Tag: jessica moors

Breeze provides knockout blow for Wildcats in big win

FOR one team, the result meant staying undefeated from three games, while for the other, it was effectively a line through their playoff hopes, as Harbour Breeze produced an impressive 22-point win over Canterbury Wildcats in the New Zealand National Basketball League’s (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition last night. The result meant the former set itself up for a top two finish, while handing the Wildcats a fourth defeat and knocking them out of contention for the 2020 title.

After an agonisingly close loss the night before, Wildcats’ Brittany Richards was first on the board with a clever hookshot in the opening 30 seconds. Though in what would become a theme for the night, Ashleigh Kelman-Poto and Brooke Blair both added baskets in 30 seconds to quickly have the Breeze back on track. For each Wildcats basket, there were two Breeze baskets, as Gabriella Fotu and Blair – this time the latter had a three-pointer – countered out the Terai-Ma-Teata Elia jump shot to push the lead out to five just over two minutes into the match.

Both teams were making a number of turnovers with ball-in-hand and missing opportunities as the chances dried up over the next few minutes. Elia finally broke the drought off a Shea Crotty dime, but once again Blair was involved, getting it to Jessica Moors who produced perfect Breeze layup. The Wildcats kept trying, with Rosalia Samia and Richards both sinking shots, but the work of Keeley Tini with a triple and then a last second Kelman-Poto jumper handed the Breeze a six-point advantage at the first break.

Crotty was quick out of the blocks for the Wildcats to chew back the clock as Blair missed a couple of chances, but the Wildcats could not punish them from the charity stripe with both Samia and Elia only hitting one of two from the line. They had got to within two points before Fotu finally got the Breeze on the board, and it kick-started a run of eight consecutive points, the next six came from the red-hot Blair who found her range inside the arc.

In the space of a few minutes, the lead was out to double-digits and the Wildcats needed a response. Samia, Isabelle Cook and Crotty all quickly piled on baskets in the space of a minute, shaving seven points off the 10-point deficit. Kelman-Poto had returned to the court and made up for lost time with four consecutive points for the Breeze to blow it back out to 28-21, before Cook hit a timely jumper with 44 seconds on the clock. Many might have thought that would be it for the quarter, but instead it was the Blair show, as the talented shooter knocked down back-to-back triples in what was a remarkable double-digit quarter for the talent, her last second bomb making the half-time margin 11 points.

Both Blair and Kelman-Poto continued after the break and combined for seven of the first nine points, with every Wildcats basket immediately receiving a response from the Breeze. The Breeze duo dictated play for a lot of of the time, and despite a Gemma Etheredge triple midway through the term for the Wildcats, they could not get enough momentum to chew into the deficit.

The lead went out to as much as 17 points at one stage, with the Wildcats able to reel it in to 11, as long-range shooting from Lauryn Hippolite, Richards and Etheredge helped, but even the last minute triple from Etheredge could only cut the final break deficit to 10. Once again the Breeze scored seven of the first nine points of the final term. From there it was largely academic and more about how much the final margin would be, which eventuated into a 22-point difference between the teams, 81-59.

The Breeze were simply more accurate from the field, hitting 53 per cent of their chances to the Wildcats’ 40 per cent, though Canterbury hit seven of 20 three-pointers to keep themselves in the contest. The stats as a whole were fairly even, with the Breeze’s 6-1 blocks advantage the key, though they only won the assist count by four (17-13). The Wildcats won the rebound (35-34) and steal (17-16) counts, whilst both teams managed nine second chance points, though Canterbury had 27 turnovers to 22.

Blair shot a match-high 25 points, shooting at 64 per cent from the field, including eight of 10 from inside the arc. She also dished off six assists and had three steals in an impressive performance. Working in tandem with her was Kelman-Poto (18 points, nine rebounds) who was prolific at both ends of the court. Moors finished with double-digit points off the bench thanks to 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Fotu (nine points, three assists, three steals and two rebounds) was also strong.

For the Wildcats, Samia managed a team-high 12 points, as well as three assists, two steals and two rebounds, but also six turnovers. Elia made the most of her chances with 11 points and a 100 per cent field goal percentage accompanying eight rebounds, three assists and four steals as the Wildcats’ best. Etheredge had seven points and seven rebounds, but only shot two of 10 from the field and had the five turnovers. Off the bench, Hippolite had six points and three rebounds, while Cook had seven points.

Harbour Breeze now rest up until back-to-back games against Waikato Wildcats and Auckland Dream next Monday and Tuesday, whilst the final Canterbury Wildcats game will take place on the last night of competition on December 3, against Otago Gold Rush.

Picture: Photosport

Breeze dig deep in final term to blow away plucky Gold Rush

THEY did not have it all their own way, but one of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 title favourites in Harbour Breeze were able to maintain their intensity for longer and step up when it counted to post an important win over Otago Gold Rush. The 11-point win (58-47) allowed the Breeze to move to 2-0 for the season and join Auckland Dream as the other undefeated team thus far in the condensed season, needing all four quarters to finally shake off the fresh Gold Rush.

Coming off an impressive win the night before, Harbour Breeze started with a triple 90 seconds into the contest off the hot hands of Ashleigh Kelman-Poto to get them going. Zoe Richards responded a minute later to become the first official Gold Rush scorer in the 2020 season. A mistake-riddled first term saw few shots being made and a number of fouls being handed out, before Savanna Handevidt produced back-to-back free throws to nudge her team ahead 4-3. Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu responded a mere five seconds later off another foul, and midway through the term, the score was 5-4 in favour of the Breeze.

It picked up a little more in the final three minutes as Gabriella Fotu hit an important layup, but Tara Clement and Richards responded again and Gold Rush had the lead back. Clement’s two free throws extended that to three, which was quickly negated by an impressive Keeley Tini triple with less than two minutes on the clock. Scoring five consecutive points, the Gold Rush looked to be in firm control at 15-10 with 28 seconds remaining on the clock.

Unfortunately for the Gold Rush, a two-point jumper by Olivia Bell with two seconds on the clock, and then another layup, this time from Jessica Moors in the first 15 seconds of the second term cut the deficit to just one. Once again scoring was scarce in the first half of the quarter, as Kailahi-Fulu put her second lot of points on the board to tie the scores for the Breeze, before Moors got to the basket to hand her team the lead midway through the quarter.

Another 90 seconds off the clock and neither team could score credit to the defensive pressure, before Kelman-Poto headed to the charity stripe and pushed the Breeze’s lead out to a two-possession game. Richards and Te Araroa Sopoaga responded, with the latter’s three-pointer with 99 seconds left in the term hitting the front, only for Tini and then Foty to respond and the Breeze were back in front by free at half-time.

Not willing to let the game slip, the Gold Rush had the first eight points on the board, with Richards contributing four and not allowing the Breeze a score in the first three and a half minutes. Though as the good teams tend to do, the Breeze – this time through Fotu – found a way – and back-to-back layups from Fotu gave her side the lead in the blink of an eye.

A few minutes later Brooke Blair scored her first points of the night after a big evening the night before thanks to a three-pointer, but the Gold Rush kept coming. The teams traded blows with Tini, Tiarna Clarke and Kailahi-Fulu all adding baskets to push the lead out to a game-high six points. Not much in it at the final break, a Lisa Wallbutton layup with 10 seconds to go, an cut it to three, but it could have been even tighter with Wallbutton missing the And-One chance, then picking up the offensive rebounds but missing the jump shot allowing Moors to hold onto possession in the dying seconds.

Handevidt scored the first point of the final term with one of her two free throws, but the second miss would hurt as Fotu continued her hot streak with another couple of baskets and the lead was back out to six. Unlike the first three quarters, there was plenty of scoring in the first few minutes as Wallbutton hit back-to-back baskets either side of a Zara Jillings miss, and the Gold Rush were within two.

A series of attempts from Richards – where she picked up three offensive rebounds, had two shots and passed two other opportunities off – could not yield a score, and then Fotu drove the dagger in further with a great pass to an open Tini who nailed a triple and the lead was out to five with six minutes on the clock.

The Gold Rush again came hard, getting within two points with four minutes on the clock, but Blair was beginning to become a problem, answering each opposition basket with one of her own. When she dished off a dime to Tini for another three-pointer, the game was looking out of reach for the underdogs. It was fitting that after another series of chances from the Gold Rush that could not result in scoreboard pressure, it was Blair and Tini, off deliberate fouls, that officially put the final nail in the coffin as the lead went out to 12. A Richards jump shot in the last 10 seconds cut the final margin to 11, but it was the Breeze standing up in the final five minutes of the game that was the difference.

Tini’s long-range game yielded her the most points with 15, which saw her make four of seven from long range and pick up two rebounds off the bench. Fotu was a standout with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Blair was clean with a big second half including 11 points, three rebounds and three steals. Jillings’ shooting might have been off – none of 10 chances from the field – but she still was a solid contributor with┬áseven rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks. Kelman-Poto (five points, six rebounds and three blocks) and Kailahi-Fulu (seven points, four rebounds and two steals) were both impressive.

For the Gold Rush, Richards hit 12 points, and could have been even more with just six of 18 from the field, but she was able to record eight rebounds, two assists and three steals on the night. Wallbutton off the bench was a standout with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Sopoaga notched up eight points – only one from eight from the field – and had seven assists, five rebounds and two blocks. Handevidt also stood tall around the basket with seven rebounds to accompany her nine points.

The Gold Rush will look to bounce back tonight when they take on the similarly placed 0-1 Waikato Wizards, while the Breeze now set their sights on Canterbury Wildcats on Thursday.

Picture credit: Photosport