GAME RECAP: Kāhu book spot in Grand Final with win over Whai

The Northern Kāhu have defeated the Whai 78-63 to advance to the Grand Final on Saturday night at Trafalgar Centre in Nelson.

The Kāhu had their foot on the gas in the first quarter jumping out to a big 23-6 lead behind nine points from import Marte Grays. The Whai struggled to get anything going early with a 3-of-18 shooting effort and 0-of-7 from distance through the first 10 minutes, as well as five turnovers to their name.

Northern were playing determined defence and made life difficult for the Whai - even entry passes to the post were a struggle with active post defence.

The Whai showed better poise in the second quarter. They seemed to be rattled in the first quarter, but once they settled down and got into their offence they were able to make some in roads. Kyra Lambert worked her way up to 11 points to lead the resurgence, Dominique McBryde had five in the quarter and Kendell Heremaia hit a pair of triples.

Whai shot 4-of-9 from beyond the arc in the second, but their turnovers were still lingering with nine for the half. As a team they shot 12-of-36 from the field.

Krystal Leger-Walker and Marte Grays each had 11 points for the Kāhu. Leger-Walker hit three 3-pointers in the half and also dished out three assists. Northern shot 6-of-14 from downtown.

The Whai outscored the Kāhu 22-14 in the second quarter and trailed 37-28 at halftime, a solid effort considering the early blow delivered by Northern. 

The deficit was cut to as little as five points late in the third quarter, with the Whai continuing their pursuit of the Kāhu after a shaky start. Lambert was up to 22 points for the Whai, while Kendell Heremaia was doing her thing off the bench with 13. 

Pacing the Kāhu was still Leger-Walker and Grays with 16 a piece and Micaela Cocks had 10 points with one quarter to play.

The Kāhu showed why they were the No. 1 team in the regular season with their fourth quarter effort to shut the door on the Whai. MVP Tahlia Tupaea took control scoring the ball and dishing to her teammates - she also hit two huge 3-pointers from way downtown to deliver a fatal blow to the Whai.

Tupaea finished with 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals to lead the Kāhu. Marte Grays scored 20 and Krystal Leger-Walker was fantastic with 16 points on 4-of-6 from three. The Kāhu shot just 38% from the field as a team, but they held the Whai to 34% from the field and 6-of-24 from downtown. 

Kyra Lambert scored a game-high 24 points for the Whai in a valiant effort. Kendell Heremaia hit three 3-pointers off the bench for 15 points. 

Purchase tickets to the Grand Final here:

SCORE: Kāhu 78, Pouākai 63

Kāhu: Tupaea 21 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST, 4 STL | Grays 20 PTS, 7 REB | Leger-Walker 16 PTS, 4-6 3PT

Pouākai: Lambert 24 PTS | Heremaia 15 PTS

Full box score HERE.


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