Garin College's basketball boys' road to the A Premierships Zone 4 competition final was tough, and not just on court. While in Westport the team learnt of the sudden death of a classmate close to several of the boys.
The response from the team was to draw together and look to one another for strength. They wore black armbands for their remaining games and were shown a high level of respect with some opposition sides performing a special haka to show a joint level of support and community.
Coach Grant Sidwell said the "hard boys" from Mairehau High School, who had been in a fair amount of trouble for their rough conduct on court, turned out to be some of the "kindest guys" once they learned of the tragic loss.
"Those [Mairehau High School] guys performed a haka for us to show respect as the guys had lost a schoolmate, so did Dunstan High School before the final."
Garin's team captain Brodie Sidwell said the team had a reflective time at the tournament and the team were able to spend time together. "We just concentrated on the basketball. It was pretty much just basketball and the motel, that was it.
"We just want to thank our coach Grant Sidwell and manager Dave MacManus who helped us a lot."
In terms of the basketball, Brodie said that Garin coming second overall and qualifying for the A Premierships national competition to be held in Nelson in early October was an unparalleled achievement.
"This would be the best result Garin basketball has ever had.
"It will be good to have the support when we play in Nelson, to have people from the school and the deputy principal Denis Moriarty who is involved in basketball."
At the tournament, Garin College beat Rangiora New Life School 70-41 to make the semifinal where they got past Mairehau High in a close 70-62 result.
In the final, Garin were beaten 83-63 by Dunstan High, despite 28 points from Joel McManus and 19 from Brodie Sidwell.
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