brydie McMillan before Sahara Katene reeled off four straight points to put Rotorua ahead.
Keira Lazaro extended Rotorua’s advantage before a Katie Moors bucket pulled Westlake within one. Imani Rasmussen then tied proceedings at 5-5 with 2:30 on the clock in a contest that could have gone either way.
However it was Katene that tilted the game in favour of Rotorua and then Lazaro with the telling blow inside the final ninety seconds to make it a two-point advantage.
Westlake were unable to respond – Rotorua the champions!
MVP – Sahara Katene, Rotorua Girls
Boys Elite Final
St John’s College Falcons 10 Tauranga Boys College 9
With time expired Arama Te Rangi sunk a game winning free throw to give St John’s a 10-9 victory over familiar foe Tauranga Boys College.
Te Rangi had earlier scored St John’s first three points before Regan Hickton hit back for Tauranga as they took a 5-3 lead.
St John’s scored the next four points through Will Macfie and Te Rangi before Joel Whinney tied it at 7-7. Soon it became 8-8, then 9-8 to St John’s courtesy of Macfie.
Tauranga weren’t finished with Hickton levelling proceedings inside the last sixty seconds. Both teams had further opportunities to score but, after being fouled, it was Te Rangi that held his nerve at the foul line to clinch the win and the title.
MVP – Arama Te Rangi, St Johns Falcons
Girls Open Final
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu 15 Hamilton Girls High School 9
Playmaker Karly Kaio controlled the early exchanges as Te Koutu scored the opening four points of the game.
Another score from Kaio and a bucket from Marewa Waerea-Tamai made it 8-3 at the mid-point before HGHS staged a comeback.
Mia Christensen and Tiana Hill-Brown landed a brace of 2-balls to add to Bella Kraenzlin’s single .
That revival was short lived however. Waerea-Tamai took her personal tally to 9 points and with another score coming from Bella Wharekura, Te Koutu were able to control the tempo in the final couple of minutes to close out the victory in comfortable fashion.
MVP – Marewa Waerea-Tamai, Te Kura O Te Koutu
Boys Open Final
Mt Albert Grammar School 10 St John’s College Condors 8 (AOT)
An arching two in overtime from Dylan Yare iced a thrilling final won 10-8 in overtime by Mount Albert Grammar School.
After the scores were tied 7-7 in regulation Kautu Maeuea put St John’s one up before Jack Lawrence knotted the thriller at 8 points apiece.
Both teams had multiple opportunities to land the winner but it was Yare that eventually found the net before being swamped mid court by the jubilant MAGS players and supporters.
Yare had also been the standout in the opening minutes scoring the first five points of the game. St John’s found answers from Jaylam Rohorua and Hunter Te Akau but trailed 7-3 with four minutes to play.
St John’s then upped the defensive intensity and held MAGS scoreless in those closing minutes. Seb Gibbs made a couple of scores and then it was Jesse Boyton that landed the tying basket inside the final 20 seconds of regular time.
From there the excitement mounted before Yare nailed the winner.
MVP – Dylan Yare, Mt Albert Grammar