Waimea students seize their chance
Premier netball's championship round produced some striking results at Saxton Stadium last night as Waimea College continued their meteoric rise up the ranks with an assured victory over Richmond.
Meanwhile, Stoke made their semi-final aspirations clear with victory over Prices in a superb 139-goal spectacle and Wanderers were bold in defeat to Jacks.
Courtesy of a 55-41 win, Waimea College Senior A have now beaten every other perennial premier-grade team apart from Jacks this season, showing a spot in the semifinals is well within reach. They took advantage of understrength Richmond Robbies Bar and Bistro, and despite some last-quarter jitters, held on for a vital victory.
The height of absent women's national league basketball players Nicki Rampton and Kat Jones was missed, especially in the shooting circle. The Waimea defensive duo of Gracie Roberts and Freya Watson were obtrusive. The Waimea defenders' work slowed the ball into the circle, cutting off the high ball and grabbing nearly every rebound was the major reason Waimea posted the win.
Although they didn't have it all their own way, Rampton's replacement Belinda Koloamatangi was one of the best on court for the defending champions. Kathleen Thornalley used every ounce of her netball nous to upset the unrelenting enthusiasm of her rivals.
It was the scrap of the match, and a good watch to boot, but eventually the lack of height in the circle for Richmond cut down the feeding options and in turn their goals. They finished with a 66 per cent team shooting average.
At the other end Waimea's shooters Shaun Aindow and Kayla Cross had a much easier ride, thanks to a strong game from centre Kaitlyn Stringer.
Waimea coach Faye Eden said overall she was ecstatic with the result, adding that it was a health hazard watching her team play at times.
"I think they just like doing that to see if the coaches and the managers' hearts can take it," Eden said referring to the fact her team let a six-point lead slip to one in the final quarter before recovering to deny Richmond a bonus point.
"We said this is your chance, if you are going to get Richmond you get them when they are down two of their six-foot players."
Richmond co-coach Amanda Springer was pleased with her side's ability to fight back down the stretch.
"We came back at them but just didn't quite make it, but it wasn't through lack of trying. We missed Nicki and Kat around the court and we certainly missed their height."
Across on court 2 a fast paced battle was under way between Prices Pharmacy and Stoke NBS. And with Stoke's one-two combination punch of goal shoot Megan Thomson and goal attack Kelsey Whiting on song, Stoke posted an impressive 76-63 victory.
Make no mistake - this was a match of high intensity and Stoke were only 35-32 ahead at halftime. The rapid pace through court saw turnovers converted in only three passes, although both teams also employed a great short-pass game led by Stoke's Hillary Jones and Kat Soper.
The game saw 100 goals through the net with still 14 minutes left to play as both sides looked down court and the ball followed, but it was Stoke who forced more deviations from Prices and in turn more turnovers.
Stoke won all four quarters, but a strong final quarter where Stoke shot at 92 per cent saw then extend their lead, to start their semifinal hunt in the best possible fashion.
"I just said to the team, ‘you are all good players, just go out there and play for pride'," said Stoke coach Priyani de Silva-Currie.
"It was a full-on game. It wasn't just centre pass, pop to goal shoot, there was a lot of work happening out there, we backed each other up really well."
Apart from the forced errors Prices didn't do a lot wrong with Rebecca Dudley and Mahina Law shooting better than their opponents, on 84 per cent. Dana Wilson was another quality performer at wing attack.
Coach Wayne Hippolite said he wasn't disappointed with his team's performance. It was just that Stoke moved up another level.
"Stoke played a really good game and forced us into errors. This result makes it a bit harder especially with Waimea winning, which throws another spanner in the works, but we are aiming for top four and we'll keep going."
In the late match Jacks OPD Richmond pulled away from Wanderers Taylors A to record a 79-46 goal victory. Even if the result was never in doubt, Wanderers showed time down in the senior one grade has been well spent.
Jacks were without their effervescent midcourt general Jodi Hikuroa. Even so, with intelligent netball players like Moana Forbes and the class of 90 per cent shooter Ani-Marie Waitai, they were always going to be too strong for Wanderers.
Not that the newly promoted side didn't take a lot from this match. Tasman under-19 rep Courtney Clarke shot well and defender Kiriana Davies gave the unenviable task of marking Waitai a good shake.
Wanderers coach Jared Lock said in the lower division they have learned to play with more confidence and let the ball go
However, the down side was they were not used to the 15-minute quarters and by the 40-minute mark their players “ran out of oomph".
- © Fairfax NZ News