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Draft league resumes without missing a beat

The first post-Christmas event for any sportsperson is hard work.

But such was the closeness of the scores in Week 3 of Gisborne Basketball Association's inaugural women's draft league at the YMCA on Tuesday that none of the four teams' fitness or conditioning could be questioned.

Hoops I Did it Again and Dreamers joined former league leaders Butter Fingers with a second win, all three clubs now having won two games for six competition points.

Hana Wilkinson's equally hard-working Brick Layers will resume their quest for a win and a point in the semifinals on Tuesday next week.

Hoops I Did it Again beat Butter Fingers 54-52 in Game 1 this week, with Dreamers then edging out Brick Layers 38-32.

Butter Fingers' Kiara Swannell is the draft league's leading scorer with 46 points, Hoops I Did it Again driving force Petra Sparks has 41 points and Swannell's teammate Peyton Riri is at No.3 with 39 points.

Sparks led her crew by example in Game 1 on Tuesday night with a three-point play in the first quarter. She scored 18 points in total and was delighted that Hoops' one-for-all-and-all-for-one mantra produced victory.

The Otago University student praised her young players: “Ariana Kepa was outstanding for us. We hit our shots and worked really well as a team.”

The Janelle Te Rauna-Lamont-coached Butter Fingers spent the opening two minutes of the game on offence but Hoops' Kepa, on the left side of the court, scored the first field goal off a Sparks-led fast-break.

Hoops led 16-10 at the end of the first period with Fingers fighting back into the contest before halftime. They made a 10-point run to go 20-16 up before Hoops took a charged time-out with five minutes and 26 seconds to play.

Hoops righted themselves to retake the lead 32-31 going into the third quarter. Ohomauri Hailey (10pts) gave Hoops I Did it Again a second scorer in double-figures, yet it was the spread of points between six players, plus defensive hustle, that proved vitally important against two of the competition's most dangerous individuals — Kiara Swannell (20pts) and Peyton Riri (13pts).

It was Riri's open jumpshot for 20-16 that forced Hoops I Did it Again to take time.

The Butter Fingers coach was clear and constructive in the aftermath.

“That was a good game, even though we lost it,” Te Rauna-Lamont said.

“We ran some new plays and our defence was great but our shots weren't sinking and we threw some silly passes. It's do-or-die in next week's semi.”

Brick Layers deserve a slice of luck.

A Peyton Riri buzzer-beater cost them Game 2 on opening night (December 14). Sharpshooter Riri stole the late show for Butter Fingers 53-52. In Game 2 of Week 2, Hoops I Did it Again beat Brick Layers 42-34.

In coach Hana Wilkinson the battling Brick Layers have an advocate with experience of competitive pressure.

“This game against Dreamers was another good close one and I'm really stoked with how our team's coming along,” former New Zealand under-18 representative Wilkinson said.

“There's now more intensity and things are starting to flow. We're looking forward to next week.”

The scores were tied 8-8 at quartertime, with Dreamers 16-13 up going into the third period. Three-point shots from Ishtar Mackey-Huriwai and Te Atahuia Matahiki were sharp daggers in Dreamers' powerful fourth-quarter showing: they steamed ahead 31-22.

Taimarie Matahiki (12pts) and Piper Donaldson (10pts) led Dreamers' scorers while Brick Layers' Jamieson Tapsell — who led all scorers in the game with 13 points — opened her team's account and sank two three-pointers in the fourth period.

Dreamers player-coach Melissa Mackey-Huriwai was pleased with her team's hard but clean defence, although she felt that the pace of the game was slow.

Referees Clifton Blumfield, Brendon Walsh, Felix Sparks and Lawrence Mulligan all had a good night with the whistle.

Hoops I Did it Again 54 (Petra Sparks 18, Ohomauri Hailey 10, Ariana Kepa 9) Butter Fingers 52 (Kiara Swannell 20, Peyton Riri 13) - Q1, Hoops I Did it Again 16-10; HT 32-31; Q3, 43-38.

Team Dreamers 38 (Taimarie Matahiki 12, Piper Donaldson 10) Brick layers 32 (Jamieson Tapsell 13, Amoe Tarsau 5) - Q1, 8-8; HT, Team Dreamers 16-13; Q3, 31-22.

On Tuesday, the semifinals will be played at the YMCA —

1 v 4, 5.30pm: (1) Dreamers v (4) Brick Layers.

2 v 3, 6.45pm: (2) Butter Fingers v (3) Hoops I Did it Again.