Written by Mike Lacey - Courtesy of laceylowdown.com
The Grand Finals of the 2017 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam will feature Railsplitters and the Birdmen in the Men’s competition with Suns taking on Storm in the Women’s showpiece.
It took Railsplitters an overtime period, which they dominated 22-3, to overcome a stubborn 68A Nelson Street outfit 123-104 in the late semi-final.
Nelson Street were quickest out of the blocks as Liam Thornton, Mitch Newton, Derone Raukawa and Judson Seumanu all connected from deep to spring a 30-18 advantage.
11 points in the second from Jaylen Gerrand trimmed the deficit slightly but Nelson St still held a 58-49 lead at the break.
Newton piled in 12 third quarter points for Nelson St but Ryan Laumatia and Sam Aruwa answered for Railsplitters as the lead was cut to 80-75 with ten minutes to play.
Raukawa paced the Nelson St effort in the fourth but Railsplitters finished strong to force overtime after the scores were locked at 101 apiece in regulation.
The extra five minutes belonged to Railsplitters as five different scorers contributed to a dominating finishing spell.
Railsplitters 123 – Gerrand 29, Harris 25, Laumatia 19, Sam Aruwa 16, Jenkins 10
68A Nelson Street 104 – Newton 31, Raukawa 26, Fesolai 15, Thornton 13, Seumanu 10
Birdmen convincingly defeated Breakers Development 102-64 in the first semi-final.
Six early points from Thomas Whyte gave Breakers the early lead but the inside presence of Dominique Kelman-Poto and some three-point ammunition from Kevin Braswell carried Railsplitters to a 45-37 half-time lead.
Zack Te Puni put up some resistance for the Breakers but it was largely one-way traffic in the third as Railsplitters rattled in 36 points as multiple players registered points.
Breakers Development – Te Puni 20, Whyte 15, Williams-Dunne 12, Langridge 9
Birdmen 102– Kelman-Poto 28, Colla 16, Matambanadzo 16, Braswell 14, Barrow 10, Clinton 10,
In the first women’s semi-final Sparks were no match for Storm going down 115-55.
Storm raced to a 27-13 first quarter lead and were never challenged thereafter.
Sharne Pupuke-Robati accumulated 23 points for Sparks but Shauna Povey, Olivia Berry, Emme Shearer and Stevee-Rose Theyers each cooked up twenty points or more for Storm.
Storm 115 – Povey 26, Berry 24, Theyers 21, Shearer 20
Sparks 55 – Pupuke-Robati 23, Schuster 9, Fiatau 8, S Dil 6
Suns, led by 20 points from Luye Murphy, eventually prevailed 95-61 against Sky after a close first half.
Hannah Wentworth and Keeley Tini scored consistently for Sky as they trailed 46-36 at half-time.
The outside shooting of Murphy and Anna Lacey coupled with the inside work of Annabelle Jenkins and Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu was working well for Sun as they stretched out to a 68-50 three-quarter time lead.
Amanda Buck was tireless for Sky but it will be Suns that will face Storm in the final on Saturday.
Sky 61 – Buck 19, Wentworth 14, Tini 14, Te Huia 8
Suns 95 – Murphy 20, A Jenkins 12, Z Kailahi-Fulu 11, Lacey 9, T Jenkins 9