The Northern Kāhu’s GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa winning run has extended to six after defeating Whai 61-45 at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre, Tauranga on Tuesday night.
Kāhu outscored the hosts 36-16 in the second half with a formidable defensive display underpinning a third road win.
Tahlia Tupaea (15 points) and Micaela Cocks (12 points) each passed a century of points for the season during the contest, the pair receiving strong support from forward Maddison Wolf (10 points) and floor general Krystal Leger-Walker (13 points).
Following her record breaking 3-point performance against Mainland Pouākai in the previous game Tiarna Clarke tallied 11 points but made just 1 from 7 from beyond the arc in this one. Kendell Heremaia scored 9 points on her home debut however Kyra Lambert, averaging 18 points per game, was held to just 4 points by the miserly Kahu defence.
Meeting for the second time in a week, the low scoring first quarter duplicated the intensive defensive match up witnessed at Eventfinda Stadium in the first matchup – the opening frame edged 11-8 by Whai.
The two northern rivals had courtside support from Steven Adams – the Kiwi NBA star having family ties in both camps. Niece Sharne Robati scored twice in the opening couple of minutes of the second period as Whai moved to a 17-13 advantage.
Kendell Heremaia, in just her second game for Whai after recovering from injury, was prominent at both ends of the court - combining with Tiarna Clarke the pair propelled Whai to a 29-25 half-time lead.
Clarke, Commonwealth Games bound with the New Zealand 3X3 team later in the week, led all scorers with 11 points while Heremaia had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal at the interval.
Ledger-Walker scored the first 6 points of the third for Kāhu and with Tupaea adding two Whai coach Mel Bennett needed a timeout.
The chat worked – McGoldrick tying proceedings (35-35) six minutes into the period. Ledger-Walker finished with 9 points in the stanza as Kāhu stretched to a 44-39 lead.
Neither side could make any scoring headway in the opening minutes of the fourth until Cocks made a deep three to stretch the visitors lead to 10 points.
Heremaia’s reintroduction brought a triple from the former Fordham University standout to reduce the deficit to seven with 5:50 to play.
Tera Reed and Cocks stretched the Kāhu advantage once again before a McGoldrick jumper gave the Whai supporters a flicker of hope.
Cocks, the leading New Zealand scorer in Tauihi’22, quickly extinguished that optimism as Kāhu eased through the closing moments relatively untroubled.
The two teams will match up for a third time in Tauranga at the end of the month but of immediate concern are tricky South Island assignments. Whai visit Southern Hoiho on Sunday while Kāhu take on Mainland Pouākai on Saturday.
SCORE: Whai 45, Kāhu 61
Whai: Clarke 11 PTS | Heremaia 8 PTS | Greene 7 PTS & 9 REBS | Robati 7 PTS & 9 REBS | Lambert 4 PTS & 11 REBS
Kāhu: Tupaea 15 PTS | Leger-Walker 13 PTS & 5 STEALS | Cocks 12 PTS | Wolf 10 PTS & 7 REBS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Tahlia Tupaea (Kāhu) - 8 votes
Micaela Cocks (Kāhu) - 6 votes
Madison Wolf (Kāhu) - 6 votes
Krystal Leger Walker (Kāhu) - 4 votes
Tiarna Clarke (Whai) - 4 votes
Esra McGoldrick (Whai) - 2 votes
Whai – July 24 @ Hoiho
Kāhu – July 23 @ Pouākai
Round 3 Tauihi Schedule