Hectic 48 hours . . .
They were the most hectic 48 hours in club basketball since opening night, 1998.
The men on Monday and the women last night produced a head-spinning raft of close games.
In the men’s A Grade, Gisborne Boys’ High School Black won their first game of the season, 37-36 against SE Systems, City Lights fought back to defeat defending champions GBHS Red 83-71 and Old School pipped the Filthy Dozen 51-50.
In the B Grade at Gisborne Boys’ High School’s John McFarlane Memorial Sports Centre, Campion beat the Boys’ High Wolf-pack 54-26, Lytton High School edged Old Surfers 44-41 and GBHS Blue — the school’s second-youngest team — beat the veteran Gizzy Gilas 56-43.
Last night the madness continued. Paikea defeated Gisborne Girls’ High School by default, Campion College made some huge plays in their 38-27 victory over YMCA Riverina and 2017 women champions Lytton High School beat Ngati Porou 47-46 on Gisborne Basketball Association under-15 girls’ captain Piper Donaldson’s steely nerve at the free-throw line.
With 1 v 2, 4 v 5 and 3 v 6 as the format for all three grades (men’s A/B, and the women) in the quarterfinals next Monday and Tuesday, the pace and skill-level of play picked up across the board this week.
“It’s starting to heat up now as teams are starting to find their patterns and strengths,” GBA chairman and head coach Dwayne Tamatea said.
“It’s going to be an interesting three weeks.”
Will Locquard is a very good player.
Such has been Filthy Dozen veteran Willie Brown’s superb form in 2019, it was going to take a monumental effort from someone on Old School’s side to match his: cue Locquard.
Both men scored 18 points in a 51-50 win to Old School and Locquard could not have picked a better time to find his mid-range jump shot, with teammate Reggie Namana (8pts) their monster crew’s next scorer of note.
Old School big men Rongomai Smith and Thomas Tindale were kept relatively quiet by the Filthy Dozen’s swarming low-post defence, the Dozen leading 18-10, 33-19, 45-34 throughout.
The Dozen’s Dominic Wilson (13pts) showed glimpses of class but dynamic tall forward Dale Akuhata (9pts) was ultra-impressive, most notably when soaring for rebounds at the offensive end of the court, and he even ripped the ball out of Old School players’ hands — a rare occurrence.
Old School won Game 3 on heart and hustle, having turned the ball over in the first half more often than they had all season to that point. They turned the ball over five times in a row during the second period; they won “ugly”, which speaks volumes for their resilience and sporting character.
A captain doesn’t leave the floor because of cramp.
Tamati Horua scored 21 points in GBHS Black’s 37-36 win against SE Systems and cramped up in the second period of Boys’ High Red’s Game 2 clash with City Lights.
CL won the game 83-71 but had Horua left the court, Gisborne Boys’ injury-hit senior team — reduced to four players — would surely have lost by more than 12 points. As it was, Tyrese Tuwairua-Brown (a Week 7 individual-high 33 points in all three grades), Holden Wilson (15ptes and Red skipper Max Scott (11ptds) — perhaps moved by Horua’s effort — fought back.
Scott had a tough game, picking up four fouls — (including a technical foul) in the first quarter; he did well to last the game.
City Lights strongman Aubrey Yates took six offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes and posed a constant threat to Boys’ High Red in the absence of their three big men, 6ft 6in Sam Veitch, Ofa Tauatevalu and Khian Westrupp.
City Lights captain Scott Muncaster (21pts) and centre Ryan Walters (11pts) took time to find their range but guard Carlos Pedraza was consistent, scoring 20 points in breakaway lay-ups and scoop-shots reminiscent of Brown against Old School. Both Walters and Tuwairua-Brown hit 25-foot outside shots in the fourth period. City Lights led 13-10, 43-27, 64-46.
“It’s good to play a top-of-the-table clash, to gauge where your team’s at,” Muncaster said.
“I thought we played a great game.”
Scott, speaking for GBHS Red, said: “Considering we had only five players and were all in foul trouble, we did OK — cut their lead to 10 in the fourth.”
Well done. Gisborne Boys’ High School’s decision to field two A Grade teams was vindicated on Monday night with a tremendous match-effort by GBHS Black, who beat league stalwarts SE Systems 37-36.
Whether that lit a fire under every other team is debatable, but the see-saw nature of Game 1 in Week 7 is on record: Systems led 11-8, GBHS went ahead 19-18 and SES were 27-25 up at three-quartertime.
Black captain Tamati Horua’s 21 points were key in Gisborne Boys’ High School’s win, as veterans Adrian Sparks and Anton Riri’s nine points apiece were crucial to the SES chances in the gritty, low-scoring contest.
Riri’s dribble-drive to the hoop and pass to Sparks, left side of the goal for 11-8, beat the game-clock with one second remaining. The referees set a high standard early in the evening and stuck to it: with 32 seconds to play in the game, lead official Shay Waikawa picked Systems’ Marty Ngaira for progress: the score then was 36-all.
Horua said: “It was physical — we knew we had to play fast. It was good to get that first win.”
Leaders learn from leaders. GBA u15 girls’ representative captain Piper Donaldson plays club basketball for Lytton High School under Jayda Waititi-Leach, who in 2017 led Lytton to the women’s crown — the only school team ever to win it.
And Donaldson held her composure at the free-throw line, making two foul-shots to get her team home 47-46 against Ngati Porou in Game 3 last night.
Ngati Porou, for so long the torch-bearers and gold standard of women’s basketball, trailed LHS 10-7 at the end of the first period and 23-15 before the break before nudging ahead 34-32 as the fourth period beckoned.
Tiara Weir of Ngati Porou led all scorers in Week 7 with 23 points and scored the last field goal for 46-45. Both NP captain Bronya McMenamin and sharpshooter Shay Waikawa (three three-point shots) scored nine points in what was an amazing game to watch.
The older team were all class while retaining their feistiness. Ata Mangu stopped Alicia Kepa and O’Shea Rangihaeata from scoring in a two-on-one situation — Lytton were 19-13 up at the time.
Rangihaeata (10pts) and Waititi-Leach (14pts) led their scorers but what impressed the most was the young team’s structure. In the half-court, they had player movement and ball movement. They set screens on defensive players, cut to the goal and got open to shoot. For a young school team in the club league to do that so well is unusual.
Waititi-Leach said: “It was an intense game going into the second half and while I was a little bit nervous when Piper went to the line, I knew she could make both.”
They were all good. The Adrian Sparks-coached Campion College beat YMCA Riverina 38-27 with a superb effort at both ends of the floor.
Brooke Bennett produced 17 points and Alisha Duncan (12pts) critically gave Campion another scorer in double-figures.
For years a team whose fortunes rose and fell on the shoulders of Petra Sparks, Anna Spring and Jayda Banks, Campion now have new heroes, and the whole team were heroic. Lauren Bennett had the crowd’s hearts in their mouths diving to save a ball in-court as late as the fourth period.
YMCA Riverina were spirited and competitive, the score being 6-6 at quartertime; they were 16-13 down at the break and 27-16 in arrears going into the fourth period, though the remarkable ability of Katie Edwards to step to the hoop netted her 15 points.
But the play of the game — from Campion — rivalled anything to come in Game 3. On the left side of the court, Lauren found Brooke cutting to the hoop. Brooke made the left-handed lay-up for 23-13.
The quality of the play rested on the ball-rotation, skip passes and team-work, which led to the lane opening up.
Credit to coach, players and training hours there.