Category: NBL NZ

Geysers erupt through middle two quarters to go one better in NZNBL D-League

AFTER falling short in 2020, the Rotorua Geysers celebrated a memorable New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) D-League title, cementing their spot in history with a 13-point win over Harbour Cyclones on Sunday afternoon. In what was a condensed, but entertaining tournament, the two best sides faced off in the 2021 NZNBL decider after they won their respective group matches.

The Geysers looked the stronger side throughout the D-League matches, defeating Harbour Zephyr (13 points), Capital Swish (seven) and Tauranga City Coasters (six). The Cyclones won their three matches by a combined seven points, winning against Northland Phoenix (three), Taranaki Thunder (two), and Auckland Dream (two). It was enough for both respective sides to reach the final match of the tournament at Pulman Arena.

The Cyclones started off the stronger of the sides in a competitive opening term, leading by three points at quarter time. The Geysers erupted through the second and third terms, piling on 48 points to 26 to go from a three-point deficit to a 19-point unassailable lead. Needing a miracle to get back into it, the Cyclones fought hard to win the final term 23-17, but it would not be enough as they went down by 13 points, 85-72.

Waiata Jennings came off the bench for the Geysers to knock down 27 points, and whilst none of her six attempts from deep hit the mark, she still managed 13 of 28 from the field for an efficiency of 46 per cent. She picked up eight rebounds and three steals to-boot, leading the way for her side. Awatea Leach (21 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals) and Kararaina Pene (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) were both busy, whilst Mufaro Mapengo notched up 10 rebounds.

For the Cyclones, Isabel Pugh was outstanding with a massive double-double of 27 points – 58 per cent from the field – and 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with four blocks. Rikki Burgess-Fiatau (12 points, nine rebounds and two steals) and Aroha Rogers (12 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals) were the other key players on the losing side.

In the third and fourth playoff, Auckland Dream dominated Tauranga on its way to a huge 107-59 win, piling on 23 or more points in every quarter, and winning each term by double-digits. Five Auckland Dream players managed double-figure points as they shared the load, led by the likes of Greissen Leslie (11 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Mayako Taingahue (10 points, six rebounds and three assists). For the City Coasters, Melika Samia (13 points, four rebounds) and Sophie Rogers (12 points, eight rebounds) impressed.

Picking up fifth spot was Northland Phoenix who won in a tight six-point come-from-behind win over Capital Swish. The Phoenix trailed at each break, including two points at the last change, but scored 21-13 in the final term to win, 72-66. Sophy Tua-Martin put up 24 points and four rebounds, Kiama Tahere managed the 21 points and seven rebounds, while Mahina-A-Rangi Kukutai-Wairau finished with a double-double of 10 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Jessica Slade was best-on despite being in a losing side, notching up 29 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Rachel Pike had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Meanwhile Taranaki Thunder avoided the last place spot with a win over Harbour Zephyr, 83-66. They led by eight points at half-time, but that quickly evaporated with a strong 25-17 term in favour of the Zephyr. Taranaki piled on the pressure in the last term to win the term 24-7 and run out 17-point victors. Teghan Omelvena-Ngatai (19 points, three rebounds) and Hannah Lee (19 points, four steals) had plenty of points for the winners, while Ramona Fuaivaa topscored for the Zephyr with 20 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists, and Vitolia Tuilave picked up a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Picture credit: Photosport via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Women’s stats – Round 1: Team analysis

WITH the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Women’s in full swing the ladder has already started to take shape with teams impressing with their attacking mentality and strength off the boards. Draft Central delves into the key statistical areas to see which teams have the rub of the green so far.


  1. Wizards 92.3
  2. Wildcats 76.5
  3. Breeze 71.5
  4. Dream 66.3
  5. Swish 61.5
  6. Gold Rush 43.5

The Wizards have proven to be very attacking minded this season, not afraid to back themselves in the contest and post hefty totals with Charlisse Leger-Walker leading the way with her 26.3 points. In fact they average more than 15 points a game than the next closest team in the Wildcats highlighting their intensity and scoring capacity. Wildcats and Breeze are relatively evenly matched averaging 76.5 and 71.5 points respectively with Tessa Boagni a key reason for the Wildcats’ early success with 30.5 points per game. Meanwhile Dream and Swish have showcased they have the capacity to go big but just not on a frequent basis. Down the bottom of the table when it comes to average points scored is Gold Rush with just 43.5 points to their name, they are also anchored to the bottom of the ladder having not won a game from the first two matches.


  1. Swish 42.5
  2. Wizards 41.7
  3. Wildcats 41.5
  4. Dream 39.00
  5. Gold Rush 37.5
  6. Breeze 36.00

Capital Swish have been renowned for their rebounding ability so far this season and the numbers prove just that narrowly edging out the Wizards for top spot. The Swish average 42.5 rebounds a game while the Wizards are hot on their heels with 41.7 with Boagni responsible for 13 boards a game. The race continues in third spot with the Wildcats also proving to be an imposing force off the boards recording an average of 41.5 rebounds. Dream are not too far behind credit to their 39 rebounds a game with Esra McGoldrick offering a helping hand thanks to her 10.3 rebounds while Gold Rush rose up the ranks thanks to their strength off the boards. The Breeze have struggled for rebounds this season only managing an average of 36 a game however their strength has lay in defence with majority of the boards defensive.


  1. Wizards 18.7
  2. Wildcats 17.5
  3. Swish 13
  4. Breeze 12
  5. Dream 11
  6. Gold Rush 8.5

It is no surprise that the Wizards hold top spot once again with their hot start to the season making them hard stop. They are crafty with ball in hand and are more than willing to flick the ball around to create attacking forays as shown through their average of 18.7 assists a game. The Wildcats have also been strong competitors registering 17.5 dimes each time they step out on court with Lauryn Hippolite a key cog credit to her seven assists. It drops off a bit after the top two with Swish only recording 13 assists a game while Breeze and Dream have 12 and 11 respectively. Coming in last is Gold Rush with the side only able to muster up 8.5 assists a game.


  1. Wizards 17.7
  2. Breeze 10.5
  3. Swish 10.5
  4. Gold Rush 10.00
  5. Wildcats 10.00
  6. Dream 8.3


The Wizards further showcased their star power leading the way with steals averaging an impressive 17.7 a game highlighting their defensive intent and cleanliness at the contest. Charlisse Leger-Walker bobbed up once again with a competition high of 5.3 steals while Boagni is only fractionally behind with her four steals a game.The Breeze and Swish are tied as the next best with 10.5 each while Gold Rush and Wildcats have also proven they are more than capable of getting their hands dirty with 10 steals to their name respectively. Dream on the other hand have somewhat s struggled only registering 8.3 a game.

Photo credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Draft Central’s 2021 NZNBL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 1

IN a week headlined by the dominance of the Waikato Wizards where they won three games by more than 30 points – two by 50-plus points – it was no surprise to see them feature heavily with three of the 10 players on our first Draft Central New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Women’s Team of the Week. The Wizards were the only team to have multiple starters in the Team of the Week (all three), with Auckland Dream (one starter, two bench players) also having three players after three matches. Harbour Breeze (two), Capital Swish (one) and Canterbury Wildcats (one) complete the side, with Otago Gold Rush the only team not to have a representative for Round 1.


G: Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards)
G: Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards)
F: Amanda Wayment (Auckland Dream)
F: Tessa Boagni (Canterbury Wildcats)
C: Makayla Daysh (Waikato Wizards)

Charlisse Leger-Walker
Waikato Wizards | Guard
26.3 PPG | 9.3 RPG | 4.0 APG | 5.3 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 51.9 FG%

Leading the way as the clear standout player thanks to 29 of a possible 30 Most Valuable Player (MVP) votes, Leger-Walker was unstoppable, averaging the second most points – and scoring the most total points – as well as being fifth overall for rebounds, and first for steals in a really complete performance. Shooting at more than 50 per cent from the field made her a no-brainer and an instant starter in the side.

Krystal Leger-Walker
Waikato Wizards | Guard
14.0 PPG | 6.0 RPG | 5.7 APG | 3.7 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 37.8 FG%

It was a good opening round for the Leger-Walker sisters, with Krystal not far behind Charlisse in the Wizards’ back court. While her numbers are slightly lower across the board, she did top her sisters in assists, with 5.7 per game, the second most in the league. Her field goal percentage is lower at 37.8 per cent, but her overall impact across the court was undeniable, particular in the win over Capital Swish on Sunday night.

Amanda Wayment
Auckland Dream | Forward
10.7 PPG | 9.0 RPG | 0.3 APG | 2.7 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 48.0 FG%

After not scoring a basket from five attempts on night one against the Wizards, Wayment put together impressive back-to-back performances of 17 points and eight rebounds, and 15 and 14 against the Breeze and Wildcats respectively. She also collected six steals in the win against the Breeze in what was a really productive 24 minutes and has now seemed to hit her straps, earning a spot in the Team of the Week.

Tessa Boagni
Canterbury Wildcats | Forward
30.5 PPG | 16.0 RPG | 0.5 APG | 4.0 SPG | 1.0 BPG | 47.5 FG%

What a start this sharpshooter has made to the Wildcats, leading them to two straight wins in Round 1. She will go up against the Leger-Walker sisters in Round 2 making it a tantalising clash, through with two double-doubles behind her – including 34 points and 21 rebounds in an overtime win against Harbour Breeze – she was clearly the second picked behind Charlisse Leger-Walker in this team.

Makayla Daysh
Waikato Wizards | Center
13.7 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 0.0 APG | 1.7 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 63.2 FG%

Rounding out the starting five is the third Wizards talent, and reigning MVP star, Daysh. Able to almost play a supporting role to start the season thanks to the Leger-Walker sisters inclusions, Daysh is an unbelievable talent in her own right, and she has been consistent on the scoring front with double-figure points in each of her games, Whilst others have picked up more rebounds, – Daysh averages just the three per game, she has spent no more than 20 minutes on court, making her 40-minute average 33.8 points and 7.4 rebounds. Couple that with shooting at 63.2 per cent and she has earned the five spot.


G: Gabriella Foto (Harbour Breeze)
G: Tiarna Clarke (Harbour Breeze)
F: Sharne Robati (Auckland Dream)
F: Esra McGoldrick (Auckland Dream)
C: Jacinta Beckley (Capital Swish)


Gabriella Fotu
Harbour Breeze | Guard
14.0 PPG | 6.5 RPG | 5.0 APG | 3.5 SPG | 41.67 FG%

Tiarna Clarke
Harbour Breeze | Guard
20.5 PPG | 2.5 RPG | 2.5 APG | 2.0 SPG | 32.43 FG%

Sharne Robati
Auckland Dream | Forward
13.7 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 0.7 APG | 0.7 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 41.2 FG%

Esra McGoldrick
Auckland Dream | Forward
9.7 PPG | 10.3 RPG | 2.3 APG | 2.0 SPG | 1.3 BPG | 40.7 FG%

Jacinta Beckley
Capital Swish | Centre
15.0 PPG | 6.5 RPG | 1.5 APG | 1.0 SPG | 1.5 BPG | 40.9 FG%

Among those considered unlucky not to make the Team of the Week are Capital Swish’s back court talent in Letava Whippy (10 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals), the only player to collect double-figure MVP votes but it was the hardest spot to squeeze into. Similarly, Swish’s Josephine Stockill (8.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks) came close to the four or five spots, but she marginally missed out. Breeze young gun Florence Dallow (13.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.5 steals) was certainly an eye-catcher of Round 1, and she was also close to making a front court place.

Boagni stars again as the Wildcats make it two from two

TESSA Boagni was dominant again as the Canterbury Wildcats came away with a 20-point victory over the Auckland Dream on Sunday night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) fixture.

Boagni made shots from inside the paint and beyond the arc to finish with 27 points on the night as she completed another double-double after recording 11 rebounds.

The Wildcats took control early in the contest with Lauryn Hippolite and Nicole Gleason both hitting a pair of three pointers in the first term, with Hannah Mischewski and Boagni also on target from long range. For the Dream, Esra McGoldrick and Amanda Wayment each had four first quarter points, but despite recording eight offensive rebounds, the Dream were unable to convert their second chance points often enough. The Dream were restricted just 12 points at the end of the first, as the Wildcats held a nine-point lead.

A rare three-pointer from Wayment opened the scoring in the second quarter after two minutes of action, as the Dream kept in touch with the Wildcats, with Lauren Whittaker’s made three cutting the margin to just six points. Boagni then took control of the contest, piling on 11 points of her own in the final five minutes of play, leading the Wildcats into half time with a 41-28 lead.

Early points to Mischewski and Boagni in the third extended the Wildcats’ lead out to 18 points and the Dream were never able to cut the deficit into single digits for the rest of the match. A Gemma Etheredge three ball with five minutes remaining in the fourth put the Wildcats ahead by 28 points, before a couple of threes from Jelena Vucinic helped reduce the final margin back to 20 points. The score ended 78-58, with the Wildcats securing their second win in as many games to start the new season on a high.

For the Dream, it was somewhat of a tired performance playing in their third game of the round, having already lost to the Wizards and defeated the Breeze. They made just 29.2 per cent of their field goals (21 from 72), and despite dominating the glass with 55-41 rebounds, including 18 offensive boards they were unable to capitalise with their poor shooting throughout the contest.

In comparison, the Wildcats made 38.5 per cent of their field goals, with their impressive three-point shooting proving to be a decisive factor in the game. Boagni made four threes, with Gleason, Etheredge, Mischewski and Hippolite all making two, and Sapphire Wairau adding another as the team shot 41.9 per cent (13 from 31) from beyond the arc. The Dream only managed five three pointers for the match, shooting at 22.7 per cent.

Boagni played the starring role once again as she also added two blocks and three steals to her 27 points and 11 rebounds. She shot at 42.1 per cent from the field and made 4 from 8 three pointers. Mischewski also had a solid game with 15 points of her own, while Gleason had 12 points for the match.

Wayment and McGoldrick led the way for the Dream, with Wayment recording 15 points and 14 rebounds, including a huge eight offensive rebounds, while McGoldrick completed her double-double game with 11 points and 15 rebounds, along with two blocks and two steals. Olivia Berry was also a factor for the Dream with 13 points and six rebounds.

The Wildcats will have a few days rest before they face a tough three game round next week, beginning with the Swish on Thursday night. As for the Dream, they will look forward to a much lighter week, with only one game against the Swish on Friday.


Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Wizards dominate Swish to complete unbelievable opening round

WAIKATO Wizards are not only meeting every challenge thrown at them, but smashing them in convincing style. The overwhelming premiership favourites moved to three wins from three games following another huge victory, this time thumping the Capital Swish by 52 points, making it back-to-back 50-plus beltings in the competition. What made the win all the more impressive was the fact the Swish were coming off a big 32-point victory over Otago Gold Rush – the side the Wizards disposed of the night before – but it made little difference to the Wizards who ran out 92-40 winners.

Waikato led by eight points at the first break to get a feel for the game, with the Swish even momentarily leading for a small patch early in the game, but that would prove to be a false dawn as the Wizards pressure forced the Swish into a plethora of errors time and time again. That soon resulted on the scoreboard as the Wizards kept the Swish to the lowest quarter score of any side this season in the next term – just four points – to lead 36-15 at half-time.

The Wizards had now kept the Swish to the lowest score of the first half, but there was no letting up, piling on 30 points to eight in another dominant term to blow the margin out past 40 points and set up what looked to be another record-breaking night. To the Swish’s credit though, they never gave in, able to stem the bleeding midway through the last, and whilst they scored only six less points in the quarter (17) compared to their first three quarters (23), it was not going to be enough as the Wizards triumphed by a whopping 52 points, 92-40.

The glaring issue fo the Swish was the turnover numbers, committing a season-high 38 turnovers – almost 10 per quarter – whilst the Wizards recorded just nine by comparison. The points from turnovers stood at a completely lob-sided 36-0 which was the key to the game. There were 19 steals to six, and 17 assists to five, showing the difference in transition between the sides. The rebound battle was closer, with the Wizards ahead marginally (46-41), though the Swish had more blocks (5-1).

Everywhere else it was the Wizards who might not have shot as efficiently as in previous games, but had 78 attempts to the Swish’s 51, and finished with a 37 to 31 per cent efficiency. They made nine of 29 from beyond the arc compared to the Swish’s one of 14, and also had more points in the paint (34-26) and second chance points (18-6).

Charlisse Leger-Walker‘s strong start to the season continued with another double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds, as well as four assists and three steals. She shared the Most Valuable Player (MVP) votes with sister Krystal Leger-Walker who finished with 15 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals in a big night for the family. Kayla Manuirirangi had 20 points, two rebounds and two steals coming off the bench, whilst Makayla Daysh put up 14 points, six rebounds and four steals for another fine effort.

Scoring was hard to come by for the Swish, with two players recording a team-high nine points Letava Whippy had the nine points and five rebounds, with Jyordanna Davey the only player to score a triple, to go towards her nine points. Josephine Stockill was the most influential with eight points, 10 rebounds and two assists, while Lilly Taulelei had six points and five rebounds off the bench.

Capital Swish tip-off Round 2 on Thursday night against the unbeaten Canterbury Wildcats in what will be a big weekend of action for them, doing the triple with clashes against Auckland Dream and Harbour Breeze on Saturday and Sunday to complete their first cycle of games. Waikato Wizards just have Harbour Breeze and Canterbury Wildcats left to beat this season, and they take them on on Friday and Saturday night respectively.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Dream becomes reality as Auckland bounce back to deliver blow to reigning premiers

IN a battle between opening match losers, Auckland Dream has delivered another blow to reigning premier Harbour Breeze’s chances of going back-to-back with a come-from-behind nine-point win in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contest. The Dream suffered a forgettable loss on opening night to Waikato Wizards, as the Breeze went down in overtime the night before to Canterbury Wildcats. Despite the Breeze leading in the first two quarter breaks, a dominant third term saw the Dream wake up and storm to an impressive 82-73 victory.

Both teams were up for the fight in what looked to be an evenly poised match in the first half. The Breeze and Dream traded blows throughout the opening term, as five lead changes saw the Breeze take a narrow two-point lead into quarter time. They got out to as much as five points early in the second term, but it indicated just how close the contest was, as the Dream hit the front late, before some baskets on the eve of half-time handed the Breeze a 35-32 lead.

It was the third term that really broke open the game as the Dream found their groove and built serious momentum for as much as a 12-point lead – a 15-point swing since half-time – before the Breeze managed to cut back some of the damage to reduce the deficit to eight at the final break. A 22-21 final term saw the Dream hold on to that lead, and whilst the Breeze did cut it back to within striking distance – four points – towards the end of the match, the Dream held firm to record their third victory.

The Dream shot at a higher clip of 44 to 38 per cent, but it was the Dream’s work inside the arc – in particular the paint – that was the difference, with a 57 per cent efficiency from two-point range and 48 points in the paint, to the Breeze’s 38 per cent and 20 points. Auckland could still improve from beyond the arc with just two of 18 dropping, which kept the Breeze in it, who shot eight of 20 for a higher efficiency of 40 per cent. The Breeze also scored more points from turnovers (20-19) and off the bench (31-17), but the Dream were well ahead in rebounds (45-34) and led in steals (14-10) and second chance points (14-10).

Esra McGoldrick picked up a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in an all-round strong performance, teaming up with captain Sharne Robati (17 points, five rebounds) and match Most Valuable Player (MVP) Amanda Wayment (17 points, eight rebounds and six steals) who both shared the team-high score. Olivia Berry had another strong effort with 15 points, whilst Casyn Buchman came off the bench to deliver eight points, four rebounds and four assists.

It was not all bad news for the Breeze, with 17-year-old Florence Dallow producing an eye-catching performance from beyond the arc. In her second game, Dallow drained five of six marks from long-range to finish with six of nine from the field overall, and 23 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals in a clear standout performance for the Breeze. Jazz Kailahi-Fulu recorded a double-double of 10 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Gabriella Fotu (15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Tiarna Clarke (11 points, three assists and two steals) also battled hard throughout four quarters.

The Dream will look to back up their win with a clash against Canterbury Wildcats tonight, with the Wildcats looking to remain undefeated in season 2021, whilst the Breeze step out on court on Thursday night against the struggling Otago Gold Rush who have suffered two defeats themselves, but much larger than the Breeze’s back-to-back losses.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Wizards trounce Gold Rush on way to another massive win

WAIKATO Wizards have completely dismantled Otago Gold Rush to run away with a thumping 55-point New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) win and go even better than their 33-point win over Auckland Dream 48 hours earlier. The Wizards won every quarter convincingly on their way to an eye-opening 91-36 trouncing that further sent a message to the rest of the competition after they never surrendered the lead once.

The Wizards were red-hot coming in off a big win, whilst the Gold Rush were entering following a heavy loss, making this a potentially one-sided game. Those were the signs from the opening tipoff as the Wizards quickly raced out to an 11-point quarter time lead, restricting the Gold Rush to just nine points in the first term. The second quarter was marginally closer, but the lead kept growing as Waikato held a 37-19 lead at the main break, well and truly in control.

It was the third quarter that really showed the difference in the teams, as the Wizards put the foot down to pile on 33 points to six in arguably the most dominant quarter of the first round thus far, pushing the lead way out to 45. Looking like the biggest win of a season which has already seen some beltings, the Wizards never let up, winning the last term by 55 points, which was the largest margin of the game after the Gold Rush had cut it back to 40 points during the fourth term. Overall it was a huge win to the Wizards to go 2-0 to start the season ahead of their third game tonight.

There was little surprise the stats sheet all went one way with the Wizards having a whopping 26 more attempts, and 20 more makes from the field, on their way to recording a high scooting efficiency (44 to 28 per cent). This included 14 triples to three, and almost double the amount of makes from inside the arc (20 to 11), only needing to score nine free throws such was their jump shooting efficiency.

Still, the winners managed to score far more in the paint (36-14) and dominated off the Gold Rush’s loose turnovers which were double that of the Wizards (32-16). Waikato punished Otago with 36 points to five off turnovers, and shared the points around with 28 points to 15 coming off the respective benches. The winners also had more rebounds (45-36), assists (23-7) and steals (14-10) in a real overall complete performance.

Charlisse Leger-Walker won her second consecutive Most Valuable Player (MVP), needing just 30 minutes to put up 25 points – five of 11 from beyond the arc – eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Sister Krystal Leger-Walker hit up 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals in 27 minutes, while Makayla Daysh was the most efficient with a quick cameo of 16 points in 10 minutes. Matangiroa Flavell (10 points, four rebounds and three assists), Breana Jones (nine points, six rebounds) and Kayla Manuirirangi (eight points, six rebounds) also contributed strongly.

Caitlin O’Connell played 18 minutes off the bench and scored a team-high 11 points, the only player to reach double-figure points in the lowly score. She also managed four rebounds and two assists in the outing, with Savanna Handevidt (four points, seven rebounds and three steals) and Bronwyn Kjestrup (five points, five rebounds two assists and two steals) the other key players in a game to forget for the Gold Rush.

The Wizards host Capital Swish tonight in a battle of two undefeated sides setting up a beauty, whilst the Gold Rush will head to Round 2 on Thursday when they take on reigning champions Harbour Breeze who are also 0-2 to start the season.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Boagni leads Wildcats to hand Breeze first loss in two seasons

TESSA Boagni has stepped up to the plate to lift her Canterbury Wildcats side to a five-point thrilling overtime win against reigning champions Harbour Breeze in the first nail-biting New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contest of the season. The result marked the Breeze’s first defeat in two seasons, after going through the 18IN18 competition undefeated in 2020. With Boagni not only hitting a game-tying jumper to send the match into overtime, she finished with a mind-boggling 34 points and 21 rebounds in a clear best-on performance for the Wildcats during the 75-70 victory.

It was a seesawing opening term, as the Breeze took the early lead, then the Wildcats regained control to hold a five-point advantage midway through the quarter. That did not last as the Breeze produced a nine-point turnaround to be four points up at the first break. A quarter later, both sides were all square as the Wildcats drew level at half-time.

The third term looked like the Breeze were going to run away with it, racing out to a double-digit lead midway through the quarter and were firmly in control. The Wildcats – led by Boagni – refused to give in, getting back to even keel before some late baskets to the Breeze gave them a four-point lead into the last term. That final term still saw the Breeze in control, with the Wildcats only hitting the front momentarily midway through the quarter, and in the last 10 seconds, Boagni’s long-rang bomb tied the scores at 62-apiece to send the game into overtime.

With 4:08 left on the clock in overtime, the Breeze held a narrow one-point lead. Boagni had something to say about that with six straight points before coming to the bench for a rest. The Wildcats got out to as much as a seven-point lead with 1:58 on the clock thanks to their eight-point run, and then eight wit ha final free throw in the dying 30 seconds, before Tiarna Clarke hit a consolation three-pointer to cut the final margin to five, 70-75.

Canterbury led the shooting accuracy with 34 to 31 per cent, having 10 more attempts and nailing five more makes. They also controlled the rebounds (56-44) and assists (20-10), though the Breeze were strong at denying the Wildcats the easy baskets with more blocks (7-1). The Breeze also had more points from turnovers (22-15) with one less turnover (20-21), though the Wildcats made up for it with dominant wins in the paint (38 points to 24) and second chance points (16-4).

Boagni was unstoppable with 34 points – at 52 per cent from the field – and 21 rebounds – 16 defensive – whilst also collecting five steals to be the obvious game Most Valuable Player (MVP). She had triple the points of any teammate, with Lauryn Hippolite the next most with nine – but collected 10 assists which were half her team’s total assists – and four rebounds. Andrea Gleason (eight points, two steals) was next in line, whilst Terai-Ma-Teata Elia (seven rebounds, three assists) and Gemma Etheredge (six rebounds) both impacted off the boards despite being inaccurate from their own shooting with four points apiece.

Clarke was the clear standout one for the reigning premiers, putting up 30 points, though at a lower 34 per cent efficiency. She shot four of 14 from beyond the arc to pick up the most three-pointers of any player on the court, and also had the four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Gabriella Fotu led from the front with seven rebounds and seven assists to go with 13 points and four steals, while Jazz Kailahi-Fulu managed the 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Keeley Tini failed to hit a field attempt from six chances to only finish with two points, but amassed nine rebounds and four blocks to be a menace close to the defensive basket.

Harbour Breeze have a quick turnaround to take on night one losers Auckland Dream in a battle where one must break their drought, whilst the Wildcats will take on the Dream tomorrow in big weekend for Auckland.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Stunning first half sees Swish claim huge win

CAPITAL Swish have started their season in the best possible fashion, piling on 54 points to 22 in the first half of their opening New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Women’s clash to claim a 32-point win over Otago Gold Rush at Pulman Arena last night. Whilst the Gold Rush managed to hit back and stem the bleeding in the second half, it was a case of too little, too late.

The Swish put the foot down from the get-go with 26 points to nine in the opening term to open up a huge 17-point quarter time lead. They maintained their high-level offensive output with another 28 points, whilst keeping the Gold Rush to just 13, and lead 54-22 at the main break. That 32-point difference would ultimately prove fatal for Otago, breaking even in the second half, and even winning the final term by two, but it would not be enough, as Capital Swish enjoyed the big 83-51 win to start the season off on the perfect note.

Never trailing throughout the contest, the Swish just kept building their lead. Whilst the Gold Rush did cut it back to just over 20 points midway through the third term, it blew out to as much as 40 in the last quarter before the Gold Rush steadied. The three-point shooting percentages were stark with the Gold Rush hitting just one of 21 attempts (four per cent) compared to the Swish’s six of 19 (31 per cent). That led the Swish to an overall shooting percentage of 43 to 27 per cent.

In terms of overall game statistics, the Swish easily won the rebounds (55-45), assists (21-10), steals (15-10) and blocks (5-1), as well as capitalising on points from turnovers (27-16) despite only having one less turnover (23-24). Both sides were level with 34 points apiece in the paint, whilst the Gold Rush found more off the bench (39-26) in a rare positive, though it was all one-way traffic for the Swish.

Jacinta Beckley was the standout for the Swish, putting up an almost double-double with 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Shooting eight of 14 from the field and nailing nine of her 10 free throws, Beckley scored 15 more points than any other player in the match. Letava Whippy (11 points, eight assists, five steals and three rebounds) contributed in multiple facets, with Maia Jean Watene (nine points, six rebounds) and Josephine Stockill (eight points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks) also doing well from the starting side.

Lauren Tewhata (eight points, five rebounds and two assists), Bulou Tuisue (eight points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Lilly Taulelei (eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals) all stepped up coming off the bench to produce when needed in the big victory.

Millicent Adams (nine points, three rebounds) and Sophie Adams (nine points, five rebounds) were the equal top scorers for the Gold Rush with no Otago player hitting double-figure points. In a disappointing night on the scoring front, Caitlin O’Connell (five points, six rebounds and two steals) was one of two others to reach five points, as Olivia O’Neill (four points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Savanna Handevidt (three points, seven rebounds) were the best of the starting lineup.

Otago Gold Rush will take on night one big winner Waikato Wizards in a massive Saturday night clash tonight, with the Capital Swish taking on the Wizards tomorrow in a battle between two genuine contenders.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Wizards cast spell for nightmare start for Dream

WAIKATO Wizards have stamped their authority on the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Women’s competition with a thumping 35-point win over Auckland Dream. In a spell through the bookend quarters, the Wizards piled on 61 points to 32, led by Charlisse Leger-Walker who put up match-highs in all five key statistics – points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks – to be far and away the most dominant player on court for the Wizards’ 94-59 opening night win.

Leger-Walker showed no mercy in the opening quarter, scoring 16 consecutive points for her side to start the clash, and was actually outscoring the entire Dream outfit in the first term. Whilst others such as her sister and fellow NZNBL inclusion Krystal Leger-Walker chipped in and began to shoulder the load, the Wizards were already on their way to a big win. Holding a 15-point advantage at quarter time, they held off a better defensive effort from the Dream team to lead by 18 at half-time.

The third term was again fairly even, with the Wizards advancing past 20 points to the good, with an 18-15 term for an overall scoreline of 64-43. The final stanza was all one way traffic again however, with the Wizards piling on 30 points to 16 and getting up 94-59 to open their account at Pulman Arena.

Every statistic went their way, with the Wizards never trailing, and shooting at a 48 per cent clip from the field, compared to the Dream’s 35 per cent. They had more rebounds (43-33), assists (16-11), steals (20-7) and blocks (4-1), as well as less than half the amount of turnovers as their opponents (10-23). They doubled the Dream’s points in the paint (52-26), had almost triple their points from turnovers (32-12) and more than double their bench points (35-14) in a complete performance across the board.

Charlisse Leger-Walker announced herself in the league in the best way possible with a dominant 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists, nine steals and two blocks, the most in each of those statistics on court. To make the performance all the more impressive, she did not commit a single turnover, whilst maintaining a 55 per cent efficiency from the field, including 60 per cent from inside the arc. Her sister Krystal finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals to play a crucial cameo in the win.

Breeje Schuler came off the bench to nail all of her six shots from the field to total 17 points, as well as three rebounds and two assists, whilst star talent Makayla Daysh (11 points, two rebounds) was able to play more of a support role in the opening game. Breana Jones (10 points, five rebounds) was the other player to reach double-figure points in the win,

Sharne Robati led the Dream with 22 points – three of six from long-range – six rebounds and two steals. Casyn Buchman was the only other double-figure scorer for the losing team with 11 points, as well as five rebounds and four assists. Olivia Berry (eight points, five rebounds and three assists) and Esra McGoldrick (four points, six rebounds and two assists) were others who stood out despite the loss.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL