BNZ Northern Kāhu have been crowned 2023 GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa champions after defeating ANZCO Tokomanawa Queens in Sunday’s Grand Final at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua with a 98-72 victory.
Having been defeated by the Queens in last year’s showpiece event the Kāhu were able to turn the tables on their rivals winning all four quarters of the contest as they put together a thoroughly convincing display.
In the 3rd/4th play-off game Whai ended their season on a high note defeating Southern Hoiho 82-72.
Grand Final: BNZ Northern Kāhu 98, ANZCO Tokomanawa Queens 72
ANZCO Tokomanawa Queens were dealt a massive blow before the start of the game with their captain Stella Beck unavailable due to illness, a set back that proved too great to cover against a BNZ Northern Kāhu team that enjoyed outstanding contributions from all five starters in the 98-72 victory.
Grand Final MVP Ilmar’I Thomas dropped a game high 31 points (plus 11 rebounds) while Akiene-Tera Reed landed 21 points and also claimed 11 boards. Australian international Tess Madgen also had a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds), Tall Ferns centre Penina Davidson scored 16 points while point guard Krystal Leger-Walker dished 9 assists and scored 9 points on a perfect 4 from 4 shooting display.
Chrislyn Carr, despite not scoring in the second half, top scored for the Queens with 19 points with Tegan Graham also in double figures (17 points). Grace Hunter tallied 9 points while Steph Watts scored 8 and Josie Trousdell 6 points.
Carr came up with 13 first quarter points but 14 from Tera Reed propelled Kāhu to a 34-19 first quarter lead.
Carr moved on to 19 points and Kalani Purcell made a couple of scores although triples from Thomas and Reed helped Kāhu to a 50-30 half-time advantage.
Watts scored her first points of the game but Kāhu continued to apply pressure in the paint – Davidson and Leger-Walker pushing the lead out to 63-36.
Paris Lokotui set the tone for an improved defensive showing from the Queens and when she and Trousdell made inside the scores the deficit was trimmed a shade but Kāhu had one hand on the trophy when Madgen dropped a triple on the three-quarter time buzzer – her team 74-49 ahead.
Queens weren’t thinking that way as Hunter and Graham nailed triples to the delight of the local supporters but the front court duo of Davidson and Thomas eased any nerves that there may have been on the Kāhu bench. The pair combined for ten points to push the lead back close to 30-points inside the final five minutes – victory sealed and new champions found!
3rd/4th Play-off: Whai 82, Southern Hoiho 72
A free flowing, high paced bronze medal game went the way of Whai as they outscored Southern Hoiho 82-72.
Whai trailed by 12 points early on and were still down at half-time (40-37). However Whai dominated the third period to lead 57-51 with ten minutes to play and close out the win in the fourth.
Whai were paced by McKenna Dale (30 points and 13 rebounds), with Aaliyah Wilson also in double-double territory (11 points and 16 rebounds). Mikayla Cowling passed 300-points for the season in making 25 while Jade Kirisome scored 7 points.
Ahlise Hurst led the way for Hoiho with 22 points, Zoe Richards added 11 rebounds to 17 points, Paige Bradley landed 13 points, with Samara Gallaher making 9 points.