Almost three years – or more precisely 1,094 days – have elapsed between the end of the last Secondary Schools National Championships, and the 2022 edition which gets underway next Monday 3rd October.
It was back on 5 October, 2019 that Saint Kentigern College defeated Rosmini College 77-51 in the Boys ‘AA’ Grand Final, while St Peter’s School Cambridge held off a challenge from Hamilton Girls High School (78-66) to claim the Girls ‘AA’ championship.
On that occasion St Peter’s captain, Charlisse Leger-Walker set a unique record in being named Tournament MVP – for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. The Tall Ferns guard is now currently a junior (third year) at Washington State University, while also being named last week to the Tall Ferns tour of Australia in October.
Two days earlier in 2019, Dunedin’s Kavanagh College were deservedly crowned ‘A’ Girls Champions; seeing off the challenge of Te Aroha College 68-54 while the ‘A’ Boys title went to Opunake High School after they won a 58-56 nail-biter against St Kevin’s College.
Jack Andrew claimed 19 points and 18 rebounds that day, with the former St Kevin’s forward since going on to win two championships (2020 and 2022) with the Otago Nuggets in the Sal’s NBL. Andrew is currently a development player for the Perth Wildcats in the Australian NBL.
The C.A. Clarke and Stone Trophy – given to the Girl’s AA Schick National Champions – was first awarded in 1969 with Waimea College the inaugural winner.
Not since the heyday of Church College has one school dominated girl’s basketball to the degree that St Peter’s has in the last five competition years. After finishing third in 2014, the Cambridge-based school has won four of the last five championships and finished runners-up to St Mary’s College Wellington in 2017 – their record of 46 wins and 2 losses in the last 6 championships helping to illustrate their continued dominance.
But they are still a long way off from beating Church College’s winning record; the Hamilton school winning the title ten consecutive years (1990-1999) and on a record 20 occasions between 1981 and 2009. The only other schools to win the Girls title on multiple occasions are Hutt Valley High (2), Avondale College (2), Christchurch Girls High (3) and Logan Park High (2).
When St Kentigern College won their first-ever ‘AA’ Boys Championship in 2019, they became the 23rd school to win the Doug Harford Trophy – presented annually to the ‘AA’ Boys champions. The trophy has been competed for annually since the tournament began in 1968, when Tokoroa High School were the inaugural winners.
Church College won five championships in a row between 1984-1988 and a record total of 15 in total. Next best are Westlake Boys High School with 5 championships while Mairehau High School, Christchurch in the 1970’s and Rosmini College, more recently, have notched three championships. Meanwhile Rangitoto College, St Patrick’s College Kilbirnie, Palmerston North Boys High, Avondale College, St Patrick’s College Wellington and Christchurch Boys High have all lifted the Doug Harford Trophy on two occasions.
The ‘A’ championships, for schools with smaller school rolls, was contested for the first time in 2007 when Paeroa College won the girl’s title and Taumarunui College collected the boy’s trophy.
Opunake girls teams have tasted ‘A’ championship success on a record three occasions, with Buller High (2014 and 2010) the only other team with multiple wins. Taumarunui College followed that inaugural 2007 boys ‘A’ success with a repeat performance the following year. Stratford High (2017 and 2018) and St Kevin’s College, Oamaru (2013 and 2016) are the other boy’s multiple winners.
Best of luck to the 69 secondary school teams participating in the 2022 ‘A’ and ‘AA’ Championships – as they endeavour to write their own chapter in the rich history of the New Zealand Secondary Schools National Championships.