The inaugural GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa Final 4 is now a Final 2 after Tokomanawa Queens decisively defeated Mainland Pouākai 92-68 to join Northern Kāhu in Saturday’s Grand Final.
The second semi-final, played at the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson on Friday night, saw the Queens run away with the contest in the second half on the back of standout performances from American Jaime Nared, Argentinian Florencia Chagas and Tall Fern Stella Beck.
Chagas scored a game high 22 points, Nared tallied 21 points with Beck producing a stunning stats line of 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocks.
Jailin Cherry was the best for Pouākai with 18 points but only scored two points after the interval. Fellow American Erin Whalen scored 13 while Lauryn Hippolite tallied 16. The Queens did a good job keeping Pouākai’s leading scorer to 8 points.
Point guard Cherry lit up the opening minutes with three made jump shots and an emphatic block but Josie Trousdell found answers for Queens as they got out to a 10-6 lead.
Parris Mason made a couple of damaging plays off the bench – Queens, riding a five game winning streak, ahead 23-11 at quarter time.
The Queens duo of Jacinta Beckley and Beck made threes from an identical spot but it was Cherry that continued to provide the highlight reels as Pouākai closed to within two – Tsubasa Nisbet then knotting proceedings.
Parris Mason made the last score of the half to restore the Queens lead but the second quarter had belonged to Pouākai and they trailed by just two points – 36-34 at the interval.
Cherry, the former Louisiana State University, had 16 points at the break, on 7 from 10 shooting, to lead all scorers. Despite being without injured Tall Ferns centre Tessa Boagni Pouākai were holding their own on the boards – 21 apiece the rebound count.
Nared named to opened the second half scoring, in fact the Tauihi All-Star Five member made 7 straight points as the Queens opened a 47-37 advantage.
Chagas and Hippolite traded threes, Whalen and Chagas did the same and then it was the turn of Beck to counter another Whalen triple - Pouākai unable to reduce the deficit to single figures.
Beck was on a roll and so were the Queens with a commanding 70-51 three-quarter time lead.
In order to mount a comeback Pouākai needed to be the first scorers in the fourth. However it was the Queens front court duo of Mason and Elin Gustavsson that struck first – the advantage ballooning out to 83-57 entering the final five minutes.
With the contest decided both teams opted to use the bench, the introduction of Nelson product Maia Jones particularly pleasing for the local supporters.
Purchase tickets to the Grand Final here: https://tauihi.flicket.co.nz/
SCORE: Queens 92, Pouākai 68
Queens: Chagas 22 PTS | Nared 21 PTS & 6 ASSISTS | Beck 16 PTS & 6 STEALS | Gustavsson 10 PTS | Mason 9 PTS
Pouākai: Cherry 18 PTS | Hippolite 16 PTS | Whalen 13 PTS | Baptiste 8 PTS & 8 REBS
Full box score HERE.