By Paul Mitchell
Wintec Journalism student
Murrays Bay Intermediate are the NZCT AIMS Games boys Basketball champions for 2015 after a bruising final against Takapuna Normal Intermediate.
Neither team let up on attack, shredding each other’s defence as both teams racked up points. Murrays Bay managed to come out on top of the rapid back and forth, ending the game with a 43-38 win.
Murrays Bay coach Bronwen Davidson said the teams knew each other very well, crossing paths in their local competition and meeting in a pool game.
“We’ve never beaten them this year, so it was very satisfying that we finally pulled it together and won,” Davidson said.
The Murrays Bay boys’ determination to finally get one over Takapuna meant emotions ran high.
Their manager Rachael Payne knew that the boys sometimes got caught up in the moment, and their plays would get sloppy.
“You boys need to think, not feel,” Payne yelled from the side-lines.
“[Our boys] are awesome. They often get themselves in trouble, but they always come through in the end.”
It was a hard road to the final, Davidson said, but it was that quality opposition that sharpened Murrays Bay up and gave them the edge to finally beat Takapuna.
Meanwhile, there were tears and cheers at the buzzer in a tense girls’ basketball final at the NZCT AIMS Games. St Marys College emerged the 2015 champions, edging out Rotorua Intermediate school as the 32-29 game went right down to the wire.
Rotorua had made it to the final undefeated. They dominated the first half, before St Mary’s got into gear, going into the break up 16-0.
St Marys coach Joanna Kailahi wasn’t worried though, all through the semifinals the first half had been their bad half. Kailahi was certain her girls would be alright.
“We just needed composure. Our girls were prepared, they knew what they were doing, it was just up to them.”
Rotorua clung to the lead right until the last 30 seconds as a resurgent St Marys nipped at their heels. A crucial error gave St Marys number 34 Eleohn Totua an opening to make the penalty shots that took St Mary’s to a 30-29 lead.
Eleohan said she was keenly aware of all the eyes on her as she stepped up to the free throw line.
With the clock running down Rotorua mounted a determined defence, the score was so tight there was still a chance to win, but a final St Mary basket in the final ten seconds put that to rest.
As the buzzer blared St Marys 18 Zaaliyah Fulu burst into tears of relief, overcome with joy.
“I’m so happy we won. I felt very pressured [towards the end]”
Rotorua coach Hinei Taute said both teams gave it their all in an incredibly tight game, and St Mary’s deserved their win.
“That’s what you want a final to be, made it worthy.”
Anchor Boys Basketball Tournament Team: Logan Gibb (Takapuna Normal Intermediate), Caleb Tangitau (Takapuna Normal Intermediate), Josh Kooiman/ MVP (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Jake Martin (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Cian Emery (Northcross Intermediate), Christian Martin (Northcross Intermediate), Livi Hirawani (Maeroa Intermediate),Noah Wood, Ezra Harris (Koromatua Intermediate), Caleb Smiler (Koromatua Intermediate), Poara Winitana (Hastings Intermediate), Karybe Te Kira (Hastings Intermediate)
Anchor Girls Basketball Tournament Team: Keyani Leith (Fairfield Intermediate), Te Mihiroa Tangira (Rotorua Intermediate), Jada Beckham (Rotorua Intermediate), Taniko Gardiner (Te Kura Kokiri), Te Arahi Te Puni (Ross Intermediate), Anahera Whare (Tauranga Intermediate), Teal King (Koromatua School), Leila Hemi (Koromatua School), Zaaliyah Fulu (St Mary’s College), Riana Matiseni/MVP (St Mary’s College), Leata Williams (St Mary’s College), Kararaina Te Hana (Te Kura Te Koutu)