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Top Women Basketballers Return to Home Court



International and local basketball stars, including four talented sisters will be playing hard at Papatoetoe’s local court.

The sisters come together in the Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks squad to play in the NZ Women’s Basketball Championships on June 6-8 at Papatoetoe’s Allan Brewster Centre.

Charmian Mellars and her sisters Kalani and Hailey Purcell and Natalie Taylor are looking forward to returning to their home court after playing basketball internationally.

Not only is this a chance for them to compete for Auckland Counties Manukau, it also means connecting with team member and Tall Fern, Jordon Hunter, who recently graduated from Southeast Missouri State University.

Unsurprisingly, the close-knit sisters have all represented at national level as well.

Natalie made her international debut for the Tall Ferns in 2007 alongside Charmian who had then been with the Tall Ferns since 2001.

Hailey, made her mark for Samoa in the FIBA Oceania Games 2013 and she will lead her sisters as captain of the Lady Hawks.

Kalani, the youngest sister, holds a basketball scholarship where she is breaking rebounding and scoring records at Hutchinson Community College, Kansas, USA. She made her debut as a Tall Ferns in 2013. 

However, the family sporting prowess doesn’t end there. The sisters’ niece Idaho Purcell also joins the family ranks and the Lady Hawks, after showing her strong skills in the New Zealand U/18 team.

For the proud parents, Brian and Ingrid Purcell, basketball has been a way of life, raising seven children, who are all talented athletes.

It comes as no surprise that both parents represented Counties Manukau in basketball, with Ingrid also an under 18 New Zealand player. “It’s a rare opportunity to have all the girls at home together - let alone playing side-by-side on the same team,” says Ingrid.

Coach Tania Hunter adds that it is important for a team to form strong bonds both on and off the court. “So it certainly helps when nearly half the team are related,” she says.

Tournament director, Georgie Witehira, says the event is a key platform for elite female players in New Zealand. “Counties Manukau Basketball has produced some excellent national and international players,” she says. “It’s great to have them back where it all began.”

Auckland Basketball Services Ltd (ABSL) is hosting the second tournament in the Women Basketball Championships on 6-8 June at Allan Brewster Centre, Papatoetoe. Entry is $5 per day or $10 for three days. If you buy and wear the t-shirt ($20) there is no charge for entry.

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