Rosmini and St Mary's triumph at schools basketball championships
St Mary's College and Rosmini College are the two new national secondary schools basketball champions.
Rosmini beat Rangitoto College 87-79 in the boys final at the Arena on Palmerston North on Saturday night, denying Rangitoto a second title in a row.
St Mary's from Wellington beat St Peter's School Cambridge 68-62 in the girls decider, despite 48 points from Charlisse Leger-Walker of St Peter's.
The two North Shore boys schools had met in two finals earlier in the season with the silverware shared – Rangitoto winning the Auckland premier title and Rosmini the zone one qualifying tournament.
But it was Rosmini who won the top prize, repeating its national title success from 2011.
Rangitoto, who beat one of the tournament favourites and last year's finalists Palmerston North Boys' High School in the quarterfinal, had the better of the opener to lead 24-20, and after an entertaining half were up 46-45 at the break.
Tournament MVP Mitch Dance led all scorers at halftime with 16 points.
Little separated the teams when Rosmini led 63-61 with a quarter to go.
Dan Fotu peeled off seven straight points to set up an exciting final minute with his team trailing 84-79, but Rangitoto were unable to make any further dent in the deficit.
Rosmini coach Matt Lacey lost in the 2012 final as a player, but was delighted to win the championship in his first season as coach.
"The team have worked hard all season and deserve their success," Lacey said. "Rangitoto were the benchmark at the start of the season, we have had some great battles with them this season and I'm just grateful we could get the win in such a big game.
"Being denied the win as a player was disappointing, but this more than makes up for it."
Mt Albert Grammar School won the playoff for third and fourth place 72-62 against Christ's College.
Host side Palmerston North finished fifth after beating Auckland Grammar School 78-73.
In the girls' final, zone three winners St Mary's knocked over last year's champions St Peter's 51-48.
St Peter's captain Leger-Walker scored all 16 of her team's first quarter points, but St Mary's led 21-11.
St Mary's were up 33-30 at halftime and 51-48 at the end of the third quarter. At this stage Leger-Walker was already in double-double territory with 34 points and 11 rebounds.
But St Peter's and Leger-Walker weren't finished as the Junior Tall Fern reeled off seven straight points to close the gap with 1:30 to play.
St Peter's couldn't muster another basket, with St Mary's closing out the game with free throws to claim a deserved win.
St Mary's coach Nixon Penese praised St Peter's.
"St Peter's are an amazing team, very well coached by Leanne Walker and with an incredible player in tournament MVP Charlisse," Penese said. "I told my girls to beat the champions it would take a big effort from the whole team.
"We don't have any super stars so they have learnt to trust each other. I'm very proud of all the girls, but particularly the year 13 players Sariah (Penese) and Terrelle (Onesemo).
"We have had fantastic support from all of the parents – it took a big family to beat St Peter's," he added.
Auckland Girls' Grammar School won the third-and-fourth playoff 58-54 against Melville High School.
Rosmini College 87 (Mitch Dance 26, Williams-Dunn 17, Will Heather 15, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 13, Terrence Abdon 9) Rangitoto 79 (Dan Fotu 28, Logan McIntosh 15, Zack Te Puni 14, Caleb Langridge 7). HT: 46-45.
St Mary's College 68 (Renee Savai'inaea 18, Terrelle Onesemo 13, Grace Hunter 11, Leni-Lia Moananu 11, Sariah Penese 9) St Peter's School 62 (Charlisse Leger-Walker 48, Ella Bradley 9). HT: 33-30.