Queens rule to claim inaugural title

AFTER an action-packed season, Tokomanawa Queens have taken out the 2022 Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa title, defeating Northern Kahu by nine points at The Trafalgar Centre on the weekend. The Queens finished second behind the Kahu on the ladder coming into the finals series, but headed into Saturday’s decider with plenty of confidence, having defeated them in their last two outings. That confidence ultimately proved founded, as the Queens came away with the 71-62 win to make history in the competition.

NORTHERN KAHU 15 | 18 | 8 | 21 (62)
TOKOMANAWA QUEENS 15 | 20 | 19 | 17 (71)

Though Northern Kahu entered the Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa Grand Final as the team to beat, the ladder leaders knew they had their work cut out for themselves against the Tokomanawa Queens. The second placed Queens had knocked off the Kahu twice entering the decider, which were the Kahu’s only two losses for the season. After both sides picked up respective semi-final wins, the stage was set for an absolute classic.

It started off neck and neck, with the Kahu leading for the entire first term, but never quite getting away from the Queens and a late triple to Jacinta Beckley saw the teams head into the first break with 15 points apiece. At that stage, Kahu captain Micaela Cocks had put up an impressive eight points to lead all-comers. Tokomanawa Queens started to get their act together in the second term, scoring seven consecutive points before the Kahu returned serve with an identical run as Tahlia Tupaea came into half-time with 12 points, just one short of Florencia Chagas (13) as the Queens edged ahead by two at the main break, 35-33.

A make or break quarter in the third term, the Queens piled on 19 points to eight to take complete control of the match and set up the win. Chagas and Jamie Nared were firing on all cylinders for the visitors as they reached a double-digits lead, and eventually blew it right out to 13 points by the last change. Gabriella Adams-Gavet had been almost the exclusive scorer for the Kahu (six of her side’s eight points) but they headed into the final change with a 41-54 deficit.

Back-to-back baskets to Nared in the opening 90 seconds of the final term sealed the deal, stretching Tokomanawa’s lead out to 17. Cocks tried to rally her side back into the match, with contributions from Akiene-Tera Reed and Marte Grays, but it would not be enough as the Queens answered the challenge. The Kahu closed the deficit to within five points with a minute and a half left on the clock, but the Queens scored seven of the last 10 points to run out 71-62 victors and take home the title.

Tokomanawa lead most of the key statistics, shooting at a far higher clip (42 to 32 per cent) which proved vital given the Queens had 12 less attempts. They also topped the Kahu in the assists (15-13), steals (11-8) and blocks (5-0), while controlling points in the paint (40-28). Despite that, the Kahu pulled down more rebounds (45-37) and earned more second chance points (15-2) and points from turnovers (20-12) despite having one more turnover (17-16).

Chagas scored 22 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals, well supported by Nared (14 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals). Stella Beck (11 points, seven rebounds, five steals and two assists) and Elin Gustavsson (10 points, five rebounds) also contributed to the Queens’ cause. Cocks (14 points, four rebounds and three assists), Grays (12 points, seven rebounds) and Tahlia Tupaea (12 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals) were all strong, while Reed had nine points and 10 rebounds off the bench in 21 minutes.

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