Ahead of a hectic schedule that sees 25 games played in 40 days there were just two games played in Round 2 of GJ Gardener Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa. Both fixtures were home ties for BNZ Northern Kāhu, albeit at different venues, with the hosts having to settle for a win and a loss.
BNZ Northern Kāhu 78, The Recruitment Network Mainland Pouākai 64
BNZ Northern Kāhu led from start to finish as they defeated The Recruitment Network Mainland Pouākai 78-64 at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre on Wednesday night.
Having lost to Southern Hoiho in their opening game, Kāhu were boosted by the return of Tall Ferns guard Krystal Leger-Walker as well as new signing, and fellow international, Penina Davidson.
Both were inserted into the starting lineup and the move paid dividends immediately as the hosts shot out to a 25-11 first quarter lead.
Playing some free flowing basketball, and with Akiene-Tera Reed and Ilmar’l Thomas both in double figures, the Kāhu were in complete control at half-time leading 40-19.
A Leger-Walker three, soon after the resumption, pushed the Kāhu advantage out to 26 points and a runaway victory looked on the cards.
However, Pouākai worked their way back into the contest as 3-point shots began to drop.
Lauryn Hippolite, Esra McGoldrick and Kendell Heremaia, back from an Australian NBL1 season with Sunshine Coast Phoenix, combined for six triples in the stanza as the deficit was cut to 17 points (60-43) at three-quarter time.
Thomas was a constant threat in the low block for the hosts but that failed to deter Pouākai as they continued to chip away at the lead and when Sharne Robati made a fade away jumper they were only 11 points adrift with three minutes to play.
Kennedy Leonard, coming off a British League Championship win with London Lions, had been quiet in the opening stages but when the Pouākai guard scored her seventh point of the fourth the lead had been cut to nine points with 1:58 on the clock.
Davidson then settled the nerves of the Kāhu supporters making five straight points to secure a first victory of the campaign for the hosts.
Thomas led the way for Kāhu with a game-high 21 points from a highly efficient 8 from 11 shooting. Coming off a Tauihi personal best 27 points against Southern Hoiho, Reed was again in fine form with 18 points while Leger-Walker tallied 11 points and Davidson a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Hippolite’s 19 points (5/11 3PG) topped the Pouākai scoring with McGoldrick contributing a double-double (14 points and 12 rebounds) for the second time in as many games. Heremaia made 12 points while Kennedy Leonard dished 9 assists to accompany 11 points.
Next up for Pouākai is a home encounter with local rivals Southern Hoiho on Thursday July 27 when head coach Josh Thompson expects that Tsubasa Nisbet and former WNBA player Natasha Mack will be available for selection.
BNZ Northern Kāhu 71, Tokomanawa Queens 84
In a match-up between the 2022 Tauihi Grand Finalists it was Tokomanawa Queens, with a 22-4 closing run, that claimed the win defeating Northern Kāhu 84-71 at The Trusts Arena on Sunday.
At the 6:35 mark in the fourth, after an Ilmar’I Thomas score, Kāhu led 67-62 and a home victory was very much on the cards.
However, following a Maya Dodson score, it was Queens point guard Chrislyn Carr that orchestrated the run to victory. The former University of Louisville standout scored nine of her 25 points down the stretch and with Tegan Graham contributing a crucial five points inside the final two minutes the Queens eased to their first win of the season.
The Kāhu enjoyed the better of the opening quarter despite losing guard Tahlia Tupaea to a shoulder injury. Power forward Thomas reeled off the final seven points of the period to give the home team a 23-17 lead.
Thomas and Penina Davidson were proving a handful in the paint – their inside dominance taking Kāhu to a double figure lead (31-21).
That advantage was extinguished after an inside basket from Paris Lokotui tied proceedings and Carr made a go-ahead jump shot – 39-36 the Queens lead at half-time.
The Kāhu would engineer the better start to the second half with Thomas and Krystal Leger-Walker helping the hosts regain the lead. Queens struck back with a brace of Grace Hunter threes – their lead a narrow 58-56 ahead of the final ten minutes.
Once again Kāhu enjoyed the better start to a quarter as Thomas, headed for a game-high 34 points, gave the home team that 67-62 lead. From there it was Carr driving the Queens to victory.
The 34 points from Thomas, on 12 from 15 shooting, equalled the Tauihi single game scoring record set last season by Whai guard Tiarna Clarke. Thomas received good support from Davidson (17 points and 11 rebounds) and Krystal Leger-Walker (11 points and 6 assists).
Carr’s 25 points wasn’t the only standout performance for Queens. Wing Stephanie Watts was a major presence at both ends of the court snaffling 14 rebounds to accompany 26 points while centre Dodson’s 17 points were also crucial as was the work of Queens skipper Tegan Graham (5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks).
The win continues the dominance that the Queens have exerted over their northern rivals, this victory their fourth in the five meetings between the two sides.
Queens remain on the road to take on Whai at Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre in Tauranga on Wednesday July 26 with Whai also the next opponents for Northern Kāhu. That game 48 hours later at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre.
BNZ Northern Kāhu 28, Sal's Mainland Pouākai 34
Twelve points from 2023 Tall Fern Ash Udesike wasn’t enough to get BNZ Northern Kāhu the win as they went down 34-28, with Sal's Mainland Pouākai triumphing 34-28.
The opening scores from Olivia O’Neill and Kavanah Lene, recently returned from the NBA Academy Games in Atlanta, drew responses from Udesike and Jaycin Tini – Pouākai ahead 9-7 at the first break.
Pouākai forward Lauren Whittaker, making a welcome return after missing the whole of last year’s basketball due to injury, scored either side of quarter time. With Karereatua Williams and Lene threes it was the visitors with a 20-15 half time lead.
Kāhu scored the opening 8 points of the third quarter – 2022 D League MVP Riana Rangi-Brown giving them their first lead of the game.
Leading by a single point at the three-quarter mark Udesike increased the difference by three although that would be the end of the Kāhu scoring – 8 unanswered points securing Pouākai their second straight Rapid League win.
Northern Kāhu 21, Tokomanawa Queens 33
Tokomanawa Queens made it two wins from two outings in the Rapid League with a 33-21 victory against Northern Kāhu at Trusts Arena with Grace Hunter’s 13 points the game breaker.
Queens led 19-17 at three-quarter time ,with the result very much in the balance, before Hunter stepped up to settle the contest. The Tall Ferns guard rattled off three triples in under two minutes and when Teararoa Sopoaga (7 points) added a fourth from deep it was game, set and match to the visitors.
Queens scored the first six points of the game ahead of the Tini’s, Jaycin and Keeley, making back-to back threes.
Jaycin made a second from deep although Hunter would have the final say of the first half – a pair of layups taking Queens into half-time with a 17-13 advantage.
Defences held sway in the third – just six points scored with Kāhu trailing 19-17.
Kāhu had a couple of opportunities to tie proceedings before the scoring salvo from Hunter decided the match.