After three days of exciting action at the Pulman Arena in South Auckland, the finalists of the Aon U15 National Championships have been found.
The Girl’s Final will be between Waikato and Tauranga, with the Boy’s Final set to feature Canterbury and Waitakere West A – after both prevailed in close contests.
Day 3 Girl’s and Boy’s Semi-Finals
Girl’s Semi-Final (1): Tauranga 85 Rotorua 81
Tauranga beat Rotorua 85-81 in a thrilling girl’s semi-final that produced some stunning scoring performances. For Tauranga, the Broughton twins amassed a combined 68 points, with Charis scoring 43 and Shamar 25, while Sahara Katene was also exceptional in tallying 31 points for Rotorua.
Shamar Broughton opened the scoring for Tauranga, Ngahirata Haumaha doing likewise for Rotorua. Broughton scored the first 8 points for Tauranga and with Riley McClenaghan adding a transition basket, their lead was 10-6.
Rotorua hit back strongly – a Kahurangi Taute-Collier and-1 play capping a 9-0 run. With Marewa Waerea-Tamai converting an arching three, the Rotorua lead was 22-13 at quarter time.
Taute-Collier scored an inside basket with the reply coming from Charis Broughton. Charis scored again forcing Rotorua Coach Aroha Haumaha to call a timeout. The Broughton’s made it 10 points on the bounce as the gap narrowed to four points (29-25); Jayla Teki and Charis teaming up to give Tauranga the lead.
Aliyah Stone-Taylor’s triple put Rotorua ahead again – in a half where the lead changed on ten occasions, it was Rotorua with the edge at the interval 41-36. A neat left handed finish by Taute-Collier was cancelled out by Isabelle Gillard, with Katene and Charis then exchanging scores – Rotorua ahead 47-44.
A pair of Charis triples were made either side of a Stone-Taylor three as the pace quickened. What quickened even more was the pace at which Charis Broughton was scoring – her fourth triple of the quarter giving her a stunning 24 points in the period as Tauranga took a 69-53 lead into the final ten minutes.
Charis dropped her fifth triple ahead of the impressive Katene scoring back-to-back buckets, taking her personal tally into the twenties as Rotorua remained within ten (74-64). Katene continued to find holes in the Tauranga defence; reducing the Tauranga lead to 74-67 with just under 5 minutes to play – and when Taute-Collier scored in transition, the deficit was down to a single possession (74-71) with 3:30 left.
McClenaghan steadied the Tauranga ship from the foul line before the Katene v Broughton’s contest went to the next level – 83-79 with 1:30 to play. Rotorua, who contributed greatly to an absorbing contest, couldn’t quite steal the contest that neither side deserved to lose.
Girl’s Semi-Final (2): Waikato 105 North Harbour 41
In a rematch of the 2022 U15 National Championship Grand Final, Waikato reversed last year’s result with a resounding 105-41 victory over North Harbour A.
Lily Ashton (21 points), Keija Miringaorangi (20 points), Hinemaioha Rolleston-Gabel (17 points) and Eva Jeffries (13 points and 6 assists) produced outstanding performances for Waikato, with Lisa Gear (11 points) the best for Harbour.
Both teams opened their scoring with triples – Maddison Skelton for Harbour and Eva Jeffries for Waikato. Hinemaioha Rolleston-Gabel was prominent as Waikato forged a 17-9 lead. Zahara Tibbotts took Harbour into double figures, before Lily Ashton moved Waikato into the twenties.
Keija Miringaorangi scored as first quarter time expired – Waikato ahead 27-13. Lisa Gear scored in transition for Harbour but scores from Calais Topia-Chesley and Eva Jeffries had Waikato 35-19 in front. Eva Jeffries made a floater followed by a left hander off the glass as the Waikato lead hit 20 points. Miringaorangi had the last say of the half – Waikato in control, ahead 55-23.
Nine points from Miringaorangi and 8 points from Eva Jeffries helped Waikato stretch their lead to 80-32 at three-quarter time. Waikato cruised through the closing stages ahead of their Grand Final showdown with Tauranga on Saturday.
Boy’s Semi-Final (1): Canterbury 75 Hutt Valley 69
Canterbury recovered from a 19-point deficit to claim a place in the Grand Final, with a 75-69 victory over Hutt Valley. Arana Robertson led all scorers with 28 points for Hutt while Hoani Ifopo-Togia paced Canterbury with 23 points and 11 rebounds; Valentino Swainson with 15.
The opening score went the way of Hutt Valley’s Arana Robertson, his team scoring the first 12 points of the game. Hoani Ifopo-Togia put Canterbury on the board but when Teina Montgomery dropped his second triple, Hutt were 19-2 ahead and Cantabs coach Dave Langrell needed a timeout.
The Joshs’ Shannahan and Breitmeyer scored on the resumption and what was a 19-point Hutt lead was down to 10 points (24-14) at quarter time.
Ifopo-Togia opened the second quarter scoring before Hutt embarked on another 9-2 run to widen the margin. Bruno Thompson was all over the offensive glass – his put back giving the yellow and green’s a 36-22 advantage. Marco Sua nailed a triple on his introduction to the action but Hutt were in control at half-time leading 46-32.
Hoani Ifopo-Togia all scorers at the break with 14 points, while Thompson and Arana Robertson had 13 apiece for Hutt.
Canterbury made an ideal start to the second half scoring the first 8 points; an athletic finish from Tawhiri Cate prompting a timeout from Hutt coach Jackson Stubbins. Hutt opened their second half account but their lead had been trimmed to 48- 43 at the mid-point of the third period.
Valentino Swainson and Teina Montgomery exchanged scores ahead of a triple from Converse Tahere – the Hutt lead down to two points. Roma Tuimaunei gave Canterbury parity before Ifopo-Togia’s breakaway dunk gave them their first lead of the game. The quarter was dominated by the Mainlanders (26-6), who carried a 58-52 lead into the three-quarter time break.
Robertson halved the Canterbury lead, and with the advantage increased to seven points the Hutt skipper converted from deep again – Canterbury ahead 64-60 with 4 minutes to play.
A baseline jumper from Swainson increased the margin – the teams exchanging baskets meaning the Cantabs led 71-64 with 1:20 to play. Robertson’s and-1 trimmed the lead, but Breitmeyer came up with an identical play to seal the deal for Canterbury.
Boy’s Semi-Final (2): Waitakere West 75 Hawkes Bay 72
A second tight, exciting Boy’s Semi-Final was edged 75-72 by Waitakere West A against Hawkes Bay. Jackson Ball was outstanding for the Bay with 44 points and 14 rebounds, while for Waitakere Ronald Juan (23 points), Kingston Kailahi-Aso (16 points) and Brigham Hakaraia (14 points and 10 rebounds) made key contributions.
Hawkes Bay made the better start, putting on 22 points in the opening five minutes to lead by ten with Ball having 15 points during this stretch. Ball went 4 from 6 from beyond the arc in the opening spell, but 11 points from Juan ensured that Waitakere were in touch with the margin just 4 points (27-23).
Tamaiakina Edwards-Butler and Jack Pauga each nailed triples, before Josiah Skeen’s inside basket kept the Hawkes Bay lead in single figures. Another inside make from Waitakere forward Kailahi-Aso helped their cause, but it was the 31 points from Ball that was the difference at the main break with the Bay ahead 46-40.
Waitakere scored the first 8 points of the second half, a Jack Pauga score tying proceedings before Skeen gave the locals them their first lead of the game. With the game tied at 53 points apiece midway through the third, Eddie Deck restored the Hawkes Bay lead with Tyler McDonald and Reece Bedford making it a six-point margin (61-55) by three-quarter time.
Kailahi-Aso baskets preceded a deep three from Pauga; Waitakere within a single score with six minutes to play. Ball free throws made it a 5-point game, Kailahi-Usu again in business down low ahead of Juan making a difficult layup look easy.
Brigham Hakaraia and Kailahi-Usu made consecutive baskets; the local support erupting as Waitakere took a five point lead inside the last two minutes, puinctuated by a deep three from Jaun at the 1:29 mark to put Waitakere 75-67 ahead.
The Bay weren’t finished, as Ball scored on consecutive possessions to reduce the margin to three points (75-72) with 27 seconds to play. Hawkes Bay earned one more possession but couldn’t convert it into points.