EXTREME WEATHER - SAFETY RISK
Unfortunately due to severe inclement weather outside of our control (Dunedin declared state of emergency), leaks have formed and water is pooling on multiple courts at the Edgar Centre this evening. As of 11pm, because of health and safety risks associated with this situation, it may be unsafe to play on these courts tomorrow - that said, we are monitoring the situation and doing everything we can to see that it goes ahead. We will make a decision around 8am on Saturday morning (tomorrow). If your game is not scheduled for the 9am round, you will be informed immediately via your team contact. Please ensure this message is relayed to all team staff if you think they may have not be aware of this.
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In the hope things do improve, here is our preview and game reports from today...
Stages Set for Grand Finals of the Under 15 Aon Nationals
The boys and girls under 15 age-group teams have been found for the Aon Nationals after today’s semi-final rounds came to a close.
Waitakere West and Waikato will meet in the girls Grand Final, while Tasman and Hawkes Bay will contest the boys’ title.
Both teams in the girls final have shown a liking to utilise full court pressure on their opponents, so the winning team will likely be the one best able to deal with this on the offensive end of the court.
The boys’ final will be headlined by the offspring of two of the members of the legendary 2004 Tall Blacks team – Paora Winitana Junior for Hawkes Bay; and Joshua Book, son of Ed Book, for Tasman.
With both teams relying on shots from behind the arc to open the floor, this game promises an exciting and high-scoring game. These two teams did meet earlier in the week in pool play, with Hawkes Bay coming away with the win in a tight 83-78 game.
SEMI-FINAL GAME REPORTS:
• Aon Nationals Under 15 Girls’ Semi-Final 1: Waitakere West vs Harbour
Waitakere West attacked Harbour’s defence in the paint early, and then followed up immediately by applying full court pressure. This saw them jump out to an early 14 point lead. The game turned into somewhat of a slugfest in the second quarter, as the two teams combined to score only 27 points between them. Harbour was having trouble keeping hold of the ball, as turnovers were one of the areas they needed to improve in the second half, while Waitakere was quite happy with the second chances they had gained by their work on the offensive glass.
Baskets continued to be traded in the third quarter, with Harbour closing the gap to only five points (57-52) as the final frame began. A two minute burst here saw Harbour go on an important 10-0 run, snatching a three point lead with just under five minutes to play. With the game in the balance, at 69-70, it was Waitakere’s Odessa Lawson who answered the call. Lawson scored eight of her teams’ final 12 points, as they escaped with a very close six point win.
Both teams will probably lament their performance from the Free Throw line – Waitakere getting there a massive 52 times, but only able to turn these into 27 points. Harbour would have only needed to shoot 60% from their 33 attempts to come away with the win. Despite the large number of attempts between the two teams, only three players fouled out. Unfortunately for Harbour, their only player to hit a three, Rosalie Dil, was one of the players sent to the bench.
Waitakere West, 82: O. Lawson 28 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals; K. Leslie 15 points 10 rebounds; R. Matiseni 14 points; S. Toailoa 14 points 9 rebounds.
Harbour, 76: Z. Kailahi-Fulu 19 points, 10 rebounds; R. Dil 13 points; M. McBirney 12 points.
• Aon Nationals Under 15 Girls’ Semi-Final 2: Waikato vs Tauranga
In a slight surprise, the team that shot a better percentage from the floor ended up losing this game, as Waikato cajoling Tauranga into 30 turnovers proving to be a telling statistic here. A 14-6 advantage after ten minutes in Waikato’s favour, was cut to two points on three separate occasions in the second and third quarters, but Tauranga was never quite able to turn the game into their advantage.
A Waikato run of 7-0 across the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter was fueled in part by one of Leila Taala’s two three point makes on the night. Tauranga was now facing a 14 point deficit, and upped their pressure to force four turnovers, as they cut the lead down to six, thanks to Hineaupounamu Nuku scoring six straight points in the run.
Eventually the offensive rebounding advantage, and pressure applied in the back-court by Waikato was too much to overcome for Tauranga. Waikato became clinical in their half court execution when the clock was on their side, featuring multiple cuts through the lane before finding a good shot, as they scored 14 straight to put the game out of reach.
Waikato, 73: K. Leith 18 points 9 rebounds; L. Taala 17 points 11 rebounds 4 steals; A. Paewai 17 points, 5 steals
Tauranga, 57: H. Nuku 26 points; T. Day 11 points, 13 points 5 steals
• Aon Nationals Under 15 Boys’ Semi-Final 1: Tasman vs Waitakere West
A highly entertaining game eventuated when these two teams met at the Aon Nationals Under 15 championship, with eight points separating the two teams after the first quarter ended. Thanks in part to a couple of three point bombs courtesy of Dontae Russo-Nance and Ethan Skelton, Waitakere was able to grab a two point lead right before the half. Taman’s leader, Joshua Book, answered right at the buzzer to tie the game up at 37 apiece heading into the main break.
Tasman pushed ahead in third, but were reeled back in 63-63 after Russo-Nance converted a traditional three-point play. Another Tasman surge came about, and a Russo-Nance three that cut the lead to 75-71 was immediately answered by two Book threes of his own, giving his team the breathing room they needed to hang on and win.
Both teams had very similar shooting splits, with only two percentage points separating the teams. It was Tasman’s work on the offensive glass – recovering 20 or the 42 chances after a miss, that proved to be the deciding factor in this game, with their three extra field goal attempts proving crucial.
Tasman, 85: J. Book 36 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals; J. Marsh 23 points; V. Pale 13 points, 11 rebounds
Waitakere West, 80: D. Russo-Nance 27 points; W. Coulibaly 15 points; H. Cuff 12 points
• Aon Nationals Under 15 Boys’ Semi-Final 2: Hawkes Bay vs Auckland
The second boys’ semi-final was also a spectacle – people may have tuned in after seeing the 6’9 Levic Kerr interviewed on national television yesterday, but were quickly given a reminder of the past thanks to Paora Winitana Junior’s strong all-around game for Hawkes Bay.
Auckland’s Samual Chan provided the first highlight of the night, and fired up commentator Conor O’Fee, with a deep buzzer beating three at the end of quarter one that gave Auckland a handy ten point lead. This would grow to fifteen points at halftime, with most pundits thinking the size advantage Auckland had was too much to handle for a skilled Hawkes Bay team. Kerr was affecting lots of shot attempts – even sending a Winitana Junior one back shortly before half time – while avoiding getting called for any fouls.
Hawkes Bay Coach Regan Spooner changed things up in the third quarter, as he got his team to be more aggressive searching out shots from behind the arc. Four straight makes from behind the arc quickly followed, and the deficit was cut in half to a more manageable 47-40. A couple of timely steals were the catalyst in a 10-2 Hawkes Bay run to close the quarter, and the fourth would begin with Auckland clinging to a slender 60-57 lead. A couple of minutes into the final quarter, momentum had well and truly swung – the score was 66-64 and Hawkes Bay substitute Brodie Walker almost ran out of bounds in a breakaway situation, before he was able to regather himself and score, tying the game.
Hawkes Bay now had the belief they needed, and Winitana drew some gasps from the crowd after an emphatic block over a Leyton Vaike Hunt shot, helping preserve a 72-75 lead inside four minutes to play. Jerry Liang kept his Auckland team in touch, scoring nine of the team’s final ten points. But it was Walker who closed the book on the game, first with a very tough turnaround shot against Kerr, and then calmly icing both Free Throws at the end of the game, giving his team a four point lead as Auckland ran out of time to catch up again.
Hawkes Bay, 83: P. Winitana Junior 28 points, 18 rebounds, 5 steals; B. Walker 25 points, 15 rebounds; T. Kendon 15 points
Auckland, 79: J. Liang 27 points, 8 rebounds; L. Kerr 19 points, 12 rebounds; S. Tawera 17 points, 14 rebounds