Otago Gold Rush And Waikato Wizards To Match Up In 2018 WBC Final

Otago Gold Rush And Waikato Wizards To Match Up In 2018 WBC Final
WBC Finals Day 2

The finalists for both the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) Tier One and Tier Two competitions were found at the Edgar Centre, Dunedin on Friday.

The Tier One Final will feature hosts Otago Gold Rush and Waikato Wizards after
Gold Rush won an eighth straight game to defeat Harbour Breeze 84-71. The Wizards defeated Auckland Dream 67-46 to set up a tantalizing WBC Grand Final that will tip-off at 4pm on Saturday.

The Tier Two Final will be played between North Canterbury Spirit, who defeated Taitokerau Northland Phoenix 65-35 in the first semi-final and Rotorua Lady Vols. The Vols proved too good for Nelson Sparks in the second semi-final winning 72-55.

The Tier One Semi-Finals

Otago Gold Rush forged an early 16-6 lead against Harbour Breeze and although the Breeze mounted a series of mini-runs the hosts were able to maintain a double figure buffer for much of the game.

The experience Dana Goularte (22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals) and Natalie Visger were at the heart of the Otago effort. In addition new Tall Fern Nicole Ruske (22 points) had a good shooting night (3/7 3PG and 7/10FT) as the Gold Rush deservedly cemented their place in Saturday’s Final.

Gold Rush head coach Tod Marshall managed his playing resources well after a short turnaround following an overtime win against Auckland Dream earlier in the day. He coaxed key contributions from a number of players including Bronwyn Kjestrup, Natalie Smith and Danielle Frost.

Penina Davidson was immense for Harbour compiling an impressive stats line of 23 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists. Keeley Tini, Anna Lacey and Akiene-Tera Reed each made double figures but couldn’t deny Otago, the 2015 WBC champions, another trip to the grand-final.

Otago Gold Rush 84 – N Ruske 24, D Goularte 22, N Visger 10, B Kjestrup 8
Harbour Breeze 71 – P Davidson 23, T Reed 17, K Tini 12, A Lacey 10

Waikato Wizards return to the WBC grand-final arena after a gap of one year following a 67-46 win against Auckland Dream.

Tall Fern Natalie Taylor led all scorers at half-time with 14 points but it didn’t prevent Waikato holding a 32-24 lead – fellow Commonwealth Games medalist Charlisse Leger-Walker had 13 points for the Wizards.

Alyssa Hirawani pushed the margin out to ten points before Zarya Poulava extended the lead further (44-28) and Auckland needed a timeout.

Stevee Theyers dropped a three after the Dream huddle but Waikato still held a 47-31 lead at three-quarter time.

Despite another three from Theyers, Waikato still held the ascendency (56-42) with three minutes to play.

The Dream attempted a late run but a brace of Ella Bradley baskets capped a convincing Wizards performance.

Waikato Wizards 67 – C Leger-Walker 23, E Bradley 16, A Hirawani 10
Auckland Dream 46 – N Taylor 18, S Theyers 6, C Mellars 6

Tier Two Semi-Finals

The North Canterbury Spirit set the tone for their solid 65-35 victory against Taitokerau Northland Phoenix in the first Tier Two semi-final with a dominant 19-3 opening quarter.

The Spirit enjoyed another 8-0 run before Keani Shelford got the Phoenix score moving in the second period. Taneisha Nutira and Renee Tuhikarama led the Spirit first half scoring with eight points apiece as the Cantabrians led 35-13 at the interval.

The Phoenix put up more resistance in the second half losing the spell by just eight points (30-22) but the Spirit’s place in Saturday’s final was never in doubt.

Jeannie Cameron joined Shelford in double figures for the Phoenix – Nutira and Tuhikarama led the Spirit scoring.

North Canterbury Spirit 65 - T Nutira 16, R Tuhikarama 13, C Whittaker 8, B Watson 8
Taitokerau Northland Phoenix 35 – K Shelford 12, J Cameron 11

In the second Tier Two semi-final it was third time lucky for Rotorua Lady Vols against Nelson Sparks. The Vols had lost both round-robin games against the Sparks but on this occasion prevailed 72-55 with Aroha Haumaha and Awatea Leach sharing fifty points.

The Vols, with Haumaha (13 points) and Leach (11 points) in good form hit the half-time break with a 37-26 lead. Jelena Vucinic provided the scoring spark for Nelson with 9 points in the half.

Jody Hikuroa-Jeffrey and Hannah Crabtree initiated an 8-3 Nelson run early in the second half – Dubai Whata and Haumaha had the final say in the third stanza with the Vols 52-43 to the good.

Pareunuora Pene stretched the Rotorua lead to 60-44 with under six minutes to play and despite 22 points from Vucinic the Sparks were unable to threaten the Lady Vols lead. 

Nelson Sparks 55 – J Vucinic 22, Hikuroa-Jeffrey 10, H Crabtree 10
Rotorua Lady Vols 72 – A Haumaha 30/10r, A Leach 20, P Pene 10

In the Plate semi-finals there were wins for Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats and Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons.

The Wildcats were pushed all the way by Taranaki Thunder before prevailing 84-71 with forwards Tessa Boagni (15 points and 9 rebounds) and Connie Poletti (14 points) leading the Canterbury effort.

A double-double from Lyndi Laborn (17 points and 12 rebounds) and a near d-d from Izzy Cook (10 points and 9 rebounds) kept the Thunder in contention throughout.

Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 61 – T Boagni 15, C Poletti 14, L Wairau 8
Taranaki Thunder 53 – L Laborn 17, I Cook 10, E Langton 6, S Cook 6

In the other Plate semi-final Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons got the better of Tauranga City Coasters winning 93-60. Briarley Rogers piled on 27 points for the Coasters - Arielle Mackey-Williams almost matching that with 22 points for the Cannons who never looked back after forging a 27-11 first quarter lead.

Power Chill Country Cannons 93 – A Mackey-Williams 22, M Subritzky 14. K Parai 11
Tauranga City Coasters 60 – B Rogers 27, C Wilson 10, M Daysh 10, K Morrell 8

Concluding Round Robin games played earlier on Friday:

Tier Two

Nelson Sparks 55 – J Vucinic 18, J Hikuroa-Jeffrey 14, R James 8, K Jones 5/15r
North Canterbury Spirit 71 – C Whittaker 31, C Grice 11/13r, B Watson 9, B Couto de Aguiar 9

Taitokerau Northland Phoenix 30 – L Cameron 13, K Shelford 9
Rotorua Lady Vols 56 – A Haumaha 14/11r, P Pene 13, G McCarthy 7

Tier One Section B 

Waikato Wizards 74 – A Hirawani 27, C Leger-Walker 21/12r, E Bradley 7
Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons 62 – D Fermanis 17, A Parai 11/10r, B Ross-Waitai 9

Taranaki Thunder 56 – L Laborn 21, I Cook 14/14r, V Weir 6/9r, I Hohaia 6
Harbour Breeze 72 – T Reed 27, P Davidson 19/14r, K Tini 9, T Dalton 9

Tier One Section A

Auckland Dream 64 – N Taylor 26/10r, C Mellars 13, S Povey 10
Otago Gold Rush 68 – N Ruske 25/10r, D Goularte 12, N Visger 8, S Umaga-Jensen 8
After Overtime

Tauranga City Coasters 56 – B Rogers 23, M Daysh 10/11r, C Wilson 9
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 80 – C Poletti 13/11r, L Hippolite 13, S Crotty 8

The full draw is available here.  

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