The inaugural Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa champions are the Tokomanawa Queens.
The Queens defeated Northern Kāhu 71-62 in the GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa Grand Final at the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson on Saturday night.
The Queens were powered by a Grand Final MVP performance from dynamic Argentinian point guard Florencia Chagas (22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists) with other notable contributions from Jamie Nared (14 points) and captain Stella Beck (11 points, 7 points and 5 steals.
Her tussle with fellow Tall Fern Micaela Cocks (14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists) was a major highlight of the final.
In addition to Cocks Northern Kāhu were well served by Tera Reed (9 points and 10 rebounds) while Marte Grays and Tahlia Tupaea scored a dozen points apiece.
Kāhu enjoyed the best of the opening four minutes to lead 5-0 before Parris Mason made free throws. The regular season champions suffered a significant setback in that period with influential point guard Krystal Leger-Walker picking up two fouls.
However Nared also picked up two fouls to balance the equation - Cocks had 8 points in the quarter but Jacinta Beckley’s late three balanced the books at 15 points apiece.
Youth Player of the Year Chagas gave the Queens their first lead of the game before Grays made back to back scores to pinch the advantage back the way of the Kāhu.
A Queens 7-0 run preceded an identical Kāhu surge – or more precisely a Tupaeu outburst.
A hugely competitive half finished with the impressive Mason giving the Queens a narrow 35-33 lead.
Chagas (13 points) and Tupaea (12 points) led the first half scoring effort.
Gabby Adams-Gavet (8 points and 8 rebounds) made the opening score of the second half but it was Chagas and Nared running the show as the Queens lead climbed to 47-35.
Stifling Queens defence was finally broken by Leger-Walker but Nared found the basket at the other end to keep her team’s lead in double figures.
That situation hadn’t changed at three-quarter time – Kāhu held to just 8 points in the quarter and trailing 54-41.
Nared’s tumbling jump shot continued Queens offensive domination – a Josie Trousdell block (4 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks) fortifying their defensive wall.
Cocks eventually made a score - and then another - but it was the Queens in full control at the mid-point of the fourth with a 60-47.
Gustavsson made a neat inside score before Reed raised the optimism of the Kāhu fans – those hopes raised further by Grays scores – the deficit 64-57 with two minutes to play.
With 1:21 to play Reed reduced that by 2 but the anxiety of the Queens followers was eased by a Mason layup and a Beck steal.
The two most successful teams in Tauihi 22 had produced a fitting climax to a wonderful first season of women's professional basketball - the Queens deservedly crowned at the end of a right royal tussle.
SCORE: Kāhu 62, Queens 71
Kāhu: Cocks 14 PTS | Tupaea 12 PTS | Grays 12 PTS | Reed 9 PTS & 10 REBS
Queens: Chagas 22 PTS & 6 ASSISTS | Nared 14 PTS | Beck 11 PTS & 5 STEALS | Gustavsson 10 PTS
Full box score HERE.