The Aon New Zealand Under 16 boys have fought their way into the semi-final of the Australia Junior Championships in Perth, after defeating New South Wales Metro in the quarter final 74 to 68.
It was a hard-won result for the Kiwis who were trailing for the majority of the game, with NSWM hitting their shots with confidence and executing their systems with precision.
It wasn’t until some adjustments were made by the New Zealand coaching staff that the Under 16’s snatched the lead with a few minutes to go.
Assistant Coach Morgan Maskell says he and the team’s staff were pleased with the team’s execution, both offensively and defensively.
“We were proud of how the boys kept their composure and showed an understanding of what goes into winning a basketball game.
“It was a collective team effort where players dived on loose balls, chased rebounds and took smart shots, which meant that we played excellent basketball throughout the game. It all came to fruition in the final minutes of the game as we continued to play the right way and find the right shots.”
Mac Stoddart had another stand-out performance with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Harrison Pain also played a strong part with 20 points. Other notable mentions go to Ezrah Vaigafa (7 points, 9 Rebounds), and Reihana Topia (7 points).
The Under 16 Boys are now bracketed with Queensland South in the semi-final. Coach Maskell says the all the teams left in the competition are good basketball teams and Queensland South are another well-drilled junior team.
“Our boys are looking forward to it and will embrace the challenge. We are confident in ourselves and will have prepared extremely diligently for the game ahead.
“The boys are also proud of what they have achieved to date, and understand what they need to do. They’ve played high IQ basketball throughout the tournament, which is a testament to their culture and preparation that they have established.”
In the same tournament, the Aon New Zealand Under 16 Girls played Victoria Metro in their quarter final – the number one ranked team after pool play.
From the outset Victoria Metro showed their class by going up 12-0. While trying to stem the hot streak, Emilia Shearer was stung with two quick fouls in first couple of minutes, which forced early substitutions from Coach Visger, who tried different combinations to break the drought. It took the Kiwis nearly five minutes to score against Victoria Metro's stifling defence.
“We were able to rally in the second quarter with Emilia scoring five points after being reinserted to the game,” says Assistant Coach Justine Reed.
“In the fourth quarter we outscored them 18-16, but it was too little too late. Victoria Metro had scouted us well and seemed to anticipate exactly what we were and which players they needed to shut down.”
Waiata Jennings showed courage with 12 points, 8 of which were in the last quarter. She added 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 steals for an all-round effort. Emilia Shearer chalked a notable 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Final score: New Zealand 48, Victoria Metro 67.