Double delight as Te Aroha College take the spoils
Both A grade titles wrapped up in Nelson. Anthony Momoemausu reports.
Te Aroha College achieved a rare double at national secondary schools' championships claiming both the boys' and girls' A grade basketball titles in Nelson last week.
The A grade competition differs from the AA grade in that it caters for smaller schools.
The girls' team returned this year after finishing runners-up in 2011 to defeat Melville High School in the final, 53-46, led by tournament most valuable player, Amy Bottcher.
Meanwhile, it was a tighter affair in the boys' final as Te Aroha held off Dunstan High School, from Alexandra, 68-64, to claim the title.
After initially dropping their encounter with Melville in the pool stages, the girls' team coach, Michele Pipe, was ecstatic with her side's performance through the tournament.
"[I'm] very proud.
"They had to fight very hard for every game and they were still running at the end at the last game."
Pipe said winning the title this year was a great reward, especially for three members of the squad who finished second last year.
"For them, it was really a just reward because it was their second year in the team.
"Training all through the winter for two seasons and [to get] the gold this time - it is a huge reward.
“It took a lot of grit and determination to get this one. We had some really close games."
Pipe says plans are already under way for the side to return in 2013 and defend their title with the majority of the side eligible to play next year.
"I only lose one player next year - I've only got one year 13 in the team - so I'm looking to make it a two-peat next year. They're definitely all keen now."
It is the same story for the boys' side with most set to return next year, according to assistant coach Laura Wade
“Looking forward to doing it again next year,” Wade said.
“They will all come back again next year; they're all year 11 and 12.”
Standout performances from Alex Robinson, Troy Kururangi and Josh Turner were rewarded when the trio were selected into the tournament side. Turner was also named the most valuable player.
Not to be outdone, the girls also had three members in the tournament team - Amy Bottcher, Kaysee Bottcher and Meg Skilton.
AT A GLANCE
Boys' A grade final:
Te Aroha 68 (Toby Skilton 20, Alex Robinson 16, Troy Kururangi 15) Dunstan 64 (Jaydin Aburn 20, Liam Mulvihill 15, Harry Paulin 11) Boys' tournament team: Tawhiri Gilbert (Nga Taiatea), Liam Mulvihill (Dunstan), Alex Robinson (Te Aroha), Troy Kururangi (Te Aroha), Hikitia Te Aho (Nga Taiatea), Josh Turner (Te Aroha), Callum Clark (Dunstan), Harry Paulin (Dunstan), Te Ahuru O'Brien-Pari (Nga Taiatea), Brodie Sidwell (Garin) Girls' A grade final: Te Aroha 53 (Amy Bottcher 20, Keiran Leahy 16, Kaycee Bottcher 7) Melville 46 (Ocean Hereaka 17, Kelsey Watene 11, Kendall Smiler 9)
Girls tournament team:
Shyann de Theiry (Paeroa), Celine Selwyn (Taumarunui), Amy Bottcher (Te Aroha), Hawaiki Harris (Mana), Meg Skilton (Te Aroha), Kendal Smiler (Melville), Waimirirangi Koopu-Stone (Nga Taiatea), Kelsey Watene (Melville), Kaycee Bottcher (Te Aroha), Ocean Hereaka (Melville)