The Northern Kāhu remain the team to beat with an 81-76 win over the Southern Hoiho at Eventfinda Stadium.
The Hoiho were the aggressors early, as they've shown in multiple games this season. They forced the Kāhu into six first quarter turnovers and held them to 6-of-16 shooting from the field. Limiting star import Tahlia Tupaea was a bigger challenge, though, as she had seven points through the first 10 minutes of action.
American Laina Snyder is one of the more skilled scorers in Tauihi and she continued to showcase that with eight points in the first quarter on 3-of-4 shooting. Her ability to score from all areas of the floor, as well as her ability to get to the rim makes her a tough guard on any night. The Hoiho had a 17-15 lead after one quarter of play.
The Hoiho kept their foot on the gas jumping out to a 27-21 lead early in the second quarter. The Kāhu started to find their footing on defence about midway through and made some inroads on the scoreboard, rattling off a 13-0 run. Northern would claim the second quarter 23-14 and held a 38-31 lead at the half.
It was mostly a team scoring effort in the first half for the Kāhu, but it was the play of Ash Kelman-Poto that really lifted Northern in the second quarter and enabled them to build their lead. Kelman-Poto had 11 points and three rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half, providing a nice spark off the bench with Jaycin Tini, who had six points. The Kāhu shot much better as a team in the second quarter and hit 4-of-8 attempts from distance.
Snyder didn't slow down in the second quarter for the Hoiho despite the scoring run from the Kāhu. The American forward worked her way up to 18 points over the first 20 minutes of the game, including a buzzer beating mid-range jumper heading into halftime.
The third quarter was more tightly contested and had a steady flow of offence, too. The Kāhu edged the Hoiho 22-20, increasing their lead to 60-51 with one quarter to play. The Hoiho were staying within striking distance, but stringing together buckets and getting consistent stops would need to be the focus for them in the fourth quarter to get the job done.
Southern did just that and were able to pressure the Kāhu right up until the final whistle. American Laina Snyder was almost unguardable with 32 points, six rebounds, eight assists and two steals on 12-of-20 shooting and 3-of-6 from three. She had a big hand in the comeback, but had to leave the game with less than a minute to go after a clash with Tahlia Tupaea of the Kāhu, resulting in a nasty fall for Snyder and hitting her head on the court. Snyder took some time to collect herself, but eventually could be seen cheering on her teammates to close out the game - a promising sign after a scary collision.
Tall Fern Zoe Richards drilled a 3-pointer with 48 seconds to play in the fourth to close the gap to two points. Their first win was right their for the taking for Southern, but Northern captain Micaela Cocks had other ideas with a dagger 3-pointer of her own at the other end to seal it. Cocks finished with a team-high 22 points in the victory on 5-of-12 shooting.
Madison Wolf had her best game with the Kāhu to date, totaling 12 points and 13 rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting. With fellow import Marte Grays dealing with an ankle issue, Wolf stepping up in her absence was huge.
The Kāhu are now 5-0 on the season and flying high above the rest of the pack. It was a valiant effort by the Hoiho on the road, who continue to show how talented they are with each game but it seems to be one bad quarter that holds them back from success in the win column. It will come with time, as the Hoiho seem to be growing with confidence each game and their offensive output has certainly been at a higher level over the last 2-3 games.
SCORE: Kāhu 81, Hoiho 76
Kāhu: Cocks 22 PTS | Wolf 12 PTS 13 REB | Tupaea 14 PTS | Kelman-Poto 13 PTS, 6 REB
Hoiho: Snyder 32 PTS, 6 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL | Richards 9 PTS, 8 REB | Cheslek 13 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Micaela Cocks (Kāhu) - 10 votes
Laina Snyder (Hoiho) - 5 votes
Ash Kelman-Poto (Kāhu) - 5 votes
Madison Wolf (Kāhu) - 4 votes
Tahlia Tupaea (Kāhu) - 3 votes
Shelby Cheslek (Hoiho) - 3 votes
Kāhu – July 19 @ Whai
Hoiho – July 20 vs. Queens
Round 3 Tauihi Schedule