Aon U19 National Basketball Championships won by Waikato Women and Canterbury Men

After two highly entertaining finals Canterbury Men and Waikato Women were crowned champions at the 2021 Aon Under 19 National’s held at Eventfinda Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore tonight.


Aon U19 Nationals Women’ Final

On the back of a big double-double from Dominique Stephens (23 points and 19 rebounds), and some outstanding shooting from their guards, Waikato outlasted Canterbury winning the Women’s title 92-75.

Looking for their first Women’s U19 Championship title since 2014, Canterbury made the perfect start when Molly Cockburn scored from their first possession.

Canterbury’s early advantage soon evaporated as Stephens and Tournament MVP Breeje Schuler (23 points) found points easy to come by.

Te Rina-Pareamio Cooper and Katie van den Bogaert lifted Canterbury hopes with a brace of threes but Waikato were 24-16 ahead at quarter time.

Hannah Crabtree got in on the three-point scoring action for Canterbury but Reese Anderson and Quaye Walker-Eketone were quick to reply from the land of plenty forcing Canterbury coach Josh Thompson to call a timeout with his charges trailing 42-25.

Anderson’s three on the half-time buzzer capped an outstanding first half display. Canterbury had played some good basketball but somehow found themselves 56-36 adrift.

Anderson made a perfect 4 from 4 from deep as her team shot an incredible 70% (22/31) from the field and 77% (7/9) from deep in a mightily impressive first half display.

Cooper opened the second half scoring but the omens were not good when Ashlee Strawbridge hit the bench after picking up her fourth foul.

However Canterbury produced a stirring fight back, as they outscored their opponents in the third quarter to trail 75-60 with ten minutes to play.

Having absorbed Canterbury’s best punches in the third Waikato had few alarms protecting their lead in the fourth quarter.

“It was a great game and it’s always good to win a championship,” remarked Waikato co-captain Breeje Schuler.

“Reese (Anderson) hit some threes and shot the lights out at one stage, Melika was strong as always but everyone played amazing,” she added.

For Melika Samia the victory capped a good ten days. The youngest attendee at the recent Sky Sport Tall Ferns Selection Camp, she had little rest before heading to the U19 championships.

“I knew it was going to be pretty hard playing on the back of the camp. But I’m really stoked and the girls played great,” she enthused.

The win was Waikato’s sixth Women’s U19 title in the last ten championships.


Final Score:

Canterbury  75 – Cockburn 21, Strawbridge 13, Mischewski 12, Crabtree 10p/10r

Waikato 92 – Stephens 23, Schuler 23, Samia 14, Anderson 14, Walker-Eketone 10


Referees: Tamatea Bennett, Danielle Kooge and Brittany Young


Women’s 3rd/4th Play-off

Waitakere West 84 – Te Nana-Williams 22, Matiseni 14, Leslie 12, Lawson 11

Taranaki 77 – Sampson 16, Williams 16, Omelvena-Ngatai 16, Hardy 9, Syrus 9


Women’s Tournament Team:

Amaree-Wikitoria Ross-Simi (Wellington)

Safena Te Nana-Williams (Waitakere)

Annabelle Ring (Otago)

Raquel Sampson (Taranaki)

Dominique Stephens, Melika Samia, Breeje Schuler (all Waikato)

Molly Cockburn, Ashlee Strawbridge, Hannah Mischewski (all Canterbury)

Women’s Tournament MVP

Breeje Schuler (Waikato)


Final Team Placings:

1st Waikato

2nd Canterbury

3rd Waitakere

4th Taranaki

5th Otago

6th Wellington

7th Rotorua

8th Harbour

9th Manawatu

10th Northland



Aon U19 Nationals Men’s Final

The Men’s Final produced a high quality contest eventually won 93-88 by Canterbury in overtime. It was a game that had no fewer than 11 lead changes in addition to being tied on 12 occasions.

Ezrah Vaigafa was terrific for Wellington making the tying basket in regulation time and then scoring all 8 of his team’s points in overtime.

Birthday boy Josh Book scored the go ahead basket for Canterbury at the beginning of overtime but Wellington were relentless in their pursuit of victory and it wasn’t until Aidan Tonge put his team four points ahead (92-88) with 20 seconds to play that the Cantabs could contemplate victory.

Wellington scored the first 5 points of the game but it was Canterbury with a slim 21-20 first quarter lead – 9 points in the period for Walter Brown.

The intriguing contest was equally tight in the second spell, Canterbury ahead 47-45 at the main break. Canterbury’s Ben Freeman lead all scorers with 18 points, that included 4 made threes, while Waikato’s Kael Robinson tallied 15 points.

A tip-in from the influential Dallas Clayton edged Wellington ahead 56-55 midway through the third frame but, in keeping with the storyline of the contest, that quickly became a Canterbury lead on the back of a Zach Hannen bucket.

A low scoring period ended with Canterbury ahead 62-60.

The fourth quarter was a cliff hanger as both teams nervously jostled for superiority.

Brown gave Canterbury a 7-point buffer with 3:20 to play but just as Canterbury supporters were contemplating victory a corner three from Thomas Johnson gave Wellington fresh impetus.

That impetus continued as Clayton scored inside giving Wellington a single point lead with 2:13 to play.

Further lead changes ensued before Vaigafa came up with the game tying drive to force the game into overtime.

His heroics continued in the extra period but it wasn’t enough to deny Canterbury a fourth title in seven years – probably none have been quite as hard to secure.

Outstanding Canterbury guard Josh Hannen was full of praise for his team and their opposition.

“Wellington were great opponents today and pushed us all the way.”

Despite leading for the duration of overtime Hannen said his team couldn’t relax at any stage.

“We took nothing for granted and had to play every possession. We trusted in each other, stuck together and we are delighted to come away with the win,” he added.


Final Score:

Canterbury 93 – Brown 24, Tonge 20, Freeman 20, Book 13, Hannen 12

Wellington 88 – Robinson 20, Vaigafa 18, Clayton 15, Johnson 9


Referees: Toni Smith-Hunwick, Reagan Ashley and Aimee-Jo Clarke


Men’s 3rd/4th Play-off

Harbour 86 – Riley 24, Martin 17, Kooiman 12, Natusch 10

Otago 77 – Reeves 23, Ruske 21, Hartmann 12


Men’s Tournament Team:

Alex McNaught (Nelson)

Tu Kaha Cooper (Northland)

Jackson Smyth (Auckland)

Michael Ruske (Otago)

Christian Martin (Harbour)

Tommy Fergusson (Hawkes Bay)

Ezra Vaigafa, Kael Robinson (both Wellington)

Aidan Tonge, Josh Book (both Canterbury)

Men’s Tournament MVP

Josh Book (Canterbury)


Final Team Placings:

1st Canterbury

2nd Wellington

3rd Harbour

4th Otago

5th Hawkes Bay

6th Auckland

7th Northland

8th Waikato

9th Waitakere

10th Nelson

11th Harbour B

12th Tauranga

13th Southland

14th Taranaki

15th Manawatu

16th Counties Manukau


For the draw and results click here.