Shooters shoot and when Whai coach Mel Bennett gave Tiarna Clarke the keys to the game SHE WENT OFF!!
Once she got going in her side’s 30-point domination of the Pouākai, it became the Clarke show as we witnessed one of the most extraordinary performances in New Zealand basketball history.
Clarke’s offensive game got the most attention and deservingly, but her defensive game also had an impact on her team’s victory. She played smart defence and put pressure on the Pouākai with limited contact as she also snatched a couple of steals.
At times Trinity Baptiste was getting double and triple-teamed by the Whai. But her teammate Tsubasa Nisbet helped out as she was assertive filling in for Boagni at times throughout the game and challenged Nikki Greene in the post. However, Clarke’s shooting clinic with Lambert and Greene’s combined 39 points and 19 rebounds was too much to contain.
In Wellington, the Pouākai won a close clash against the Queens as Baptiste boosted her case for MVP with 27 points, seven rebounds and an efficient 71% from the field. The Pouākai forced the Queens to make only one of 22 attempts from 3-point land but Wellington continued to show fight until the end with Jaime Nared keeping them in the game. They did well to increase their defensive intensity, but it came too late as the visitors took it home.
The Southern Hoiho came out firing against the Kāhu with a greater team performance. They were fast, fierce and accurate, forcing the Kāhu to cough up turnovers to open the game. But some big performances from Micaela Cocks, Madison Wolf and Tahlia Tupaea caused havoc.
A second quarter push from the Northern team’s bench partnership of Ash Kelman-Poto (13 points, six rebounds) and Jaycin Tini (six points, two rebounds) was fun to watch. Their connection on offence helped them to get a lead early despite the hard work of the Hoiho and a solid 32-point effort from Laina Snyder.
The Kāhu finished Round 3 unscathed as they then travelled to Tauranga and won convincingly against the Whai. Krystal Leger-Walker heated up in the third quarter scoring 11 of her team’s 19 points to solidify her side’s lead. Lambert’s quiet night offensively was the missing piece for the Whai with the Kāhu’s tough defence causing the home team problems.
To wrap up the round, the Hoiho got so close yet were still far from pulling off their first win over the Tokomanawa Queens. After starting the game strong, missed opportunities prevented them from maintaining a lead. There were several threats across the court for the Queens who dominated through stars Florencia Chagas and Jaime Nared. Tall Fern Jacinta Beckley also contributed 14 points off the bench.
The talent in this league is insane and it’s always tough to choose a select few players to mention but Clarke earned her spot on the top of this week’s list.
Mainland Pouākai vs. Northern Kāhu | Saturday, July 23rd @ 5pm
The Kāhu don’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon as no team has cracked the code to beat them yet. The Pouākai can learn off the Whai who managed to reveal some flaws in the Northern side’s shooting early in their Round 3 match.
Despite the Kāhu not gaining momentum until later in the first half, they still remained in the hunt for the entirety of the match with sheer determination. The Canterbury side can match that boldness with Baptiste and Erin Whalen making a formidable duo.
The last time these teams played each other the Kāhu won by seven points after getting off to a slow start. Expect the second and third quarter to be defining moments in the game but also look out for a better start from the Kāhu who will want to improve on this as the second half of the season takes off.
Southern Hoiho vs. Mid-North Whai | Sunday, July 24th @ 12:30pm
This round saw Eckerd College alumni Zoe Richards step up, taking every chance to pull down rebounds, hustle on defence and put up a trio of 3-pointers to show her offensive skills. She finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and two steals. As for Laina Snyder - well she’s going to do what she always does.
Against the Whai, the Hoiho will need more of this but also more certainty from the rest of their team to back themselves to create plays. The Whai have got that with players like Esra McGoldrick and Kendell Heremaia, who has impressed in just two games so far.
Following their match against the Queens this week, the Hoiho stayed on the court in a huddle with Snyder leading a team talk. She has led from the outset inspiring her side through adversity. This guidance plus their growth in their recent games could motivate their first win.
Tokomanawa Queens vs. Mid-North Whai | Monday, July 25th @ 7pm
The Queens outnumbered the Hoiho in the paint and in fast break points in their recent win. A big part of that was the vision and speed of Florencia Chagas whose ability to have an effect on the game without scoring is pivotal to the success of the Queens.
Wellington’s Argentine playmaker is just second behind the Whai’s Kyra Lambert on the assist leaderboard averaging five per game and in the last three games she has snagged a total of 11 steals.
Her two-way brilliance will continue to serve the Queens well as they face the best rebounding (41.3) and offensive rebounding (12.7) team in the league. The Whai also leads in 3-pointers made per game (8.7).
The Tauranga based side will be without their 3-point maestro in Clarke, who is off to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games to chase a 3x3 gold medal with the Tall Ferns.
But it’s set to be an entertaining game with both sides fighting to separate themselves from the middle of the pack on the Tauihi standings.
Northern Kāhu vs. Southern Hoiho | Tuesday, July 26th @ 7pm
The Kāhu take on the Hoiho in the final match of their head-to-head series. The Hoiho are certainly capable of securing a victory after coming out strong in their Round 3 encounter. If they can bring the same energy and precision from the get go while maintaining it through the entire game, they could do some damage.
But with six wins from six games under their belt, the Kāhu could be well on their way to remaining undefeated as finals hoops loom. As the second half of GJ Gardner Tauihi begins the top four teams will take shape. This next match and round will be an opportunity for the Kāhu to show their consistency and dedication to close out the regular season the way they have started.