The 3 on 3 Secondary Schools National Slam reached a terrific climax on Saturday at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere.
By Mike Lacey
Sixty-four Boys and Girls teams, competing in Junior and Senior categories, were finally whittled down to the two finalists in each category following three days of exciting basketball.
The Junior Girls Final was decided in overtime after the scores between Rangitoto College and Hamilton Girls High School was tied 7-7 after the 12 minutes of regular time. Kaitlin Burgess and Robyn Blackstock made the go ahead baskets in the extra period to secure a 9-7 victory for Rangitoto.
The Junior Boys Final featured unbeaten Saint Kentigern College and Kelston Boys High School. For much of the game it looked as if Kelston, led by ‘TV’ Talavous Gavet, would upset the favourites. They led 5-3 at the mid point and 9-8 entering the final two minutes. However, in an exciting finish, Max Shorter cancelled out a ‘TV’ score to tie the game 10 apiece with 30 seconds remaining and then with time about to expire guard Zac Chang scored the game winning basket – 11-10, St Kentigern the winners.St Kent’s coach Colin Driscoll was delighted, “My first National title in over 35 years coaching”, not that you could tell from the veteran coach’s expression.
The Senior Girls Final was an all Waikato affair after St Peters Cambridge and Hamilton Girls High School had both edged a Westlake Girls team by a single point in the semi–finals.The result was still in doubt at the 6 minutes mark with St Peters ahead 8-5. Despite the efforts of Hamilton standout Azure Anderson St Peters were too strong in the closing minutes winning the game 14-8. The St Peters trio of Kendell Heremaia and sisters Charlisse and Krystal Leger-Walker were outstanding for the victors.
The Senior Boys Semi-Finals were won by Westlake Boys High School and Rangitoto College. Rangitoto were always in control against Auckland Grammar School winning 20-16. The other game was a much tighter affair eventually closed out by Westlake 14-11.
The early stages of the Final hinted at a possible Rangitoto rout as they opened up an 8-4 advantage. But driven by Matt Freeman and Logan Hunt Westlake charged back into contention, the scores tied 15-15 with 3:18 to play. Freeman then put Westlake ahead only for Yuat Alok to score back-to-back baskets to regain the advantage for Rangitoto, 18-17. Westlake had a couple of chances to grab the lead but a Tai Wynyard block sealed the title for “Rangi”.
Tall Black Wynyard, captain of the victorious Rangitoto team, was delighted and relieved with the win. “When we went behind with a couple of minutes remaining I thought oh "no” he commented. “But I was still confident we would come through with the win even though we were all tired and Yuat and I were playing injured." Wynyard heads off to the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland next week, his teammates head back to the classroom but all will be content with their efforts over a hectic three days.