The Waikato region has continued its run of sporting success, this time at the National Secondary Schools Basketball Championships in Nelson last week.
Hamilton Girls' High School were crowned champions in the AA grade, while Te Aroha claimed both the boys' and girls' titles in the A grade.
The outstanding results effectively meant three of the four national titles were won by Waikato secondary schools.
HGHS went through the week-long tournament unbeaten to capture their first championship with a comprehensive 74-56 victory over Mt Albert Grammar School, Auckland.
A strong third-quarter performance proved to be the turning point for HGHS as they outscored their opponents 26-8 after they were down at halftime.
Their recovery was led by Shemaiah Parai, while the tournament's most valuable player, Jaylen Hawea, chipped in with 15.
For coach Tyler Wilkinson the win was a culmination of three years of hard work and planning, so for her it was "very satisfying" to win the title after gaining a second and fourth over the past two years.
“It was great. We'd set a goal when we came to this school that we were going to get the school's name on that trophy," she said.
Wilkinson credited the teamwork of her side and felt that proved to be a telling factor as Girls' High marched on throughout the tournament. “We have a lot of individual players that are really talented. So we knew that for us to win it, they had to be unselfish and that everything had to be for the team rather than for themselves.
“If they won as a team then the accolades for individuals would come later, which bore fruit in the tournament team and getting the most valuable player out of our squad. The girls focused on the teamwork first.”
Wilkinson's method proved to be correct as the outstanding play of Parai and Hawea was recognised, with the duo named in the tournament side along with team-mate and Junior Tall Fern Chelseah Savage.
Meanwhile, Wilkinson - who is in her third year in charge of the side - said the coaching staff were already looking ahead to next year as they made adjustments with players moving on.
With hopes of a new facility and younger players coming through the basketball programme, it is exciting times for HGHS basketball. “We are still building a programme. We don't just want this to be a one-off - definitely no. We're kind of looking to build a dynasty here.”
AT A GLANCE
Girls AA grade final: Hamilton Girls' High School 74 (Jaylen Hawea 23, Shemaiah Parai 20, Ves Wilkinson 12) Mt Albert Grammar School 56 (Kezeiah Lewis 18, Idaho-Maree Purcell 15, Kerryn Poto 9) TOURNAMENT TEAM: Camece Salmon (Wellington), Breana Jones (Fraser), Wuanyei Ah-Hing (Auckland), Brooke Blair (Rangitoto), Pennina Davidson (Rangitoto), Kezeiah Lewis (Mt Albert), Deena Franklin (Westlake), Chelseah Savage (Hamilton), Jaylen Hawea (Hamilton), Shemaiah Parai (Hamilton)
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