After four days of thrilling action, involving 141 games at the Pulman Arena in South Auckland, the 2023 Aon U15 National Championships have been crowned – with Waikato claiming the Girl’s title and Canterbury A the Boy’s champions.
Girl’s Final: Waikato 92 Tauranga 74
Waikato pulled away in the second half to claim the Girl’s Championship. Ahead by just two points at half-time, Waikato – paced by Tournament MVP Eva Jeffries (31 points and 7 steals) – took control of the second half.
Waikato also enjoyed double figure contributions from Keija Miringaorangi (13 points), Lily Ashton (12 points and 10 rebounds), Aotea Nordstrom (15 points and 11 rebounds) and Hinemaioha Rolleston-Gabel (10 points and 11 rebounds).
A valiant Tauranga side enjoyed major contributions from Shamar and Charis Broughton; the former with 27 points and 10 rebounds while the latter tallied 26 points.
The opening score of the game went the way of Waikato courtesy of captain Eva Jeffries – answered immediately by Shamar. A Charis steal and layup gave Tauranga a 10-2 lead and Waikato Coach Tyler Wilkinson needed a timeout.
Miringaorangi drew the required response with a score and when Jeffries again found the net with a floater, the Tauranga lead was 10-8. A Charis three kept Tauranga in the lead, but not for long as a put-back from Hayley Ford gave Waikato a 14-13 lead.
Ford then converted from deep as did Miringaorangi – replies from Rylee Morgan and Shamar also coming from downtown – as the first quarter finished with Waikato ahead 24-20. In response, Tauranga outscored their opponents 11-6 in the first five minutes of the second period to lead 31-30. Anna Hardie made the lead three points, before back-to-back-to back scores from Aston.
Tauranga found answers from Jayla Teki and Shamar to retain the lead before Jeffries (15 points in the half) and Rolleston-Gabel gave Waikato a narrow 44-42 half-time advantage; Shamar leading all scorers at the interval with 17 points.
Waikato opened the second half with an 10-2 run that included a couple of scores from Rolleston-Gabel. Desperate for a score, Charis obliged from deep before Jeffries took her tally into the twenties – Waikato ahead 61-49 at the mid-point of the third.
A dominant third frame, in which Tauranga were held to just 12 points, concluded with Waikato 70-54 ahead and with one hand on the trophy. Southpaw forward Calais Topia-Chesley and Teki exchanged scores but when Miringaorangi scored with a straight line drive the Waikato lead was up to twenty.
Tauranga refused to give up – Anna Hardie and Shamar stringing together eight straight points – Waikato ahead 82-69 with 4:30 to play. That run was ended by free throws from Ashton and Miringaorangi – the Waikato supporters able to celebrate their team’s unbeaten run through the championship. Box Score: http://bbnz.link/fwq9o
Girl’s Bronze Medal Game: Rotorua 84 Harbour A 67
Rotorua registered a 84-67 victory over Harbour A in the bronze medal game. The winner’s were led by 23 points from Ngahirata Haumaha and 20 from Kahurangi Taute-Collier; Sahara Katene chipping
in with 14 and Marewa Waerea-Tamai 13. Harbour A saw Maddison Skelton tally 23 points, with Lisa Gear adding 14 and Ella Drake 10. Box Score: http://bbnz.link/m2ue4
Boy’s Final: Canterbury 89 Waitakere West 82
Canterbury withstood a late charge from Waitakere West to claim the Boy’s Under 15 National title, with an 89-82 victory.
Ahead 69-49 at three-quarter time, Canterbury appeared to be cruising to victory. Spurred on by the vocal local support, Waitakere made a terrific charge to trim the deficit to five points – but with the clock on their side, Canterbury held on for a deserved victory.
Canterbury forward Hoani Ifopo-Togia was outstanding in scoring his 36 points. The Tournament MVP was well supported by Tawhiri Cate (14 points), Valentino Swanson (11 points) and Toby Langrell (9 points).
For Waitakere, Brigham Hakaraia made 5 from 9 threes on his way to a team-high 25 points. Kingston Kailahi-Fulu posted 14 points and 10 rebounds, Josiah Skeen 13 points and Jack Pauga and skipper Ronald Juan contributed 11 each.
Unlike their semi-final the previous day, Canterbury made a strong start to the contest surging to a 12-2 lead – Ifopo-Togia with 8 points. Skeen and Kailahi-Fulu made scores for Waitakere, before Ifopo-Togia hit the double figure mark for the Cantabs – ahead 16-6.
Kailahi-Fulu went coast-to-coast in the closing stages, the Waitakere deficit seven points (21-14) at quarter time. Hakaria made consecutive scores and Ronald Juam chimed in with a slashing drive – Waitakere within three (27-24).
Toby Langrell got on the scoreboard for Canterbury to push the lead out to 31-24 in the middle of the second stanza. Skeen’s put back was answered by a Roma Tuimaunei and-1 play, as the Canterbury lead hit the double-digit mark again.
A Valentino jumper and a Langrell layup closed the first half scoring – Canterbury the happier of the two teams at the break as they held a 45-31 lead. Ifopo-Togia led all scorers with 20 points at the interval.
The two teams exchanged baskets in the opening stages of the third period, before Jack Pauga hit a triple although that was answered in kind by Jack Watson. Half-way through the period the Canterbury lead was 15 points (59-44), although that was increased by Tawhiri Cate’s And-1 play and Waitakere coach Paaka Hakaraia needed a timeout.
Worryingly for the Waitakere fans, the Canterbury lead hit the 20-point mark and that’s where it stood at three-quarter time with Waitakere trailing 69-49. Waitakere needed a strong start to the final frame and got that with a pair of Soane Tavite threes – and when Hakaraia made a transition score the score stood at 74-61.
Ifopo-Togia countered with an and-1 play – his two kept the lead at 15 points although with five minutes to play Skeen made it an 11-point game. Then it was Ifopo-Togia again with the score – 3:43 to play and Canterbury ahead 83-70.
A brace of corner threes from Jack Pauga bookended a Swainson two. Ifopo-Togia closed in on 40 points but Waitakere were only 6 behind with 2 minutes to play. With 31 seconds on the clock, Skeen made a free throw before Cate sealed the win from the charity stripe at the opposite end of the court. Box Score: http://bbnz.link/nkyii
Boy’s Bronze Medal Game: Hawkes Bay 72 Hutt Valley 86
Hutt Valley claimed a 86-72 win over Hawkes Bay to claim bronze; Hutt’s Arana Robertson with an impressive 48 points in the win and Bruno Thompson adding 12. For Hawkes Bay, Jackson Kiss tallied 38 points and Eddie Deck chipped in with 11 of his own. Box Score: http://bbnz.link/idt3y
Most Valuable Players
Boys: Hoani Ifopo-Togia – Canterbury
Girls: Eva Jeffries – Waikato
Tournament Teams – Girl’s
Sahara Katene – Rotorua
Lucy Dawson – Nelson
Lisa Gear – Harbour A
Kahsia Bailey-Nowell – Taranaki
Hinemaioha Rolleston-Gabel – Waikato
Charis Broughton – Tauranga
Shamar Broughton – Tauranga
Keija Miringaorangi – Waikato
Sara Buckley – Canterbury
Tournament Teams – Boy’s
Jackson Ball – Hawkes Bay
Bobby Neels – Waikato
Milan Newton – North Canterbury
Sol Anderson – Auckland
Arana Robertson – Hutt Valley
Hoani Ifopo-Togia – Canterbury A
Kingston Kailahi-Aso – Waitakere West A
Brigham Hakaraia – Waitakere West A
Tawhiri Cate – Canterbury A
Valentino Swainson – Canterbury A