We had a record number of people come and watch our Junior Finals Day
With 13 championships on the line it was always going to be busy. But, not only did we have that, we also recognized the First Team and MVP Award Winners before each A grade final.
The Boys’ U17 Age-group comprised four separate competitions, with the A grade Final being extremely tightly contested. At half-time it didn’t seem like the packed stands were in for anything resembling an exciting finish, with St. Bede’s comfortably up 51-28. An outstanding third quarter for the Gators, behind eight points for Joshua Lacey, and six from Faanuu Muao saw Middleotn Grange come storming back, only down five entering the fourth quarter. Both teams battled back and forth with grade MVP Walter Brown (23p) and Kurt Mepana (26p) going toe to toe with Murphy (20p) and Tristan Bennett (15p). Murphy tied the game at 76-76 with three clutch Free Throws, only for Miguel Martinez to convert one for his SBC team in the dying seconds – giving them a win that doesn’t get much closer. Mepana was awarded with the Finals MVP award for his efforts.
We were also treated to a nail-biter in the Women’s U18 Final. Avonside Royals were missing First Team Award Winner Megan Shannon, but used an 11-0 run that bracketed half time to build a ten-point lead. Checkers fought all the way back and took the lead with less than two minutes remaining. Cassidy Brunel’s 15 points being key here. Avonside turned to a press, with Kavanah Lene scoring six of her 21 points in her own personal 6-0 run, that saw the Royals win 60-55. Not only that, but Lene’s back court running-mate Kyla Lynch-Brown (14p) doubled up on her Grade MVP award with a Finals one too.
The best Boys’ Under 15 teams faced off in the A Final here, with CBHS Black edging away from the Middleton Grange Gators part-way through the second quarter to win 92-69. Zack Horton (16p) was awarded Finals MVP for his efforts, being part of a quartet of double-figure scorers. Jairus Montenegro (23p) and Ethan Robinson (21p) were excellent for the Gators, but fell to a more balanced team.
Checkers was too strong for North Canterbury White in the Girls’ Under 15 Grade, with Francis Varga’s defensive effort seeing her recognised as the Finals MVP. Niamh Chamberlain had a huge offensive game for the winners with 26 points. With Dayna Simpson (21p) the only one able to score consistently for North Canterbury White, it was always going to be an uphill battle. Checkers the deserved winners 74-55.
The Cowles Chargers Black were out for revenge in the Boys’ Under 13 Final. North Canterbury Black were the only team that gave them a loss during the regular season, but this was well and truly out of the question on Finals Day. Grade MVP Hoani Ifopo-Togia also picked up the Finals MVP Award, with his 29 points going a long way towards the Chargers’ 91-55 win where they won every quarter.
In the Upper -Mid Boys’ Under 17 Grade Gators Red ran their offence through finals MVP Matt Chai (27p) as they never trailed in the game, despite the Shirley Boys’ Spartans always kept them in reach. Dylan Weaich had 18 for the Spartans as they fell 77-70.
The Lower-Mid BU17 Grade had Ashburton College proving they were far too strong for the Cashmere Gold team. AshColl won every quarter, and Jamie Reid dropped 54 points in a performance that saw him earn the Finals MVP award. Rory Skinner led the way for Cashmere with 18 in a 92-65 loss.
For the BU17 Development Grade, points were at a premium, with Gators White on 6, and Burnside B on 5 mid way through the first quarter. Bradlee Lang was the only double figure-scorer for either team (22p), and helped power his Burnside team to a 9-0 run – giving them the lead which they never surrendered. Burnside ultimately won 50-35 and Lang claimed the Finals MVP award.
Another Burnside team had a win for the school – as their BU15 A team took out the Middle Grade with a 94-74 win over The Selwyn Hawks. Burnside slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter – ballooning a six-point lead up to 20 by the time the final buzzer sounded. Jack Hollingworth’s 20 points seeing him named as Finals MVP. with Max Lamont (21) joining him from Burnside, while Jaden Drewett (23) and Raikyn Barnes (21) scoring well for the Hawks.
An 16-2 run for North Canterbury White saw them claim the BU15 Development grade crown. Finals MVP Schalk van Rensburg (13p) was instrumental in the run – knocking down eight Free Throws within it as his team knocked off a Shirley Boys’ High Spartans team 60-50
Our Junior All Stars also completed their truncated season, with Gators qualifying in all three grades, and winning each of them:
Gators 31-25 YMCA
MVP Sara Buckley (13 points)
Gators 47-27 YMCA
MVP Finn Langrell (18 points)
Gators 49-47 Pioneer
Marco Sula (16 points) including the final three for his team.
You can view all 197 of the photos we took on the day by heaidng to our facebook page