The NZ U15 Girls team have beaten Samoa 74-54 in the semi-finals of the FIBA U15 Oceania Champs. This win ensures that the Kiwis will make a Finals appearance against defending champs Australia tomorrow, while also locking New Zealand in for next year’s FIBA Asian championships.
Pahlyss Hokianga-Heather had another incredible game with 27 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 9 steals – just missing out on a quadruple double for the second game in a row. Sophia Hickey racked up 19 points and 11 rebounds while Graecyn Parahi also had a double-double with 10 & 11.
Bailey Flavell chipped in with a solid 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks, part of a strong defensive effort by the Kiwis that saw them limit Samoa to 29% shooting from the field.
For Samoa, Hiko had a huge game with 15 points, 21 rebounds and 4 blocks, while Harmony Seumanutafa scored 12 points and Riley Ese dropped in 11.
The first quarter saw Samoa make a 6-0 run to take the early lead, before a running hook by Hickey got the Kiwis on the scoreboard. Continuing her strong play from yesterday’s game, Hickey scored 6 straight for New Zealand; but it wasn’t enough to prevent Samoa from building a 12-6 lead as the Kiwi’s shot 2-8 from the field. Despite Samoa able to generate plenty of second chance efforts, the Kiwis were fortunate to take an 18-14 lead into the break thanks to a Hokianga-Heather floater.
Pahlyss continued her run in the second period, scoring 9 straight points and making a trio of steals over a two-minute stretch of play. But Samoa went on a 7-0 run to bring the score within 2 to end the half; 32-30 to the Kiwis in a low-scoring, turnover-prone (17) first half for NZ. Hokianga-Heather led all scores at half-time with 13 points on 6/9 shooting plus 5 steals, while Hickey put up 9 points and 5 rebounds; Flavell with 3 blocks and Stowers 2 as the Kiwis held Samoa to 31% shooting from the field.
Samoa was able to tie the game at 38 apiece on a putback score midway through the third quarter, but soon after New Zealand built back a 9 point lead thanks to buckets from Hickey, Parahi and Hokianga–Heather. Five straight points from Hiko ensured that Samoa went into the final quarter just three points behind New Zealand, with the stage set for a thrilling fourth quarter of action.
And it did not disappoint! Hokianga–Heather stepped up in the fourth, demonstrating her remarkable ability to control the game at both ends of the floor. With support from Flavell (5 points in the period), Pahlyss hit a pair of triples and layup along with 2 steals and 2 assists in the period – as the Kiwi girls outscored Samoa 24-7 in the fourth to run away with a 20-point victory.
The U15 Girls clash with Australia at 7.45pm NZT tomorrow in the Finals; catch it live on nz.basketball/tv
New Zealand 74 – Hokianga-Heather 27 PTS & 9 REB & 8 AST & 9 STL | Hickey 19 PTS & 11 REB | Parahi 10 PTS & 11 REB | Flavell 9 PTS & 9 REB & 3 BLK | Stowers 7 PTS | Rogers 2 PTS
Samoa 54 – Hiko 15 PTS & 21 REB | Seumanutafa 12 PTS | Ese 11 PTS
Quarter scores: 18-14, 32-30, 50-49, 74-54.
Full box score: http://bbnz.link/fc3am