WBC Finals

The 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) season concluded on Saturday night with Auckland Dream crowned Division 1 Champions after defeating local rivals Harbour Breeze 89-86 in overtime.

Capital Swish beat AM I FIT Otago Goldrush 71-63 in the Plate Final and McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit defeated Harbour Zephyr 74-61 to win the Division 2 Cup.

Championship Final – Auckland Dream 89 Harbour Breeze 86

Inspired by a high class performance from Tall Ferns guard Natalie Taylor, Auckland Dream came from 15 points down early in the final quarter to win the WBC Championship for the first time defeating Harbour Breeze 89-86.

In front of a large crowd at AUT Sports Centre a pulsating, high quality game was full of ebbs and flows and outstanding individual performances but it was Taylor (25 points) who produced the match winning performance. The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to drag her team back into the contest and then added a further 5 points in overtime to cap a remarkable comeback from the Dream.

Ahead 63-48 early in the fourth quarter Harbour Breeze looked destined to win the championship they last held back in 2014. However a 12-1 run inspired by Charmian Mellars (11 points and 9 rebounds), Kayla Kiriau (17 points) and 2019 WBC Most Valuable Player Kalani Purcell (24 points and 11 rebounds) meant Harbour’s lead was down to three points with under 5 minutes to play.

Ashleigh Kelman-Poto (18 points and 9 rebounds) righted the ship for the Breeze, her quick eight points meant the regular season champions led 74-65 with 2:30 to play.

Up stepped Taylor to score seven of her team’s next nine points to tie proceedings at 74 points apiece inside the final minute.

Yet again the Breeze took the lead when Penina Davidson (20 points and 16 rebounds) scored inside but Taylor, with ice in her veins, calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to force overtime.

Ella Fotu (12 points and 8 assists) opened the scoring in the extra five minutes but Purcell and Taylor knocked down back-to-back threes and with Kiriau adding points it was suddenly a seven points margin in favour of the Dream.

The Breeze to their credit were not finished as Davidson, Yume Negishi (20 points) and Matangiroa Flavell scored on consecutive possessions to reduce the Dream advantage to 87-86 with less than thirty seconds to play.

Experienced point guard Jordan Hunter calmly knocked down a pair of freebies after being fouled and when Negishi’s game levelling three-point attempt rimmed out the Dream celebrations could begin.

After the Dream had won the opening frame 17-10 the Breeze, courtesy of special performances from Negishi, Fotu, Davidson, Franklin and Kelman-Poto, outscored their opponents 47-29 in the next two periods.

The quintet were unlucky to be on the losing team but in the end it was the Dream that triumphed to reward the Purcell sisters (Natalie Taylor, Charmian Mellars, Kalani Purcell and Hailey Moala), with the championship Natalie Taylor admitted, “We have been chasing for a few seasons.”

Dream 89 – N Taylor 25, K Purcell 24/11r, K Kiriau 17, C Mellars 11/9r
Breeze 86 – P Davidson 20/16r, Y Negishi 20, A Kelman-Poto 18/9r, E Fotu 12/8a

Championship 3rd/4th play-off

Waikato Wizards 86 – Charlisse Leger-Walker 31, Krystal Leger-Walker 18/10r/7a, Jayzelee Waihi 8, Ella Bradley 7, Zarya Poulava 7
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 62 – Tessa Morrison 16, Helen Matthews 11, Mareta Davydova 10/19r, Shea Crotty 8 Laken Wairau 7

Plate Final 

Capital Swish 71 AM I FIT Otago Goldrush 63
After winning the Division 2 title on Thursday Capital Swish made it two trophies in three days with a 71-63 win against AM I FIT Otago Goldrush in the WBC Plate Final.

In a stirring finish Swish held off the Goldrush as the two teams went toe-to-toe in the closing minutes.

Despite Zoe Richards fouling out with 3:50 to play and Goldrush trailing 62-55 the 2018 WBC champions were far from finished.

Aleisha Ruske scored on consecutive possessions either side of a Morgan Ili (19 points) elbow two only for Aliyah Dunn to make it 67-59 to Swish with two minutes on the clock.

Consecutive scores from Soraya Umaga-Jensen (12 points) and Nicole Ruske (13 points) made it a one possession game inside the final minute.

A turnover proved costly for Goldrush and, forced to foul, the ultra-dependable Ili iced the game from the free throw line to seal a Swish success.

A tight opening quarter was won 19-14 by Goldrush – Umaga-Jensen with half a dozen points in the period.

WBC Division 2 Most Valuable Player Letava Whippy (16 points and 11 rebounds) was closing in on a double-double by half-time with 8 points and 9 rebounds but Natali Visger’s 10 points kept Goldrush ahead by the narrowest of margins, 31-30 at half-time.

Whippy and Ili gave Swish the initiative early in the third and when Arielle Parai’s layup in traffic followed the Wellingtonians had a 41-37 lead at the mid-point of the period.

Nicole Ruske and Umaga-Jensen countered but Parai’s triple helped Swish to a 51-47 three‑quarter time lead.

Swish did enough to hold off the Goldrush challenge in the fourth but only just!

AM I FIT Otago Goldrush 63 – N Visger 17, N Ruske 13, S Umaga-Jensen 12/7r/4st, Z Richards 6
Capital Swish 71 – M Ili 19, A Parai 17, L Whippy 16/11r/7a, Maia Jean Watene 13

Plate 3rd/4th Play-off

Wellington 64 – Leah Mafua 15/10r, Grace Hunter 15/6a, Grace Vaofusi 9, Sariah Penese 8/10r, Emilina Motu 6, Parerima Wiki-Cummings 6
Taranaki Thunder 63 – Tara Clement 17, Raquel Sampson 15/10r, Eva Langton 15, Rochelle Fourie 8/10r, Teesha Smith 6

2019 WBC Division 1 All-Star 5
Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze), Natalie Taylor (Auckland Dream), Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards), Kalani Purcell (Auckland Dream), Marita Davydova (Canterbury Wildcats)

2019 WBC Division 1 MVP
Kalani Purcell (Auckland Dream)

Division 2 Cup Final

McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit 74 Harbour Zephyr 61

Esra McGoldrick, shortly to link up with the Tall Ferns squad for their Asian tour, compiled a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit to a deserved 74-61 victory against Harbour Zephyr and claim the inaugural WBC Division 2 Cup.

McGoldrick scored 8 points in an entertaining opening quarter won 28-17 by the Cantabrians.

Zephyr poured in three pointers galore in their semi-final win against the Rotorua Lady Geysers and scores from beyond the arc by Jordyn Maddix, Tiarna Clarke (16 points) and Hannah Wentworth meant they were very much in contention at the main break trailing 41‑33.

Spirit guard Sila Morris (15 points) had joined McGoldrick in double figures at half-time.

Olivia Berry scored seven points for Zephyr in the third quarter but that was bettered by Hannah Crabtree who made ten points as the stanza was shared 16 points apiece, 57-49 in favour of the Spirit with ten minutes to play.

Parehuia Delamere led the Zephyr defensive effort in the final stages as they tried to cut the deficit but Spirit captain Caoimhe Colgan scored all her 9 points in the fourth to guide her team to the win and ensure one trophy was headed south.

McAlpines M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit 74 – Esra McGoldrick 18/14r, Sila Morris 15, Hannah Crabtree 12/11r, Caoimhe Colgan 9, Amy West 8
Harbour Zephyr 61 – Olivia Berry 17, Tiarna Clarke 16, Jordyn Maddix 10, Hannah Wentworth 8, Parehuia Delamere 5/7r/4st

Division 2 Cup 3rd/4th Play-off

Rotorua Lady Geysers 75 – Aroha Haumaha 43/12r, Dekoda Te Autu 14, Grace McCarthy 7, Kararaine Pene 5/5a
South Canterbury Stealers 49 – Dallas Frederikson 18, Lani Curtis 7, Annabelle Quinonez 6, Milly Ford 4/16r

2019 WBC Division 2 All-Star 5
Arielle Parai (Capital Swish), Aroha Haumaha (Rotorua Lady Geysers), Leah Mafua (Wellington), Letava Whippy (Capital Swish), Esra McGoldrick (North Canterbury Spirit)

2019 WBC Division 2 MVP
Letava Whippy (Capital Swish)

2019 WBC Junior Player of the Year
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards)

2019 WBC Coach of the Year
Aik Ho (Auckland Dream)

2019 Special Contribution to the Women’s Game
Mike Lacey

Sponsors and Partners
Events like this would not be possible without sponsors and partners. A huge thank you and acknowledgement goes out to:

Four Winds
Sky Sport – all livestream games are available to watch on Sky Sport Pop Up 3
Stuff.co.nz – the Division 1 grand final will be available online
Molten – the official match ball of the WBC
Mai FM – catch the Mai Street team onsite from 4-6pm on Friday with your change to crack the Mai lockbox and win
Skinny Fizz – a splash of fruit. That’s it.
Pagani Women’s Clothing – pick up a programme for a 30% off their New Collection voucher to be redeemed at the Pagani Albany store
Sal’s Authentic New York Pizza
Harbour Basketball