Tag: te huinga selby-rickit

Otago strikes Gold to remain in semis hunt with win over Swish

OTAGO Gold Rush remain in contention for a New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNL) 18IN18 semi-finals spot after toppling Capital Swish by 10 points. A night after Capitals Swish toppled reigning premiers Auckland Dream by that exact margin, the Swish were on the back foot, trying to get back into the game after falling as much as 15 points behind. While they won the last term, it was a case of too little, too late and the Gold Rush got up, 58-48.

Otago’s Zoe Richards started the night with the first basket, and quickly made it two after a response from Swish’s previous night hero, Grace Simi Vaofusi. The Gold Rush got out to a four-point lead with Lisa Wallbutton and then Richards (up to six points), either side of Letava Whippy free throws. Back-to-back baskets for the Swish through Lilly Taulelei and Grace Gordon resulted in their side hitting the front with four minutes on the clock.

A lower scoring second half of the term saw just seven points scoring, with four of them coming from Savanna Handevidt, with her last basket putting her team in front with 11 seconds remaining in the first term. That momentum carried into the second as Bronwyn Kjestrup, Wallbutton and Te Araroa Sopoaga all scored in the opening two-and-a-half-minutes, with Wallbutton adding both her free throws not long after. Since being 8-9 down late in the first term, the Gold Rush had scored 13-2 and were now 10 points up three minutes into the second.

Grace Gordon broke the drought for the Swish, scoring moments later, then Maia Jean Watene made it back-to-back baskets for the Swish since midway through the first quarter. Sensing the momentum was turning, Sopoaga took it upon herself to get aggressive at the basket, making three consecutive layups, and by the third time copped contact off Gordon and then made the And-One chance.

The lead was out to 13 points with three-and-a-half minutes left in the quarter when Handevidt hit a jumper, and despite Te Huinga Selby-Rickit making back-to-back jumpers for her side, the Swish were on the back foot. Taulelei and Selby-Rickit cut the deficit to seven in the final minute, with the latter now up to six points, before Tara Clement scored a timely layup with 15 seconds left on the clock for a nine-point lead at half-time.

The first basket of the second half was always going to be important, and it was Handevidt who hit one of her two free throws to make the margin double-digits. Watene responded two minutes into the quarter, before Richards and Hayley Gray – the latter was fouled whilst taking a long-range shot – blew the lead right out to a game-high 13 points. Samantha Jenkins responded for the Swish with a triple of her own, but despite the Swish getting within nine points, yet another triple, this time from Richards, as well as a layup from Handevidt had the margin back out 15.

With less than three minutes on the clock, the Swish needed to do something, and Taulelei hit a vital jump shot, but her side could not hit the range, with Olivia O’Neill the only other player to score in the final two minutes, extending the Gold Rush’s advantage out to 15 at the final break, 46-31.

Needing an immediate response, the Swish had one through Sariah Penesse‘s triple in the opening 12 seconds of the match. The deficit was back to 12, but for every move the Swish made, the Gold Rush had answers, be it long range bombs, or getting to the basket and heading to the charity stripe. When Clement hit a three-point jumper with four-and-a-half minutes on the clock, the game looked to be in the Gold Rush’s keeping.

Both sides held up defensively, and whilst the Gold Rush only hit two free throws in the final minutes – and the Swish piled on seven points – the job was done and Otago celebrated a season-defining 10-point win, 58-48 to remain in the semi-finals hunt.

The teams were fairly even in the shooting stats, though the Gold Rush got to the line three times as much as the Swish, with the latter having a whopping nine more personal fouls (20-11) and six more turnovers (25-19). The Gold Rush’s work off the boards was huge (rebounds 54-44), as well as capitalising on second chance points (12-6) and winning the assist (15-14), steal (11-9) and block (4-3) counts.

Sopoaga hit a match-high 15 points, as well as eight rebounds, while Richards also managed 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Handevidt knocked down nine points, as well as six rebounds and four steals, while Wallbutton was productive off the bench, racking up a match-high 12 rebounds to accompany her even points and three assists.

For the Swish, Whippy was the dominant player off the boards with seven points, 11 rebounds six assists and four steals while Selby-Rickit was the other player who had an impact with eight points – six coming in that second term – as well as eight rebounds and two steals. Taulelei scored six points and six rebounds in another strong effort for the losing side.

The Gold Rush will have another chance to cause an upset when they go head-to-head with Auckland Dream tonight, while the Swish must defeat the Waikato Wizards on December 3 if they are to play in the semi-finals.

Picture: Photosport

Strong Harbour Breeze blows past Swish with dominant second half

AN impressive second half from one of the title contenders in Harbour Breeze has seen the Breeze dominate Capital Swish thanks to their fresh legs coming into the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 tournament for their first match. After the sides were all square at half-time, the Breeze came out with more vigour in the second half, piling on 50 points to 27 to run out 88-65 winners and tip-off their season on the right note.

After an impressive win the night before against Canterbury Wildcats, the Swish looked to started strongly, and whilst they missed a couple of chances early, Grace Simi Vaofusi quickly put a score on the board to counter that of opponent, Tiarna Clarke. The teams were neck-and-neck throughout the opening half and the first term was no different as Zara Jillings got on the board with back-to-back free throws, before Lateva Whippy produced a nice two-point layup to tie the scores.

The first bit of separation came following back-to-back baskets to the Breeze with a three-pointer from Ashleigh Kelman-Poto hitting the mark, then Brooke Blair produced a successful jump shot for a 9-4 lead. Then it became the Swish’s turn to take control, as Whippy, Vaofusi and then Dalen Pillitati all adding points on the board in what became a 10-0 run for the side to go out to a 14-9 advantage.

Following a Blair basket after Jessica Moore free throws, the lead was cut to three, before Pillati hit a three-point jumper for a four-point advantage the way of the Swish. Gabrielle Fotu responded with 40 seconds on the clock and Blair again stepped up with a layup to tie the scores, then pick up a late basket off a Te Huinga Selby-Rickit miss for a 19-19 first term.

The second term mirrored the first early as neither side could gain any real momentum as both defences were forcing misses or turnovers. It took a special Maia Jean Watene turnaround jumper four minutes into the quarter to provide the major highlight early. After that increased the Swish lead to four, the Breeze stepped up with a 7-0 run to regain the lead back with just over four minutes to play.

Blair was becoming a problem for the Swish, as she hit five points either side of an important Selby-Rickit basket, and in mirroring the first term, the Breeze this time skipped out to a six-point advantage with two minutes to play after consecutive jump shots from Keeley Tini and Olivia Bell for a 35-29 lead. Despite Vaofusi stepping up twice herself in the last couple of minutes, Tini and Bell continued to apply the scoreboard pressure. Luckily for the Swish, Paris Lokotui – who had an impressive game the night before – stepped up in the last 50 seconds for the last five points of the game including a long-range make that tied the game at half-time with seconds remaining.

There was no separating the sides at the half, but the moment the teams stepped out on court in the third term, there was a clear separation as the fresh legs of the Breeze had a frenzied approach and could not miss. Gabriella Fotu, Kelman-Poto, Blair and Jillins had piled on 10 points in the first two minutes compared for a 48-38 lead. By comparison, the Swish went 0-5 from the field to start the second half.

It took until a Vaofusi layup in the third minute for the Swish, but the early damage was done. Both teams went into a bit of a scoring drought, but the Breeze added three more points over the next three minutes as the Swish had to wait until Whippy hit successful free throws with just under five minutes remaining for their next score.

Another 5-0 run to the Breeze and the lead had blown out to 14 with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter. Every Swish basket came with a response, and the 16-point lead at the break including an And-One chance from Tini to all but seal the match with that performance.

The Swish would need something special in the final term to turn it around and Lokotui tried early with the first points of the last quarter more than two minutes in, but like the story in the third term, was immediately countered by a Kelman-Poto triple. Blair free throws a minute later and then a Kelman-Poto layup pushed the lead out to a match-high 21 points. From there, the Swish could never get within 18 points, as the Breeze kept responding and had it as much as 24 points at one stage, with the final triple at the 25-second mark of the last term ending the match with a 23-point victory, 88-65.

Despite the large margin on the scoreboard, there was not a great deal to separate the teams with the Breeze ahead marginally in rebounds (46-45), assists (19-16), steals (15-12) and second chance points (12-9). In what has become a broken record all season, the most accurate side got up, with the Breeze hitting 45 per cent of their shots from the field, including 54 per cent from two-point range, compared to the Swish’s 34 per cent in both. The Swish also had six more turnovers (26-20) which proved costly.

Blair was the standout shooter for the Breeze, hitting 19 points at 66 per cent efficiency, including 100 per cent from inside the arc, while picking up four assists and two rebounds. Kelman-Poto hit two of her three chances from outside the arc for 14 points and six rebounds, while Tini (10 points, three rebounds) and Fotu (11 points, five assists and two steals) also ensured there were plenty of points flowing from the bench. Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu might have only added four points in the match, but was crucial off the boards with 11 to accompany her two steaks, while Jillings had seven rebounds with eight points and two assists.

For the Swish, Vaofusi tried hard throughout the match, hitting a team-high 18 points, as well as five rebounds and five steals across 26 minutes, while Whippy (12 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals) led from the front in a double-double performance. Unfortunately that also included eight turnovers, but Lokotui had double-figure points as well with 11, along wiht eight rebounds and three assists. Coming off the bench, Selby-Rickit (five points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and Lilly Taulelei (eight points, five rebounds) both provided a presence off the boards.

Tomorrow night the Breeze will lock horns with Otago Gold Rush in a bid to go back-to-back and match Auckland Dream in their strong start, while the Swish become the first side with a 1-1 record and will now rest up until Friday, when they take on the Dream.

Picture: Photosport

Swish second half hands Wildcats a second loss

CAPITAL Swish have kick-started their 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 season on the right note with a 13-point victory over Canterbury Wildcats last night. The Wildcats were handed their second consecutive loss on the weekend following their defeat at the hands of Auckland Dream the night before, and despite a strong first half, were overrun by a fresh Swish outfit as the side got up 55-42.

Capital Swish started the game on fire with Maia Jean Watene scoring the first points of the game, and after a couple of misses from the Wildcats, Sariah Penese made good on two free throws. Brittany Richards returned the favour from the charity stripe not long after to get her team on the board, before Watene and Paris Lokotui pushed the margin out to five in the first half of the quarter.

Terai-Ma-Teata Elia stepped up at a crucial point with five points in the space of 19 seconds to level the match at the four and a half minute mark, before Emily Knight and Katherine Jones helped it become a 9-0 run in favour of the Wildcats. Letava Whippy soon ended that run with a triple to cut the deficit to one point, then Lokotui and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit scored in the final 80 seconds to give the Swish a three-point lead at the break.

Richards scored an important basket in the opening minute of the second term, but Selby-Rickit quickly countered that with a jump shot of her own. The teams traded blows and also missed a number of opportunities with defensive pressure mounting. Isabella Luhetoa found her range from outside the arc, tying the scores with just over four minutes into the term. Elia helped her team gain the lead, but it was only four 22 seconds until Penese dropped another triple for the Swish to regain the advantage at 22-21.

Another triple, this time to Grace Simi Vaofusi, had the Swish out to a four-point lead, but the last two baskets of the term, went to the Wildcats and Samia and Knight to be exact. A couple of late turnovers in the final 40 seconds hurt the Swish as the teams headed into the break all-square at 25-25 after a low-scoring half.

Samia was the first out of the blocks in the second half, securing one of two free throws for her Wildcats team to edge ahead, but Whippy and Penese quickly added points to go a basket up. The lead grew to four until Luhetoa sank a triple midway through the quarter to draw within a point again, but the Swish answered through Whippy and Selby-Rickit to go out to a five-point lead.

A successful free throw and lay up from Samia cut the deficit to two with just under four minutes on the clock, but back-to-back baskets from Penese and Whippy extended it back out to the largest margin of the game with a six-point advantage. Luhetoa put up a triple with 19 seconds on the clock to draw within three, and it looked to be the last basket of the game, before a sensational buzzer beater by Lokotui gave the Swish a five-point lead at the last break, and most importantly the confidence to go on with it.

Lokotui and Watene both made successful two-pointers either side of a Samaia triple after an opening first few minutes that yielded no scores. By the mid-part of the term, the game looked over as Vaofusi and Taulelei successfully hit a combined five points and the lead had blown out to 11, and while Richards and Elia tried their best late in the contest, the work of Lokotui and Selby-Rickit was too much, as the pair combined for their team’s runaway win, 55-42.

The teams were fairly even, but as the tale of the tape has suggested the last couple of nights, the more accurate team got up with the Swish having one less attempt from the field, but making 22 baskets compared to 16, and recording higher numbers from inside and outside the arc. They also led the rebounds (52-48), assists (13-9), blocks (3-1) and second chance points (12-6), though the Wildcats had one more steal (13-12) and one less turnover (21-22).

In an even team performance, Lokotui sank 14 points and had 13 rebounds in an impressive double-double performance, while Selby-Rickit also impressed off the bench with eight points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Whippy led from the front with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and four steals in an all-court performance, while Penese (nine points, five rebounds and three assists) and Watene (six points, seven rebounds and two assists) both impacted the match.

For the Wildcats, Samia hit 11 points, three rebounds and two steals, while Elia was the standout player on the losing side thanks to nine points, 13 rebounds and four steals. Shea Crotty did not hit one of her six field goal attempts, but she did pick up seven rebounds, three assists and five steals, while Richards finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Coming off the bench, Luhetoa had nine points and three rebounds, while Knight helped herself to four points and six rebounds.

Capital Swish back up tonight’s performance against Harbour Breeze tomorrow night, while the Wildcats now will look to turn around their 0-2 start to the season in their next match against Waikato Wizards who also lost their first match, when the teams face off on Wednesday, November 25.

Picture: Shane Wenzlick / Photosport