North Harbour have won both the men’s and women’s titles at the Aon Under 19 National Championships in Dunedin tonight.
Harbour survived a fourth quarter comeback from Auckland to win its first U19 men’s title since 2008 by beating Auckland 78-73. The women’s Final was even closer with Harbour edging Waikato 63-61.
MEN’S FINAL: HARBOUR v AUCKLAND
In the men’s final, a tight opening quarter was edged by North Harbour 20-18. McNaught and Brandon Robb responded early in the second and when Nate Wilson (20 points and 10 rebounds) converted an And-1 play Auckland were ahead 33-31.
From there Mennenga reeled off 11 straight points and when Taine Murray scored in the shadows of half-time Harbour had a 44-33 advantage.
The lead was 58-48 at three-quarter time and after Harry Payne knocked down a couple of triples early in the fourth it looked as if Harbour would ease to a comfortable win.
Harbour men appeared to be cruising to victory as Tournament MVP Sam Mennenga scored with less than five minutes to play to give his team a 75-58 lead.
To their credit Auckland, led by Alex McNaught (20 points), mounted a stirring fightback scoring six straight baskets to close to within five points (75-70) with 74 seconds to play. Harry Payne scored to ease the Harbour nerves, but McNaught wasn’t finished making four more points inside the last 60 seconds.
Time was Auckland’s enemy and forced to foul. It was fitting that Mennenga, the game’s leading scorer with 38 points, made the final point of the game to seal the victory. It was deserved victory after they had finished runners-up on three occasions since that win back in 2008.
Harbour Head Coach Matt Lacey praised Auckland’s resilience. “I thought, being undermanned as they were, they played unbelievably well. They gave us a few worries down the stretch but after some nervous moments the experienced players saw us to the win.
“Sam (Mennenga) had a terrific game today and I hope he can carry that form into the U19 World Cup in Greece later this month.
“It’s certainly a good start to the representative season for the Harbour teams with the Women also claiming the title,” Lacey added.
Aon Nationals Men’s Final:
Harbour 78 – S Mennenga 38/15r, H Payne 17, T Murray 10
Auckland 73 – A McNaught 20, N Wilson 20/10r, B Robb 11, J Mete-Smith 10
3rd/4th play-off game result:
Waitaha Canterbury A 71, Wellington 67
U19 Men All-Tournament Team:
Sam Mennenga (Harbour), Taine Murray (Harbour), Marvin Williams Dunn (Harbour), Jaga Mete-Smith (Auckland), Nathan Wilson (Auckland), Finn McClure (Wellington), Tom Webley (Canterbury), Jake McKinley (Manawatu), Kainoa Lepou (Waikato), Mitchell Hughan (Otago).
Sam Mennenga (Harbour)
WOMEN’S FINAL: HARBOUR v WAIKATO
In a fitting finale to the women’s championship old foes North Harbour and Waikato played out a final that was not decided until the last possession of the game. After Jazz Kailahi-Fulu had scored with 11 seconds to play to give Harbour a 63-61 lead Waikato drew up one last offence following a timeout. The resulting shot bounced off the rim allowing Harbour to secure the rebound and reverse the result of last year’s final.
Waikato had much the better of the early play - Tyler Mitchell came off the bench to make 7 points as Waikato took a 19-15 into the quarter time break – a quarter that saw Harbour lose captain Mereta Davidson to a shoulder injury.
An 8-2 run to begin the second quarter propelled Waikato to a double figure lead (27-17). A couple of Dominique Stephens baskets helped increase that advantage to a dozen at half-time (37-25).
Hannah Wentworth, Jazz Kailahi-Fulu and Jess Moors inspired a momentum swing in favour of Harbour to open the third but the composed Ella Bradley (20 points and 10 rebounds) and Kasee Leef ensured Waikato held a 53-47 lead with ten minutes to play.
Emme Shearer (14 points and 10 rebounds) scored the first two baskets of the final quarter to reduce the deficit to just two points. The two teams exchanged baskets for a while before Shearer nailed a three to tie proceedings with 3 minutes to play (59-59).
Koha Lewis cancelled out a couple of Harbour free throws with 23 seconds to play but it was Kailahi-Fulu that would ensure Waikato were denied a three-peat.
Aon Nationals Women’s Final:
Waikato 61 – E Bradley 20/10r, K Leef 11, T Mitchell 9, K Lewis 8
Harbour 63 - E Shearer 14/10rJ Kailahi-Fulu 12, R Smith 10, J Moors 9, H Wentworth 8
3rd/4th play-off game result:
Taranaki 74 Waitaha Canterbury A 52
U19 Women All-Tournament Team
: Emme Shearer (Harbour), Ella Bradley (Waikato), Riva Walker – Pitman (Waikato), Jazzmyne Kailahi – Fulu (Harbour), Jess Moors (Harbour), Paris Mason (Taranaki), Caitlin O’Connell (Taranaki), Helen Matthews (Canterbury), Rochelle Fourie (Manawatu), Paris Lokotui (Wellington)
Emme Shearer (Harbour)
Rosters, Draws and Results and more info here: http://www.nz.basketball/Competitions/Reps/Aon-U19-Nationals
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