Tag: natasha lenden

Wizards conjure first win to hand Gold Rush consecutive losses

WAIKATO Wizards regrouped from a poor second quarter to completely turn around the game in the third and record a remarkable eight-point win over Otago Gold Rush in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 match. The Wizards conceded 27 points in a high-scoring second term to fall behind by six at half-time, before restricting their opponents to just five – the lowest conceded in the season – to regain control by four and win 63-55.

Having had plenty of time to regroup after an opening night loss to Auckland Dream, the Wizards did not waste any time with Alyssa Hirawani hitting a triple in the opening 10 seconds of the match to state her team’s intent. It took almost two minutes for the Gold Rush to reply with Zoe Richards getting to the basket with a layup. Te Araroa Sopoaga quickly followed and the Gold Rush were in front.

In what became a six-minute drought between their first and second baskets, Kayla Manuirirangi finally hit a jump shot, and when Esra McGoldrick scored back-to-back layups, all of a sudden the Wizards had a 6-0 run and were three points up. Sharing the points around with Natasha Lenden and Alana Paewai also scoring, the margin did get out to five points with 56 seconds left, before Fayreen Fualau hit a jump shot for the Gold Rush to cut the quarter time deficit to just three.

The second term built on the Gold Rush’s momentum, scoring the first eight points of the quarter to make it 10 consecutive points overall, including four from the hand of Lisa Wallbutton. The lead had stretched out to five before Paewai hit a two-point jumper two-and-a-half minutes into the quarter to break the Wizards drought, and then a second triple from Hirawani levelled the match not long after.

A third long-range make from Paewai had the Wizards up by three, then the Gold Rush made their move with Tara Clement nailing a long-range attempt of her own, then following up with a layup 30 seconds later. The teams were able to stay relatively close through the midpoint of the quarter, and five consecutive points from the Wizards with two minutes on the clock tied the scores yet again. The Gold Rush would have the last laugh though, adding 10 of the last 12 points for the half, with Wallbutton and Richards both adding three points each to hold a 37-31 lead at the main break.

Hirawani was proving to be a handful for the Gold Rush defence and she was first on the board a minute into the second half. Hayley Gray responded, but the Wizards again cut the deficit back to four after a Manuirirangi jump shot. Not allowing the deficit to grow more than five points, the Wizards finally managed back-to-back points from McGoldrick and Matangiroa Flavell to draw within a point with four-and-a-half minutes on the clock.

When Clement hit a layup for the Gold Rush to retake the lead after a brief stint with the Wizards in front, it would be the last score of the term for Otago, making just five for the entire quarter. Flavell would put her side back in front, and then the Wizards added the last five points of the quarter to lead 46-42 at the final change.

After such a low-scoring term, the Gold Rush came out hard with Wallbutton hitting her first jump shot attempt of the quarter to draw within two points, and the teams began trading baskets with the Wizards holding a narrow lead. Through the midpoint of the term, Makayla Daysh added three points and Manuirirangi another two, and the lead was out to seven. Back-to-back free throws by Savanna Handevidt for the Gold Rush gave them some hope, but Flavell’s long-range three just expanded the lead to eight with under six minutes left.

Handevidt came hard with a couple of makes in the last five minutes to get her team within four points, but Daysh was again busy, having a big quarter. Richards popped up again to get the Gold Rush within four, and then a series of misses from both sides resulted in the time ticking down. Deliberate fouling to save time cost the Gold Rush as Flavell and Manuirirangi made no mistake from the line, to end the game at 63-55.

Both teams shot at 36 per cent from the field, with the Wizards hitting three more triples (6-3), which made up for a lack of rebounds. The Gold Rush dominated that statistic with 51-35, whilst also winning the assists (16-13) and second chance points (8-3). The massive difference was the Gold Rush’s excessive turnovers with double the amount (24-12), and the Wizards also had more steals (12-8) and blocks (6-2).

Manuirirangi finished with a match-high 14 points, as well as six rebounds and two steals, while Flavell had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in an all-round performance. Hirawani reached double-figure points with 10 and two rebounds, while McGoldrick hit 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and three blocks off the bench.

For the Gold Rush, Richards was the only player to reach double-figures with 10 points and eight rebounds, thought Clement (nine points) and Wallbutton (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) were strong off the bench. Handevidt (eight points, seven rebounds and three assists) did a bit of everything, while Gray (six points, seven rebounds) was solid off the boards.

The Wizards will look to make it two in a row tonight when they face the winless Canterbury Wildcats, while the Gold Rush will hope to get on the board on Saturday when they take on Capital Swish.

Picture: Photosport

Dream snatches narrow win in dying seconds

AUCKLAND Dream have kept their momentum rolling from the Schick 3X3 Cup title win with an opening night win in the Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) 18IN18 competition thanks to a three-pointer from Arielle Mackey-Williams with just seven seconds remaining. The Dream might have got up in the 3X3 tournament, but it was clear that Waikato Wizards were up for the fight early on, winning the first two quarters before the home team hit back to escape with a 61-58 victory.

It was somewhat of an omen that Mackey-Williams was the first to get on the board for the season, making a layup 14 seconds into the match. Both teams were a little nervous and off target at first, before Sharne Pupuke-Robati scored the only other basket in the first two an a half minutes. Finally hitting the scoreboard, the Wizards’ Matangiroa Flavell nailed an important jump shot and swung the momentum back in the underdogs’ favour.

Both teams traded back-and forth baskets in the first term, with the lead out to as much as four points when Zarya Poulava completed an And-One chance with 27 remaining. Amanda Wayment secured a couple of free throws with four seconds left in the first term to help her Dream side to get within two points.

The second term was much like the first with both teams able to hit the scoreboard, but also miss some golden chances. Flavell extended the Wizards’ lead out to four points with a triple just a couple of minutes into the term, which was followed up by Natasha Lenden‘s free throws that resulted in a match-high six-point advantage.

Each time the Wizards skipped away, the Dream reeled them in, with as much as a six-point lead with 88 seconds left in the half, with Flavell again productive on the offensive end. A couple of late free throws in the final 30 seconds to Mackey-Williams cut the deficit to four, and the term was identical to the first at 14-12 in favour of the Wizards.

Needing a spark after half-time, Casyn Buchman hit an early two-pointer, and the teams traded blows with Alyssa Hirawani four points in response. Pupuke-Robati was starting to get a feel for it though for Auckland and between her and Buchman, the pair combined for their team’s first 13 points of the half. It led them to a lead, which never got more than two points as both teams remained capable of taking back the momentum. A late Jayzelee Waihi layup for the Wizards tied up the game at 47-47, but most importantly for the Dream, they had won the quarter by four.

The stage was set for a ripping last term, but early on it was the Dream that looked liked running away with it. Mackey-Williams and Pupuke-Robati extended the gap on the scoreboard out to five, as the Wizards only scored their first basket four minutes and 20 seconds into the term. A couple of misses for the Dream opened the door for the Wizards, as Makayla Daysh and Hirawani levelled the scores with just over three minutes to play.

Missing a chance moments early, Wayment stepped up with an important layup to again hand her team the lead, but Daysh hit the match-levelling free throws with two minutes and 56 seconds left on the clock. Both teams committed an array of errors or missed shots in the final couple of minutes as the pressure was through the roof. Plenty of substitutions were made on and off in a bid to gain the advantage, but it took until Arielle Parai made the fade away jumper to hand the Wizards the lead with 33 seconds on the clock.

A Dream timeout and reset seemed to do the trick, as Pupuke-Robati hit the layup play off the Buchman assist to level the scores with 31 seconds remaining. The Wizards took their turn at a timeout but Hirawani missed her layup opportunity, with Pupuke-Robati scooping up the rebound getting it to Buchman who again provided the crucial dime to Mackey-Williams from long-range who made no mistake with the game winner. Hirawani had a rushed shot with one second remaining, but it was not going to get there and the Dream escaped in a thriller.

Looking at the overall stats, the teams will want to improve on their shooting efficiency, recording just 32 and 33 per cent from the field, though both were impressive off the boards. The Wizards won the count 48-47, and also had more steals (14-8), while the Dream had more assists (16-12) and blocks (6-5), as well as less turnovers (20-22).

Pupuke-Robati was the standout with 23 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal, whilst Buchman also picked up a double-double for the Dream thanks to 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and one steal. Mackey-Williams had the 11 points and three assists, while Wayment finished with a handy six points, seven rebounds, three assists and a massive five blocks.

For the Wizards, Flavell led the way with points thanks to 12, as well as four rebounds and five steals, but it was Daysh who was clearly best-on in the losing side. The forward racked up 10 points, 12 rebounds – six offensive – and two blocks. Parai (nine points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Hirawani (six points, four rebounds and three steals) also impressed.

The Dream will not have too long to bask in glory having to back up tonight against Canterbury Wildcats, while for the Wizards, they get a long break before coming up against Otago Gold Rush and the Wildcats back-to-back on November 24-25.

Picture: Photosport

NZNBL 18IN18 team preview: Waikato Wizards

THE next team in focus is Waikato Wizards who are preparing for the upcoming New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Sal’s NBL 18IN18 competition which will see a fast paced, action packed 18 days of basketball action. Community Basketball Manager for the Wizards, Anthony Corban shed some light on what preparation has been like and what it means for the side to actually take the court in 2020.

With a relatively new format seeing teams fly in and fly out of venues on a tight turn around, Corban has commended Basketball New Zealand’s overall efforts to get the season up and running and ability to overcome the logistics to ensure a women’s season became a reality rather than a dream.

“The NZ NBL and Basketball New Zealand has to be commended for making a women’s NBL happen in 2020,” he said. “Many thought it was in the too hard basket. “But a committed staff and board at BBNZ, along with great team representatives have made this happen. “Any opportunity to promote women’s basketball is fantastic.”

Boasting a young core group of players, Corban is simply excited to see what they can produce throughout the competition. He also made mention of a couple of key players expected to light up the court for the Wizards. One name that stood out in particular was that of Tall Fern Matangiroa (Pep) Flavell who impressed throughout 2019 albeit in different colours but will be a valuable addition to the Wizards.

“We are a young group this year, so just looking forward to getting them on the court and competing,” he said. “We have some really exciting guards in our team. Kayla Manuirirangi, Pep Flavell, Alyssa Hirawani are three guards that will excite.”

“We have the best age group women’s programme here in New Zealand so look out for the young contenders Jay Waihi, Breeje Schuler and Alana Paewai,” Corban stated. “We’ve also managed to strengthen our forward line-up with Maka Daysh in our group. As traditionally we have played small ball.”

Given the number of guards in the team it is no surprise that the Wizards overall game style will focus on them and using every inch of space out on court to create continuous forward forays and open up avenues to the basket. In saying that however, Corban also mentioned that they will not be a one trick-pony and have a couple of tricks up their sleeves to keep their opponents guessing.

“Traditionally we have played a guard orientated style of basketball. “Using the width of the court and creating space for others. “We will be doing that and also utilising the strength of our forward line up. “Game scouts will see our style vary each game,” he said.

It has been an unconventional and unprecedented year to say the least which has filtered into the sports world, with Corban labelling the year as “tough” however through adversity comes opportunity something that Community Basketball Manager noted in regards to building the squad for the upcoming season.

“We have lost six of our squad to USA Colleges. (It) has meant a change in coaching and training techniques. However it presents our 17 & Under players with an opportunity to step up and play alongside our veterans,” Corban said.

When asked about their main intention for the season the obvious answer was to make it to the semi-finals however, Corban also had a few other factors in mind – most importantly the notion to support women’s basketball and continue the sports growth in New Zealand.

“Support this league and provide a good spectacle for women’s basketball. We are like most of the other teams a little under prepared due to the 2020 COVID  issues however we will make the most of this,” he said. “A semi-final appearance is the intention of every team.”

Waikato Wizards kick off the season on Thursday 19 against Auckland Dream at 7:30pm (local time).

Roster

Matangiroa Flavell
Ari Parai
Kelcy Ballantyne
Courtney Wilson
Natasha Lenden
Reese Anderson