Newcomers Howick College win first national schools netball crown
Howick College capped their remarkable first time at the New Zealand secondary school netball championships by winning their first national crown.
In their first appearance at the event, the Auckland school beat Saint Kentigern College 33-25 in an exciting grand final in Rotorua on Friday.
It was the second time the two teams had clashed, with just three goals separating the two when they met in the tournament opener earlier in the week.
Howick also won that match, but were forced to come from behind in the grand final, with Saint Kentigern gaining the early break.
Saint Kentigern goal attack Ashleigh Garner led from the front, sinking eight from eight in the opening spell, as her side held an 8-6 advantage at the first break.
But momentum swung in the second quarter, with Howick netting five unanswered goals, their resurgence spurred on by goal keeper Nanise Waqaira who snaffled two intercepts.
Shooter Leehava Saverio also came into the game netting eight from nine in the quarter as Howick closed the gap to one goal by halftime.
The arm wrestle continued into the third quarter with Saint Kentigern netting two quick goals before Howick started to assert their dominance and went into the fourth spell with a two-goal advantage.
Saint Kentigern coach Nicola Lewis made a change in the shooting circle for the fourth quarter with Garner swapping bibs with goal shooter Hannah Ward.
The switch made little difference as it was Howick which started the deciding spell the strongest with three straight goals giving it a sniff of victory.
The back three of Waqaira, goal defence Shalom Setu-Veve and wing Iva Livani combined well with the trio picking up five intercepts and nine deflections between them as they stifled Saint Kentigern's flow up front.
Howick's ability to share the shooting load again proved a strength to their game as they won the last quarter 10-4 to snare the spoils.
Palmerston North school Manukura finished third, beating Epsom Girls' Grammar School 37-30 in their playoff.
St Mary's College Wellington midcourter Ainsleyana Puleiata was named the player of the year.
Howick College 33 (Leehava Saverio 20/24, Lasalle Lefale 13/13) Saint Kentigern College 25 (Hannah Ward 7/9, Ashleigh Garner 18/24). Quarter scores: 6-8, 15-16, 23-21, 33-25.