Wellington and Waikato to play in Grand Finals of Aon U15 Nationals

Wellington and Waikato to play in Grand Finals of Aon U15 Nationals
The finalists have been found at the 2019 Aon U15 National Championships being held at Trustpower Arena in Tauranga with three of the four teams wearing the red, yellow and black of Waikato. 

In the girls’ final Wellington will take on Waikato. The boy’s championship game will be a unique situation with Waikato A taking on Waikato C. 

Both grand finals will be played tomorrow and be livestreamed on www.NZ.basketball/TV and the @BasketballNZ Facebook page, at 3pm and 4:45pm respectively. 

Girls’ Semi-Finals: 

Wellington eventually proved too strong in the first girls’ semi-final winning a hard-fought encounter against Auckland 72-67 with Lilly Taulelei amassing 32 points and 14 rebounds for the victors.

Auckland began well leading 10-9 after five minutes but Wellington enjoyed a 15-4 run to close out the first quarter 25-13 ahead.

Led by Ritorya Tamilo and Waimanu Clarken, Auckland enjoyed a good spell in the second period to end the half 40-32 in arrears. 

It became a two-point game (44-42) in the middle of the third. Tamilo’s length (16 points and a game high 22 rebounds) and Clarken’s offensive skills were causing Wellington some problems and when Trinity Atiga closed out the frame with an And-1 play Auckland were 55-53 ahead.

Naomi Sopoaga and Holly Morgan nailed threes for Wellington early in the fourth to restore their lead but Auckland weren’t finished and briefly restored the advantage through Atiga. Morgan remedied that situation – the Wellington guard scoring seven points in the closing three minutes to clinch the win.

Final Score:

• Wellington 72 – L Taulelei 32/14r, H Morgan 18, R Tawera 7, N Sopoaga 7/11r/5a, T Mareko 4/10r
• Auckland 67 – W Clarken 30, R Tamilo 16 7/22r, L Patuwairua 10, T Atiga 5/5ª

In the second girls’ semi-final Waikato dominated the opening half against Waitaha Canterbury A before running out 65-52 winners. Waikato turned a 22-12 opening quarter advantage into a commanding 42-19 half-time lead.

Stand out point guard Shawnessy Nordstrom did most of the early damage with 14 points, ably supported by Tannika Leger-Walker with 8 points – the pair nailing two triples apiece in the half.

Canterbury, bidding to become the first South Island team to win the U15 Girl’s title, won the third period with Lauren Whittaker nabbing 10 points but it was still a long way back trailing 55-35 at three-quarter time.

Kaelani Albert-Neha opened the scoring in the fourth before Canterbury mounted a 7-0 run courtesy of Whittaker, Harriet Clapp and Karereatua Williams. Leger-Walker ended that run with back to back triples and although Canterbury battled to the end it was Waikato, looking to emulate last week’s performance of their U17 championship winning team, that advanced to the final.

Final Score:

• Waikato 65 – T Leger-Walker 18, S Nordstrom 17, K Albert-Neha 9, E Gilbert 9/8r, L Gough 6
• Waitaha Canterbury A 52 – L Whittaker 20, K Williams 12/7r, A Rean 8, I Brown 7/5a

Boys’ Semi-Finals

The opening boy’s semi-final went the way of the young Waikato C team, a 61-55 victory only confirmed in the closing seconds against defending champions Waitakere West.

Waitakere recovered from an 11 points deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 55 points apiece courtesy of a score from Deon Helu with 42 seconds left on the clock. However Toma Te’evale-Gabel made the go ahead basket for Waikato and although Waitakere engineered further scoring opportunities it was Jujhar Singh, the game’s leading scorer, who nailed a couple of free-throws to send Waikato to the final.

Earlier eight first-quarter points from Singh helped Waikato to a 20-14 opening quarter lead.

A low scoring second period concluded with Waikato ahead 32-27 at the interval – Singh (10 points) edging Rasheed Tahiru (9 points) as the game’s leading scorer at that point.

Keelan Viliami pushed the Waikato lead into double figures but Andrew Murphy scored two baskets late in the frame to keep Waitakere in touch at the three-quarter mark trailing 44-35.

It was still an 11 point lead early in the fourth but Andre Manio and Andrew Murphy led a valiant fight back that eventually came up short – Waikato C continuing their ‘Cinderella” run through the tournament.

Final Score:

• Waitakere West 55 – R Tahiru 14, A Murphy 12, A Manio 11, D Matakatea 7
• Waikato C 61 – J Singh 17/9r, K Viliami 14, K Daniels 12, P Kailahi 5

Despite 18 points from Faauma Kupita Tauranga were beaten 90-66 by Waikato A in the second boys’ semi-final.

Waikato led 21-13 after the first period and aided by 14 points from Caelys-Paul Putoko extended their advantage to 45-30 at the main break. Diminutive point guard Ian Pugh led the Tauranga effort at the half with 10 points.

A 9-1 run in favour of Waikato at the back end of the third period took Waikato to a 61-39 lead and Tauranga Head Coach Tony Webster needed a timeout. Seth Whinney and Landen Monks scored for Tauranga on the resumption but 10 points in the quarter from Usher Robson and daggers from beyond the arc from Elias Lepou and Iotia Teokotai meant Waikato had a foot in the final leading 72-48 with ten minutes to play.

Tauranga kept battling to the end but the hosts were comfortably beaten on the night.

Final Score:

• Tauranga 66 – F Kupita 18, L Monks 10, I Pugh 10, S Whinney 9, H Chandler 9/10r
• Waikato A 90 – C Putoko 22/10r, I Teokotai 21, U Robson 13, D Fa’alupega 10, D Pereira 9, E Lepou 6/6a

More Information:

• Livestream: On Friday and Saturday, games on court six will be livestreamed on www.NZ.basketball/TV and the @BasketballNZ Facebook page.

• Full draw can be found here: http://www.nz.basketball/Competitions/Reps/Aon-U15-Nationals

• More information, including the Draw can be found here: http://www.nz.basketball/Competitions/Reps/Aon-U15-Nationals