The 2018 New Zealand National Tertiary Basketball Champions have been crowned with University of Otago winning the men’s championship and Lincoln University claiming the women’s title.
The three-day tournament, held at the AUT Sports Centre on Auckland’s North Shore, concluded on Sunday with two entertaining finals.
James Lissaman, the Code Manager for Lincoln University Basketball and Lincoln Men’s Head Coach, has coached at the last three UTSNZ Championships and said the Tertiary basketball is also on the rise with all other levels of basketball in New Zealand.
“The standard of play has improved year on year and you can tell all of the universities are putting more support around their teams.
“It was great to have Tall Ferns Georgia Agnew and Deena Franklin represent their study institutions while players with NZNBL experience like Josh Aitcheson and Ben Williams did the same on the men’s side of the draw.
“The referees did an excellent job throughout the tournament and really helped by officiating in a manner that is conducive to an exciting style of play.
“I also have to pay respect to the fantastic job Mitch Langton did with the Otago men’s team. They came back strong to take the game in the final few minutes after we had built a small lead. They are deserved winners this year,” said Lissaman.
MEN’S NATIONAL TERTIARY CHAMPIONSHIP
Former Junior Tall Black swingman Josh Aitcheson scored 38 points (14/18 FG), 6/8 3PG, 4/5 FT) to pace Otago to a 109-102 victory against Lincoln University in the Men’s Final, a game that featured nine lead changes and fifteen tied scores.
Ben Bowie scored six straight points early on for Lincoln as they quickly moved into double figures but Otago, courtesy of Aitcheson (13 points in the period), replied strongly to forge a 32-27 opening quarter lead.
Four straight triples from Patrick Neale, Josiah Williams (twice) and Petelo Leaupepe gave Lincoln a 49-44 lead at the back end of the second.
Otago forward Luke Wilson was proving influential at both ends of the court, a block and an inside basket trimming the deficit to three points.
Aitcheson replied to a Ben Williams triple with his fifth trey of the game, Otago 56-54 behind after an even fast-paced first half.
A tight third period, featuring a number of lead changes ensued. Logan Dicker knocked down a pair of triples for Otago but Josiah Wilson amassed 16 points in the frame to give Lincoln 90-84 lead with a quarter to play.
Matthew Bardsley scored six straight points as Otago tied proceedings at ninety points apiece but another Lincoln surge via Bowie (15 points and 16 rebounds) and Petelo Leaupepe carried the Cantabs to a 98-92 lead with five to play.
Bardsley took his tally in the quarter to double figures before a coast to coast score from Patrick Neale and an inside basket from Ben Williams gave Lincoln a 102-99 lead with under three minutes to play.
Remarkably Lincoln were held scoreless thereafter as Otago wrapped up the win with a 13-0 run - Robertson (20 points) and Tournament MVP Aitcheson capping fine performances with game sealing free throws.
Otago Coach Mitch Langton was naturally delighted with the win.
“I thought we did really well in the fourth staying out of foul trouble, particularly Josh who was on four. We knew that the game would go for the whole forty minutes and that we would probably fall behind by ten points at some point although in the end It only reached eight.
“We knew it would be a game of runs we were just lucky to ride the last one,” Langton added.
Otago 109 – J Aitcheson 38, H Robertson 20, M Bardsley 16, S D Knox 7/10r
Lincoln 102 – J Williams 33, B Williams 16, B Bowie 15/16r, P Neale 13, P Leaupepe 11
Otago beat Auckland 75-66 and Lincoln defeated Canterbury 86-82 in two evenly contested semi-finals played on Day 2.
Other Results in the Men’s Tournament:
Canterbury 87 – K Tota 28, P Stephenson 16, Z Dwan 16, B van Noorden 16
Auckland 75 – L Haraqia 13, S Aruwa 12, Z Easthope 10, S Graham 10, B Matambanadzo 10
Waikato 81 – C Johnston 17, H Sheridan 14, C Giddy 14
Victoria 72 – L Beck 13, T McGuiness 11
Massey 93 – L Thornton 30, J Laracy 13, K Nikolaison 13, A Dennan 13
AUT 70 – S Telfer 20, H Giacomini 15, B Thomas 14
Men’s All-Star 5:
Josh Aitcheson (Otago) MVP
Finbar Argus (Auckland)
Matthew Bardsley (Otago)
Konrad Tota (Canterbury)
Ben Williams (Lincoln)
Men’s Final Game - Sherhon Martin, Shelton Harris, Reagan Ashley
Men’s Bronze Game - Yalla Edwards, Campbell Marsters, Liam Collins
WOMEN’S NATIONAL TERTIARY CHAMPIONSHIP
A massive double-double of 25 points and 29 rebounds by Connie Poletti ensured Lincoln University retained the Women’s Championship with a 72-60 win against Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
A long three from guard Sophie Schrader highlighted Lincoln’s strong opening quarter effort – the defending champions rocketed to a 22-7 lead.
AUT started the second period in promising fashion with Summer-Jean Motufoua and Deborah Heke knocking down shots.
Schrader and Tabitha Jenkins (19 points and 12 rebounds) exchanged threes but the inside presence of Connie Poletti and Caitlin Grice (12 points and 13 rebounds) were key in taking Lincoln to a 34-26 half-time lead.
AUT dominated the offensive glass at the outset of the second half – baskets from Jenkins and Georgia Agnew (12 points/11 rebounds) trimmed the Cantabrians lead to 42-35.
Aijah Pepe and Poletti, comfortably into double-double territory, restored Lincoln’s double figure advantage (49-39).
Pepe and Jenkins had the hot hands late in the third, their individual efforts keeping both sets of supporters entertained.
Poletti, named MVP for the second successive year, had the last say of the stanza with a steal and a pair of freebies as Lincoln took a 59-44 lead into the last frame.
Agnew and Jenkins opened the fourth quarter scoring but Pepe (4/7 3PG) landed her fourth triple of the contest to keep Lincoln in the ascendancy.
Despite their best efforts AUT were unable to get closer than ten points, Josh Thompson and his charges closing out a deserved victory.
“It was a great game,” said Thompson. “The girls pulled through in the end, Connie was just a workhorse and you can’t go wrong with her in your team. Sophie hit some big shots early and Ajiah had her moments also but credit to all the girls as each and every one of them came out and played hard. I thought also it was a really good team effort defensively.”
Lincoln 72 – C Poletti 25/29r, A Pepe 18, S Schrader 16, C Grice 12
AUT 60 – T Jenkins 19, G Agnew 12, S Motufoua 10, S Kiriau 9
In the semi-finals Lincoln had proved far too strong for Massey winning 83-54 while AUT won the City of Sails match up beating Auckland 77-67
Other Results in the Women’s Tournament:
Auckland 94 – G Henare 32, T Gush 9, B Jones 9, K Kelly 9
Massey 59 – D Franklin 16, T Pilitati 12, T Young 7
5th Place Waikato University
6th Place Canterbury University
7th Place Victoria University
Women’s All-Star 5:
Connie Poletti (Lincoln) MVP
Georgia Agnew (AUT)
Georgia Henare (Auckland)
Tabitha Jenkins (AUT)
Ajiah Pepe (Lincoln
Women’s Bronze Game - Devina Banks, Corey Hogg & Teri Cheung
Women’s Final Game - Sasha Nicholson, Connagh McKinstry & Harry Apes
• Anu Maibayar - AUT Student, All photo credit
• Phil Henderson - Volunteer
• Tui Tait - Auckland Basketball Services Limited
• Jilly Harris - Technical Commissioner, Auckland Basketball Services Limited
• University and Tertiary Sport NZ