St John’s College wins the Mel Young Invitational Basketball Tournament

Three days of competitive Boys high school basketball concluded in Hamilton today with St John’s College winning the Mel Young Memorial Invitational tournament.

In their home gym, St John’s defeated Scots College 100-81.

Co-hosted by St John’s College and Hamilton Boys High School, the tournament featured eight premier North Island high school teams with a Waikato versus Wellington finale a fitting climax.

Scots took a 25-22 lead into the first quarter break but were comprehensively outscored 37-19 in the second frame with St John’s, much to the delight of the home crowd, boasting a 59-44 advantage at half-time.

Tafara Gapare had 25 points at half-time but it was Tai Wetere who stole the show in the third. The St John’s guard landing three triples on his way to a dozen points in the period as the hosts moved to an unassailable 84-65 lead at three-quarter time.

Understandably the pace slowed in the final quarter as both sets of players tired but there was time for Finn Lally (24 points) and Kael Robinson (23 points) to take their major contributions past the twenty-points mark.

Gapare was immense for Scots, the athletic forward scoring a game high 38 points to accompany countless rebounds and blocks. He received good support from Ahmed Essahaty (19 points) and Rufus Rusholme-Cobb (13 points) but denied the services of the influential Ezekiel Stallworth due to injury.

For St John’s forward Akiva McBirney-Griffin (15 points) the win completed a hat-trick of successes in 2020.

He has won the Mel Young Memorial and Waikato Schools title with St John’s, plus he was also a member of the Sal’s NBL Championship winning Otago Nuggets team in July.

“It means a lot to receive the trophy, it’s a big thing for me to come out here and win the trophy in my last year.

“I think we take it as our Nationals, we had some top schools here, some quality sides, and we are pleased to get the W,” said McBirney-Griffin.


• St John’s 100 – Finn Lally 24, Kael Robinson 23, Tai Wetene 19, Akiva McBirney-Griffin 15
• Scots 81 – Tafara Gapare 38, Ahmed Essahaty 19, Rufus Rusholme-Cobb 13


In the 3rd/4th play-off game Rotorua Boys High School defeated Tawa College 63-57. Tawa finished strongly but having trailed 48-32 at three-quarter time left themselves too much to do in the closing stages.


• Rotorua Boys 63 – Tu Kaha Cooper 18, Nabil Kone 13, Aiden Tonge 12
• Tawa College 57 – Tyson Thata-Paese 16, Piripi Korent 13, Sam Gold 9


Other Basketball New Zealand Sanctioned Secondary School Events:

North Island ‘A’ Schools Invitational Tournament

The North Island ‘A’ Invitational Tournament, hosted by Te Aroha Basketball Association and with eleven schools competing, is currently being held at the Te Aroha Events Centre.

The Grand Final will be played on Saturday: Girls Final at 5:15pm, Boy’s Final at 7pm. The games are being live streamed here.


Central Girls Invitational Tournament

The Central Invitational Tournament is also a three day affair taking place at the Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North. The tournament features several top girls schools including perennial powerhouse St Peter’s School Cambridge.

The Grand Final will be played on Saturday at 4:45pm and livestreamed here.