Gisborne teams win plaudits
“The Gisborne teams did themselves proud.”
So said Tauranga City Basketball general manager Mark Rogers of the Gisborne Basketball Association’s seven-team contingent to the Mel Young Easter Classic Tournament.
The Gisborne under-13 girls won gold, u15 girls won silver, u13 boys won silver, u11 girls won silver, u17 boys won bronze, u11 boys were placed fourth and u15 boys came fifth.
GBA chair Kylie Turuwhenua-Tapsell spoke for supporters who witnessed the unbelievable skill, courage and heart of their teams over the four days.
“I’m proud of the effort and dedication of all of the players, coaches, managers and the families who made the trip,” she said.
“Our results were a credit to them, because we were uncertain as to how our teams would fare — it’s been a long time between competitions — but we demonstrated real growth . . . and shook the place up.
“We take a lot away from this experience for the year ahead, on and off the court.”
The Reggie Namana-coached u13 girls beat Waikato Country 62-29 to win gold. Riley Lewis (13 points) and Ariana Kepa (11pts) supplied scoring in double-figures with Gisborne on top from tip to final buzzer, 24-1, 36-10, 42-21.
Namana said: “Our girls were awesome. They saved their best basketball for the gold medal game. Rebounds win games, defence wins championships and they did it all in the final, holding the opposition to one point in the first quarter.
“Injuries to key players gave others the opportunity to get more game-time and develop confidence. We improved offensively, game by game. The girls trusted our system and were rewarded with the easy baskets that come from high energy on defence.”
The u13s beat Rotorua Maroon 49-35 in the semi-final after leading 14-10, 24-16, 44-26. Saige Brown (16) and Jorjah Tuapawa (13) were the major scorers.
On Saturday, the u13s beat Tauranga 57-25 first-up, having led 15-4, 27-13, 38-19 with Lewis (13), Kayla Namana (12) and Brown (10) shooting the ball well. On Sunday, they beat Hibiscus Coast 59-29 and Franklin 55-22.
Against Hibiscus Coast, they led 15-10, 31-14, 45-20 — Tuapawa scored 14. In the Franklin game, the teams were tied 11-11 at quartertime, but Gisborne caught fire in the second period to lead 34-14, later 40-18. Lewis (14) and Tuapawa (13) were dominant.
The u15 girls under Adam Tapsell and Thomas Tindale won silver. They lost 64-54 to Waikato in the final, having beaten Franklin 104-22 in yesterday morning’s semi-final.
GBA co-captain Jamieson Tapsell and Ishtar Mackey-Huriwai led Gisborne’s scorers in the final with 13. They trailed 10-7 and 27-22, but in a phenomenal effort, had drawn level 42-42. Such a fightback saps energy.
Against Franklin, Ohomauri Hailey (21), Jorja Kepa (16), Bobbi Crawford (15) and co-captain Alexander Campbell-Ratapu (12) all pitched in as their Counties-based opposition were overrun 20-6, 48-8, 74-12.
On Saturday, they lost to Waikato 58-64 in pool play, Tapsell (15) and Campbell-Ratapu (11) producing the goods, though Waikato led 16-2, 27-19, 48-40. The third period, in which Gisborne matched Waikato’s scoring 21-21, was a big effort at both ends of the court.
On Sunday, they beat Thames Valley 73-36 and Taranaki Country 92-34. Against the Valley, Gisborne led 22-10, 42-21, 60-24 (Hailey 19, Tapsell 16). Both Tapsell (18) and Mackey-Huriwai (16) were outstanding in the match with Country, having led 26-7, 48-17, 71-24.
The u13 boys took silver last night in a gutsy 36-50 loss to Waikato, Jerome Tamatea (13) and Micah Tapsell (11) to the fore for Gisborne. Gisborne trailed in the final by 3-14, 11-24, 17-33.
On Saturday morning, they trounced Tauranga 73-22. CJ Tarei (16) and Kelly Paenga (14) played well. The GBA was firmly in control 26-6, 48-11, 69-13. In the evening, the u13s beat Hibiscus Coast 58-24, having led 18-3, 30-14, 47-20. Both Micah Tapsell and Jiraiya Patuwai scored 10 each.
On Sunday, they beat Hawke’s Bay 58-49 after trailing 15-16 at the end of the first period. They were 26-23 up at half-time and had pulled away to be 41-30 on top at three-quartertime.Jerome Tamatea poured in 24 points.
The u11 girls won silver. Hawke’s Bay Black took the final 53-22, but not before Indie Nikora (11) had found her shot. Hawke’s Bay, who were 11-7 ahead at quartertime, went to a different level in the second period, holding the Gisborne u11 team scoreless (30-7). The score was 48-14 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Gisborne had won their semi-final 38-15 against Franklin, Kiara Namana (13) having a strong game as the u11s were on top 9-4 early. They held Franklin scoreless (23-4) going into the break and led 34-7 at three-quartertime.
On Saturday, the u11 girls hammered Rotorua Maroon 38-6. They were in front 12-0, 24-0, 30-6, with Lischa-Rae Smith (10) as their leading scorer.
They hit their first opponents on Sunday, New Plymouth, with a brick wall on defence. They led 10-0 after the first period, then 26-5, 41-12 with a phenomenal effort by Kiara Namana for 33 points.
In the late afternoon, Hawke’s Bay beat the u11s in impressive fashion 55-27, from 17-4, 29-11, 40-19. Namana (13) again led Gisborne’s scorers.
The boys u17s ended the GBA’s campaign at Trustpower Arena with an epic 85-75 win against hosts Tauranga in the B Grade bronze medal match.
Gisborne captain William Collier said: “Our team trained hard leading up to this tournament and our coach, Keenan Ruru-Poharama, prepared us well. The boys hustled and played good hard minutes. Our defence was strong and our shooters were on the money. The boys felt confident going into the final game as we had beaten Tauranga in the round-robin. It felt pretty good to be able to compete and hold our own against bigger associations.”
Seb Wilson led all scorers with 37 points, guards Ngaru Grayson (22) and Seth Miller (11) also shot the ball superbly.
Gisborne led 28-20, 45-43, 69-61 — a remarkable effort, after the gruelling contest and hideously close scoreline in the semi-final.
They beat the hosts, Tauranga, 82-81, on scoring from Luka Russell (36), Wilson (20), Grayson (15). Few GBA teams win high-scoring shoot-outs where bigger centres, in many cases, have greater depth.
On Day 2, the u17s flattened Rotorua Maroon 79-60. Russell led the GBA’s offence with 22 points, Collier (17), Wilson (15) and Grayson (14) also scoring fluently.
Collier’s crew were never pushed hard by Rotorua, leading 22-13, 45-30, 58-47 throughout.
Gisborne began Sunday losing 88-78 to Waikato Country, but ended it with an 80-75 win against Taranaki Country.
Gisborne led Waikato Country 19-15 at the end of the first period, but Country rallied, and went to the break 39-36 ahead.
Outstanding Waikato guard Christian Vano jnr (32) hit two three-point shots early on and struck gold from the perimeter four times before the break. They were 64-57 up at three-quartertime. Russell (30), Wilson (14), Collier (12) fought the good fight for the u17s.
Russell (32), Wilson (16), Grayson (12) were the u17s main scorers in the 80-75 win against Waikato Country. A roller-coaster ride during which they led 30-19, trailed 43-44, were still in arrears 62-64 but came from behind to win.
Special mention must be made of Luka Russell with three 30-point-plus performances. He reminds those with long memories of u11 girls assistant coach Willie Brown, who was regarded by his then-Gisborne Boys’ High School coach Frank Russell as “a natural scorer”.
The u11 boys, coached by Lawrence Mulligan, were gritty and their match-effort in a tremendous bronze-medal match will be long-remembered.
They were beaten 47-42 by Franklin, who fought back from 4-14 down to get within three points (15-18) of Gisborne at halftime. It was 28-all at three-quartertime. Mehaka Pohatu-Chaffey (13) and Aiziah Craft-Chemis (14) shot the ball with steely nerve for a Gisborne team who showed resilience.
In the semifinal they were beaten 62-39 by Waikato Country — who held the lead throughout 22-12, 38-23, 52-31 — but Pohatu-Chaffey (11) played with great passion.
On Saturday, they beat New Plymouth Blue — under Jamie Russell, who was assisted by his father, legendary former Rising Suns coach Frank Russell. The score against New Plymouth was 45-26 — the Gisborne team 15-6, 19-12, 35-20 up from the tip. Pohatu-Chaffey and Craft-Chemis both scored 10.
Later on that day, Waikato beat the u11s 56-38. The Gisborne team were 13-11 in front at quartertime but Waikato surged to the break 35-21 ahead. They led 47-29 going into the fourth period. Taniora Waitai (10) was Gisborne’s only scorer in double-figures.
On Sunday morning against Tauranga, Reia Paenga-Morgan (16), captain Sean Mulligan (12) and Pohatu-Chaffey (10) played great hoops in a 72-3 splattering of the hosts. Gisborne led 14-0, 30-0, 54-2.
In the afternoon, Gisborne found Franklin a much tougher opponent. They beat Franklin 52-48, Paenga-Morgan (13), Pohatu-Chaffey (12) and Waitai (10) all making the necessary adjustments.
The u15 boys finished in fifth place after their 56-64 loss to Northland.
They gave The Taniwha a push at Tauranga Boys’ College on Monday, having earlier dealt harshly with Franklin — 89-42 — in the semi-finals.
The Northerners were made to work hard for their 15-13 advantage early on, with Gisborne 30-26 up at the break and by three-quartertime clung desperately to a 43-42 lead.
Big forward Cody Tarei (24) led Gisborne’s scorers.
Tarei (20), captain Quaydon Kora (17) and Te Haeora Kerekere-Puke (14) all played strongly in the drubbing of Franklin. The u15s led Franklin 21-11, 46-21, 63-29.
The team didn’t play on Sunday, but on Saturday suffered two tough losses.
They were beaten 86-81 by New Plymouth Blue and 94-45 by Te Aroha. Though Te Aroha controlled the game 28-9, 47-20, 70-35, Kora (18) and Felix Sparks (15) dug deep for Gisborne.
In the clash with New Plymouth, Te Haeora Kerekere-Puke (25), Keanu Reedy (18) and Tarei (14) were outstanding.
The u15s started aggressively, 29-22 up at quartertime and led 48-45 at the break, but New Plymouth fought back, magnificently, and were 70-59 ahead going into the fourth period.