The three sets of finalists have been found at the 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) Tournament being held at AUT Sports Centre, North Shore.
The Division 1 Championship game, will be an Auckland affair with Harbour Breeze taking on Auckland Dream. The Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats semi-final defeat at the hands of the Breeze means there will be a North Island champion for the first time in five years.
The WBC Plate final will feature AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush and Capital Swish and the Division 2 Cup Final will also be a North Island versus South Island affair with McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit taking on Harbour Zephyr.
Reports on Friday’s semi-finals below.
Division One Championship Semi-Final 1:
70 Auckland Dream v 61 Waikato Wizards
In an entertaining Championship semi-final Waikato Wizards pushed Auckland Dream all the way before eventually going down 70-61.
Eight points in the opening quarter from Charmian Mellars, who went on to amass 20 points and 15 rebounds, helped the Dream to a 20-15 advantage.
Kalani Purcell (12 points and 11 rebounds) increased that lead by five before Ella Bradley got the Wizards scoring moving again, a low scoring second period ending with the Dream 34-24. Purcell led all scorers with 9 points, Charlisse Leger-Walker (20 points and 10 rebounds) had eight for the Wizards at that stage.
A 5-0 run from the Dream to open the second half triggered an identical response from the Wizards – Dream ahead 43-33 at the mid-point of the third.
Back to back baskets from Zarya Poulava kept the Wizards in touch but 8 points in the quarter from Mellars kept the Dream in the ascendancy 53-44 at the last break.
Waikato weren’t going away and when Krystal Leger-Walker landed a long three in transition, the Waikato deficit was just two points (57-55) with 5:30 to play and the Dream Head Coach Aik Ho needed a timeout.
Casyn Buchman and Natalie Taylor scored on consecutive plays and it was Leanne Walker’s turn to gather the troops.
Kalani Purcell fouled out with 3:47 to play, Charlisse Leger-Walker capitalised with a corner three and a pair of freebies to make it a one point game with 2:40 to play (62-61).
Sharne Pupuke-Robati made a critical score with two minutes to play – Natasha Lenden had a basket waived away for an offensive foul and when Buchman scored with a break-away layup the Wizard’s challenge was finally extinguished.
Dream 70 – Charmian Mellars 20/15r, Kalani Purcell 12/11r, Casyn Buchman 10, Sharne Pupuke-Robati 9/8r, Natalie Taylor 8,
Wizards 61 – Charlisse Leger-Walker 20/10r, Krystal Leger-Walker 15/9r, Ella Bradley 6, Tash Lenden 6, Zarya Poulava 6
Division One Championship Semi-Final 2:
Harbour Breeze 71 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 59
Despite a combined 37 points from Tessa Boagni and Mareta Davydova, Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats were defeated 71-59 by Harbour Breeze.
Shea Crotty’s buzzer beating three separated the two teams at quarter time, the Wildcats ahead 20-19.
The Wildcats forward duo of Boagni and Davydova, the leading rebounder in the WBC this season, were causing the Breeze some problems – Davydova’s inside move putting her team ahead 29-23.
The opposition front court of Deena Franklin and Penina Davidson (12 points and 12 rebounds) responded – 29 points apiece six minutes into the second period.
A pair of buckets late in the quarter from Ella Fotu gave the Breeze the edge at half-time – the hosts ahead 39-33.
Emme Shearer (a team high 16 points) stretched the margin to 12 points (45-33) and the Wildcats needed a timeout.
Tessa Morrison converted an And-1 play and Crotty scored in traffic but Ashleigh Kelman-Poto’s left handed finish gave the Breeze a 57-43 lead with ten minutes to play.
The two teams exchanged baskets at the outset of the final period before Boagni trimmed the Breeze lead to ten (63-53) with six minutes to play.
Boagni made it six points on the bounce and the Breeze lead was down to single figures.
Davidson re-established a 10 point margin with three minutes to play and although Boagni capped a fine performance with another score Fotu and Shearer had the last say to give the Breeze the opportunity to win their first title since 2014.
Breeze 71 – Emme Shearer 16, Ella Fotu 14, Penina Davidson 12/12r, Ash Kelman-Poto 9/12r, Matangiroa Flavell 7
Wildcats 59 – Marita Davydova 20/14r, Tessa Boagni 17/11r, Shea Crotty 10, Tessa Morrison 6
Division 1 & 2 Plate Semi-Final 1:
AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush 64 Wellington 61
After holding a comfortable lead for most of the contest AM I FIT Otago Goldrush had to hold off a fast finishing Wellington team to claim a spot in the WBC Plate final eventually winning 64-61.
Leading 50-40 at three-quarter time Goldrush saw their lead trimmed to 55-53, after a Grace Vaofusi (18 points) triple, with 4:30 to play.
The two teams exchanged scores before another Vaofusi three tied proceedings (59-59) with 51 seconds to play.
Gold Rush Head Coach Greg Brockbank called a much needed timeout, Nicole Ruske scoring from the ensuing play to edge Goldrush back into the lead.
15 year-old Jyordanna Davey scored for Wellington with a neat left handed finish but the Goldrush held their nerve in the dying seconds as the classy Zoe Richards (30 points and 9 rebounds) and Bronwyn Kjestrup sunk critical free throws.
Early on the Goldrush appeared to be cruising as they opened up a 21-8 lead although the outstanding Leah Mafua (22 points) and Vaofusi kept the 2018 WBC champions in check.
A 34-23 advantage at half-time became 50-40 at the last break. Wellington threw everything at their Division 1 opponents in the fourth but the wise heads in the Goldrush ranks had just enough in the tank to close out an entertaining contest.
Gold Rush – Zoe Richards 30 (9/16FG, 12/15FT), Hannah Matehaere 9, Nicole Ruske 7/14r, Aleisha Ruske 6
Wellington – Leah Mofua 22/7r, Grace Vaofusi 18, Sariah Penese 5/4a, Grace Hunter 5, Jyordanna Davey 5
Division 1 & 2 Plate Semi-Final 2:
Taranaki Thunder 48 Capital Swish 85
Capital Swish claimed a Division 1 scalp defeating Taranaki Thunder 85-48 to advance to the Plate Final.
Letava Whippy top scored with 17 points, the Swish skipper well supported by Maia Jean Watene (16 points), Aliyah Dunn (14 points and 13 rebounds), Arielle Parai (12 points) and Morgan Ili (11 points).
Raquel Sampson, the Thunder’s leading scorer this season, and Tara Clement were in double figures for the Thunder but they struggled to recover from giving up a 26-9 lead in the opening spell.
Trailing 50-24 at half-time, the Thunder put up a much improved performance in the third winning the stanza 13-11 before eventually going down 85-48.
Thunder 48 – Raquel Sampson 15, Tara Clement 13 Rochelle Fourie 6, Eva Langton 5
Swish 85 – Letava Whippy 17/9r/6a, Maia Watene 16, Aliyah Dunn 14/13r, Arielle Parai 12/10r, Morgan Ili 11
Division 2 Cup Semi-Final 1:
McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit 88 South Canterbury Stealers 35
Despite being without Amy West for all of the second half McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit proved too good for their South Island neighbours winning 88-35. The Liberty University based forward retired with an ankle problem but with five players in double figures the Spirit eased their way into the Division 2 Cup Final.
Stealers held their own in a low scoring opening half trailing 30-15 at the break. However eight third quarter points from Sila Morris (19 points) and four apiece from Tiana Placid and Taneisha Nutira (both players finished with 10 points) pushed the Spirit out to a 53-27 three-quarter time lead.
Lani Curtis, Dallas Frederikson and Merekite Wahitapu all scored six points for the Stealers but out rebounded 56-26 it was always an uphill battle for the Stealers.
Hannah Crabtree finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Spirit booked their place in Saturday’s final.
Spirit 88 – Sila Morris 19, Hannah Crabtree 17/10r/5a, Esra McGoldrick14/9r, Tiana Placid 10, Taneisha Nutira 10
Stealers 35 – Dallas Frederikson 6, Lani Curtis 6, Merekite Wahitapu 6/9r, Jorja Miller 5/10r
Division 2 Cup Semi-Final 2:
Rotorua Lady Geysers 44 Harbour Zephyr 99
The Rotorua Lady Geysers captain Aroha Haumaha compiled 23 points and 10 points but a balanced scoring effort – five players scored in double figures – carried Harbour Zephyr to a convincing 99-44 win.
Hannah Wentworth and Tiarna Clarke combined for five triples as Harbour Zephyr compiled a 22-19 first quarter lead-the dependable Haumaha notching 10 points for the Lady Geysers.
Amelia Palmer knocked down a couple from beyond the arc for the Lady Geysers but Zephyr had made 11 threes from 21 attempts by the interval as Jordyn Maddix and Wuanyei Ah-Hing joined in Zephyr’s long range barrage. Zephyr ahead 53-25 at half-time.
Maddix and Olivia Berry moved into double figures as Zephyr continued to profit from the three-point arc. They put up a total of 43 threes making 18 at a highly respectable 42%.
A place in the Division 2 Cup Final assured by three-quarter time with a 70-36 lead.
Zephyr 99 – Jordyn Maddix 25, Olivia Berry 21, Hannah Wentworth 19, Wuanyei Ah-Hing 15/12r, Tiarna Clarke 11/7a, Shanee Kiriau 5/12r
Lady Geysers 53 – Aroha Haumaha 23/10r, Amelia Palmer 11, Kararaina Pene 7, Dekoda Te Autu 6/8r
Draw Saturday, July 6
AUT Recreation Centre, North Shore, Auckland
9am – Livestream
McAlpine M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit V Harbour Zephyr
(Div 2 Cup Grand Final)
10:45pm – Livestream
AM I FIT Otago Goldrush V Capital Swish
(Div 1/2 Plate Grand Final)
2pm – Livestream
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats V Waikato Wizards
(Div 1 3&4 Playoff)
4pm – Livestream
Harbour Breeze V Auckland Dream
(Div 1 Grand Final)
South Canterbury Stealers V Rotorua Lady Geysers
(Div 2 Cup 3&4 Playoff)
Wellington V Taranaki Thunder
(Div 1/2 Plate 3&4 Playoff)