Paalvast and Taia crowned NBL1 Champions with Thunder

Tall Ferns Chevannah Paalvast and Ashley Taia will have bragging rights over international teammates Kalani Purcell and Ashley Karaitiana after the Logan Thunder toppled the Southern District Spartans in the NBL1 North Grand Final

The Thunder clinched Game 1 on Friday 63-61 but trailing by six points with under four minutes to play in Game 2 on Saturday it appeared as if the Spartans would take the season ending showpiece to a decisive third contest.

The Thunder were still three down inside the final minute only for Paalvast to make two game-winning plays.

With 29 seconds left on the clock the Tall Ferns guard tied proceedings (61-61) with a deep three. Then, after Mikaela Cann converted two free throws to put the Thunder ahead, Paalvast produced an athletic block to reject the Spartans game-tying shot as time expired.

The rejection produced an outpouring of joy from the Thunder supporters as they celebrated winning the inaugural NBL1 North Women’s Championship.

Paalvast finished with an impressive double-double of 13 points (2/2 3PG) and 10 rebounds while Ash Taia contributed six points.

It was a disappointing night for the Spartans and their Tall Ferns duo, with Karaitiana fouling out in just over five minutes to go and Purcell also exiting in the dying stages having scored five points and collected 10 rebounds.



Paalvast scored 20 points (6/17FG, 6/8FT) and Taia chipped in with 10 points as the Thunder opened the three-game series with a 75-71 victory.

Purcell scored 16 points (7/10FG) and Karaitiana had six, but in truth the Spartans were second best most of the night.

Logan led 33-29 at half-time and retained a four-point lead at the three-quarter mark (53-49). Paalvast and Taia combined for nine-straight Thunder points to stretch the advantage to nine points (71-62) with three minutes to play.

A Purcell three with the last play of the game made the score line a little closer – the Thunder had less than 24 hours to lick their wounds and prepare for game 2.



It was a tough physical encounter with 50 fouls called including a number of tech fouls resulting in four players, all starters, fouling out.

Whilst the Spartans looked the likely winners the Thunder never allowed the lead to become insurmountable, allowing Paalvast and captain Cann to steal the win.