Taranaki and Dream Take Out U23 & D-League – Day Four Recap

Day four featured close games all around the stadium, but the two finals were games that couldn’t be missed. Here’s a recap on what happened in the D-League Final and the U23 Nationals Final.

D-League Grand Final 

Written by Mike Lacey

Etco Auckland Dream have been crowned the 2022 Women’s D League champions after defeating the Otago Gold Rush 60-74 at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday.

The victory was far from straight forward with a resolute Gold Rush out of the blocks the quicker opening up an 11-6 lead, extended to 16-10 at the quarter mark.

In a contrast of styles the guard dominant Dream were being outworked by the front court orientated Gold Rush but made an adjustment in the second. Moving to a two-forwards axis produced immediate dividends as Coola Baudry and Trinity Paeu combined to reduce the deficit to one point.

Baudry gave the Dream its first lead of the game – a dominant second spell meaning they held a 34-29 lead at half-time.

The momentum remained with the Dream at the start of the third with the guards taking their turn to inflict damage – Summer Jean Motufoua, Darci Finnigan and Riana Rangi-Brown taking them to a 45-33 lead.

The response came from Hannah Beede and Sophie Adams (14 points and 18 rebounds), although Rangi-Brown (11 points in the quarter) had the last say of the period – 56-44 the Dream lead with 10 minutes to play.

Twenty points down at the mid-point of the fourth Otago weren’t throwing the towel in – Hannah Matahaere initiated a 7-0 run to fuel the optimism of the travelling supporters.

Fittingly player-coach Darci Finnigan and Tournament MVP Rangi-Brown (25 points) were the next two scorers as the Dream snuffed out the Gold Rush challenge to deservedly take the title.

Overall, it has been a good week for Otago basketball.

A week after the Sal’s NBL success of the Otago Nuggets the Gold Rush contested the D League Final. They weren’t able to clinch victory but can be mighty proud of a second-place finish.


Auckland Dream 74 – Rangi-Brown 25, Baudry 12, Motufoua 12, Finnigan 9

Otago Gold Rush 60 – Matahaere 15, Adams 14/18rebs, Mitchell 10, Beede 9

Referees – Corey Hogg, Brad Clive, Taylor Lynch


The 3rd/4th place game went the way of Canterbury after they defeated Harbour Breeze 73-65.

Canterbury: N Gleason 19, K Herman 17, L Pale 14, H Mischewski 9, K Williams 9

Harbour: H Wentworth 19, Y Negishi 12, N Scales 11, I Pugh 9


U23 Nationals Grand Final

A crowd turned up to watch what would be a Grand Final of the ages. Taranaki fought their way through pool play, past significant challenges in their semi-finals to reach this moment. Winning only just against Otago 96-90, and beating Porirua by 7 96-89, it was all down to this last game. Harbour played their best, and came up against a challenging Hawke’s Bay who they managed to defeat 93-90 in the dying minutes of their semi-final to send them to the Grand Final.

In what could be described as the quickest basket we’ve ever seen, Liam Judd slammed the ball home in two seconds from a Dallas Clayton won jump ball from Harbour, setting the intensity straight away for a fast-paced Grand Final. Taranaki and Harbour exchanged points, blow after blow to send it to 23 a piece at the end of the first. Taranaki struggled from deep early on, scoring all but three of their points under the basket. Going 1/10 from three point range early was a sign that driving the ball in would be their best chance at securing points. The second quarter wasn’t much different for either team, as the scores stayed very close at 46-44. Taranaki put on the jets in the third quarter, making it out to a 12 point lead during it, making Harbour play catchup for the majority of the quarter. Ben Carlile-Smith wasn’t about to let the game slide as he knocked over 23 points in total. Benji Freeman, a force from the Taranaki team came from the bench and played 30 minutes with 23 points, shooting at 71% from 2PT and nabbing nine rebounds. The score settled at 74-68 at the end of the 3rd, with Taranaki looking in full control of the game, but the comeback started. Harbour persisted, shot shots and took rebounds, scoring 10 more rebounds than Taranaki all up with 57-47. Jett Thompson wasn’t going down without a fight, scoring a game-high of 31 points, bagging nine rebounds and stealing the ball twice. Liam Judd also had a lot to say with 27 points in his 27 minutes. With the clock counting down, Harbour took the lead in the dying minutes, but it wasn’t enough to stop Taranaki’s Benji Freeman making a 2pt layup with 16 seconds left to play. Harbour had their chances to score within the final phase but couldn’t capitalise on their lead from moments ago. Taranaki held the game out to win 97-95 in a thrilling U23 Nationals Grand Final.


Taranaki 97– Carlile-Smith (23 PTS, 7 REB, 2 BLK), Freeman (23 PTS, 9 REB, 2 BLK).

Harbour 95– Thompson (31 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST), Judd (27 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST)

Referees – Tayla Ammunson, Mikey Graham, Reagan Ashley



Tournament Teams

D-League Tournament Team U23 Nationals Tournament Team
Alyssa Hirawani Waikato
Hannah Wentworth Harbour
Nicole Gleeson Canterbury
Karereatu Williams Canterbury
Sophie Adams Otago
Caitlin O’Connell Otago
Hannah Matahaere Otago
Darci Finnigan Auckland Dream Black
Trinity Paeu Auckland Dream Black
Riana Rangi-Brown Auckland Dream Black
MVP – Riana Rangi-Brown
Tom Cowie Southland
Zach McKenzie Auckland
Tommy Ferguson Hawke’s Bay
Jack Exeter Hawke’s Bay
Francis Mulvihill Porirua
Jett Thompson Harbour
Morgan Trott Taranaki
Ben Carlile-Smith Taranaki
Benji Freeman Taranaki
Liam Judd Harbour
MVP – Ben Carlile-Smith


Final results and Team Placings will be displayed on the U23 Nationals | D-League page. You can also find all of the games with LiveStats as well as the replays of select games from day three and day four.