Seeded 13th, the Porirua under-15 girls basketball team made the final at nationals through belief, teamwork and sheer momentum.
They surprised many at this month's event in Wellington.
It didn't start well when they ran into a brick wall in the shape of North Harbour in their first pool match. Coach Jason Salmon said it was humbling, but a 13-point win over Nelson and an overtime victory over Waikato got them through.
"Waikato are a good team and because the game went later, we had a huge crowd watching us, which was good for the girls. We won by five. It was an amazing game."
Wins over Canterbury and Rotorua took them into the final against Harbour, where they were trounced 94-41.
"We had a game plan but we turned the ball over too much," Salmon says. "Harbour are a very experienced side, most of their girls play at a high level - I was proud of the way we played.
"I was thinking top eight before the tournament, so to make the final was awesome."
Shalae Salmon was one of the dominant forwards in the competition and she and captain Sarah Talbot made the tournament team.
For the first time, Porirua teams made the nationals for boys and girls at both under-15 and under-13 levels.
The under-15 boys lost two of their three pool matches and ended up losing the 11th/12th playoff to North Canterbury.
The under-13 tournaments were held in Tauranga. The girls fared well, winning every pool match before beating Canterbury in the 5th/ 6th playoff game. Ainsleyana Puleiata averaged 21 points per game and made the tournament team.
It was the highest placing for Porirua girls in the seven years of under 13 tournaments, coach Brett Jarman said.
The under-13 boys lost two of their three pool matches and finished 10th.
- Kapi-Mana News