Girls Basketball National Champions



NZ Secondary Schools A Nationals

The Girls A Basketball team travelled to Palmerston North for the National Competition on October 5-9.

Opunake got off to a rocky start dropping their opening match against Te Aroha College going down 67-59. “We just weren’t mentally ready to play. But credit to Te Aroha, they played well all tournament,” coach Angelo Hill said.

After that first game we had to regroup and refocus with the little bit of adversity. After that loss, we had to win all our other pool games just to get a crossover match.  We set a goal of just focusing on the next game.  We came up with game plans for each team and executed them to perfection.  We had to target a key player on the opposing team to play man to man and the rest of the team played zone.  We call that Amoeba and 1.  The players who were responsible for guarding that one player, did a great job in every game and that stat will not show up but, they know how valuable that defensive effort was for our success.

The toughest game for us was against Stratford, as we have played them so many times this season and they have a way of playing really well against us.  The game was very close until the fourth quarter when we started to pull away and get the win.  After that game Iritana had to attend a NZ trial for her 7’s rugby.

Next,  the semi-final game against Kokiri. We were behind for most of the game and did not get the lead until the fourth quarter.  This was a great team effort and everyone stepped up in one way or another to get us to the finals.  We showed a lot of heart and determination in the second half of the game.  Kokiri played really well and once Sally fouled out for them it made our lives a lot easier.  Getting several of their players in foul trouble really played dividends for us in the last quarter.

The final game was going to be a very hard fought affair against Manakura, they had improved so much from tha regionals. With Manukura locking down sharpshooter Simone Cook, the bulk of the scoring fell to point guard Iritana Hohaia and forward Isabelle Cook as Opunake claimed a 58-56 win. “Isabelle and Iritana really stepped up and without them we wouldn’t have won. Isabelle played the whole fourth quarter with four fouls and managed not to pick up that last one.

The leadership of our big three Simone, Iritana and Isabelle was outstanding.  It shows what leadership can do for a team.  “Everyone played well in the tournament. They accepted their roles and we got great production from the starters and the bench.”

While Isabelle was named tournament MVP, Angelo said he felt like he had two MVPs in his squad and praised Iritana’s play. “It’s been very disappointing for Iritana all season. I think she was the best player in Taranaki but she didn’t get an All-Star selection or anything like that.  I was so happy with how she played in the tournament. She was phenomenal.”

Final: beat Manukura 58-56 (Iritana Hohaia 23 points 13 rebounds 6 assists, Isabelle Cook 22 points 14 rebounds)

I would like to thank everyone who has made this year a very special one for myself, and the team.  There are too many to mention but all of you played an important role in our success. Thank you to the Opunake community and NZCT for their grant towards accommodation costs.

Final: beat Manakura 58-56

Semifinal: beat Te Kura Kokiri 73-60

Quarterfinal: beat Stratford high School Girls’ 54-35

Pool play: lost to Te Aroha College 67-59;

beat Buller High School 75-51;

beat Te Wharekura o Mauao 77-39;

beat Aquinas 74-46.