After playing Quarter-Finals on Day 2, Semi-Finals on Day 3, we’re finally able to confirm the Finalists for the U23 Nationals | D-League competition for 2022.
Written by Mike Lacey
The Women’s D League Grand Final will be a North Island versus South Island affair with Etco Auckland Dream Black taking on Otago Gold Rush on Saturday afternoon at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland.
In the first semi-final on Friday the Etco Auckland Dream comfortably held off the challenge of the Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze winning the Battle of the Bridge 88-65.
Resolute defence and a superior shooting performance got the Dream home. In comparison to Harbour’s 2 from 22 from beyond the arc Auckland had six different players connect from deep for a combined 9 from 22 (40%).
Riana Rangi-Brown led the Dream scoring with 18 points, the livewire guard receiving able support from Summer-Jean Motufoua (16 points). Elianna Tuaiti, Casyn Buchman and Coola Baudry were also double figure contributors.
For the Breeze the Westlake Girls High duo of MacKenzie Chatfield and Izzy Pugh led the way with 20 points and 18 respectively.
The Dream set the tone early on – Rangi-Brown helping herself to 9 points in a 19-11 opening salvo.
Chatfield, having played for the Northern Kāhu in Wellington the night before, made 8 second quarter points for the Breeze but a triple from Dream player-coach Darci Finnigan kept her team in the ascendancy.
Another trey from Buchman helped further – Dream 37-33 ahead at half-time.
Dream quickly established a 10-point lead and when Trinity Paeu hit a baseline jumper the margin was up to 13 (54-41).
Pugh reduced the deficit back to 10 but it was just a brief respite as the Dream 3-point shooting heated up – closing the quarter with a 14-4 run they held all the cards at three-quarter time with a 68-48 lead.
The Breeze made a 6-0 run to threaten a comeback but it was a mere temporary inconvenience for the Dream as they comfortably advanced to Saturday’s final.
Dream 88 – Rangi-Brown 18, Motufoua 16, Baudry 11, Tuaiti 11, Buchman 10
Breeze 65 – Chatfield 20, Pugh 18/10rebs, Anderson 10, Negishi 7
In the second semi the all-South Island dual went the way of Otago Gold Rush defeating Canterbury 80-69.
Sophie Adams posted a big double-double of 24 points (9/12FG) and 13 points – Tyler Mitchell also played a good hand with 14 points. Hannah Matehaere joined Adams in double-double territory with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Caitlin O’Connell was within a point of a DD with 9 points and 10 rebounds. The rebounding numbers were heavily in favour of Otago as they won the battle on the boards 63-45.
Gemma Etheridge (9 points and 10 rebounds) and Hannah Mischewski (9 points) supported Nicole Gleason’s team high 21 points but it wasn’t quite enough to see off their southern neighbours.
Adams had 13 points to her name as Otago edged the opening quarter 21-19.
Gleason scored 9 points in the second period and with Tatiana Kaumoana draining a long three it was the Cantabs with the half-time advantage (36-33).
That lead was quickly erased by Matehaere before Annabelle Ring gave Otago the lead. Tyler Mitchell (14 points) made some telling scores as Gold Rush took the third 20-12 to lead 53-48 at the last break.
A Karereatua triple three minutes into the fourth pulled Canterbury to within a point (61-59) and a grandstand finish looked on the cards.
However Otago, as they had in the quarter final win against Waikato, controlled the closing minutes. They outscored Canterbury 11-2 over the following five minutes to establish a 72-61 advantage.
Canterbury were unable to put a dent in that lead, Otago marching on to a Dream final!
Gold Rush 80 – Adams 24, Mitchell 14, Matehaere 12, O’Connell 9
Canterbury 69 – Gleason 21, Herman 9, Etheridge 9, Mischewski 9
Men’s U23 Nationals
The Men’s U23 Nationals has come together and will see Taranaki take on Harbour in the Grand Final at 4:45pm on Saturday.
Porirua and Taranaki were the first to face off. Porirua sporting a team that had four signed NBL players for the Saints and the Jets combined leading the starting five. The first quarter showed what we were in for, as Taranaki shot out to a 26-21 lead over Porirua. By half time, that lead had turned into nine points and Porirua had some ground work to make up.
Francis Mulvihill looked dangerous from the three-point line, shooting 5-8 from the field at 62%. Evyatar Tabor did exactly the same as the Wellington duo scored a combined 46 points and shot 10-16 from three. Taranaki on the other hand were focused about their lead and growing it, extending it to 17 at one point and forcing Porirua to play catch-up for the majority of the game. Taranaki were excellent defensively and only conceded 12 fouls throughout the game, sending Porirua to the line on a handful of occasions. Foul trouble for Porirua meant that Taranaki were at the line more times than not, with 24 throughout the game. Taranaki shooting 70% from free throws, giving them 21/30 for the game.
While the game wasn’t over yet, Porirua fought back in the third quarter to take a short lead, bringing the game to 66-70. Step up Morgan Trott for Taranaki, scoring 25 points in his 38 minutes, along with 8 rebounds. Also call in Ben Carlile-Smith, who from his 38 minutes managed to grasp 13 rebounds, two blocks and 24 points. Benji Freeman off the bench clocked an impressive 23 points, seven rebounds but was stuck on four fouls for the remainder of the 4th quarter.
Taranaki ended up running away, forcing Porirua to foul in the last minute or so. While Mulvihill managed to bag a triple in the last 24 seconds to take the game to 86-93, Taranaki were too cool under pressure and ended up snapping free throws to secure a victory and to move onto the Grand Final.
Taranaki 96 – Trott (25PTS, 8REB, 2BLK), Carlile-Smith (24PTS, 14REB, 2BLK), Freeman (23PTS, 7REB)
Porirua 89 – Mulvihill (24PTS, 8REB, 5AST), Tabor (22PTS)
In the second Semi-Final, Hawke’s Bay took on Harbour in another close matchup. The first quarter ended with a narrow one point lead for Habour 19-20. Half-time was as different picture, with Hawke’s bay having a comfortable 12 point lead over the hosting team 46-34. It was going to take a big effort for Harbour to come back from this one.
The saying “Game of Two Halves” really showed as Harbour looked to swing the game back to an 11 point lead early in the fourth quarter. Jett Thompson came out to play, scoring 30 points in 28 minutes, shooting at 44%, but managing to earn points where his team needed it. Captain Reuben Fitzgerald topped a solid 19 points, shooting at 75% from free throws and helping Harbour gain needed points in the 3rd. He also bagged 11 rebounds.
A big player for Harbour came from Liam Judd, snatching five offensive rebounds and giving an opportunity for Harbour to score on the second chance side of the game. He totalled 13 rebounds and 13 points in his 30 minutes of court time. Hawke’s bay saw five players of theirs clocking 10 or more points. Jack Exeter played the full 40 minutes for his side, scoring 21 points and bagging 9 assists to share the ball around and make the most of opportunities. Tommy Fergusson for Hawke’s Bay also had 18 rebounds and 18 points in his time on court. He shot at 63% for the game with 7-11, making him their go-to player for points.
While the stats were very even throughout the game, Harbour ended up with more rebounds 53-46, giving them more opportunities to score. Especially from field goals, with 36-31 field goals against Hawke’s Bay. Harbour’s foul count let Hawke’s Bay back into the game near the end, but it wasn’t enough, with Harbour taking the win and progressing through to the Grand Final.
Hawke’s Bay 90 – Exeter (21PTS, 9AST), Fergusson (18PTS, 18REB), Murphy (17PTS, 9REB, 2BLK)
Harbour 93 – Thompson (30PTS, 7AST), Fitzgerald (19PTS, 11REB), Judd (13PTS, 13REB)
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