Written by Mike Lacey
The second of three tournaments to decide the 2014 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) was held in Auckland at the weekend.
The tournament was full of good quality basketball but it took the 25th and final game of the weekend to eventually finalised the top six teams that will contest the championship play-offs in Porirua in July. In fact it was the final 30 seconds of the 25th game before the outcome was decided.
Waitakere Lady Rangers entered the game against local rivals Harbour Breeze (5-3), needing a win to secure of a place in the top six. The Rangers 4-4 record was identical to that of defending champions Capital Flyers with the Flyers holding the head to head advantage having beaten the Hawks in an earlier round. The outlook was a little bleak for the Rangers at half-time, the Breeze holding sway 37-23. The Rangers took control in the second half, or more accurately Penina Davidson took charge scoring 32 second half points to amass 36 points on the night. Despite that effort the scores were still locked at 66 apiece with 1:20 remaining but it was Davidson’s night and she scored the winning basket in the dying seconds to secure the victory.
An exciting finish to an absorbing weekend’s basketball. The Lady Rangers join the Lady Hawks, Breeze, Wildcats, Gold Rush and Wizards in the top six.
During the weekend Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks underlined their favoritism status by ending the round robin series with an 8-1 record. Boasting an international starting five of the Purcell sisters Kalani, Hailey, Charmian (Mellars), Natalie (Taylor) and Tall Fern point guard Jordan Hunter they will certainly head to the finals weekend as the team to beat. However, they were beaten by Harbour Breeze and have been given tough games by the other top six teams.
Waikato Wizards (7-2), led by Leanne Walker have good depth with scoring potential right across the squad. Rhaiah Spooner-Knight, Natasha Lenden, Miriam Stevens and Northern Mystics netballer Jessica Tuki have all been in good form and will be the main threat to the Hawks title aspirations.
Harbour Breeze didn’t have the best of weekends in Auckland but a front court of Becks van Kuyk, Deena Franklin and Karlene Kingi is as good as any in the competition and the three times former champions can beat any team on their day.
Gold Rush Otago (6-3) forward Samara Gallaher has been in outstanding form recently and along with the backcourt duo of Suzie Bates and Janet Main the southerner’s will pose a serious threat to all the other contenders.
2013 Secondary Schools MVP Tessa Boagni has been averaging a double double for the Canterbury Wildcats (6-3). Ably supported by forward Bridgette Lawn and guards Shea Crotty and Laken Wairau the Cantabs will be keen to impress come finals time.
Contesting the Plate competition in Porirua will be Rotorua Vols, Nelson Sparks, Capital Flyers and the Junior Tall Ferns.
1st Auckland Counties Lady Hawks
2nd Waikato Wizards
3rd Oceana Gold Rush Otago
4th New Zealand Home Loans Canterbury Wildcats
5th Waitakere Lady Rangers
6th North Harbour Breeze
7th Capital Flyers
8th Probands Nelson Sparks
9th Rotorua Lady Vols
10th Junior Tall Ferns